| |In early April 2011 Paul
and Howard Heeley travelled over to Belgium to meet with the various
people who have been investigating the possible crash site of Lancaster
ME846, which we first reported on in Autumn 2010.
the organisation of our long standing friend Kamiel Mertens a meeting
venue was arranged in a splendid room at the Postel Abbey. The meeting
was generously hosted by the Archivist from Postel Abbey, Father Ivo
Billiaert who made everyone really welcome; provided an excellent
lunch in the Abbey café and who joined us through out the day's
meetings and site visit.
Peters the amateur historian who located the possible crash site was
present; as was our old friend Wim Govaerts, who represented the
Belgian Aviation History Association (BAHA). Wim was later joined by
Cynrick De Deckker the Chairman of the BAHA.
points were discussed concerning the crash site, including details of
the land ownership; how certain everyone was that the crash site was
likely to be ME846; the protocols required to pursue the investigation
further; and identification of other possible aircraft crashes in the
In particular this related to Halifax DK170 (76
Sqn - RAF Linton-on-Ouse) lost on 11/12 June 1943 on an Op to
Dusseldorf. Several fresh avenues of research both in the UK and Canada
were also identified; some of which are already being pursued. Some
concerns still exist surrounding the bomb load of ME846, which was
outbound to its target when it was shot down. Not least was the fact
that ME846 was carrying a 4,000lb 'cookie'; a type that is known to be
unstable and could have caused the crater that we later visited.
conventional bombs are normally more stable and may not have been armed
before the aircraft crashed; but nevertheless they could still be in
the area around the crash site.
Koen Peters advised that
there were two main areas that he suggested investigating; these are
approx 100m apart and this included the crater. He showed everyone
the items that he'd already found around the site through metal
detecting and walking around the forest.
After lunch in
Gasthof "De Beiaard" at the Abbey we drove to the ME846 Memorial, where
a wreath was laid and a prayer was said by Father Ivo Billiaert. The
wording of the prayer was as follows:
who loves us, hear our prayer.
We have a double request:
First give peace to the lost pilot. He probably offered his own life by
saving his crew. But such you know Father, and our second request:
and send a well-equipped angel - so that we find what we are looking
for; at the same time he has to be a good diplomat in order to simplify
all requirements and attitudes of the complicated
We are thinking about the family and the friends of the pilot and the
Thank you Father for the help, in the name of Jesus
Christ Our Lord."
After a short moment of reflection
then travelled on the short distance to the forest location of the
crash site. As we approached the site there was a depression in the
track way where Koen Peters had found some aircraft related items. We
then moved across to the main crater in the woods.
measured 14 metres in diameter by approximately 4 metres deep. Some
additional excavation work had been done in the centre of the crater by
the Forestry people to create a water sump to aid fire fighting. It is
difficult to convey the size of the crater from photographs, but is a
really sizeable hole in the forest floor, which we believe may have
been created by the explosion of the "cookie" bomb.
As second location was also visited close by, where Koen
Peters had recovered additional aircraft related items and further
small metal items were still visible on the surface. After further
discussions amongst the group everyone returned to the Abbey for
Eventually it was agreed members of the
BAHA would undertake a one day survey (at a weekend) of the area around
the crater, which would include metal detectors and a magnetometer
survey, with possible top soil investigation.
A date for
this investigation has now been agreed for June 2011 and should any
human remains be found the Belgian military does have a unit that would
become involved and is equipped to deal with the recovery in an
The ME846 Family would like to place
on record their thanks to the people in Belgium for their wonderful
friendship, co-operation and hospitality.
from left to right are:
Father Ivo Billiaert; Kamiel Mertens;
Cynrick De Deckker; Wim Govaerts: Paul Stevenson; and Koen Peters.
Knox-Kiepura - firstname.lastname@example.org
Stevenson - email@example.com
Heeley - firstname.lastname@example.org