An unidentified woman visits the fallen airman’s grave, in a Dutch ceremony, two years after the war.
An unidentified woman visits the fallen airman’s grave, in a Dutch ceremony, two years after the war.

Dutch town to honour ex WWII pilot

A COFFS Harbour World War II pilot, who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending a Dutch town he’d never visited, could have a European street named in his honour.

His name was Lindsay Page Bacon, a Flying Officer with the Royal Air Force’s 7 Squadron, whose badly shot up Lancaster bomber crashed near Nieuwdorp, Holland.

Almost 66 years on and The Sydney Morning Herald has played an instrumental role in recognising the heroics of the Coffs Harbour-born airman.

The Herald last month ran a public notice calling on information surrounding the ill-fated flight.

It read: “We seek background information about Mr Bacon and his crew.”

“We also wish to make contact with their families,” and it listed an address in the Netherlands.

The request came from a Dutch building corporation, which had started building works at the crash site and unearthed parts of the Lancaster MK III, including an engine and pieces of the propellers.

Hans van Dam, the man who placed the notice, said the corporation hoped to build a monument for the crew in front of a building, to be erected on the site.

“We want to retrieve information about all the crew members to place in our local war museum.

“Local authorities are willing to name streets after a number of crew members,” Mr van Dam said.

“I think in the near future there is a Bacon Street in our village also,” he said.

The metropolitan newspaper then made contact with Lindsay Bacon’s living relatives in Australia.

War records and personal accounts from that fateful day, detailed the pilot’s final heroic actions.

Flying Officer Bacon was at the controls heading back to Cambridgeshire, England, after a daylight operation targeting railway tracks over Recklinghausen in Germany on March 20, 1945 – 49 days before the end of the war in Europe.

Commando Provost Sergeant E. Dovey was on the ground in Nieuwdorp watching the large number of bombers pass overhead about 2.30pm.

“Almost the last bomber was flying lower than the others and I noticed that it was badly shot up and that one of the engines was on fire,” Sgt Dovey said.

“The bomber began to lose height rapidly and the pilot, in a gallant effort to avoid a town, accelerated and by so doing blew up the engine that was on fire, causing him to lose control of the machine and crash.

“The fire was terrific and not one of the crew was able to escape,” he said.

With the help of a soldier, he brought the fire under control and extricated the bodies of the crew.

All were given full honours and buried alongside the wreckage of the aircraft in temporary graves.

On the body of Flying Officer Bacon, he found a letter from his sister.

Dovey wrote to her, describing what he had seen: “I can tell you that the people of the town highly appreciate the great sacrifice which the gallant crew made and are caring for the graves of the men who sacrificed their lives, that their town might be saved.”

Acting on the story lead, the Sun-Herald traced the Bacon family and found that five of six brothers and sisters served in the war.

Lindsay’s brother, Allan Bacon, 85, a farmer at Ulladulla, said: “We knew very little other than that the plane circled to avoid the village and in the process the engine blew up and part of the wing fell off before it crashed.

“He just made a spontaneous action to avoid the village. He did the right thing. Hans has done a very good job because he wants to put up a monument to the crew,” he said.

In his last letter home to his sister Kath, Lindsay wrote: “In the last four days we have raided Dessau (near Leipzig), Hamburg and today Essen in the Ruhr. There were over 1000 RAF bombers on today and it really was colossal. As far as the eye could see there was a continuous stream of bombers whilst overhead squadrons of Spitfires guarding against any enemy fighters,” he wrote.

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