Private John James, McNee, Age 28, No.14663824, 16 platoon, D Company

John and his wife (copyright Mr A.W.Denton)
John and his wife (copyright Mr A.W.Denton)

Driel

1 House, 2 Barn, 3 shed, 4  position, 5 track, 6 orchard, 7 fields
1 House, 2 Barn, 3 shed, 4 position, 5 track, 6 orchard, 7 fields

Case

First Case forwarded in March 2007, never received a reply.

Second case forwarded March 2019.

Used sources:

 

War Dairy

Municipal Archives Nijmegen.

(Late) Mr and Mrs De Hartog (Zetten)

Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Grave 23.C.5 (R.Wenting)
Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Grave 23.C.5 (R.Wenting)

Private John James McNee, No.14663824, 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

I would like to put the following case forward to you, for a possible identification of the two  unknown soldiers, buried at Arnhem-Oosterbeek War  Cemetery, killed on 06-03-1945 at grounds of Groenewoud Farm, Driel which I believe are:

 

Private John Ivan HYDE and Private John James McNEE

Died 06/03/1945

16 Platoon, D Company, 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment

 

Private John Ivan Hyde and Private John James McNee D Company, 16 Platoon, 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

It is known that on 6th March 1945 around 20 men of the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment were walking in knee deep flood water in the dark, The patrol set of at 19.00hrs (see attd War Diary 1).

At around 04.00am on the 6th of March, they reached their position and a cable part of nine men approach Groenewoud farm (see attd wartime map Groenewoud) and are fired on by Germans troops inside the farm. Six of the men returned one of them wounded and three others are missing, one of them know to be wounded.

 

The 3 man who were missing were  Harry Reeves (statement attd) and Privates John I Hyde and John J.McNee.

 

According to the late Harry Reeves, the following happened:  At the head  of the patrol were Harry Reeves with Jack Hyde  just behind to his left and John James just being to Harry’s right. The Sergeant was at the back of the patrol. As they were coming to dry land, the moon came up from behind the clouds and everything was lit up by moonlight. A voice ,shouting English called “Halt!”. The sergeant asked, “Who is that”, We are English, and the shots were fired.

Jack Hyde was shot in the chest and head and killed instantly. John J McNee was shot in the stomach and carried to the Groenewoud (now called Fikkersdries Farm). Harry Reeves who had been shot in the thigh was taken to the farm in a wheelbarrow. John James asked Harry where he was and Harry told him they were taking them to the hospital. He said “good” but then died.

Harry was taken to the hospital at day break and the germans told him they would be buried John and Jack at or near the farm.

 

In 1991 the officer in charge of the platoon also wrote a little statement which gives also evidence that both men went missing in the Groenewoud Farm area. (statement attd Tom Anderton 1/2).

Another statement is enclosed of the Battalions signals officer , which also stated that killing of both soldiers, and added that the barn in which the German laid the bodies in before burial went up in flames. Which may indicate why the bodies were not buried in march 1945 and where buried by others and might also indicate they could not be identified in 1948. (statement attd  Signals Officer)

I wasn’t able to get in touch with relatives of Private John Ivan Hyde, so unfortunately can’t provide you with any additional information about him, which might help out with a possible identification.

 

  

Private John Ivan Hyde and Private John James McNee D Company, 16 Platoon, 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

From the battalion war diary can be read that the on the 8th of March another patrol was send out by the Battalion in search of the missing men, during a fire fight with German troops, outside buildings were catching fire (see attd War diary 2) again an indication as why the bodies of the 2 privates could have been burned beyond recognition and could not have been identified when recovered in 1948, presumable during some work at the farm.

 

I also have enclosed an account made by a local researcher years ago about the fighting around the Groenewoud Farm. (see attd Groenewoud a farm on the Island 1,2,3,4)

Groenewoud a farm on the Island (4)

1.       Farmers house

2.       Shed

3.       Shed

4.       German stronghold

5.       5 road

6.       6 orchard

7.       fields

I have also attached a copy of on original 1944 photograph, showing the farm and the surrounding area.

 

Unfortunately I could find out whom buried both men, but I presume either the British troops or even the inhabitants of Groenwoud Farm when they returned in 1945. Therefore it might have been possible that any items were found on the bodies. I have been in touch in the past with the late Mrs Florence Britten , the widow of Private John James McNee, and she provided me with the following information which might help you out.

 

He had short brown/black hair. He owned a wrist watch, Waterman fountain pen, and also carried a photograph of his two children.

 

1 Have enclosed a wedding photograph of John James McNee

 

To commemorated the 2 men a memorial plaque was placed on the farmers house in 1994, the area is now own by the Dutch Water Company, and not open for the public without appointment.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION:

It is my believe that looking at the available information that the 2 unknowns buried in grave 23.C.5 at Arnhem/Oosterbeek War Cemetery are the two missing  unknown soldiers above mentioned found at Groenewoud Farm Driel  (map coordinates 670738) in 1948.

 

No other units fought in that area, nor are there any missing in that area, other than the two privates of D Company, 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Which according to my records have only 3 men missing, but  the 3rd Private Arthur Roy Charsley, No.14617228, went missing on 06-11-1944, and was killed near Willemstad according to the War dairy.

 

So I hope you want to check the records of these two Privates with the information you have available of the two unknowns soldiers in grave 23.C.5 at Arnhem/Oosterbeek War Cemetery. 


Outcome

Case out come: March 2020.

contact details are removed for privacy reasons.


Dear Mr Reinders,

 

Thank you for submitting a proposal for the identification of the two Unidentified Commonwealth Soldiers buried within grave XXIII.C.5 in Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Netherlands.

 

Unfortunately, the new evidence you have provided does not address the key reasons for the rejection of your original case in 2009, which remain relevant.  

 

Included as new evidence is an account which you state was compiled by a local researcher. Unfortunately neither the author, sources they used nor the date of the account are recorded. Therefore CWGC is not able to comment on the likely accuracy or completeness of the document.

However it does mention that men from the Lincolnshire Regiment were captured near the recovery location. It is therefore possible that the two candidates were removed from the farm as POWs, and died or were buried elsewhere. No new evidence has been submitted to show that Pte Hyde and Pte McNee were buried at the farm, so the exact circumstances of their deaths and burial remains unconfirmed.

 

As neither a specific Regiment or Unit for the two recovered casualties is known, all other candidates need to be addressed and discounted. It is possible these include non-Commonwealth casualties (e.g. Polish) who are not named in CWGC records of the missing. There are 1,020 potential candidates commemorated upon the Groesbeek Memorial, with 458 with a date of death during September 1944 and a further 95 during March 1945. As the circumstances of those who died at Arnhem are extremely difficult to establish, it is improbable that all 458 could be successfully investigated and excluded.

 

 

The possibility of fighting near the farm during September 1944 cannot be ruled out. It is possible that this was considered likely in 1948 and led to the date of death being assumed to September 1944. Whilst this date should be treated with caution, it is the only detail that can be used in consideration of this case. As such it excludes the two candidates from contention. As it has already been confirmed that there are no dental records for the two candidates, there is no other avenue to investigate. As such, we will continue to commemorate Private John Ivan Hyde and Private John James McNee upon the Groesbeek Memorial. 


Graves Registration Report
Graves Registration Report