Crash Site Research

Whilst carrying out this research, it was felt that every effort should be made to try to identify the location of the crash site of Lancaster ME334 (TL-Q).

Archives in both the UK and in Germany were utilised, appeals for information were published in local German newspapers, aerial reconnaissance photographs from the relevant period were studied and visits were made to potential crash sites.

This work would not have been possible without the help of Christian Koenig and we thank him for his tireless efforts on this project.

The findings suggest that the aircraft broke up in mid-air, probably after being hit by flak, with wreckage and crew being recovered from the area around Elsa Brandstroem Strasse, Bonn Beuel.

Information from the Luftwaffe Communique

The Luftwaffe communiqué intercepted on 6th February 1945 contained a map reference of “OP1-3”.

Utilising the map referencing system used by Luftwaffe fighters and anti-aircraft batteries we were able to find the appropriate map and establish that OP1-3 was an area between latitudinal parallels 50.43.2 and 50.45 and longitudinal meridians 7.06.4 and 7.10 (an area of approximately 3 x 4 square kilometres).

Having established the co-ordinates for OP1-3, the sector could be overlaid onto a 1943 map of Bonn.

Information from the Bomber Command Loss Card

The Bomber Command Loss Card, which was produced for all aircraft losses, shows the navigational route for the operation as:

Base, Reading, 5000N/0200E, 5000N/0400E, 5014N/0540E, Target, 5047N/0715E, 5035N/0725E, 5010N/0640E, 5020N/0530E, 5000N/0400E, 5100N/0240E, Southwold

This route was added to the map, showing ME334 would have been travelling south-west to north-east over the target.

Information from the MRES Report

After the war, the Missing Research and Enquiry Service was set up to try to locate all missing airmen. Their findings were recorded and are currently stored by the RAF Air Historical Branch (AHB).

An enquiry was sent to the AHB to ask for information regarding the loss of ME334 and the following response was received:

“Lancaster ME334, which was reported missing on 4 February 1945, crashed at Beuel, map reference K51/F5738.

In August 1946 a MRES investigating officer from 19 Section, No 4 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit, Germany visited Beuel. He spoke to police there and the Burgomeister who told him that an aircraft had crashed on the outskirts of the town after the attack on Bonn on 4 February 1945. The main part of the aircraft crashed on a plot of waste land in Elsa Brandstroem Strasse.

Another witness who lived opposite the crash site said the aircraft came down at 20.20 hours. The wreckage of the aircraft covered an area of about 200 square yards. The witness said that the aircraft was hit to the south of the city and caught fire.

The Wehrmacht recovered the bodies of the crew and the aircraft wreckage and the crew were taken by the Leichenbergungskommando of the German Air Force at Hangelar to the New Cemetery, Beuel for burial.”

1943 map showing Elsa Brandstroem Strasse

An analysis of the map reference K51/F5738 on the Nord du Guerre map shows a co-ordinate of 50°44’24″N, 7°’7’40″E  which ties in with the area around Elsa Brandstroem Strasse .

Information from German Archives

In October 2011, an enquiry was sent to Uwe Benkel (a crash investigator in Germany) to establish whether any additional information was held in archives in Germany.

One of his colleagues, Christian Koenig  contacted the authorities and local historians in Bonn to see if they had any information. No formal documentation could be found.

Information from appeals in local German newspapers

Following a request from Christian Koenig, a number of newspapers in Bonn, Dusseldorf and Cologne appealed for eye-witnesses to the crash.

There were a numerous responses, with many confirming that wreckage of the aircraft was scattered around the Elsa Brandstroem Strasse area. Others recall seeing the remains of the dead crew members.

Much of the area was redeveloped after the war and as such there is no remaining evidence of the crash, although it is believed that debris was recovered during construction work.

Information from aerial reconnaissance photographs

Aerial reconnaissance photographs taken prior to and after the raid do not provide any clear evidence of any craters or wreckage.