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Thread: Lancaster, err Wellington wreck

  1. #31
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    Smile

    Thank you all,


    In effect I am a little schocked as you may imagine..!

    Obviously, being a serious researched, if this plane was a real Wellington I will not hesitate to change at all my theory... The only strange thing is, how is it possible to loose two British bombers in the same place??

    Anyway, I have to proof its identity, so please I would need more datas. If you have lists of numbers of Wellington bombers, datas concerning its possible identity as the ones I read before (the ones referring to Foggia and 1944, I mean) and whatever else, it would be extremely precious.
    Having to write a possible essay, as you may imagine, I have to proof with certainty my theory. If I'd say "Ok, it is a Wellington" instead other kind of plane, I must admit no mistakes. I have to be sure.
    And, to be sure, I need your sources, if possible. Lists, official archives, and whatever else..


    The photos I saw before, especially the right one, were very interesting. May I have a copy of them, please?

    So, THANKS for all your interest and efforts. I am schocked but.. I'll resist!

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    According to archives, this should be the wreck of Lancaster LM339. It crashed up there after striking Milano, during August, 1943. I would like to identify it for sure.
    I think you are doing well with your research; as you originally said ‘it should be Lancaster LM339’.

    The pieces of Wellington are much more compelling evidence.....indisputable in fact.

    Why did you think it should be LM339?
    WA$.

  3. #33
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    Good morning, Creaking Door,


    Thank you, in effect it was only a supposition..

    I supposed this, because a local historian contacted in 2001 the RAF archives. They answered him that the only plane lost up there, and in the date he indicated (7/8 August 1943) was the Lancaster LM339. Lost after striking Milano, and so on.
    Instead, I still don't know anything about this Wellington. Is it possible to understand more about the single plane from the list of inscription datas I wrote before?

    M.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    ...a local historian contacted in 2001 the RAF archives.....the only plane lost up there, and in the date he indicated (7/8 August 1943) was the Lancaster LM339.
    Which begs the question how was the date of the crash (7/8 August 1943) known? Was there a local witness?

    If the date is certain and the type is certain that will reduce the possibilities greatly. And I am sure there are those here who can give you that information.

    What of the crew of the aircraft? A local burial or local record that will give you a name should lead to the aircraft identity.

    From your description (snow 11 months of the year) the sit of the crash sounds fairly inaccessible. Was most the wreckage removed at some time for scrap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    Is it possible to understand more about the single plane from the list of inscription datas I wrote before?
    Unfortunately I am not the best person to ask but (other than to confirm aircraft type and possibly mark) I think it unlikely that an aircraft serial number will be marked on individual component parts.

    Possibly the engines are still at (or near) the site and the engine numbers could be linked through documents to confirm an aircraft serial number? The engines (or parts of them even) could possibly confirm aircraft mark.

    Good luck with your research; it is a big step to change your theory from Lancaster to Wellington but such changes of direction make for an interesting project.
    Last edited by Creaking Door; 30th September 2009 at 13:53.
    WA$.

  5. #35
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    Hi,


    you right!, I have to remain open-minded until the ending proofs, about Lancaster, Wellington or whatever else.

    First, the date of the crash (august 1943) was proved by many local inhabitants who heard the return of the bomber's formation from Milano - after some times, a single plane that crashed over Issime. Some months after, partisans came up there looking for weapons. They found some poor parts of the bodies, carried in the Issime cemetery.
    After the war, British operators translated these bodies in the British Cemetery, in Milano. It is not far from here.
    The problem is, no-one (RAF, historians..) know the real place of the crash site. So, even if it sounds incredible!, I cannot affirm that this is the Lancaster LM339 without more proofs. It surely was an Allied plane, because of the mg Browning .303 I found and you saw.

    After the war, the most pare of the plane was dismantled and carried away with cableways and mules.
    Actually, these parts and numbers are all the wreck proofs I have.

