80 years after: A special commemoration fort the crew of Lancaster ED603

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80 years after: A special commemoration fort the crew of Lancaster ED603

On Tuesday 13 June, children of all primary schools in Workum impressively commemorated the crew members Harold Elvin Howsam and Arthur Gordon Fletcher of Lancaster ED603, which was shot down. This Lancaster was taken down by a German fighter on its way back over lake IJssel on the night of 12 to 13 June, exactly 80 years ago.

To commemorate this event, the children honoured these men with a special memorial ceremony. In preparation for this commemoration, Súdwest-Fryslân municipality offered a lesson plan that told the story of Harold and Gordon, as well as the brave deeds they performed. Read more about the exciting lesson about the salvage on omropfryslan.nl.

One of the assignments in the lesson brief was to think of a way to honour Harold and Gordon. Several children had chosen to write a letter to Harold and Gordon’s relatives, telling something about the men’s lives but, above all, expressing their gratitude and respect.

Visit to cemetery

The highlight of the commemoration was the visit to the cemetery. Here, the children reflected on the brave deeds of the crew members. Johannes Hoekema read a beautiful poem. Many children laid flowers at the graves of Harold and Gordon and some read their letter. Finally, the Canadian and English national anthems sounded over the cemetery. It was a precious moment where the children had the opportunity to reflect on the courage and sacrifice of these brave men.

With this special commemoration, the children from Workum conveyed a wonderful message of respect and gratitude to Harold and Gordon. They showed that the memory of the heroic deeds of these men also lives on in the minds of this generation.


In September, Lancaster ED603, the plane that Harold and Gordon crashed in will be salvaged from lake IJssel. Children from Workum will bring a visit to the salvage centre on the shores in Kornwerderzand in September to view parts of the plane wreck and learn more about the story of the crew members and Lancaster ED603. With the aim of continuing to tell the story of freedom and passing it on to the younger generation.

With the salvage, we also hope to find the three crew members whose bodies have never been recovered to date to give them a final resting place.