What is BK716?
BK716 was a British Second World War Short Stirling bomber which crashed in Lake Markermeer, the Netherlands in 1943 while on mission after being shot down by German aircraft. In the Autumn of 2020, the municipality of Almere, the Netherlands, recovered the wreckage. BK716 had seven crew members on board, five of whom were British and two Canadian. During the recovery process, human remains were found.
The Magazine by the municipality of Almere
Some historic events should never be forgotten. They define us, remind us of who we are and what we stand for. Our modern values grew from them. Passing on these kinds of stories to next generations is essential. It gives us more understanding of our society today and helps us to create a better future.
The Stirling BK716 is one of those events. For over two years, many people from various organisations have worked hard to help raise BK716. Each one of them contributed with a shared passion and dedication, thoroughly aware of the project’s true purpose: finding the missing crew.
During the project, BK716’s story came to life. In cooperation with the Province of Flevoland and other organisations, we tried to capture BK716’s story in a documentary, a children’s book, Second World War stories and the artwork ‘Rise’. Over time the lost crew of BK716 have become increasingly familiar faces to us, through all the stories that have been told about them and the personal memories family members shared with us.
After the project was done, we felt BK716’s story was not ours to keep but was meant to be shared with the next generation. And what better way to let it be passed on by the next generation themselves. After all, they are key in bringing the past and present together. That is how the digital magazine project was born.
We have fashioned a new way of working, in which a multidisciplinary project team of students from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands co-created the telling of BK716’s story through this digital magazine. The project itself served as a learning environment as well. In this way, the students became ambassadors of the story, developed new skills, and learnt about historic events at the same time.
This digital magazine has become exactly what it was supposed to – a heartfelt tribute to BK716’s men.
Dedication to the Crew
In Time: The Loss and Recovery of a Short Stirling Crew was written to honour the legacy of the BK716 Crew:
- Sergeant Charles Armstrong Bell
- Flying Officer John Michael Campbell
- Flying Officer Harry Gregory Farrington
- Flying Officer John Frederick Harris
- Sergeant Ronald Kennedy
- Flight Sergeant John Francis McCaw
- Sergeant Leonard Richard James Shrubsall
May they rest in peace.
BK716 was part of No. 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron RAF. Their motto, “In Time”, refers to the Squadron’s formation in the later years of the First World War, as they arrived just in time to help assure a British victory.
This motto is also symbolic of the crew of BK716. Their crashed plane was not found for nearly 80 years. Their families waited, not knowing how to grieve for the sons, brothers, and husbands they never properly got to lay to rest. But, in time, they were found. And, in time, their families and nations were able to pay their respects.
The recovery of BK716 is a story of bravery and sacrifice. But it is also a story of patience, determination, and perseverance. Hope was not lost that the crew of BK716 might one day be found – just as we continue to hope that, in time, we will never again suffer the consequences of war, violence, and persecution.
This virtual magazine is based on the personal testimony and experiences of some of the families of the BK716 aircrew. It is not representative of all experiences of the crew and their families. Limitations and time constraints have also prevented researchers from accessing service records for some of the crew before this e-magazine was published.
The authors of this virtual magazine comprised of an international team of students at various levels of post-secondary education and English language capabilities. This is reflected in the research and writing of each article. Information should be verified with additional sources before reuse by third parties. Furthermore, each student was responsible for citing sources where appropriate. Failure to do so is not reflective of the entire team but lies within the responsibility of individual authors.
Use of the Term BK716
The authors of this magazine have chosen to refer to the Short Stirling aircraft and its crew as “BK716.” As a family member of the aircrew quite rightfully indicated, BK716 would not be a term the crew used to refer to their aircraft. BK716 HA-J was a serial number used to identify the aircraft. The crew likely would have referred to themselves as “Harris’s crew” or had a nickname for their aircraft. It is unknown at this time what they would have called themselves. For the sake of neutrality, inclusivity, and clarity, the authors of In Time have chosen to refer to the aircraft and its men as BK716. It is also consistent with newspaper articles and memorials that have already been dedicated to them.