  6. #36
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    Buon giorno, Marco
    There are no losses from Nos 37, 40, 70 or 104 Squadrons that were flying Wellingtons lost between 6th and 9th August 1943 where aircrew are buried in Milan. So August 1943 seems to be the wrong date.
    To move this forward, what CWGC cemeteries are near the crash site? If it's only Milan, then a quick check shows that 37 Sqdn lost a Wellington 14/07/44; 142 Sqdn Wellington 13/07/44 and 70 Sqdn a Wellington 02/05/44. There was a Whitley lost from 10 Sqdn on 27/08/40, a Stirling from 149 Sqdn on 30/11/42 and 207 Sqdn on 08/12/42 and 61 Sqdn on 08/08/43 lost Lancasters.
    Now, which one crashed into your mountain, I have no idea.
    You might want to contact either the Brooklands Museum, RAF Museum at Hendon or a group working on Wellington wreckage such as the Midlands Aircraft Recovery Group (http://www.couplandbell.com/marg/index.htm) who might be able to tell if it is a Wellington or not. Obviously it was armed with at least one Browning machine gun, so not a transport aircraft. As you don't seem to have any metal panels, it is likely to be a fabric covered aircraft, putting it more likely as a Wellington or Whitley.
    Can't be any more help, you have some dates and some bombers, good luck!!

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    ...the date of the crash (august 1943) was proved by many local inhabitants who heard the return of the bomber's formation from Milano...
    The date is critical. So, are the witness reports completely factual? The date of the raid on Milano is well documented and probably well remembered by local people but hearing many bombers pass over and then later finding a crashed bomber does not mean that it must have crashed on the same night. I do not doubt you or the witnesses but it is important.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    ...after some times, a single plane that crashed over Issime.
    So later, after the raid on Milano, a single aircraft was heard to fly over Issime and crash? The crash was actually heard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    Some months after, partisans came up there looking for weapons. They found some poor parts of the bodies, carried in the Issime cemetery. After the war, British operators translated these bodies in the British Cemetery, in Milano. It is not far from here.
    Are there church or town records of the burials in Issime? Maybe names or identification numbers were recorded at the time? How many bodies were there; the crews of Lancaster and Wellington are different (usually).

    If the bodies were moved to the British Cemetery in Milano there may have been an effort to identify the bodies then. Somebody on this forum will be able to advise how to research that.

    Good luck.
    WA$.

  8. #38
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    Thank you both,


    In effect, I already looked for Issime's archives, but or they disappeared after the war (this zone was occupied by partisans of the Lys Brigade) or I still have not found them.
    Thank you Icare, I will soon contact these experts, maybe they'll discover more from my parts. And yes, the inhabitants heard the crash explosion: one of them, having a small house on the mountains, also lost his windows. It would be difficult to forget such an experience, especially for poor mountain people in this period. They simply didn't know planes or technological stuffs, I mean.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    And yes, the inhabitants heard the crash explosion: one of them, having a small house on the mountains, also lost his windows. It would be difficult to forget such an experience, especially for poor mountain people in this period.
    Very good evidence and not likely to be forgotten!

    I cannot fault your research so far.....keep going!
    WA$.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    Hi,
    After the war, the most pare of the plane was dismantled and carried away with cableways and mules.
    Actually, these parts and numbers are all the wreck proofs I have.
    Just a thought, but if the area is very inaccessable, and most of the parts have been recovered, is it possible that parts from a number of sites were moved together? Therefore the site could be where the Lancaster crashed, but other parts have been moved to that location from other aircraft?

  11. #41
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    Well, I cannot exclude it,


    Since if this is a real Wellington, I would not know where the other plane, the Lancaster that fell up there, crashed. So it could be two crash sites and not only one, but according to me, it would be quite impossible.
    How could a plane crash without noise, without to alarm people down in the valley, while the second attired their attention? These mountains are no higher than 3300 meters, apart, of course, the Monte Rosa highest tops northwards. Such an explosion, on mountain and by night, would have been clearly heard.

    In my mind, up there it crashed a single plane. I only have to understand if it was a Lancaster or a Wellington..1

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    Well, I cannot exclude it,


    Since if this is a real Wellington, I would not know where the other plane, the Lancaster that fell up there, crashed. So it could be two crash sites and not only one, but according to me, it would be quite impossible.
    How could a plane crash without noise, without to alarm people down in the valley, while the second attired their attention? These mountains are no higher than 3300 meters, apart, of course, the Monte Rosa highest tops northwards. Such an explosion, on mountain and by night, would have been clearly heard.

