Burgemeester Kees Veerhoek with John Burns and Jillian Tiernan and a recently recovered Halifax propeller at last year's ceremony in the Netherlands (Photo: Neder-Betuwe Municipality)

Sr Philomene Tiernan will also be remembered on the Murgon visit
(Photo: Julia Charles)
October 25, 2015

The Mayor of the Dutch eastern Netherlands municipality of Neder-Betuwe and members of the Dodewaard Memorial Day committee will be paying a visit to Murgon on Monday, November 16.

The visit is in return for a visit by a South Burnett delegation to Dodewaard in May last year to honour the memory of former Murgon aviator Patrick Tiernan and his fellow crewman Alfred Burns, from Lidcombe in NSW, who lost their lives when their Halifax bomber exploded over the town during World War II.

The graves of the two airmen had been tended by Dodewaard’s Memorial Day committee (similar to an Anzac Day committee) since their deaths on June 17, 1944.

But little had been known about the two airmen until Mayor Kees Veerhoek approached South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann in November 2012 seeking more information about Patrick Tiernan.

Publication of the story in southburnett.com.au led to the discovery of photographs, war-related papers and other documents which finally put a face to the name on the tombstone in Dodewaard’s cemetery.

Contact between the two Mayors ultimately led to a visit to Dodewaard and other European war cemeteries by a South Burnett delegation six months later to honour the South Burnett’s war dead.

Mayor Veerhoek and Dodewaard’s Memorial Day committee members Cees and Monique Van Meer, Ries and Anke Hoogakker, Paul and Annelies Struik, along with their Australian friends Ann Tiernan and husband Chris Boyle, Bob and Margaret Tiernan, Jillian Tiernan and Adrian Carroll will be guests of the Murgon RSL Services Club at a special lunch being organised for the visit.

Nanango historian Liz Caffery will be part of the luncheon and speeches.

Mrs Caffery was part of the delegation and later produced a book about it covering all the events that occurred, including the tragic death of fellow delegation member Sister Philomene Tiernan whose plane was shot down by a Russian-made missile over Ukraine on her return trip.

Afterwards, the Dutch group will pay a visit to the former Tiernan’s Australian Hotel where Patrick grew up, and will take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Murgon war memorial to remember both Patrick and Sr Philomene Tiernan.

The party will then leave Murgon at about 3:30pm for their trip back to Brisbane, flying home to the Netherlands the following day.

The RSL are extending an open invitation to all South Burnett residents who’d like to take part in the lunch.

For catering purposes, lunch costs of $20 per head need to be prepaid to the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch by November 3, 2015 because places are limited.

They can be booked by emailing Trevor Sanderson or Leo Geraghty.

[UPDATED]

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Members of the South Burnett delegation at Uden Cemetery in 2014 where Burns' and Tiernan's fellow airmen were interred
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