01.09.1944 No. 322 Squadron Spitfire IX MJ343 3W-P Fl/Lt. Plesman
Operation: Armed Recce
Date: 01st September 1944 (Friday)
Unit: No. 322 (Dutch) Squadron. 85 Group (motto: 'Niet praten maar doen - 'Actions, not words')
Type: Spitfire IX
Serial: MJ343 (3)
Base: RAF Deanland, East Sussex
Location: Hazebrouck area, France
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Jan Leendert Plesman 102524 RAFVR Age 25. Missing - believed killed
Although this loss has been covered within the Rob Philips 'Lost Archive', we chose to publish an archive report in order to bring to the attention the details Rob went through to try and identify the final resting places of many Dutch aircrew. Fl/Lt. Plesman is a very good example of the efforts he made. (With this one, nearly 10 years of work!) Alas he was not offered the support that he perhaps should have been. Even KLM failed to assist fully. The founder of KLM Mr. Albert Plesman (7th September 1889 – 31st December 1953) was in fact his father, but had passed away before investigations were undertaken.
REASON FOR LOSS:
For full report of his loss and the research carried out by Rob please refer to the Lost Archive here.
The Squadron ORB for the day:
Today is doubtless the blackest the Squadron has ever experienced. At 07:12 hours the Squadron took off on an armed reconnaissance in the Calais-Ghent-Aulnoye area during which 4 M.E.T. and 1 light A.F.V. were destroyed and one heavy A.F.V. and one M.E.T. were damaged.
Whilst going down to shoot up something he had seen, the C/O. Major Keith Cowie Kuhlmann DFC (1) was apparently hit by Flak and he baled out. His No.2 however saw him land and wave his hand. He landed about 5 miles inland from Cap Gres-Nez.
This is a terrible blow to the Squadron and we can only hope that he will find a way of evading capture, and eventually make his way back to take charge of the Squadron he has led so admirably.
This was not the end of the bad news today for at 10:27 the Squadron again took off on an armed reconnaissance in the same area during which a gun post was attacked and 2 M.E.T. damaged. This time however, two aircraft were hit by Flak with the result that 'A' Flight Commander, Fl/LT. Kees van Eendenburg (1) made a belly landing South East of Lille. The aircraft was seen to tip up and a wing break off, but he was not seen to get out of the aircraft.
The 'B' Flight Commander, Fl/LT. Plesman was seen to have his tail plane shot off and he spun in North East of St. Omer, and he was not seen to leave his aircraft. Thus it is that we have lost in one day, the C/O. and both Flight Commanders. Mere words could not possibly express the feelings of the Squadron at this moment and we shall anxiously await further news.
(1) Major Keith Cowie Kuhlmann DFC 102441 RAFVR was made a PoW. Flying Spitfire IX MK905 3W-E (3). Born on the 11th September 1913. Survived the war, passed away 1997.
(2) Fl/LT. Kees van Eendenburg 108814 RAFVR Flying Spitfire IX PL288 3W-G (3). evaded capture and on the 11th September he rejoined his squadron. Survived the war, passed away on the 4th September 1966.
(3) Various publications list the serial numbers differently.
KLM also encountered setbacks during the early years. The founder, Albert Plesman's son Jan, who had fled to England in June 1941, was shot down over St. Orner in France in his Spitfire of 322 Dutch Squadron RAF on the 1st September 1944.
His good friends Keone Dirk Parmentier (27th September 1904 - 21st October 1948), Hendrik Veenendaal and Edgar Fuld 09th January 1890 - 21st October 1948) died in the Lockheed L-749 PH-TEN disaster in Nijmegen near Prestwick on the night of 20/21st October 1948.
Another son Hans (8th September 1918 - 23rd June 1949) was a KLM pilot and with 32 others died in the accident of the Lockheed L-749 PH-TER 'Roermond' near Bari on June 23rd 1949. Heavily suffering, 'the boss' accepted the heavy price for his creation, but he never broke his perseverance with the airline.
Fl/Lt. Jan Leendert Plesman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 203. Born on the 18th December 1919 at Gouda, Netherlands. Son of Albert Plesman and Susanna Jacoba van Eijk.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the late Rob Philips who was a meticulous researcher into Dutch aviators who were listed as killed or missing during WW 2. More about Rob, the person here. We were entrusted to make his work available to be read by others before he passed away in 2010. This has been presented as 'Lost' his archive and can be seen here.