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Forces War Records Blog


Blogger: GemSen Seventy years after it went down, some aviation historians have finally found the wreckage of a Lancaster bomber in a remote and dense German forest The British aircraft and its crew had just completed its 19th bombing raid, returning from Berlin, before a Luftwaffe air ace shot it down in 1943.
About to leave for Germany.

Sadly, there were no survivors from the seven-man crew made up of three British airmen of the RAFVR and four Australian members of the RAAF.. The Lancaster’s exact whereabouts remained unknown to families of the deceased who never knew what had really happened, or where their final resting place was, reported the Daily Mail. Apparently their plane was lost trying to return to the 101 Squadron base in Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, after the raid over Berlin. The RAF crash report during the war couldn’t pinpoint where the Lancaster came down. Almost half of the 113 airmen that were a part of Bomber Command never made it back and of every 100 airmen who joined, 45 were killed, 6 were seriously wounded, 8 became Prisoners of War, and only 41 escaped unscathed. By 1943, Bomber Command aircrews had just a one in four chance of surviving their first 30 missions.

Ian Hill, the nephew of one of the crew, Sgt John Phillips, made the discovery of the crash site after managing to track down an eye witness, after months of poring over incorrect crash reports. Mr Hill and a team of German aviation archaeologists finally discovered they came down in woodland near the village of Lanke. Mr Hill said his mother Alwyn, 81, had finally been given 'closure' after learning what happened to her brother who was the 19-year-old mid-upper gunner. “We managed to track down an eyewitness who saw the whole night battle above his head and then the crash,” he told the newspaper. “The Lancaster was attacked from underneath and its fuel tanks were hit - causing it to explode in mid-air. “We now know that the bodies of the crew were treated with the utmost respect by the Luftwaffe and buried with full military honours in a local cemetery,” he added. Air gunner, 21-year-old Sgt John Currey was also part of the crew who flew in the Lancaster ED328 and this find has solved a big mystery to John’s two sisters Nora, 89, and Molly, 87, who now know what happened to their brother all those years ago. “I have always wanted to know what really happened to my brother and now I have got that,” said Nora, who still lives in the family’s hometown of Scarborough. "There is only myself, and Molly left from the family and we are still coming to terms with it. It’s difficult to talk about.” The young crew were returning from the raid when they were intercepted by the Messerschmitt of Major Werner Husemann - who is still alive aged 94. He was a highly decorated air ace who received The Iron Cross from Adolf Hitler. According to the article, the schoolboy who witnessed the final moments of the crash gave an emotional tour around the forest crash site. "Dr Hans Richter was only 14 at the time but his memory is so vivid. It was an extremely traumatic experience as it took place over his head," said Mr Hill. "He said he saw a chain of light going from the German night fighter to a large black four-engined plane. "Next there were sparks and a huge red fireball and then the plane came down in parts after exploding." Source: Daily Mail
Lancasters going off on a raid.
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