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Australian airmanís daughter sees the rest of her fatherís story

Attends Dutch village May 4 memorial

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HOLLANDSCHEVELD, the Netherlands Ė Australian-born Beverly Deveson never really knew her father Edward. Lancaster bomber crew member Edward Deveson and six others died over sixty years ago in March 1944 when their bomber crashed in the former peatbog colony. Beverly recently learned more about him when she attended the May 4 war remembrance ceremonies at the small rural community of Hollandscheveld near Hoogeveen.

Joined by her husband Brian Anderson, the Australian woman visited the Netherlands and the Drenthe village for the first time to take part in commemorative ceremonies. She wore all of her fatherís medals, including those awarded posthumously, on the traditional Silent Walk to the graveyard where the Lancaster crew is buried. She also carried a replica of the crewís mascot Joey, made by the widow of one the crew members. The original was buried with the crew.

Beverly, who was three when her father volunteered for the air force, vaguely remembers the day her grandfather visited her mother to tell her something important. She never forgot that at that time her mother and her grandfather both cried. Four years later, she received a second father with whom she was very happy.

The urge to learn more about her natural father grew stronger after her mother passed away. The questions eventually set Beverly on the trail of the Hollandscheveld May 4 Committee of which local area historian Albert Metselaar is a member. They as well as her own family have helped her put her fatherís story together.

One more mission

The doomed flight to Germany was a sortie beyond the call of duty for Edward Deveson. He had completed his required number of bombing missions and could have returned home to Australia. Instead, he volunteered to go along for one last mission before he would say farewell to his crew mates. Like so many flight crews** during the war, he and the crew never made it back.

The Lancaster crew has been for years one of the focal points of the May 4 remembrances, right along with the fallen of the local resistance groups and other victims of WWII. The fiercely independent residents of Hollandscheveld hid many people on the run from the Nazis and many paid a high price for their resistance.

For 27 years Beverly had been weighing whether she ought to face up to the challenge of visiting the grave of her father. She finally did, returning home to Australia with memories of an overwhelming and unforgettable pilgrimage.

Over 12,000 British Bomber Command aircraft were shot down during WWII and 55,500 aircrew were killed. It had the highest attrition rate of any British unit. With many thousands of planes having crashed in The Netherlands, the country is a giant burial site of Allied aircraft. Dutch groups are still busy unearthing the wrecks. Among the British casualty rate are numerous service men from the Commonwealth countries.