The Team

The team that brings you the story of BK 716

The project to tell the story of BK716 started to come together in the summer of 2022 when participants were sought from areas in countries that held a personal connection to the aircraft and its crew both in the past and today.

Students from Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany came together in September 2022 to start an 8 month project to bring together details of what brought BK716 to be in the air over the Netherlands that day it was shot down and learn about the people involved, to then come to present day and discover more about finding the aircraft and bringing the story to a close with memorials, remembrance and a legacy held within this E-Magazine.

Below is an overview of who we are, students, sounding board members, co-ordination, and design support.

Thank you for reading and learning about BK716.

The student team

Amber Laurie (Canada)

I am the Assistant Curator/Registrar of Marine History for the Nova Scotia Museum. I completed my MA in History at Dalhousie University in August 2022. My current research focus is on enslavement in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, from 1759 to 1812. I am also a prospective PhD student in History at Dalhousie University.

Freedom is a theme that unites my interest in studying history across centuries. I am interested in BK716’s E-magazine project because I think it is extremely important to highlight the efforts of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that others could have their freedom. The Second World War is also still in living memory, though this is fading. For some, the loss of loved ones on all sides is still very real and I think we should do our best to provide comfort so that their memory lives on. It also serves as a warning and reminder that freedom can be taken from anyone. We should do our best to highlight stories like this when opportunities arise.

I would also like to acknowledge that I would not be here today if it was not for the sacrifices my grandfather, Dickson Mills Laurie (V45533), and his three brothers endured during the Second World War. Although I was young when my grandfather died, I know he passed down his interest in history to me. At least two of his brothers, Laughlan Laurie (87012) and John Alfred Laurie (CDN171), played a role in the liberation of the Netherlands.

It is unknown at this time where William Alexander Laurie (A49543) specifically served in Europe. John Alfred Laurie (Uncle Fred) was killed in action in Bremen, Germany. He is buried at Holten Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands. It is for my grandfather and his three brothers that I dedicate my time to this project.

Carl Fuller (United Kingdom)

I am a graduate from University Centre Peterborough with a degree in Media Production. Although the course is tailored towards film and TV, as part of it I have also completed some modules in journalism. I enjoy reading non-fiction books primarily focused on the Second World War as well as other conflicts in the 20th and 21st Century. Hearing about the project from my university lecturer I decided to join the creation of this E-magazine because it involved the story of a British bomber and her crew that were downed in the Second World War, an area of history that I have a passion to learn about and expand my knowledge on.

I saw this project as an opportunity for me to expand upon my journalism skills and to be able to work in a team as part of an international project involving people from different countries, backgrounds, and experiences. When I first heard about the project surrounding BK716, I was immediately invested in their story when I learned about how local the airfield they were based at was to me.

From a media prospective this project has allowed me to greatly appreciate all the effort, planning, dedication and hard work that goes into creating a professional e-magazine.

But more importantly, by undertaking and being a part of this project, it has reinforced my belief on how imperative it is to be able tell and share the story of groups and individuals from a generation of people whose numbers are dwindling every day. And that it is especially important to tell the story of those who never had the chance to.

Colin Honders (the Netherlands)

I am a graduated history bachelor student at the University of Amsterdam. I will most likely be starting a master’s in military history next year. Apart from me being a student I am also a volunteer at the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. I got notified of this project through the professor that was assisting with my bachelor thesis. My interest for the Second World War started at a young age, and this project has given me the opportunity to do something with that interest. Working with other students who I did not know before project has been a lot of fun, and together we have created this E-magazine that will keep the memory of the crew alive for future generations. It has been a honour to be involved with the magazine for we must never forget the price of our freedom, especially today.

Grace McNutt (Canada)

I am a PhD candidate in History at Dalhousie University, NS. I received my BA Honours in History from Cape Breton University in 2018 and my MA in Atlantic Canada Studies from Saint Mary's University in 2020. I am also privileged to be a Killam Laureate.

Too often, the history of war and conflict minimizes the human impact. In the process of recounting the grand narratives of war, we can overlook the individual stories of tragedy, suffering, and heroism. As historians, we have a responsibility to ensure these stories are not forgotten and to humanize the history of war. I saw an opportunity to do that through this project and the story of BK716.

