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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