A WOMAN from the Netherlands is hoping to find the descendants of a Clydebank man who was killed while fighting in the Second World War – three days AFTER the surrender of the German forces.

Natasja Hendriks lives in the small Dutch village of Overloon, which is home to a war museum and cemetery for those lost in the conflict between 1939 and 1945.

She recently volunteered to take on responsibility for looking after the graves of two of the 281 soldiers buried in the village’s war cemetery – one of them being that of a Clydebank soldier, John Henry Gray.

Volunteering to look after war graves is a common practice in the Netherlands and now Natasja is looking for any living relatives of John in the hope she might be able to give them some closure.

Speaking to the Post, she said: “I think it would be fantastic to know that he has relatives.

“Maybe there is a family somewhere who have never seen him or had a picture of him, or maybe they never knew what was going on with him.

“It would be fantastic if we could find some relatives and give him a voice.”

All Natasja has been able to find out about John is that he was born in Clydebank, was a bombardier in the Royal Artillery, had the army number 883381, and that he died on May 11, 1945.

Despite this lack of background, Natasja and her husband give up some of their free time to look after the burial site, taking flowers to John’s grave, lighting candles on Christmas Eve and generally making sure it doesn’t fall into disrepair.

“I think it’s really important to look after the graves for the people that paid the highest price there is,” Natasja said. 

“They paid with their lives for our freedom. To respect them, to pay them respect and an obligation to look after them.

“It’s very common here in the Netherlands.”

Though all German forces had officially surrendered three days before John Gray’s death, a small number of individual units continued fighting across Europe for several more days. 

The married pair have also adopted another grave nearby John’s, for an unidentified man they are unable to trace.

If you are, or know of, a relative of John Henry Gray, please get in touch with the Post and we’ll arrange contact with Natasja if you wish.