    In my mind, up there it crashed a single plane. I only have to understand if it was a Lancaster or a Wellington..1



    Then it's about time you made up your mind. Conformation has been given several times by several forumites that it's a Wellington, why do you keep
    insisting about a Lancaster?
    When an aircraft crashes it doesn't have to explode (they only do that in movies).
    Proof is you have Wellington bits and nothing of a Lanc.
    Confused? I am very much.
    Cheers
    Cees

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    Since if this is a real Wellington, I would not know where the other plane, the Lancaster that fell up there, crashed.
    What evidence do you have that the Lancaster fell ‘up there’? I would say none!

    Yes, Lancaster LM339 was lost on the night of 7/8 August 1943 during an raid on Milano but this Lancaster could have been brought-down anywhere, France, the English Channel, anywhere.

    Although it is certain that LM339 failed to return from the raid on Milan it is possible that there were no RAF witnesses to its loss. Bombers would have maintained radio silence throughout such a raid so next morning LM339 would simply be listed as ‘missing’ as there would likely be no indication of where it was lost.

    Do you have a crew list for LM339? Were they all killed? Are any of their graves known; maybe in France?

    Does the Operational Record Book (ORB) for the squadron give any clues as to the loss of LM339 other than ‘missing’ on raid on Milano?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco S. View Post
    So it could be two crash sites and not only one, but according to me, it would be quite impossible.

    In my mind, up there it crashed a single plane.
    So yes, I think you already have the answer; two crash sites highly unlikely if not impossible...

    ...and so far all evidence are parts of a Wellington.
    Last edited by Creaking Door; 1st October 2009 at 15:16.
    WA$.

  14. #44
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    Creaking Door.

    Just to offer a slight correction. It is unlikely that LM339 came down in France or the English Channel as the bodies of all the crew are buried in Milan Cemetery.

    Marco.

    Aircraft don't always explode when crashing. I saw an American F4 crash at Brawdy and it didn't explode. I think the problem here is the simple facts that LM339 fits what you wish to think you've found. The crew in Milan Cemetery giving you a date which ties in with some eyewitness accounts as August of 1943. But you've also mentioned November 1944. I have to admit that I can't identify any of the wreckage in your photographs as it's not my area of interest but there are real experts here who say it is Wellington and as such I would be guided by them.

    What you have to find now is an appropriate Wellington loss. I don't know how easy or difficult that may be but perhaps a search for burials in Commonwealth Cemeteries in your area may offer a clue?

    Regards,

    kev35
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  15. #45
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    Hi all,


    I was a little confused, but I am not stupid.. I have started looking for every possible Wellington losses on the Western Alps.
    I was persuaded about Lancaster, because of the bodies, buried in Issime, then in Milano. These pilots and operators died onboard of Lancaster LM339, they died somewhere over Issime, that's mainly why I was sure to talk about this precise plane. If it was not, as you say, I will look better.

    I am just surprised. I tought to find a plane, then it appears I found a different one. It does not happen everyday.

  16. #46
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    Marco.

    Apart from the War Cemetery in Milan, are there any others within say 100km of the the crash site where RAF Airmen are buried? If it will help I will go through the CWGC listing for Milan Cemetery and list for you all aircrew buried there who were lost in Wellingtons and add the dates.

    Regards,

    kev35
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  17. #47
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    Thank you Kev,

    Very kind. No, I only know this great War cemetery in Milano. I have never heard of other British cemeteries around my hometown, and surely not in Valle d'Aosta (Aosta Valley). Thank you for this very precious help!

    M.

  18. #48
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    Marco.

    I will start tonight but it may take a couple of days as I think there are probably over 200 to go through.

    Regards,

    kev35
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  19. #49
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    Thanks Kev, very kind from you!

  20. #50
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    This is an interesting thread , thanks for bringing it here Marco , good luck with finding the answers .

  21. #51
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    Thank you!,

    Even this forum is very interesting for me, I am learning so much.
    In effect, this research is fascinating me more and more. For instance, this night I could not sleep just for this simple problem:

    If I really found the Wellington XXX.., okay. But where is the Lancaster lost over Issime?
    I already imagine further investigation campaigns.. Up there, it would need hundreds of persons!

