Dreadful ammunition accident

On 22 July 1945, around two months after the end of the Second World War, three children from the village of Eeserveen died when ammunition exploded in the woods near Odoorn. How can this accident have happened?

Eye witness Bouke de Jonge tells the story

In an interview with local broadcaster RTV Drenthe Bouke de Jonge told what had happened on that fateful day. Together with four friends he had gone into the woods to play. His grandfather had already told him that he should not do that, but they ignored his warning. Close to an abandoned German munitions depot they found a grenade. Bouke told the others not to touch it, but one of the boys threw it towards the depot. The grenade exploded, taking the munitions shed with it. Kornelius Pepping, just 9 years old, his 14-year old brother Derk and 14-year old Remmelt Groenwold did not survive the explosion.

Bouke remembered: “There was an enormous bang. They told me afterwards that I had been thrown five metres backwards by the explosion. The side of my body was blue and my shirt had been completely ripped from my body”. He had been standing a short distance away from the other three boys with his side turned towards the explosion. He suffered a number of cuts to his body from splinters, as well as one in his head.

Helped by American soldiers

American soldiers took Bouke to a military hospital in Gieten and he was later transferred to the hospital in Assen. He survived his wounds, as did one of the other boys.

No more football

The doctor told Bouke’s mother that he should never play football again and particularly never to head a ball, as that might displace the splinter in his head. Bouke himself did not know that, he only knew that he should never play football …

Monument in the woods

At the site of the accident stand three stones, each with a copper plaque, on which stand the words:

The Second World War continued to claim victims after it had finished.

Here, on 22 July 1945, these lives were lost:

DERK PEPPING

Fourteen years old, together with his younger brother and friend,

by playing with abandoned German ammunition

Derk Pepping. Photo Hans Meijering

KORNELIUS PEPPING

Nine years old, together with his brother and friend,

by playing with abandoned German ammunition

Kornelis Pepping. Photo Hans Meijering

REMMELT GROENWOLD

Fourteen years old, together with his two friends,

by playing with abandoned German ammunition

Remmelt Groenwolt. Photo Hans Meijering

Location: 52.876397, 6.812421

Photo Hans Meijering

Sources:

https://www.tracesofwar.nl/sights/7621/Monumenten-omgekomen-kinderen.htm

https://www.rtvdrenthe.nl/nieuws/134265/Bouke-de-Jonge-zag-hoe-drie-van-zijn-vriendjes-werden-gedood-door-achtergebleven-munitie

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lijst_van_oorlogsmonumenten_in_Borger-Odoorn

Vorig artikelWartime American bomber crashed near Exloo
Volgend artikelHarlekijn

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