An engine block was found in the Markermeer during salvage work of a bomber from the Second World War. According to the municipality of Almere, the registration number on the component ensures that it belongs to the Short Stirling BK716.
That aircraft disappeared during the war and appears to have been at the bottom of the Markermeer for all those years now. There were seven crew members in the plane. Their bodies were never found.
The search for the aircraft near Almere started on Monday, reports Omroep Flevoland. In 2008, during a rescue operation of the KNRM, it was discovered that there was a wreckage at the bottom of the lake. Part of a propeller came up.
At first it was thought that it was another aircraft, but for the Aircroft Recovery Group it has been clear for at least a year that the aircraft they are looking for is the missing Short Stirling. The organization suspects that the bodies of the entire crew will be found in the near future. Next of kin of the missing crew members have been informed about the discovery of the part.
The municipality is pleased that it is now clear which aircraft is involved. “It is a confirmation for the relatives of the crew members, who have thus gained certainty about the fate of their family member,” says Hilde van Garderen, alderman for culture of Almere.
According to Johan Graas, chairman of the Aircroft Recovery Group, the salvage operation is going according to plan. “Four to five weeks have been set aside. Getting out is not such a point, but everything has to be sifted. They want to have the smallest things like rings and so on. And, of course, they’re trying to get any human remains out.”
Shot down on the way back
The BK716 crashed in the night of March 29th to March 30th 1943. On its way back from an attack in Berlin to its home base at Downham Market in Norfolk, the plane was shot down. The crew consisted of Canadians and English. “They may have jumped out, but we have a lot of evidence that they were still in it when they crashed,” says Graas.
The salvage is part of the National Programme for the recovery of aircraft wrecks, which the Netherlands started in 2019. It is estimated that there are still thirty airplane wrecks on Dutch soil in which mortal remains are most likely still to be found. The Netherlands wants to give next of kin certainty about the fate of pilots who went missing during the war.