(The following is a letter we received recently from Sven Polkläser. He was born 1966, and is an IT specialist. In 2010, he became a volunteer member of the LVR, the Office of Soil Architecture in the Rhineland, Germany. He is the author of several publications on the results of archaeological projects.)
My name is Sven Polkläser and I work as a volunteer in Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia) in soil monument conservation.
For some years now, World War II has been part of archaeology in Germany. I do aerial archaeology with a team of volunteers. i. e. we investigate plane crashes during World War II, search for crash places and determine the fate of the crews.
For a few weeks we have found in Erkrath, a small town south-east of Düsseldorf (south of the Ruhr area) the remains of a Halifax type MK VII. Through entries in the Erkrath death register we were able to prove that the bomber is the NP689.
The pilot of NP689 was Stewart Millen Bonter. (Marmora- 1918-1945)
In various sources you can find different statements about the fate of Stewart Millen Bonter. This is because on the same day (March 15, 1945) a pilot with almost the same name (I.W.Bonter) was shot down in the attack on the oil refinery at Misburg at Hanover (aircraft: Lancaster NE119).
Our previous research (which is just beginning) has revealed the following story of the attack:
The Bomber Command sent in the late afternoon hours of March 15, 1945 in total 500 aircraft on their way to Germany, around to attack Hagen and the oil refinery in Misburg at Hanover. A total of 267 aircraft, including 134 Lancaster, 122 Halifax and 11 Mosquitos had Hagen as their destination. To this attack unit belonged the bomber "Moonlight Mermaid" type Halifax B Mk VII with the serial number NP689 and the Identifier QO-M of the 6 Bomber Group, RCAF 432 Squadron. "Moonlight Mermaid" took off 17:07 clock (18:07 clock MEZ) from the East Moor airfield. Between 20:30 and 20:45 clock the bombers threw about 1,000 tons of bombs on Hagen.
"Moonlight Mermaid" was (hit) in the approach shortly before the goal Hagen by Flak in 4800m altitude. The pilot Stewart Millen Bonter, the flight engineer Douglas Colquohoun and the Mid / Upper gunner Darwin Cameron Lawton died in the crash. The flight Officer H. Vachon, Flight Officer A. Hinchcliffe and Wireless Operator Eiler Villy Anderson survived the crash and became captive. The Rear Gunner Thomas Delmer Scott had already jumped over Hagen shortly after receiving the flak hit. Scott was captured on 17 March, but not transferred to the Wehrmacht, but admitted in the Court prison in Hagen. On the morning of April 3, 1945, Scott, along with 11 Hungarian "volunteers" of the Wehrmacht, shot by the Gestapo in the woods near Hagen in a bomb crater.
From military records we could determine that for a long time the place where Stewart Millen (Bonter) was buried could not be found. Only in November 1947 were the graves of Stewart Millen Bonter, Douglas Colquohoun and Darwin Cameron Lawton found in the cemetery of Erkrath. On 21.11.1947 the three airmen were evacuated and transferred to the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2037035
FROM OUR FILES
Stewart Millen was the youngest child of John Wadsworth Bonter and Ada Beatrice Lough. Brother of Mildred, Hazel, Herbert, Raymond (my father), Eldon and Grace. His body is buried in Reichwald Forest, Germany.
STEWART'S LAST LETTER TO FAMILY SEEMS TO BE A PRMONITION -
"Remember, I'm going to be calling the roll as you come up and I shall have all your individual records before me."
The actual crash site of the "Moonlight Mermaid" remained unknown until we could find it a few weeks ago. I would be very interested to get more details (photos, documents, etc.) for my research work.
My question: Are there any descendants of the Bonter family in Mamora to whom you could pass my request?
You can gladly give my address data:
Sven Polkläser, Akazienweg 2, 42579 Heligenhaus, Germany
I thank you in advance for your support.
Yours sincerely Sven Polkläser