Guided by the principles of co-creation, engagement, and action learning, this team overcame the challenges of distance, time-zones, and isolation to tell a very intimate story of war, loss, and recovery. I am very proud to be part of this project and will cherish the connections I made through it.

As I look toward my graduation in 2025, I hope to share what I have learned with my students and implement those lessons in my future endeavors.

Joseph Laba (Canada)

I’m a 20-year-old creative writing student and former journalism student from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

My fascination with the First and Second World War began in high school, and I joined this project to learn and feel connected to recent history in Europe.

What has this experience shown you? That the Second World War still impacts the way people think about conflict today. The sacrifices the people in history made for our freedom was heroic. The crew of seven young men aboard the BK716 are an excellent depiction of this sacrifice. When I think of them, I think of them as an international symbol of peace and freedom.

The digital magazine will not only inspire all generations of people to acknowledge their fallen heroes, but it will encourage them to appreciate the freedom and joy they have in their lives today.

Julie Gray (United Kingdom)

I am a mature student studying History and Archaeology degree at University Centre Peterborough and fast approaching the end of my degree course. I have spent time outside of study volunteering with several organisations close to home involved with archaeological activities.

I am interested in being able to understand how individuals or small groups of people can have an impact on a situation or how a situation impacts them. Stories of pilots and crew were key to displays at the Fenland Aviation Museum where I had volunteered. This opportunity to delve into the story of BK 716 further expanded my thoughts on the many ways that we can use to remember the past and keep that relevant for now and into the future.

Going forward I’m very hopeful that I will be able to continue my studies with a masters and skills acquired during this project can be developed especially as I start to work with a broader range of new colleagues as I continue to investigate lives of people in the past.

Lucas Nieuwenhuis (the Netherlands)

I am 23 years old and am studying to be a historian at the University of Leiden.

I have entered this project because I wish to protect the memory of events that should be remembered such in this case the story of the Short Stirling BK716 and its crew. It is important that people know about it and that the right amount of respect is used when dealing with it.

This experience has shown me that it can be quite difficult to work in a big group. It's not easy to communicate with others and to work something out. Especially with the differences in time zones it can be difficult. Nonetheless this project has succeeded. Looking back, I might have done things slightly differently, but this is how you learn.

After this project I will continue to look for new ones, to build up my experience and help tell the stories that need to be communicated.

Katie Purkiss (United Kingdom)

I am a student at the University Centre Peterborough in my final year of studies for a Batchelors in History and Archaeology. My task within this project was to find out the personal stories of the aircrew of BK716.

This project was presented to the students of UCP by our tutor before the summer of 2022. Although I study history, I did not know much about this period in time. Therefore, it was an opportunity to broaden my knowledge. I had never worked within a multinational team or attempted to create an e-magazine. For me, I felt like I was jumping in at the deep end, but it was a chance to gain new skills and work alongside new people. The aircrew of BK716 gave their lives willingly and showed courage to future generations. The e-magazine is a platform to portray this part of history in a new way, I hope readers find it thought provoking and inspiring.

I have been shown that to create the final piece we could all be proud of, everyone needed to communicate effectively and efficiently. A lot of time, effort, and discussion has gone into the project behind the scenes. Everyone involved has taken time out of their other commitments, such as work, studies, and family life to complete the e-magazine. I could not praise the other team members enough for their passion and performance.

Menna Smith (United Kingdom)

I am a student at University Centre Peterborough, studying history and archaeology. I have taken part in the e-magazine, as I have had a longstanding interest in the Second World War both on a personal level and on an historical level. The personal level is my great grandfather served, and I have been trying to find out in what sector he was in, the historical level is the Second World War was one of the biggest events in history and something that cannot be forgotten. The sections I would like to aid with are the RAF, the background on the Second World War and the Luftwaffe.

Michelle Tasker (United Kingdom)

I am in my final year at University Centre Peterborough, studying Archaeology and History and I was offered this opportunity from my tutor Andrew (Bob) Hatton and it has become an opportunity that I will never regret taking.

