The day after at the crash site
Red roses and little white flowers

Story as told to me by Riny Kryn-Claassen who used to live at the house Wetskamp (now Bosscherkampweg # 12) in the neighbourhood Maxet . In 1980 she and her husband moved to Canada.

Riny and her family (parents, 4 brothers and 2 sisters) saw the airplane come down. They were in hiding in a shelter in the ground (like most families).
When it got light and they took a look outside, they saw cows standing around “something” in the meadow. This turned out to be a parachute with a man lying underneath. He was dead and had lost a leg .
Soon two German soldiers came. They took the parachute, the watch, ring and anything they could use, kicked the body and left…
Mother Claassen was very angry because of this lack of respect for a dead man. She made a bunch of flowers (red roses and little white flowers) and her son John (14 years old) placed those on the body of the killed airman. They knew this was a dangerous deed but showing no respect to the dead was far worse as far as they were concerned..
Some time later, when the Germans came to collect the body, two SSers,
one with an crippled leg (both billited at the nearby monastry "De Kreppel") came to the Claassen house, being very angry. They shouted and yelled at mother and wanted to know who had placed the flowers at the body. They had the bunch of flowers in their hands. Mother said she had nothing to do with this.
Then they saw the rambler roses outside and tried to fit the cut off roses to the plant, but Mother Claassen had placed a bunch of flowers on the dining table and told them she always did this.
The Germans then went to the neighbours, the Gubbels family, Willem Sillekens and Van Horne and then back again to the Claassen house and looked for the little white flowers. They did not look for these the first time round and in the meantime the children had pulled them out of the ground, roots and all, and put them under the dunghill because it was too dangerous to make a “fresh” hole in the ground. The fact that the Germans could not find these white flowers may have saved their lives.
The Germans were very angry but mother kept denying she had anything to do with the bunch of flowers. The soldiers then placed mother against the wall, next to the rambler roses, aimed their rifles at her and asked her once more to admit that she had placed the flowers on the body. Mother was so angry that the last thing she would do was admitting to that. She kept her calm and kept on denying. All this time the children were watching…
After a short while, the Germans threw the bunch of flowers on the ground and left….

Afterwards this bunch of flowers was dried and kept for years and the children never ever forgot this day!
Shortly before the liberation a raiding party came to the Van Horne place and asked where the Claassens lived. Van Horne sent them the wrong way and luckily they never came back.

The children all moved away, Harie the oldest to New Zealand in 1953, John to Canada
in 1958, Alfons and family in 1977 and Wim with family in 1978 also to Ontario Canada.
In 1980 Riny and husband moved to Ontario Canada and built a house there. When it was finished the first thing they did was plant rambler roses. They looked for 3 years to find the little white flowers and when they found them, they finally had a living memory of the heroic deed of their mother! The Claassens had always thought that the airman had been from Canada and in order to do something in return, Riny has since been involved in voluntary work. As she herself said: there is a reason for everything!!

When Riny told this story to me it soon became clear that the soldier concerned was the New Zealand Flight Sergeant Keith Smith.