Date & Possible Location at time of Disappearnce:
June 30, 1942 - Sibrandabuorren, Boarnsterhim municipality, Fryslân province, the Netherlands
Age At Time of Disapperance:
23 years old
Place of Birth:
Warrant Officer Lawrence Sidney was a bomber pilot in the second world war and part of the Canadian arimen division known as the 405 Squadron Halifax. Sidney and his bomber crew disappeared on June 30, 1942 on their return from an attack on Bremen, Germany. According to witnesses, their bomber was in the air and on fire before it crashed past a town and landed in a marshy peat bog where it sunk and remains to this day. There were no survivors.
The families of the crew were told the bomber had most likely crashed in Germany. Only in recent years did they learn the true location of their loved ones. The crash site was never registered officially. A memorial is now near the site.
Even though the location of the bomber and it's crew are confirmed, the crew are still listed on the MIA list because their bodies have not been recovered.
Dutch town remembers Canadian, British airmen killed in 1942 bomber crash
By Roberta Cowan
Originally published by CanWest Global Media, June 30, 2003
Local people and Canadians from commemorating four Canadian and two British airmen whose Second World War bomber crashed near this Dutch town 61 years ago Monday.
A modest memorial ceremony was held in this town, a two-hour drive north of Amsterdam, in a 12th century church just about a kilometre from the crash site. The day after the June 30, 1942, crash of the Halifax bomber, a British airman was found dead in a nearby pasture and buried in the local cemetery.
The bomber sank into a marshy pasture, leaving very little evidence of the crash except for a few bits of metal that were picked up by local boys. Several of them travelled to Sibrandabuorren Monday to pay respects to the men who died on the plane.
"I saw the plane on fire and it was so frightening," said Klaus Adema, 74, who was 12 at the time the plane went down.
"It was in the middle of the night. We heard a bomb and looked out the window to see a plane on fire. It circled twice above our house and I was so scared it would crash on us but it didn't. It went into a field just down the road."
"I ran to see and picked up this piece of metal and I've had it ever since. Today I will give it to one of the Canadians."
The Canadian airmen on the 405 Squadron Halifax, returning from an attack at Bremen, Germany, were all deemed missing in action. As their remains have not been recovered and there are no plans to unearth the wreckage, their names will remain on that list.
Warrant Officer Lawrence Sidney, 23, was the pilot; Flight Sgt. Cecil Stephen Walsh, 27, was the flight engineer; Sgt. Edmund Keith Brennan, 26, was the navigator and Raymond Albert Aime Gorieu, 26, held the rank of 1st wireless operator.
For the next of kin who travelled from B.C., Alberta and Quebec, some closure came with knowing the probable whereabouts of their brothers, uncles and fathers and marking their resting place with flowers, poppies, letters and a bottle of Canadian rye.
"I have very mixed feelings today," said George Walsh of Beaconsfield, Que., who came with his brother's children, Bruce and Lynn Walsh.
"I am sad and I still feel shock but I am also thrilled. My mother died early, so for my father, never knowing what happened to his son was the worst. We were told that the plane was shot down in Germany and that's what my dad believed when he died. But then a few weeks ago we got a phone call from the Netherlands telling us that the plane actually crashed here."
A group of Dutch people went looking for the missing airmen's next of kin.
"It took exactly nine months to track everyone down," said Klaas van der Heide, who took part in the search. "We finally found the Walsh's after putting a notice in the Montreal Gazette newspaper and were able to organize the commemoration to coincide with the crash 61 years ago today."
Although the town has known about the crash since it took place, the incident was not registered elsewhere. Until the Dutch committee of the Missing Airmen Foundation contacted family members in Canada, most were in the dark as to the plane's whereabouts.
"Who knows what happened, and it was war time, and when the war was over I can imagine people wanted it to really be over, and some records might have been misplaced," said Marge Sidney of Armstrong, B.C., accompanying her uncle Tom, whose brother was the pilot.