I have an interest in the events of the World War Two, particularly the war in Europe. This interest was sparked by my grandfather, who served in the conflict as a paratrooper in the 1st Airborne division and he was one of many who was ‘dropped’ into Holland and took part in Operation Market Garden and fought in the first liberation attempt of Arnhem. I was told of battles he fought in and what life was like as a soldier during the war. As my grandfather was Army, I am keen to find out how the war was fought from the RAF perspective, especially in the Netherlands. I believe that it is important for all the future generations to know what was sacrificed during the conflict and that we must not let those sacrifices be forgotten.

By taking part in this multinational project, my knowledge of World War Two has been greatly expanded, thanks to masterclasses held by experts in the field of the conflict. The project has also shown me that nations that were once enemies can work together on a project about something that once divided them. A site visit to the Stirling Aircraft Project to view the wreckage of BK716 really had an impact on me and ultimately left no doubt whatsoever that the story of BK716 needed to be told. My next phase of learning will a master’s in philosophy, and all the skills I have learned or developed in this project will be carried through into that.

Yannic Wethly (the Netherlands)

I am 19 years old from the Netherlands.

As part of a Dutch World War 2 air war research foundation, I was already researching aircraft with a similar fate as Stirling BK716. I choose to partake in the project because I thought it would elevate my research and understanding of the air war of World War 2.

This project has shown me that no matter how ‘old’ a story is, it is always worth (re)telling. By doing this, the story will stay alive and in doing so, the remembrance of those who gave all. I hope to continue my research with a new, fresh perspective.

Arne Naton (Germany)

I am 29 years, from near Frankfurt am Main in Germany. I am a soldier, having started in 2015 as an enlisted, and am now an officer. Our training encompasses a full MA-degree in one of many possible areas, for which I personally chose history. Besides the general interest in history, I was very interested in this project because I have had opportunities for international work before, and felt them to always be very rewarding in experience and knowledge. Unfortunately I had to withdraw from the project for personal reasons, but am still very glad that I was able to help in its creation. Such projects greatly further international thinking on an individual level, which is vital to our interconnected world. Having been part of this was a great experience, for which I wholeheartedly thank the team!

Sounding Board Members

Phil McNally (United Kingdom)

I am a TV producer and writer in the global All3Media film and television group. I develop ideas and research interesting stories that are then made into documentaries and work with the likes of Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, Netflix & BBC.

I am joining to bring my creative experience to the SB network and to help support the students to confidently tell the story of these airmen. We enjoy our ordinary freedoms today because of these young men and the 100,000 other allied aircrews who lost their lives over WW2 Europe. 80 years later the amazing young people in this project will be their voices and tell their story.

Learning and sharing information is evolving faster now than at any other time in human history. It’s been a delight to have been involved in this project. Online interactive learning is the future of education, and this innovative project has seen a multinational group of young people map out how future generations will discover the past.

Christian Koenig (Germany)

Europe's free democratic basic order and the inherent personal rights of the individual appear to us to be self-evident. However this is not the case. There is always a price to peace. We owe our freedom to those courageous men, who stood up to the threat to eventually overthrow the Nazi menace. Their sacrifice had been for our all benefit. Lest we forget.

I am a 50 year old freelance aviation journalist and deputy chairman of DLwR Deutscher Luftwaffenring (German Air Force Association). Since the late 1980s I've been into aviation archaeology and ancestry studies. I published hundreds of articles and several books mainly on aeronautical topics, and assisted other authors with their respective studies.

The multinational BK716 e-Magazine project offered an unique chance to pass on some of my knowledge to the next generation. It allowed to spark students' curiosity and support them to achieve the best possible outcome. And it was a great learning opportunity for myself, too. Success is a journey, not a destination. The students embarked into it and constantly improved their work on the flight, achieving a long lasting impression and a truly superb commemoration for BK716's Crew.

Nicole Klockenbrink (the Netherlands)

I am a project manager at the municipality of Almere. But I used to be one of the spokespersons at the municipality and these last four years I was the spokesperson of Hilde van Garderen. As alderman she was responsible at municipal administrative level for the recovery of Short Stirling BK716 from Lake Markermeer. And therefore, I’ve been working, together with Lilian van Mourik, on the Stirling project, which has been an incredible experience for me. For me it’s important that this story and other stories of the second World War are being told and are kept for the next generations!

