Almost 77 years to the day John Dunlop McVie of Trail — and 22 other airmen — died in a plane crash over Germany on Sept. 24, 1944, people around the world paid their respects to the fallen during a livestream from the site where they died.
The ceremony to honour those killed in the downed Dakota KG653 fighter plane was held just outside of Neuleiningen, Germany, on Sept. 25, 2021.
The event was organized by Erik Wieman, a German researcher who first contacted the Trail Times in February 2018, asking about information on John McVie, a Trail teenager who went by Jack.
Wieman sent the Times a note last week along with a handful of photos showing the Sept. 25 commemoration.
Letter from Erik Wieman
Saturday, 25.09.2021 our Dakota-KG653-Project came to an end.
We have unveiled the memorial for the 23 airmen (two British, one Australian, and 20 Canadian airmen) that were killed in action , 24.09.1944.
Due to COVID-19 we had to postpone twice, but now the monument has been unveiled, with many family members being present, but also present via Livestream to Canada, the UK, and Australia.
Many VIPs were present.
The Minister of the Interior of Rhineland-Palatinate Mr. Roger Lewentz, the Air Attache, embassy Berlin, Mr. Ben Poxon, many Canadian, UK and German Military Service Members from Ramstein Air Base Headquarters, all about 100 attendees.
Personal finds that were found at the crash site were given back to the family members.
We had a fly-by of three aircraft, performing the ‘Missing Man’ Formation.
We had allied and German WW2-vehicles, and great weather. The German media published full page newspaper articles and TV-publications, as did UK Forces News and AFN (American Forces Network).
As far as I know there was no media coverage in Canada for the 20 KIA (killed in action) or Australia (one KIA).
UK and Germany, U.S. only.
CTV and other media (you) helped us to find the 23 families of the crew and passengers in the last years, and already published the story of the 23 KIA in the media. I think the families of the 20 Canadian and Australian KIA would also appreciate coverage of the conclusion of this project in Canada and Australia.
The family (two sons) of the pilot who shot down this aircraft (Captain Julius Meimberg) was also present at the ceremony, mourning with all families of the crew and passengers.
Julius Meimberg felt very bad after he had shot down this aircraft, until he died in 2012.
Closing the circle.
Closure for all families.
In the name of understanding between former foes.
It was a very special day for all of us.”
Organisation / IG Heimatforschung Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Aircraftman 1st Class Jack McVie was born in Trail on Dec. 18, 1926. He enlisted for the air force in July 1943. Jack McVie was 17-years old when he was killed in action over Germany on Sept. 24, 1944. Jack is listed on the Roll of Honour of Our Glorious Dead at the Trail Legion. He lies in the Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany.
Lest We Forget.
Gratitude from Trail
Sarah Benson-Lord, a key resource for Wieman at the Trail Museum and Archives, sent a letter from Mayor Lisa Pasin on behalf of the City of Trail and a wreath from the Trail Legion to be placed at the site during the Sept. 25 ceremony.
Following the event, Benson-Lord thanked Wieman for his dedication in bringing this piece of history to light and honouring the fallen in such a deeply thoughtful way.
“Congratulations, Erik,” Benson-Lord said. “What a journey you’ve made and our community is so grateful with the lengths you took to locate this crash site and bring awareness to these soldiers, especially our own Jack McVie,” she said.
“We were there in spirit.”