Recovery of 576 Sqn Lancaster PD 309 W-William 2 in Belgium
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576 Sqn Lancaster PD 309 recovery

150 Squadron R.A.F.

GROUP CAPTAIN TERENCE JOHN ARBUTHNOT

576 Sqn Wing/Cmdr Basil Arthur Templeman-Rooke

576 Sqn Flt/Lt Leslie Brown

576 Sqn. Flt/Sgt Eddie Wise

49 sqn Flt/Lt Charles Dunnet

49 Sqn Fred Cooper.

576 Sqn F/O William Carland Johnston

49 Sqn Flt/Lt Victor Medway Arnold

576 Sqn Flt/Lt Charles Roach

 49 Sqn Sgt. E.B.(Ted) Cachart.

49 Sqn Sgt Douglas D.R. Dalaway

576 Sqn Flt/Lt Bertram W. Roberts

576 Sqn Flt/Sgt Johnny Musgrave

576 Sqn Flying Officer Edward L Saslove

49 Sqn Pilot Officer Edgar R. G. Haines D.F.M.

576 Sqn Flt/Lt Herbert Benson

576 Sqn Flying Officer Frank Wilson

576 Sqn Flt/Sgt Dennis Ovenden

576 Sqn Flt/Sgt Danny Ranchuk

576 Sqn Flt/Sgt Ken Tamkin.

49 Sqn Flying Officer Alexander V Bone

576 Sqn Sgt Stanley Lloyd

576 Sqn Warrant Officer Frederick Taylor, DFM

576 Sqn Warrant Officer Reg Croot

49 Sqn. S/L J.E Raw-Rees D.F.C.

576 Sqn Sgt Alfred Thorpe Turton

 576 Sqn Warrant Officer Eugene Patrick (Jimmy) Collins

576 Sqn. F/O R Bastick & Crew

576 Sqn. Sgt. George Lynn.

576 Sqn Airman Ron Kent

576 Sqn. Sgt. D.Girling.

576 Sqn F/O A.J.L Ridge

576 Sqn F/O Archibald de Largy Greig

Contact & links to similar sites, page 1

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MEMORIAL PAGE

We are pleased to show the recovery of 576 Sqn Lancaster PD309 W-William 2. Many thanks to Nicolas Clinaz who led the recovery team in August 2011. We would also like to thank Geoffrey and Patricia, the son and daughter of Flying Officer Clarence Roy Pegg DFC, R.A.A.F. The pilot of this Lancaster, for allowing use of their fathers pilots log.

At 17.45  on the evening of 16 January 1945 , Avro Lancaster PD 309 W-William squared of "B" Flight 576 Sqn, swung onto Fiskerton's Main Runway and lined-up ready for take-off with the last rays of the winter sun silhouetted behind Lincoln Cathedral some 5 miles to the West of the airfield.

With final pre-take off checks completed, the pilot seeing the green light from the runway Control trailer parked at the Eastern main runway Head, applied takeoff power. The Lancaster loaded with 1x 4000 High capacity demolition Bomb (known by crews as a Cookie) and 12x 500LB general purpose bombs started to move down the main runway on its 47th and final operation.

Once airborne, they headed west over Lincoln, gaining height to join the rest of the Squadron and group's aircraft.With their Merlin engines set to continuous power, they changed course to the south and climbed to their operational height of 21,000 Ft.

Overflying Reading, just north of London the No 1 Group Lancaster’s joined up with the Lancaster’s of Nos 5 and 6 Groups and  led by 14 pathfinder Mosquito’s of No 8 Group,  they finally set course for the Continent.

The 328 Main force Lancaster's target that night was the BRABAG ( Braunkohlen Benzin AG) Petrochemical plant located in the Troglitz suburb of Zeitz, located between Berlin and Leipzig. Zeitz was one of the most heavily defended targets in Germany

By the time the sun rose over the eastern horizon the following morning,  Lancaster PD309 W for William, having sustained severe damage to its flying surfaces and flying on one engine,  had crashed into a Belgium field.

