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