early April 2011 Paul Stevenson 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.
to the organisation of our long standing friend Kamiel Mertens a
meeting venue was arranged in a splendid room in 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 the Chairman of BAHA, Cynrick De Deckker.
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 locality. 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. Whilst conventional bombs are normally more stable and
may not have been armed before aircraft crashed; but
nevertheless they could still be in the area around the crash site.
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
After lunch in Abbey café 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
loves us, hear our
We have a double request:
give peace to the lost pilot. He probably offered his own life by
saving his crew. But such you know Father, and our second
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 administration.
about the family and the friends of the pilot and the crew.
you Father for the help, in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord."
a short moment of reflection we 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.
This 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 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.
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 further discussions.
Eventually it was
agreed that 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
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 following people in
Belgium for their wonderful friendship, co-operation and
hospitality: Kamiel Mertens; Father Ivo Billiaert; Koen Peters; Wim
Govaerts and Cynrick De Deckker.