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New IJsselmeer shoreline memorial remembers aircrew casualties

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HARDERWIJK The skies over the Netherlands were among the fiercest aerial battle zones in Europe during World War II, where Allied aircraft caught in search lights were sitting ducks for German anti-aircraft fire and especially Allied bombers going to and from Germany prey for German fighter jets. Thousands of aircraft crashed over the Netherlands or disappeared in Dutch lakes (notably the IJsselmeer) or the North Sea. The Stichting Monument Geallieerden Harderwijk (Foundation Monument Allies Harderwijk) has given formal recognition to the 117 Allied airmen casualties (of whom 45 found a last resting place in Harderwijk soil) who were killed over the city or the lake by placing a monument at its coastline with the IJsselmeer. The memorial is the tail of a plane which points skywards from the waterline or downwards, depending the mental framework of the viewer. Although the airmen are remembered with numerous memorials, perhaps none are as poignant as the newest at the Harderwijk shoreline. The Germans had a deadly battery stationed near Harderwijk, which aimed at the flight formations on the very busy skyway to and from Germany. On the ground, the Dutch population followed the aerial activity with trepidation.