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev35 View Post
    Creaking Door.

    Just to offer a slight correction. It is unlikely that LM339 came down in France or the English Channel as the bodies of all the crew are buried in Milan Cemetery.

    kev35
    Kev,

    Is that something you’ve looked up? I’ve just quickly re-read this thread and I couldn’t see that information.

    Bodies of aircrew were recovered from the crash-site in question, they were buried initially in Issime and then moved post-war to the Milan cemetery...

    ...and I’d assumed these bodies were unidentified!

    Edit: Ten seconds on Lost Bombers confirms crew of LM339 are buried in Milan.
    Last edited by Creaking Door; 1st October 2009 at 20:54. Reason: Me.....being stupid!
    WA$.

  23. #53
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    LM 339. Chorlton states that all the crew are now intered in Milano. It left from Syerston which is only a few miles from where write this.

    John

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    John, you right. Chorley papers, and a letter from the British Embassy in Italy, were the main sources concerning the LM339.

    Anyway, my research continues.

  25. #55
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    But in either case, the crew of Lancaster LM339 or the crew or the mystery Wellington; were they both moved into the Milano cemetery?

    An unknown aircraft (wreckage now points to it being a Wellington) crashes near Issime, the crew (after a delay) are located and buried in Issime and then moved post-war to the Milano cemetery. Local records from Issime are missing and the crew are not identified.

    Lancaster LM339 crashes at an unknown location, the crew are buried in Milano cemetery but were they buried somewhere else first and moved there?

    Two similar events but is there any documents that prove they are the same event?
    WA$.

  26. #56
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    Marco, This might help with the parts ID. Wellington.

    John


  27. #57
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    I thought it might be helpful to Marco and anyone else interested who doesn't know to give a bit of insight into how 'missing' aircrew were located after the war.

    Often during the war aircrew were buried either by the Germans or by locals in the areas where they crashed. Sometimes they were buried in local cemeteries, sometimes at the crashsites.

    After the war the RAF attempted to trace all these men and those they found were often removed from the original place of burial and taken to larger cemeteries which could be some distance from where they originally crashed.

    During the 1939-1945 war, over 40,000 airmen from the RAF and Allied Air Forces were reported as missing on operations or routine flights. The responsibility of establishing, as far as was possible, what had happened to these men, fell to the Air Ministry Casualty Branch.

    The task was enormous, and made particularly difficult due to the nature of air operations where an aircraft might be lost at any point from take off to landing back at base.

    During the war years, investigation of missing aircraft and crews was hampered because of the difficulty in obtaining information from overseas in occupied countries. The investigations were carried out from an office in London and relied on information received from the International Red Cross telegrams, reports from France, Holland and Norway forwarded by the Red Cross, reports from Allied agents in enemy or enemy occupied territory as well as reports from Air Attaches and others in neutral countries. A list issued by Germany, the Totenliste, also helped by supplying additional details such as place of burial in some cases. They did not, however, include the details about where the aircraft had crashed.

    Using these scraps of information, together with known details about which aircraft and crews had been reported missing, investigators could begin to build a picture as to the fate of some of the missing airmen.

    After D-Day and the liberation of parts of Europe, it was possible to make fuller investigations. Now it was possible to receive reports directly from the areas where the aircraft had crashed. Some captured German records helped, as did the many relics and personal effects that had been rescued from the scene by the people of occupied countries who had then hidden them from the Germans during the period of occupation.

    Identification of airmen who had died was assisted by the smallest of details such as a laundry mark on an item of clothing, the serial number on a service watch or the initials on a signet ring. It was painstaking and often harrowing work.

    In November 1944, the Head of the Casualty Branch and the Officer in Charge of Missing Research went to Paris, and during their visit it became apparent that there was a need for a single unit or branch to undertake and co-ordinate the work of investigating the many airmen who were missing. Consequently, in early 1945, The Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service was founded.

    Working initially in France, Search Officers were despatched to the places where aircraft were believed to have crashed. Their work involved interviewing local Mayors and their employees, local police, and anyone else likely to have information that would help.