Lilian van Mourik (the Netherlands)

I work as a deputy manager at the municipality of Almere, the Netherlands. I have been the project manager for BK716’s recovery and the digital magazine.

BK716’s brave men made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Their actions are still felt today. Not just by their family, but by all of us. I am very grateful they fought for us, they fought for me. I wouldn’t be living in freedom today if it wasn’t for them. Our world would have been a much darker place. Therefore, I would personally like to thank them. They have taught us that freedom doesn’t come free. And it’s up to us now to fight for that freedom, it’s just as valid today as it was back then. We might not need to show it in the heroic courageous actions as these men did, but we can show it in small sincere gestures. By commemorating them and by keeping their story alive and always remind ourselves, our children and their children that freedom may never be taken for granted.

This project is a perfect way for the next generation to pass on this important story. In a new digital way, so the story is preserved for generations to come. It is such a heartfelt tribute, I feel grateful to have been a part of that and privileged to have been working alongside the students, the sounding board members, and the process facilitators. Many thanks to them for this incredible journey. I am a strong believer that co-creating in multidisciplinary teams lead to the best results. The student project team has proven this. I am taking my hat off to them.

I truly hope this project will inspire others to rise to the challenge to start sharing other WW2 stories. Stories with impact and which we can learn from. Upcoming years more recoveries will follow within the National Programme of aircraft recoveries. I think this project serves as an example of how to pass on these kind of stories to future generations.

Coordination Team

Mark Merritt (United Kingdom)

My joy is encouraging and facilitating adults to achieve everything they can do. In different industries and internationally, to form and enable teams that can succeed in their goals. I have been a member of IFAL (the International Foundation for Action Learning) for many years and found that the experience of learning-by-doing is very special, with input from participants and tutors too, perhaps uniquely effective.

I have a family interest in one of the crew members of BK716 and was fortunate to attend the commemoration events in September 2021. Professionally I have been involved in interdisciplinary project teams for many years and the opportunity to do so again now is a wonderful challenge.

The project management has been superb and the students and support team very effective. Working internationally is a joy! Could it happen so easily outside Netherlands? Probably not because our culture doesn’t encourage us to remember in the same way. The impact for the relatives being able to know where their loved ones are; the circumstances of their passing and the memorial and the funeral; that has been profound. It is a story worthy of re-telling. The magazine has been devised and presented by very caring professionals. I am proud of the achievement and feel confident that it will bring knowledge, information, and joy, to every reader in the future.

We salute those brave people in war who gave their lives so that we may enjoy our freedoms today.

Désirée Voorn (The Netherlands)

I work as a project assistant at the municipality of Almere. I supported the project manager and the BK 716 project team and coordinated the children’s book The Night of the Stirling.

Since Lilian spoke to me about a planned recovery of a Short Stirling bomber at the beginning of 2019 and asked me to support her and the project team, I was smitten by this project, and it became a part of my life. The idea that those seven brave men in their plane in lake Markermeer gave their lives for our freedom intrigued me so much. My thoughts were with the families they left behind and how they lived in uncertainty for so many years. I strongly felt I wanted to contribute a part to this recovery, albeit it small, for this crew and their families. I am so glad that recovery has been successful and that the crew have been laid to rest finally.

For me the E-magazine is the icing on the cake, I admire the way the students work together like they have known each other for a long time, it seems all so natural. They did a great job interviewing, researching, writing, editing. It shows that you can reach so much with engaged people.

I hope that this digital magazine will inspire others and that “our” story will still live on for next generations to come.

Stijn Eppink (The Netherlands)

I am a project manager at the municipality of Almere. I have a background in Industrial product design & storytelling which led to my role in this project, to inspire, brainstorm and co-create with the team and coordinate the design process with the designers.

To be able to contribute to the design of the e-magazine and work on the look & feel of how the story will be told is a special opportunity that I did not want to pass up. Initially, Lilian asked me to participate in the BK716 project to share my knowledge in the field of digital interactions and storytelling with the students, as inspiration for them to further design the magazine. This eventually resulted in the opportunity to fulfil the role of coordinator between the project team and the designers.

I am honoured to be able to work with this international team and I’m convinced that this team will capture the spectacular story of the Stirling III in a beautifully designed E-magazine.