About a month ago we completed a book on War monuments in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands (title: ‘Apeldoorn ’40 – ’45, het verhaal achter de Apeldoornse oorlogsmonumenten’ – the story behind the war monuments in Apeldoorn). The book is written to inform schoolchildren, whose schools have adopted a monument, about the Second World War in Apeldoorn and for the interested inhabitants of Apeldoorn. The book is sponsored by the Stichting Bevrijding ’45 (the Liberation ’45 Foundation) and there is no commercial purpose behind it.
On one of the described monuments is the name of Sergeant USAAF Robert W. Zercher, a ballturretgunner on a B-17 from 729 Bomber Squadron 452 Bomber Group.
OnApril 29th 1944 he and the rest of crew had to bail out when their B-17 was shot down by German fighters in the neighborhood of Apeldoorn. The Dutch resistance took care of the crew and hid them for the Germans. Unfortunately Sgt Zercher was caught by the Germans on October, 1st 1944 together with a British Flight sergeant named Kenneth Ingram. The Germans knew that they were Allied soldiers, but they murdered them nevertheless together with six Dutch members of the resistance. The Germans laid their dead bodies in the streets of Apeldoorn, with a paper on their chests with the word ‘Terrorist’ written on it, to frighten the Apeldoorn population. After the war a monument was erected for these unlucky Allied soldiers and resistance fighters to commemorate this atrocious war crime.
For some unknown reason Robert Zercher’s family name is misspelled on the monument as ‘Zurcher’. We are planning to correct this and to unveil the monument anew with the correct name at the next commemoration, October 2nd 2006. At the same time we will publish a more in-depth description of Robert Zercher and his war experience in the local newspaper ‘Stentor’ and on a website: http://www.monument.apeldoorn-onderwijs.nl/index.htmhttp://www.monument.apeldoorn-onderwijs.nl/index.htm.
In the meantime we are looking for more details about the crew, the mission etc. Up until now we have only one name of the crew, that ofSgt Zercher.
On the internet I found your e-mails ‘Robert Zercher – killed by Gestapo at Apeldoorn’ on this site. Reading the e-mails I got the impression that you have more information about the crew. Three members of that particular crew are mentioned in the e-mails: Bob Zercher, your late cousin Floyd Ragsdale and Philip Cavanaugh.
We would like to writea comprehensive story about this particular mission, illustrate this article with photographs, the portrait of Robert Zercher, with the correct squadron patch and so on. Would you be so kind to share your information with us?
Thanking you in anticipation, yours faithfully
Jelle Reitsma Brigadier-general (retired) Royal Netherlands Army Zwarte Kijkerweg 25a 7313 GC APELDOORN The Netherlands tel +31553555890