Thank you very much for your quick response to my e-mail. You will be happy that your father's wish could be met with in a way he would have approved of and the vicar being there for the ceremony will have been a great consolation for your mother. Thank you for including the address of your internet site. It worked out well. Of course, one of the additions I checked was the part relating to your father's flying helmet, returned to him by Mr. Manders some years ago. It is interesting to see it is still there, and in good condition at that. About 20 years ago when I started doing research on the air war in the St Anthonis area, Mr Manders was one of the persons I asked for information. He told me there had been a pilot in St Anthonis during the war with the name of Porter. For some years that was the only information I had about your father. I had no idea about date of crash and other crew members and what had happended to them. Through contacts with other researchers I got more information and from 1987 I have been in contact with Jack Patterson. It does not always work out that way. Years ago someone from Boxmeer (3 miles from St. Anthonis) told me he had shared a room with a wounded airman in the Boxmeer hospital and he had been wondering for a long time if this man had survived the war. He asked me if I could try to find out. Also in this case he only remembered the name of the airman: George Reynolds. I then checked if there had been a captured crew-member of that name in the Boxmeer area. I discovered that George Reynolds was indeed a crew-member of a Stirling that had crashed at Boxmeer on February 14 1943 and had become a POW. Efforts to find out if he was still alive/where he lived, failed, until a Canadian of the same crew took up contact with Boxmeer some years ago. It then appeared that George Reynolds lived in New Zealand. Sadly, the man in Boxmeer had passed away in the meantime. It was his son who got a letter from George Reynolds. You may wonder why I started doing this kind of research. Well, it started about 20 years ago when I was asked to make a contribution about he war period in a local publication. That's when I started doing research. The real motivation, however, comes from the fact that during the war I saw many planes come down, (I was 9 in 1942) mostly during the night. We would stay up when the planes passed because crashing planes could set fire to houses so most people thought it safer to be up than in bed. When a plane was coming down, in some nights we saw many, we wondered about the fate of those inside. Sometimes we heard about the dead and sometimes about survivors that had been seen by people, but official information was mostly absent. When a plane was burning down, my mother would ask us to pray for those that were dying. At that time I did not realize that there were even fathers inside the planes with wife and children at home. I now realize what a terrible experience the war years must have been for your father and mother and yourself, being separated for such a long period with the undertainty if you would ever see each other again. Fortunately your father was one of the lucky ones who could come back to be re-united with his family and tell the story. Thank you for putting that story on internet. With best regards, Martin van Sleeuwen.
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