    To begin with, the Casualty Branch sent Casualty Enquiry forms, detailing all known information to date about a particular aircraft and crew. The Search Officers worked with this information, adding to it where possible before writing a report to send back to London. Once all the facts and the burial place were known the MRES arranged for the Graves Registration Directorate to register and mark the grave. When this was completed a case would be considered closed.

    Eventually it was realised that due to the number of crashes to be investigated a more methodical approach to locating and investigating them would be required. After dealing with the Casualty Enquires from London, Search Officers would then search in their area village by village and district by district.

    In April 1945, a second Section was set up in Brussels. Eventually, sections were also established in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Italy and Germany. Searches were conducted in each of the countries by Officers working firstly from the Casualty Enquiries and thereafter by covering the country village by village, district by district.

    With the increasing volume of enquiries as the MRES moved their searches into more and more countries; there was a requirement to recruit more Search Officers. Therefore, in August 1945, the Air Ministry sent a letter to three camps in England, Church Fenton, Wittering and West Malling, which were re-settlement centres for Ex-Prisoners of War. Without mentioning the type of work to be undertaken, they asked for volunteers to work overseas.

    Those who volunteered then reported to the Air Ministry Casualty Branch to be interviewed for selection. During their selection interview they were told the type of work that they would be required to do if selected. The volunteers then returned to their centres to await the decision of the Air Ministry.

    Volunteers selected after this interview were then asked to return to the Air Ministry Casualty Branch to attend two days of lectures regarding the type of work that they were to undertake with the MRES. After being given time to arrange any personal matters in the UK, they reported to St James House in London on August 30th and were flown overseas to complete their training in the field.

    After spending around a week in the field accompanying existing experienced Search Officers, they joined a Section. The Sections generally comprised a Commanding Officer and Six Search Officers. These Officers then commenced their own investigations in the countries that they were despatched to with their Section.

    For anyone interested in further reading on the subject there is a really good book called Missing Believed Killed by Stuart Hadaway that was published last year.

    Hope the above is of interest and helps explain a bit about why some airmen can be found buried so far from where they crashed and how much effort went into trying to find the missing aircrews. The men of the MRES did an incredible job in some very trying circumstances and are often overlooked in our history.

    archieraf

  28. #58
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    Thanks for that; I may have to buy that book!

    Quote Originally Posted by archieraf View Post
    After the war the RAF attempted to trace all these men and those they found were often removed from the original place of burial and taken to larger cemeteries which could be some distance from where they originally crashed.
    When bodies were moved would records be kept of where they were moved from?
    WA$.

  29. #59
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    Marco et al.

    Before we go any further, is there a list of operations available covering raids on Milan and other targets where crews would fly in the Milan area, undertaken by Wellington Squadrons based in the Middle East and Italy?

    Secondly, I have isolated a list of 35 aircrew buried in Milan who were with Squadrons flying Wellingtons at the time of their deaths. I also have four Australians who died on the dates when other Wellington aircrew were killed but the Squadrons are not given.

    Obviously, there may be more aircrew who are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial to the missing but that would be an absolutely mammoth task to sort through 20,000 names.

    The dates of loss seem to centre around the 24th November 1943, 11th July 1944 and the 13th/14th October 1944. This covers 37 of the deaths so not factoring in aircraft and crews which completely disappeared you are now looking at at least eight Wellingtons!

    I know it seems impossible at present but perhaps it can be narrowed down further.

    Maybe more later.

    Regards,

    kev35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creaking Door View Post
    When bodies were moved would records be kept of where they were moved from?
    Yes records would have been kept. If the body was being moved from one cemetery to another then there should be records at both places. Most of this work was done post war so with luck the paperwork still exists.

    In addition, since the men were generally being moved to CWGC cemeteries the CWGC should have a record too.........it's not always to get the info from them though.

    I have researched cases in both the UK and in Norway where an airman has been moved from one cemetery to another. In both cases both the movement was recorded as having taken place both at the cemetery of original burial and at the new burial place. In the UK it is the local registrar who holds the information and possibly the actual church where the burial took place.

    Regards
    archieraf

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