"I have found
out from a local amateur historian that an eye
witness saw Hiscox's aircraft approach from Kessel,
on fire, turn over the Church in Reuver, head back
to the river Maas and heard the noise when it
crashed. Later, resistance fighters found that the
tail section had fallen off into a field half a
mile from the crash, the Germans had simply dug a
hole at the spot and dumped Hiscox's body in it. 'Ciske
the Gypsy', a resistance man, left a poem on
the hastily made grave which was preserved by a
local. Later, after the liberation, he was buried
with honours where he now lays.
The poem may give
you an idea of the feeling of the Dutch people in
poetic rhyme is lost in the translation, the story
it tells is not.
airman, we stand around this grave of yours in this
Your valuable life you gave in forfeit so that we
can live in freedom.
Now you lay here quietly to sleep while people in your
Your child maybe asks his Mother why she can't laugh
with him any more.
You arrived here in our midst, fighting for a
The enemy have buried you without honour, without
English airman, we will surround your grave with respect and flowers
and ask with thanks, our good God
for your happiness in the everlasting life.
Ciske de Zigeuner (Ciske the Gypsy) his Resistance
He was a member of the local resistance, real name
Frans van Marissin
story of what happened to Flt. Sgt. Henry
RAFVR in 1944
Barrie Davies May 2006
Hiscox, having been in the Home Guard and Fire
Service, read an advert in the newspaper asking for
volunteers for the RAF. He put his name down and after
training was posted to 75 ‘New Zealand’
1944 he had flown as rear gunner on 35 sorties over
Germany so at that point he need not have flown any
more, indeed he should have become an instructor. He
would have gone on training younger men and possibly
being commissioned but preferred to “do the job
was rear gunner of the Avro Lancaster B1 bomber, No. HK
569 which took off from
at 23.28 hrs on the night of the 20th July
1944 heading towards Homberg, Germany to bomb a
in The Netherlands, his aircraft was caught in
searchlights and attacked by a night fighter. It was
hit and caught fire, injuring or maybe even killing
some crew members in the forward section. Still
heading west, it past, at low level, over the village
of Kessel on the River Maas when, it is thought, the
Bomb Aimer, Sgt. T.G. Little, managed to bale out.
Loosing height and burning fiercely, the 21 year old
New Zealand pilot Flt. Sgt.
Neil Douglas Davidson turned the aircraft over the
village of Reuver passing close to Beesel to head back
towards the river. Just before he reached it the tail
section, with Henry inside, broke away and landed in a
corn field. The Lancaster, with a full bomb load, was
and it plunged into the bank of the river on the
Kessel’s side and blew up with the loss of the
remaining 5 crew.
explosion demolished 22 houses, half of the Church and
half of Kessel’s old castle as well. Luckily,
although a number of civilians were injured and many
made homeless, none died.
Little landed in a garden suffering back injuries. He
was helped by Dutch civilians (given a cigarette) but
was too badly injured to be hidden so he was taken
away to hospital by the Germans where he remained in
Prisoner of War Camp 9c, Mulhausen, for the duration.
signals were heard coming from both sides of the river
so it is now thought that both Little and Henry were
in contact with each other. Local people were not
aware where Henry was or indeed if it was them who
were whistling, it could have been the Germans. After
two days the whistles fell silent.
young teenagers set out to harvest a field of corn
some 10 days after the crash and found the body of
Henry hidden partly by the corn. One of the boys,
(then 18 years old) Sef Willems is alive today and was
able to point out where he lay. Sef told us the
Germans were informed and, contrary to stories
previously heard, they behaved correctly, arriving
with a plain coffin, taking Henry’s body away in it
to the old Town Hall in Beesel where he was laid out
awaiting burial. Villagers were allowed to go to see
him. It is worth noting that these men were ordinary
foot soldiers not SS. Henry was buried two days later
in the old cemetery of Beesel. On orders (from the SS
maybe ?), no-one was allowed to attend the funeral
except the grave digger and his helper, they were not
allowed to lay any of the flowers brought by the
villagers, on Henry’s grave, on pain of being shot.
Later that night the villagers secretly threw the
flowers over the cemetery wall onto it, risking their
own lives !! Naturally those people looked on Henry as
a hero and must have seen his funeral as disgracefully
honour and without ceremony. Which explains the poem
found at his grave side, written by the resistance
fighter, notably the reference to ‘flowers’.
Germans placed a simple white cross on Henry’s grave
but the villagers of Beesel erected their own
‘headstone’ behind it, probably in 1945 after the
liberation. It was made of wood, stood 5 foot tall,
the breadth of the grave, had a propeller attached to
it and according to Sef Willems, Henry’s helmet was
hung on it too but this probably didn’t survive wind
and weather. Chiseled out of the wood were some Dutch
words of which only a few are readable on the photo I
have found. They mentioned he was a ‘Piloot’
(Pilot), if the headstone was official it would have
described him as ‘Air
so it was made by simple people who cared enough to
Henry by their own hand. Later the Commonwealth War
Graves Commission replaced it with the standard white
stone. What happened to the ‘original’ is not
Reuver and Beesel are situated about half way between
the Dutch towns for Venlo and Roermond on the river
Maas, a couple of miles from the Dutch/German border.
Find Maastricht on Google Earth and go north up the
anyone reading this, knows the whereabouts of Sgt. T.G.
Little, he spoke French to the Dutchmen in 1944 so he
may have been Canadian, please ask him if he would
like to contact Henry’s daughter (now 73) through
this web site. She was only 11 when her Dad died and
has no photo of him. She would like to talk to someone
who knew her Dad.
following is a photo of Henry's Mother and Father when
they visited his grave in 1945 or 46 when it had the
locally made headstone:
"Here are two
pictures of the school project memorial for Henry
Hiscox in our village. Children, the Burgermeester
(Mayor) teachers, parents and at the back an
old fella who saw the plane crash. They even got a
member of the local brass band to blow the Last Post
! They're really not being forgotten."