"Buried" British World War 2 bomber to reveal its secrets soon

The municipality of Glabbeek (Flemish Brabant) is conducting new research on a British World War 2 bomber that is now still buried under the ground. The plane crashed in the local town of Bunsbeek in 1945. Earlier investigations via scanners revealed that the wreckage contained the skeletons of crew members. Now, researchers want to find out whether there are still (dangerous) bombs on board, before the plane is unearthed.
Peter Reekmans has made it his personal mission to recover the remains of the crew and the plane itself.

This afternoon, specialists came to the spot to deploy special scanning devices above the wreckage. These should reveal whether (and how many) bombs are still hidden under the ground.

Glabbeek Burgomaster Peter Reekmans wants to have the aircraft dug up. This decision was made for the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, he told the VRT.

"The aircraft had 7 crew members on board, but only 2 or 3 are now resting at a war cemetery. Out of respect for the boys who gave their lives to liberate Europe, we want to bring their remains to a final resting place. A second reason for unearthing this plane, is to recover a piece of war heritage."

Was the plan flying to Germany to drop bombs, or returning without shells?

A first scan searched to a depth of 8 to 9 metres. This happened two months ago. Today, the search was aimed at finding bombs. Glabbeek was cooperating with bom.be for this, a firm specialised in detecting explosives and bombs in the underground.

It is unclear whether the plane was on its way to Germany, or whether it had dropped its bombs and was returning. Statements made by witnesses did not bring full clarity, although this second option seems more likely. Benny Ceulaers of the Planehunters Recovery team: "The plane bombed its target, but was hit by ground fire on the way back. It got intro trouble and crashed here."

Reekmans has to be 100% sure about what is below the ground, before the works can kick off, obviously. The plane could carry up to 10,000 kilos of bombs.

If it turns that there are no bombs in the ground, the works can start quite soon. "We have already met representatives of the Commonwealth and the English and Australian embassies about this, and we will continue to work with them."

"This is quite a big bird"

The research is being done in cooperation with the Planehunters Recovery Team Belgium. Some local residents still recall how they witnesses the crash, 71 years ago. One of them also helped to remove the bodies, but remembers not all crew could be found. There was one Australian man on board, the others were Englishmen.

The plane is believed to be of the Lancaster type and belonged to the RAF's 514th squadron. Lancaster bombers were large planes. The one in Glabbeek is about 20 metres long, boasting a wing span of some 30 metres. "This is not just any plane below us, this a quite a big bird," Reekmans said about this.

The bomber crashed on 5 March 1945 in the early afternoon. Experts think it will be well preserved thanks to the wet soil, in the vicinity of the river Velp.Benny Ceulaers thinks that the motors and the landing gear may be well-preserved. The parts will be polished and probably donated to English museums.