Salvage started of crashed bomber Markermeer

The wreckage of a Short Stirling, a British bomber that crashed in World War II, began today in Lake Marker. The aircraft was used for bombing of German cities.

The wreckage of this British bomber was discovered at the end of 2008 during a rescue operation of the KNRM. Part of a propeller came up. Divers then salvaged various parts.

Members of the Aircraft Recovery Group 1940-1945 foundation initially assumed that it was the Short Stirling BK710 of the Royal Air Force. It was shot down by a German night fighter on 25 May 1943. But at the end of June 2019 it became known that the wreckage in the Markermeer might be another aircraft. It would be the BK716, says Johan Graas of the Aircraft Recovery Group.

Graas suspects that the bodies of the entire crew are in the wreckage:

The wreck may contain the remains of the seven British and Canadian crew members. Salvage and investigation must be conclusive.

For 93-year-old Canadian Edith McLeod, this is an exciting operation. After 77 years she hopes to finally get clarity about the fate of her missing brother. In the Second World War, the Canadian Harry Farrington flew as a navigator on a British bomber, and probably that was the BK716.

This Short Stirling did not return from his mission. Farrington and the rest of the crew are listed as missing. After the war the family received a letter from the army. It said that Harry Farrington is not expected to be found. He was declared dead and has no grave.

Edith McLeod can hardly believe that her brother might be found. “I suspected he’d been shot.” Exactly what happened remained a mystery. That’s why she’s so excited about the plane being salvaged. “I never thought this would happen again,” she told Broadcasting Flevoland early this year. In her house in Niagara Falls she cherishes photos and medals of her brother.

The Defence operation in the Markermeer is part of the National Programme for the recovery of aircraft wrecks. Wreckage is cleaned and mortal remains and personal belongings are salvaged, followed by an identification process.

Educational project

The Province of Flevoland and the municipality of Almere have launched a website in honour of the crew of this ‘Short Stirling’: www.vliegenoverpolderlijnen.nl will serve as a digital monument.

Also a documentary will be made about this Short Stirling and her crew. “This is an important part of the Flevoland war history”, said deputy Michiel Rijsberman (D66) earlier this year. “We find it important to pay respectful attention to these people, who have given their lives for our freedom.”

Next spring, if possible in the presence of next of kin, there will be a commemoration ceremony. Then a work of art will also be unveiled.