Unveiling of the Plaque - Family Stories
In Celebration of the Belgian People and the
Crew of Lancaster 1- ME846
619 Squadron

By Marjan Kiepura & Jane Knox-Kiepura

Today's celebration marks a unique chapter in the history of our "ME846 FAMILY”.

On June 11th 2005 we gathered together to unveil a Plaque at the Newark Air Museum, formerly RAF Winthorpe, where the crew had trained together. This memorable and historic event forged the bonds between us and we resolved to pursue our search for the plane and Pilot Officer M A H Davis, whose remains were never found.

What happened on the night of June 21/22 1944 under the skies of the summer solstice is slowly emerging. The long buried secrets in the Postel pine forests are revealing themselves like the exquisite flower that bloomed in the possible crash site. It is also the beauty of the human spirit that flourished in this region. This was witnessed especially by Peter Knox, a young man of 20 years who was hidden by many brave souls.

It is never enough to say "thank you"but in the following pages we hope that this story of sacrifice, courage, bravery and human goodness will do honour to all those who risked their lives in the name of justice and freedom. We want to thank the Lord Mayor of Mol, Paul Rotthier, for making September 3, 2006 possible and the city of Mol for commissioning the monument to the crew of Lancaster 1.
In Honour of the Crew of 619 Squadron Lancaster 1 - ME846

Left to
Right: Paul Rotthier, Frankie Vermierdt,
Josepha Vermierdt-Aerts, Lea Vermierdt-Berghmans, Jane Knox-Kiepura, Alfons Vermierdt, Kamiel Mertens Standing behind Alfons: Paul Knox and Marjan Kiepura.

Photo taken in front of
Postel Abbey June 19, 2005

The Lord Mayor of Mol
Paul Rotthier

He has been hard at work searching for answers and we would like to first of all thank him on behalf of all of us here today.
Lord Mayor of Mol, Paul Rotthier

ME846 Family — 1944 to 2006

by Jane Knox-Kiepura

In attempting to chronicle the events that took place in this region from June to September 1944, I have relied on the help and research of Kamiel Mertens. Kamiel has worked tirelessly using his substantial archival resources and knowledge to help co-ordinate all available data from both primary and secondary sources.

Kamiel Mertens was the inspiration and co-ordinator behind our visit to this area last year which enabled us to meet and learn more about those who had played such an important role in my father's shelter and escape. We particularly want to thank Kamiel for introducing us to the Lord Mayor of Mol, Paul Rotthier who has made this day possible.

Kamiel Mertens has shown his dedication and commitment in our search for answers on the fate of Captain Davis and Lancaster I – ME846. It was through Kamiel's well documented book: "Balen tijdens de tweede wereldoorlog (2004)"(trans: Balen during WWII) that we were in touch. It was after Alfonse Vermierdt wrote asking him if he knew what had become of Peter Knox that Kamiel got in contact with me, Now almost two years later, we are gathered here today to honour all those brave souls.

Kamiel Mertens, who studied social and library sciences considers himself an amateur historian and writer. His commitment and enthusiasm for our project has certainly allowed allowed all of us involved and no doubt many future researchers to better understand the role the region of Postel/Mol played in the lives of so many airmen.

We also particularly want to mention Kamiel's friends and colleagues at STUDIUM GENERALE vzw especially Dr. Johan Claes, as well as Rene Geukens, Jan Slegers and Maria Wils. Thank you Kamiel.

As it is difficult to put all the names and events in strictly chronological or alphabetical order, we are starting with the crew themselves. This is followed by the individuals and families who were instrumental in assuring my father's safety and survival after he hit Belgian soil at approximately 1.30 a. bst on June 22, 1944.

Kamiel Mertens

Kamiel Mertens taken on June 19, 2005 near the crash site. Kamiel and Dr. Johan Claes


On September 3rd 2006, my wife and I will be in Belgium to visit what is thought to be the last resting place of my uncle, Pilot Officer Mark Anthony Hamilton Davis RAF, or Dave as he was known to the crew of Lancaster ME846, which was shot down in the early hours of June 22nd 1944.

