Search for father ends at British War Cemetery in Nederweert
Tuesday 10 February 2022It is a drizzling morning. At 10.00 am, we meet at the office of Ivo Richter Sr. Owner of the company BAIV B.V.(British American Infantry Vehicles). The company, which restores historic war vehicles, was based in in Maarheeze from 2012, and has been based in Nederweert for two years now.
The reason is a very special one. Dennis Cobain from Belfast (79) Northern Ireland came into contact with Ivo Rigter through the internet, who invited him to visit with his wife May, son cobain and daughter-in-law Sandra. For over a year, Dennis searched the internet for his biological father in online DNA databases, which make it easy to trace lost and unknown relatives. In addition to his father's name, he also found his father's siblings and a cousin in the US state of Utah. Finally, his search ended at the British Commonwealth War Cemetery in Nederweert.
Dennis: "I was born in 1943 and came into a foster family just after the war. A widow who already had nine children of her own took care of me after my mother offered me for adoption''. Cobain could never find out the reason why. Cobain did know that his adoptive mother was not his real mother. However, his biological parents and the war were never mentioned.
His father, Londoner Cyril Francis Fuller Percy, was in his early twenties when the Second World War broke out. He fought in the famous tank battle in the Egyptian desert at El Alamein in 1942. On his return to the United Kingdom, he was sent to Northern Ireland for training. There he met a girl, but they did not marry. Whether he ever knew that during that brief affair a child was conceived is not known. After this Percy married another woman at the end of 1943 and left for France where the Allies had started their offensive against Nazi Germany.
Percy was a member of the 1st battalion of the Middlesex Regiment that fought in October 1944 in the Peel area in the Netherlands. The frontline was between the villages of Asten and Liessel where brigades of the 15th Scottish Infantry Division were joined by the machine gunners of the Middlesex Regiment. During the fighting, Percy's position was hit by a shell, fired by a German tank from the hamlet of Sloot, south of Liessel. The 24-year old Lance sergeant Cyril Percy was killed, according to the war diary of the Regiment.
Amateur historian Ferry Scheepers grew up with the stories of his grandmother from Asten. Together with Niek Hendrix, the chairman of the Foundation Adoption Graves Nederweert, and researcher Jürgen Beekers of the foundation, he collected the information. This way they reconstructed the last day of Percy who fell in Buurschap de Rinkelt near the Dennendijkse bossen in Liessel.
Lest we Forget
Niek Hendrix and Ferry Scheepers
Cobain family at the grave of Ceryl Percy (photo Wiel Mackus/Stg Adoptiegraven Nederweert)
Niek Hendrix hands over the Middlesex regiment insignia to Dennis Cobain (photo Ivo Rigter)
Ltr: Ferry Scheepers, Niek Hendrix, Sandra Cobain, Mark Cobain, May Cobain, Dennis Cobain en Jermain Nicholls (photo: Wiel Mackus/Stg Adoptiegraven Nederweert)
Middlesex regiment in action atLiessel (IWM London)