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A crashed bomber from the Second World War near Almere

Almere is a young city, but even here the Second World War has left its traces. Back then, this area was still the lake IJsselmeer, which was important to the allied forces’ flight routes to the Ruhr. Pilots often chose to fly over the IJsselmeer on their return from bombing missions in Germany. This route heightened their chance of survival if their plane would crash. 

Various remainders of airplanes were found during the reclamation of the province of Flevoland. A couple of these wrecks are located on Almere’s territory in the lakes Gooimeer and IJmeer. These were all military aircrafts that crashed during the Second World War (1940-1945) and Cold War (1945-1991). 

Short Stirling, illustration by Kelvin Wilson
Short Stirling, illustration by Kelvin Wilson

English bomber in Markermeer

 A couple of years ago, the wreck of an airplane was found in the Markermeer, northwest of the pumping-engine De Blocq van Kuffeler. It was identified as a Short Stirling; an English bomber that carried out bombardments on German cities during the Second World War. It is very likely that the mortal remains of the crew are still located between the debris.  

Discovery Short Stirling

By accident, an engine of the landing gear of a Short Stirling was brought up from the Markermeer in 2008. The foundation Aircraft Recovery Group 1940-1945 thinks it concerns the BK716. This aircraft carried seven crewmembers. The municipality of Almere can announce the aircraft and its crewmembers once the aircraft is salvaged and identification has taken place.  

Why are we recovering the Short Stirling?

The City Council of Almere wants to salvage the aircraft. Relatives have asked the city to recover the remains of their family members, in order to give them a proper burial. The City Council supports this request, since the crew has paid the ultimate price for us to enjoy our freedom today. Furthermore, it offers relatives the chance to say goodbye to their beloved family members properly.  

National Aircraft Wreckage Recovery Program

During the Second World War, approximately 5.500 aircrafts were lost in the Netherlands. Many parts of these aircrafts are still embedded in Dutch soil. Recent studies show that it’s probable that mortal remains are still located at thirty to fifty crash sites in the Netherlands. The National Aircraft Wreckage Recovery Program helps municipalities were these so-called ‘successful recoveries’ are located with funding and advice.  

75 years of freedom

The Netherlands celebrates 75 years of freedom in 2019 and 2020. Our rights and freedom are not unconditional. We will always have to work hard in order to maintain them. Connection forms an essential part of the commemoration and celebration of 75 years of liberation and freedom. The story of the crew of the Short Stirling is part of this commemoration. They fought for our freedom, and eventually paid the ultimate price. Freedom for which we are thankful every day.

Process of recovering the Short Stirling

The recovery of the Short Stirling starts at August 31 2020. We will carry this out together with our partners. The Ministry of Defence will take care of the recovery and identification. Together with Leemans Speciaalwerken, Defence will raise the wreck from the bottom of the Markermeer and clean the found parts. Afterwards, they will look for mortal remains, personal belongings, munition, and military equipment. The Recovery and Identification Service of the Royal Netherlands Army (BIDKL) will take their finds with them in order to start the process of identification.  

As soon as we have more information about the crew and aircraft, we will publish it on this page.

Location

The recovery will take place on water since the wreck is located in the lake Markermeer. The area will be closed off during the recovery. We will publish information here if roads or areas around the pumping-engine De Blocq van Kuffeler are closed to traffic, if necessary.  

Planning

The process of recovery of the Short Stirling will start at August 31st. This date depends on the development of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the Netherlands. The Ministry of Defence will recover the wreckage together with contractor Leemans Speciaalwerken, as commissioned by the municipality of Almere and within the National Aircraft Wreckage Recovery Program of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The recovery will take four to five weeks, depending on the weather conditions.

Type of aircraft and role during the Second World War

The Short Stirling was an English, four-engine bomber that was brought into action during the Second World War. Seven crew members were on board. The Short Stirling was 26,6 meter long, 8,8 meter high and had a wingspan of 30,2 meter. This type of airplane of the Royal Air Force (RAF) was specially developed for the bombardments against German cities. In 1942, it was the largest bomber of the allied forces. The aircraft was produced since 1939 in England. In total, 2.375 of this type of aircraft were built. Airplanes with a wingspan of 30 meters weigh over 20.000 kilos without cargo. With bombs and fuel, this craft will weigh about 27.000 kilos.

Due to this heavy weight, the aircraft was less able to manoeuvre, and therefore an easy target for the fast German night fighters. For protection, the aircraft had gun turrets at the front and back, each with an air gunner inside. In the middle, a bomb aimer was situated who could also fight the German night fighters.

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