And there it would remain,with its merlins embedded some 10 ft into the soft Belgium earth for  65 years. The crew that night had Lady luck with them as they all safely parachuted out over allied lines with just the Mid upper gunner receiving a broken ankle.

The Pilot, F/O Clarence Pegg for his act of bravery in keeping this stricken Lancaster in the air long enough for his crew to bale-out, himself then parachuting to safety from a height of less than 1500 ft was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Also the Wireless Operator and Flight Enginner both recieved the Distinguished Flying Medal for their actions that night.

The film of the airframes recovery is available to view via this link. http://s590.photobucket.com/albums/ss350/Skintman1/PD309/

This Belgium Tv report of the airframes recovery is on this link, the film follows a short Belgium tv advert: http://www.rtl.be/videos/video/349081.aspx?CategoryID=496

The pictures taken by Amedee Vermeire of the various recovered airframe items are on this link. https://www.dropbox.com/gallery/34491119/1/Fouilles%20Lancaster%20Incourt%202011?h=494ed1

F/O Clarence Roy Pegg DFC (centre) with 576 Sqn Officers

Present day aerial view of the Zeitz/Troglitz Petrochemical installation (Google Earth)

F/O Pegg (centre kneeling) and his crew taken at RAF Fiskerton late 1944 /early 1945.F/O A.R.A. Crameri (kneeling front left). F/O Ben Fitzpatrick,(kneeling right). Flt/Sgt Reuben Ainsztein Mid Upper Gunner (standing back row right.)

F/O Peggs Log book for January 1945 detailing the crews last operations. The fighter claim relates to a German ME262 jet that was confirmed shot down by F/O Peggs mid upper gunner Sgt Reuben Ainsztein .

Air Ministry Form 78 (The Airframes Log Book)

PD309 Operational History

1/ The crew Operational records courtesy David Fell 103/576 Association.

2/

3/

4/

RAF Intelligence report on PD309 loss Page 1

RAF Intelligence Report on PD 309 page 2

RAF intelligence Report on PD309 loss Page 3

Location of PD309 crashsite is in a Farmers Field some 800 metres west of the village of Sart- Risbart, Belgium ( Google Earth)

Nicolas Clinaz with a professional metal detector marking out the crashsite.The Red flags in the picture indicate the position of PD309,s Merlins some 10 to 15 ft below the surface.

Wreckage from PD309 has for many years been coming to the surface including burnt amounts of .303 ammunition indicating the aircraft exploded on impact and burned.

The nose section forward of the main spar was, on impact with the ground splayed forwards, this section of the airframe would have disintigrated . The shattered instruments and fittings are testament to the explosive forces this airframe recieved on impact with the ground.

Cleaned up components include Bakerlite fittings from the instrument panels.

Image of the cleaned port-inner Merlin engine found some 10 Ft below the surface during the dig.

Image of the cleaned starboard inner merlin, again recovered at depth of some 10 Ft during the dig.

Cleaned starboard outer merlin. This merlins fittings are still intact, considering the force of the airframe as it impacted the ground at a speed in exess of 150 MPH the lack of damage to this merlin is remarkable.

Crew crash axe and aircraft fire extinguisher bottle made by Kidde Graviner Lt of Slough UK. The extinguisher was fitted near the Merlin engines and would be operated by the Flight Engineer or Pilot. The crash axe would be used to assist the crew in exiting the crashed aircraft,The air frame being of aluminium construction would offer little resistance to well aimed blows from this crash axe.

A propeller,minus a blade from PD309. A remarkable find considering this propeller impacted the ground at speed. One can only assume this was from one of the damaged Merlin's and therefore not turning when the aircraft impacted with the ground, The 3rd blade being ripped from the propeller cowling on impact.

Nicolas Clinaz with a .303 browning he recovered from a previous dig.Nicolas, along with a group of enthusiasts have recovered many airframes, both allied and German from crash site in Belgium.