In February 2020, the Nadirwert Foundation for War Cemeteries began revamping and digitizing the old adoption record. With permission from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the goal is to provide all graves with adopters. One of these adopters is Flores Hendricks (29 years old). Sunderland Echo in England published an article on the search for his British editor on Saturday 6 February 2021.
Searching for a British editor
An inspiring mission to honor the WWII hero from Sunderland
A Sunderland pilot who died in WWII at the age of 19 will not be forgotten in a small Dutch community. Sgt. Vincent Mackenzie’s courage is honored by Floris Hendricks (29), who lives in Holtom in the Netherlands and adopted the grave of Sgt Mackenzie. MacKenzie would have turned 96 on Sunday had he survived World War Two. But he died on June 22, 1944 and was buried in the Nderwirt War Cemetery.
Sergeant Mackenzie was a gunner in the 5th group of the 44th RAF Volunteer Reserve Squadron, and Flores made it his mission to take care of the grave of the British hero. He lovingly takes care of the tomb and places flowers on it on Vincent’s birthday. But Flores wants to do more to honor the Wearside man, and he hopes Sunderland Echo readers can help. He explains, “The main aim of my trip is to honor the fallen heroes who sacrificed their young lives for the liberation of Europe. I want to get to know them, and tell their stories, so that they will not be forgotten. I visit their graves on special occasions like their birth / death date to bring flowers.
“The ultimate goal is to find a picture to give them a face. “
Can anyone participate in the mission of Flores? Thanks to Floris and ex-WRAF Brenda Kelly for his help, we know some information about Vincent and his family. Vincent’s mother and father married in 1916. They were John William Mackenzie and Mary Alice Gillespie. Vincent was born in Sunderland on January 31, 1925 and had one sister, Catherine, who was born in 1921. Catherine married Norman Smith and they have two sons who were also born in Sunderland. When Vincent died in 1944, his parents lived in Southhall, Middlesex.
Brenda told us:Vincent was the brave gunner on the RAF Lancaster bomber, and the crew was considered unique because the crew came from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and America.But their fate was determined on June 21, 1944 when they set off from Donholm Lodge, a grassy field in Lincolnshire. It was a night mission over Germany, but reports say their plane crashed while on a mission over Wesling, Germany. Vincent was nineteen years old when he died.
Brenda:I really hope there are still relatives or family friends who might have some memories or moments to share with Flores and the Sunderland people.“I always had an interest and fascination for WWII,” Flores adds. “I’ve already visited a number of WWII American cemeteries and museums all over Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.”
The Lancaster bomber, the aircraft Sergeant Mackenzie and his crew used on their last mission. Flores then discovered that there were various adoption programs in the Netherlands and adopted the graves of an American soldier and four British heroes, including Vincent Mackenzie. Can you help Flores find the picture of Sgt Mackenzie? Can you lend him a hand to make sure the Sunderland champion is never forgotten?
Does anyone have any information? Send an email to [email protected]. Read the article on Sunderland Echo’s here
Note out of the 363 graves, only a few are available. If you wish to adopt a grave, go to www.adoptiegravennederweert.nl and fill out the digital registration form. Or send an email to [email protected].
Pictures: Flores Hendricks
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