Appeal helps to trace family of man who died in Holland crash

Eric Harper

Eric Harper

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A Chorley airman who died in Holland has been traced thanks to a Guardian appeal.

Two weeks ago we printed a letter from Raimondo Bogaars, who was appealing for information about men involved in six plane crashes in the village of Aalst-Waalre in Holland during World War Two.

The letter caught the eye of Euxton historian Stuart Clewlow - whose grandfather’s cousin was one of those killed.

Stuart has been in touch with Raimondo and is now helping with his research.

Raimondo hopes to one day write a book on the devastating crashes or erect a monument to the men who lost their lives.

One of those was Eric Harper, Stuart’s grandfather’s cousin, who was part of the crew from a crash site Raimondo has been investigating.

Eric was a flying officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve flying Avro Lancaster four-engine bombers.

He was killed whilst on a raid to Cologne in Germany on June 29, 1943, aged 35.

Eric lived in Mornington Road in Heath Charnock and worked at Williams Deacons Bank in Chorley.

He was also a member of Chorley Golf Club.

He is remembered on the Adlington Memorial, St Paul’s Church Memorial Book in Adlington, the Rivington and Blackrod School Memorial, and the Williams Deacon Bank War Memorial.

A ‘missing’ notice was posted in the Chorley Guardian, followed by his photograph and obituary.

He was laid to rest at the Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery in Germany.

Raimondo has appeared on television in Holland in relation to his research.

Later this year hopes to publish a book detailing his findings - including tracing the family of all crew members who were killed in the same air crash during a bombing raid in Holland.

Stuart has now given Raimondo pictures of Eric Harper to help with the work.

He said: “Almost nobody over here has ever heard of the crashes so I’m investing my time in gathering information so I can write a book or erect a monument.

“Eric was the sixth Harper from Adlington to have died during the two World Wars and one of about 14 members of the family in that area to have died.

“His parents are buried in the cemetery at Adlington- there is no mention of him.

“He was originally posted as missing. The family was never ‘officially’ told what had happened to him or where he was buried.

“Maybe that is why they didn’t list him on the family gravestone.”