Four of the crew managed to parachute to safety that night as Dave held the crippled plane steady. Unfortunately the upper and rear gunners failed to escape and the fully loaded aircraft blew up close to the ground. The bodies of the two gunners were recovered and eventually buried at the Schoonselhof Cemetery near Antwerp, but my uncle's body has never been found and it was not until recently that I learned of the site, in the woods north of Postel Abbey, where it is thought he now rests.

For me this will be the end of a quest that has lasted many years and I am so very grateful to the Belgian people who have located the site and made my visit, and that of some of the families and friends of the crew, possible. I must specifically mention Kamiel Mertens and the Lord Mayor of Mol, Mr Paul Rotthier, for their enthusiasm and dedication in making all the arrangements, for without their invaluable help, this visit would not have been possible.

Paul Stevenson
But on September 3rd we will not only be remembering Dave and his crew. We should and will remember all those gallant Belgians who risked their lives in helping airmen who had been shot down to return home. Many "home runs" were successfully made with their assistance, including Peter Knox, the bomb aimer from Dave's Lancaster. We should never forget their dedication in the face of the enemy, for it endangered not only their own lives, but those of their families as well. So I look forward to our meeting with immense anticipation, when I too can say, thank you.

Paul Stevenson

However, it is now over 60 years since the aircraft was shot down and memories fade with time. The site at present identified as the crash site may possibly not be correct as so many aircraft came down in this area during the war. There is another known crash site a few kilometres north just across the border into Holland that may be where Dave lies. We probably will never know the exact location, but September 3rd will bring me closer to him than ever before and I am therefore grateful to those Belgian people who have made this possible.

But this weekend in Belgium would not have taken place without the enthusiasm and dedication of Jane Knox-Kiepura and her husband, Marjan. For the past three years, Jane has been the catalyst that has brought us together and on behalf of everyone involved, I would like to thank Jane and Marjan for all the arrangements that have made this weekend such a great success.

Paul M Stevenson
Nephew of Pilot Officer MAH Davis


As children, my sister Alison and I grew up avidly listening to my mum, Vera, tell us of her childhood in Bearpark in Durham where she grew up with her beloved brother Dennis, and their mum, my grandma, Dorothy. We heard of their pride as Dennis grew up and joined the RAF, and of his precious time spent with them on leave- and ,of course, his abiding comradeship and friendship with his fellow crew members of the Lancaster, especially Peter Knox and Porky Bowering. Mum remembers the day he asked my grandma it two crew members, one from Australia, the other from Canada, could come to Bearpark on leave as it was to far for them to go home. The answer was a firm ‘yes', and so the journey of memories began.

A Niece's Story
Good memories- socialising at Durham ice rink, sitting by the fire at Kingston Avenue looking at the ‘Picture post' with Porky, whilst Pete sat with grandma by the fire, discussing world events and village life! Worrying times when they were shot down- and relief when they heard that Pete and Dennis were safe- devastation at the news that their dear friend Porky had died.

Mum often spoke of Pete's dad, Errol, (Brig. Sir Errol Knox) who had called to Bearpark to visit the family to say thank you for looking after Pete. She knew that there was a connection with journalism in the form of the paper ‘The Argus' in Australia- and many years later I was to look up the name on the internet, went into the website- and lo and behold, there was a picture of my Uncle Dennis, and the crew whom I felt I knew so well from the talks I'd had with my mum. Also an email address- Jane Knox Kiepura.The rest, as they say, is history!

My mum, grandma, Dennis and the boys could never have dreamt that we would all meet one day and become so close, and more importantly, come full circle, back to the place where the plane came down. Especially poignant for Paul Stevenson, whose uncle bravely fought to keep the plane steady, and whose body has not been found. This will evoke many feelings- of sadness for those who paid the ultimate price so that we can be here today as free people. Immense gratitude to those who helped as part of the resistance- but most of all a sense of belonging to a part of history which has a personal place in all our hearts.

Some friends and family know that one of my favourite films is ‘It's a Wonderful life'!! Those who know the film will remember Clarence the angel saying to George Bailey - You've been given a great gift George- a chance to see what the world would be like without you'. I thnk we know that the world would have been a sadder place without the lives memories of those seven young men of the Lancaster 619 squadron. Clarence also received his wings in the film- the crew certainly earned their wings in life, and they are all, I'm sure watching us today and smiling.

Chris Cardose
Niece of Dennis Belshaw July 2006

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