Name at birth – Johan Pieter Marie van der Heijden.

Image from 1944 Ipswich Evening Star.


Born: 23rd February 1924, North Brabant, Netherlands.

Died: 10th November 1945; age: 21; when his aircraft exploded in mid-air near Wheaton Aston Airfield, Staffordshire.

Residence: Brabant, Sproughton, Suffolk.


John became a Flight Sergeant in the newly-formed Air Training Corps, and entered the R.A.F. in 1942, and trained in Canada. He later saw operational flying service with a photographic reconnaissance unit.

London Gazette – 1st September 1945 – Flight Sergeant – R.A.F.V.R.


Rank: Pilot Officer; Service Number: 200908.

Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.


Funeral service held at St. Pancras Church, Ipswich, on the morning of Thursday, 15th November 1945, when a Solemn High Mass of Requiem was offered. The coffin, draped with the Union Jack, had remained in the church before the High Altar on the 14th overnight.

Grave Reference:


Ipswich Old Cemetery,



Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Mr & Mrs P.H.J. van der Heijden.


Brother to Pieter Robert Maire van der Heijden.


Father: Pieter Hendrik John van der Heijden, born November 1886, Oudenbosch, North Brabant, Netherlands – died 1949, ‘Brabant’, Sproughton, Suffolk. Superintendent – Beet Sugar Factory.

Mother: (Nelly) Cornelia Fredericka van der Heijden (nee Augustijn), born March 1891.


John was educated at Ipswich School, and at St. Joseph’s College, Ipswich.


On the 19th March 1937, John and his father & siblings (originally from the Netherlands) took British Nationality. They were listed in the London Gazette on the 6th April 1937.

Pieter Hendrik Johan van der Heijden, a Manager; residence – Sproughton Road, Sproughton.


Johan Pieter Marie van der Heijden

Maria Dymphina Cornelia van der Heijden

Pieter Henrik Johan van der Heijden

Pieter Robert Maire van der Heijden.


John is also remembered on the Ipswich School Chapel war memorial,  and both John & Pieter are remembered on the war memorial at All Saint’s Church, Sproughton.


10th November 1945

Aircraft – de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito PR.Mk 34; Serial Number: RG204 of the Radar Controlled Air Survey Unit. Controls lost and broke up in the air following the failure of the starboard engine on a radar calibration flight. John was killed. The Navigator bailed out successfully, after John had ordered him to bale out.

John’s brother, Pieter Robert Maria van der Heijden, of ‘Brabant’, Sproughton, also lost his life – ranked a Squadron Leader/Pilot, 40190, of the Royal Air Force, 541 Squadron. Killed 8th February 1943. Taking off from RAF Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, he failed to return from a photo reconnaissance mission to Rotterdam in a Supermarine Spitfire PR.Mk IVT. Pieter is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, panel 292.


19th November 1945 – Evening Star




The funeral took place on Thursday at St. Pancras Church, Ipswich, of Pilot-Officer John Van der Heijden, R.A.F., son of Mr. and Mrs. P. Van der Heijden, of Brabant, Sproughton, who was killed when the aircraft he was piloting exploded in mid-air, after he had ordered his navigator to bale out.


Pilot-Officer Van der Heijden, who was 21 was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Oak Hill, Ipswich. He became a flight-sergeant in the newly-formed A.T.C., and entered the R.A.F. in 1942, and trained in Canada. He later saw operational flying service with a photographic reconnaissance unit, in the same squadron as that with which his brother, Squadron-Leader Peter Van der Heijden (killed on active service), had been associated. At school, in private life and in Service he was universally liked and admired.

The coffin, draped with the Union Jack, had remained in the church before the High Altar overnight, and on Thursday morning a Solemn High Mass of Requiem was offered by the Very Rev. Provost Peacock, with Father Reidy, assistant priest of St. Pancras, as deacon, and the Reverend Father Clare, chaplain to St. Joseph’s College, as sub-deacon. The brothers of St. Joseph’s College, led by the Rev. Brother Celsus, head master, formed the choir, and boys of the college served the Mass.

The committal service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev. Father Reidy.

The chief mourners were: Mr. and Mrs. P. Van der Heijden (father and mother), Sproughton; Mr. and Mrs. A. Leason (sister and brother-in-law), Ipswich, and Mrs. H. Van der Heijden (sister-in-law).

Capt. H. Van der Heijden, R.E. (brother), was unable to be present, as he was delayed in returning by air from Berlin.

An R.A.F. contingent from the deceased’s station was led by the Commanding Officer (Wing Commander Edwards, D.F.C.).


The large congregation included Mr. and Mrs. MacFadyen (London), Mr. and Mrs. E. Leason (London), Father McKenna, Father Collier, Bro. Allan, the Rev. David, representing the Catholic Women’s League (Mrs. Chadwick and Mrs. Johns), representing the Knights of St. Columba, Ipswich (Mr. J.L. Dilger and Mr. Hetherington); representing B.S.G. (Mr. E. Clarke), Mr. F.H.J. McNally (also representing the Ipswich and District Circle of Catenian Association), Wing Commander and Mrs. Mackenzie, Warrant Officer Sharpling, R.A.F.; representing R.C.A.S.U. Gransden Lodge, Cambridge (Wing Commander Edwards, Major Miskin, Flight-Lieut. Illing, P.-O. Ford, Sergt. Young, Sergt. Kirkwood, Corpl. Dawkins).

Floral tributes were sent by: Mum and Dad; Mary and Arthur; Harry, Audrey and Cecilia; Mr. and Mrs. E. Leason; Linian (Saskatoon); Peter; Commanding Officer, Officers, N.C.O’s and Airmen, R.A.F. Station, Gransden Lodge; officers and other ranks No. 6 Radar Survey Section, Royal Engineers; brother officers, R.C.A.S.U.; Flight-Sergts. and Sergeants, R.C.A.S.U.; Corporal and Airmen, R.C.A.S.U.; the Ipswich and District Circle of the Catenian Association; Catholic Women’s League, Ipswich Branch; members of the British Sugar Cooperation Sports Club, Ipswich Factory; Dr. L. Newell Moss, Mr. and Mrs. E. Robsob and Jean, Tom Symes; Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Mason and family; Mr. ans Mrs. Terry; Mr. and Mrs. Houghton and family; Major and Mrs. Verity and Vivian Staddon; Phyllis and Joe Gildea; Mr. and Mrs. R.K. Morrison and Maureen; Mr. and Mrs. Goldsmith and Pat; Mr. and Mrs. Turner and Claude; Albert and Trissee, Jennifer; Family MacFadyen; Mr. and Mrs. Mather and family.


The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Edward S. Singleton Ltd.

One Comment

  • Dear Sir, I believe that Pieter Van der Heijden was, with Tom Symes(a partner in the firm of Turner, Martin and Symes, solicitors, in Ipswich), and Richard Stokes, the Labour MP for Ipswich, responsible for inviting the De La Salle Brothers to run St. Joseph’s College, firstly at Oak Hill, then also at Birkfield.


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