Friday 31 March 2023

Human remains found in wreckage of wartime bomber in Markermeer

The crane sifting the water for wreckage

The crane dredging the Markermeer for wreckage. Photo:

A team recovering the wreckage of a Second World War bomber that crashed in the Markermeer lake in 1943 have found human remains at the site.

The BK716 Short Stirling bomber was shot down by a German pilot on its way back from a bombing raid on Berlin on March 29. Its seven-man crew – five British airmen and two Canadians – are all believed to have perished on board.

The operation to retrieve the pieces of the aircraft, which are scattered over an area 75 metres square, began on August 31 and is expected to last five to six weeks. So far a wing, a propellor, a fuel tank, engine parts and landing gear have been raised from the lake bed, as well as smaller items such as an oxygen tank and a spanner.

The remains will be analysed by the military recovery and identification service (BIDKL) at its laboratory in Soesterberg to see if they can be matched to any of the crew. The results will be reported to the Ministry of Defence in London, which will then decide whether to hold a reburial ceremony.

The crew’s families have also been informed by Almere municipality.

The operation is part of a national programme launched by the Dutch state last year to recover around 30 wartime aircraft which are highly likely to have the remains of their crewmen on board. The government has set aside €15 million to fund the programme.


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