September 16, 1944. Crash location at Strijen-Sas.QR20-E-Strijen Sas September 16, 1944
Late in the evening at about 22.30 p.m., 21 Lancaster bombers of RAF 115 squadron leave from Witchford airfield in England. Their target is the Moerdijk bridge in Holland. After a flight in the dark they arrive at approx. 24.00 P.M. and bomb the bridge and its approaches. The target is lit by flares from other Lancasters : 14 of RAF 90 squadron and 10 of RAF 75 squadron. While circling over the target, Lancaster LM693 of RAF 115 squadron, pilot F/Lt. Peter William Bickford, clashes with a bomber of RAF 90 squadron. Both planes fall apart and hit the ground. Bickford’s plane comes down in the Maria polder near Strijen-Sas.
Another Lancaster pilot describes this scene in his diary : www.lancasterdiary.net. All 7 of the crew are killed. After 9 days, the burgomaster of Strijen, Mr. Bolman, is permitted by the Germans to recover the bodies. Together with 4 civilians they go to the crash location, find the bodies and put them in coffins on a cart and take them to the local cemetery. Arriving at the burgomaster’s house, he goes in and gets a Dutch flag from his house, which he spreads out over the coffins. Thus honoured, they ride the cart through the village to the cemetery, where the 7 bodies are buried. Their graves can be visited there.