The Chronicle

Search for our downed pi­lot

The Chron­i­cle joins the search for info on Toowoomba’s Flight Sgt Bruce Plant shot down over Ger­many in 1943.

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AN AUS­TRALIAN Lan­caster bomber which crashed in Ger­many dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and found in a field re­cently has a Toowoomba con­nec­tion which re­searchers are hop­ing to com­plete.

Erik Wie­man and Peter Berkel are part of the crash site re­search team “IG Heimat­forschung Rhein­land-Pfalz” from Wald­see/Schif­fer­stadt in Ger­many.

They found the re­mains of the bomber in a field in Septem­ber last year.

“It crashed near Speyer, Ger­many,” Mr Wie­man said.

“It was shot down by a Ger­man night fighter plane.

“It was an Aus­tralian bomber from 460 Squadron RAAF / Royal Aus­tralian Air Force Code DV174.”

The crew was a mix­ture of RAAF and RAF (UK) per­son­nel on a bomb­ing mis­sion over Mannheim.

The Lan­caster was shot down on its re­turn jour­ney.

Mr Wie­man said they had al­ready con­tacted some fam­ily mem­bers of the crew but they were now hop­ing to con­nect with the fam­ily of a crew mem­ber who they be­lieve hailed from Toowoomba.

“We have al­ready con­tacted one fam­ily in Aus­tralia, the Mor­ri­son fam­ily,” he said.

“An­other crew mem­ber killed in the crash, the pi­lot of the plane, was Flight Sgt. Bruce Al­bert Plant, hus­band of Janet Mary Plant of Toowoomba, Queens­land.

“His (Bruce Al­bert Plant’s) Royal Aus­tralian Air Force Ser­vice reg­is­tra­tion was Nr. 23729.”

The crash oc­curred on the night of Septem­ber 23/24, 1943.

“The crash site was found by us al­most to the day 72 years later - Septem­ber 2015.

“We are metal de­tect­ing the crash site in close co-op­er­a­tion with the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ser­vices of Speyer (GDKE).

“It is pos­si­ble we will find per­sonal items of the crew or items that re­late to a par­tic­u­lar per­son.

“We al­ready have found many plane parts.

“We would like to find all the rel­a­tives to tell them what hap­pened and where, give them all the in­for­ma­tion we have about the crash and to hand over per­sonal items and parts of the plane so they can find clo­sure.

“When our work is fin­ished at the site we would like to plant a me­mo­rial stone at the site with a plaque with all the names of the sol­diers who died here.

“We do not want this place to be for­got­ten again.”

Mr Wie­man said the crash site was hid­den in the woods around Speyer and af­ter it had been cleared by Ger­man mil­i­tary in 1943 it re­mained for­got­ten.

Noth­ing re­mained of the tragedy un­til now but the re­searchers wanted to change that and have the sol­diers who died there re­mem­bered.

“No­body should pass by not know­ing what hap­pened here,” Mr Wie­man said.

“That’s what we do it for. Lest we for­get.”

Mr Wie­man and Mr Berkel would like to hear from any fam­ily mem­bers of Bruce Al­bert Plant or any­one who may know his fam­ily his­tory.

A spon­sor has al­ready made a 500kg stone avail­able for the mon­u­ment and talks with the City of Speyer (coun­cil) about plant­ing the stone and the me­mo­rial plaque are un­der way.

The Chron­i­cle would also like to hear from Flt Sgt Plant’s fam­ily so we can put them in touch with Mr Wie­man so he can com­plete this fas­ci­nat­ing story from the Sec­ond World War.

If you can help, please con­tact Peter Hardwick at 4690 9332 or email peter.hardwick@thechron­i­cle.com.au

 ??  ?? ON SCENE: Crash site re­search team mem­bers Erik Wie­man and Peter Berkel.
ON SCENE: Crash site re­search team mem­bers Erik Wie­man and Peter Berkel.
 ??  ?? Some of the downed Lan­caster bomber’s tur­ret am­mu­ni­tion re­cov­ered from the crash sight.
Some of the downed Lan­caster bomber’s tur­ret am­mu­ni­tion re­cov­ered from the crash sight.
 ??  ?? A pho­to­graph believed to be of Bruce Al­bert Plant.
A pho­to­graph believed to be of Bruce Al­bert Plant.
 ??  ?? A Lan­caster bomber arte­fact found at the crash sight.
A Lan­caster bomber arte­fact found at the crash sight.
 ??  ?? An artist’s im­pres­sion of a Messer­schmidt Bf110 fight­ing a Lan­caster in skies above Ger­many.
An artist’s im­pres­sion of a Messer­schmidt Bf110 fight­ing a Lan­caster in skies above Ger­many.
 ??  ?? The Roll of Hon­our cer­tifi­cate re­lat­ing to the death of Ft Sgt Bruce Plant and his place of rest.
The Roll of Hon­our cer­tifi­cate re­lat­ing to the death of Ft Sgt Bruce Plant and his place of rest.
 ??  ?? Some of the Lan­caster bomber parts re­trieved from the crash sight by re­searchers Erik Wie­man and Peter Berkel.
Some of the Lan­caster bomber parts re­trieved from the crash sight by re­searchers Erik Wie­man and Peter Berkel.
 ??  ?? Lan­caster parts and the crew’s per­sonal ef­fects have been dug up from the crash scene in Ger­many.
Lan­caster parts and the crew’s per­sonal ef­fects have been dug up from the crash scene in Ger­many.

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