"No mother should outlive her kids and that's why I really feel sad for my grandmother. I think that because she never really knew what happened, she was in a state of mourning her whole life," she said, clasping her grandmother's shiny Silver Cross - given to all mothers who lost children in the Second World War.
"These boys were all born on farms, so I think that they are buried on a farm has given us all some peace," she added.
A monument was unveiled after the memorial service.
Stones brought from British Columbia by Canadian schoolchildren were laid by their local contemporaries. There was a flypast. The Last Post was played and wreaths were laid by dignitaries, including Canadian Ambassador Serge April.
"I want to tell the Dutch people a very simple thing: thank you," the ambassador said.
"Thank you for remembering Canadians and what we did 60 years ago. We see that this sentiment is very lively in the Netherlands and we are very grateful for your remembrance."
Sibrandabuorren, The Netherlands, June 30, 2003
A stone monument, in memory of seven wartime members of 405 Squadron, was unveiled today near this little village, in the province of Friesland, The Netherlands. In the early morning hours of June 30, 1942, a Halifax Bomber (LQ-K) of 405 (City of Vancouver) Squadron, returning from a night bombing raid over Bremen, Germany, was attacked by a German night-fighter and crashed in a farmer's field near the village. All seven crewmembers, which included four Canadians, were killed. They were: Sgt Edmund Keith Brennan, age 26, navigator, from Vancouver, BC; WT/O Lawrence Sidney, age 23, pilot, from Armstrong, BC; F/Sgt Raymond Albert Gorieu, age 26, wireless operator, from Domremy, Sask; and F/Sgt Cecil Stephen Walsh, age 27, flight engineer, from Beaurepaire, Que. Three crew members were British: F/Sgt CP Philp, age 23, air gunner, from Birkenhead, UK; Sgt GA White, age 40, bombardier, from Marylebone, London, UK; and , Sgt TG Gunn, age 29, air gunner, from Liverpool, UK. Only the body of F/Sgt CP Philp was recovered. His remains are buried in the cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church in Dearsum.
The citizens of the Municipality of Boarnsterhim, which encompasses the villages of Sibrandabuorren and Dearsum, decided last year to erect a monument in honor of these young people from 405 Squadron who gave their lives to the cause of freedom and democracy. They planned an official unveiling of the monument and as a mark of appreciation, they decided to invite some surviving relatives of the crew members to the ceremony. Finding the relatives obviously presented a challenge to the organizing committee. In the fall of 2002, the Dutch Missing Airmen Foundation submitted a request for assistance to CFB Greenwood. Greenwood in turn forwarded the request to the 405 Association. An E-mail to our members brought quick results. MGen (Ret'd) C. Kinney from Ottawa found the address of Tom Sidney, a brother of WT/O Sidney and Bob McWhirter from Prince Albert, Sask., found the address of surviving relatives of F/Sgt A. Gorieu. Tom Sidney of Armstrong, BC, in turn found two surviving brothers of Sgt Brennan. The Montreal Gazette published a short article on the project and as a result, the brother, son and daughter of F/Sgt Walsh were located. All were present at the unveiling ceremony as guests of the Municipality. 405 Squadron was represented by Maj Bob Schwartz, Capt Andrew McCorquodale and MCpl Bruce Gale. The Canadian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Serge April, accompanied by the Canadian Defence Attaché, Col Mike Witty, laid a wreath on behalf of the Canadian Government.
The committee had more difficulties in locating relatives of the British crew members. Mike Philp, a nephew of F/Sgt Philp, was present accompanied by his wife Lesley. Sgt White and Sgt Gunn were represented by members of the RAF Association from Liverpool.
The monument is erected on the side of a small rural road, only 1200 yards from the actual crash site. A few months before the unveiling ceremony, students from a school in Armstrong, BC, participated in an exchange program with students from the Dearsum primary school. The Canadian students brought small stones from each Canadian province and territories. During the unveiling ceremony, the Dearsum students deposited the stones at the base of the monument. These stones have now been embedded in the base.
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