Date: 1943 Jun 12/13 A/C Type: Lancaster III SN: ED603 Code: OL-L A/C Nickname:
 File: 027 Airforce: RAF Sqn/Unit:  83 Sqn Mission/Raid: Bochum
1 Pilot F/Lt. Eric A. Tilbury   KIA   buried Stavoren 9    
2 Air bomber P/O Arthur G. Fletcher  RCAF   KIA    Workum 10    
3 Nav P/O Harold E. Howsam   KIA   Workum 11    
4 Fl/Eng P/O  Arthur B. Smart (DFM)  MIA  51914 12    
5 W/O   P/O Raymond B. Moore  (DFM)  MIA  52074 13    
6 Mid-up AG P/O Charles F.J. Sprack  (DFM)  MIA  51543 14    
7 Rear AG F/O Gordon R. Sugar  KIA  Hindeloopen 15    
8     16                    

Took off from Wyton 23:00h for a raid on Bochum. On the return at 02:11 and on an altitude of 5300m, the ED603 was shot down by German nightfighter Oblt. Rudolf Sigmund and came down in Lake IJsselmeer a few kilometer under the centre of the Afsluitdyk. The German land-based observation post on Wieringen recorded the crash position as '15 km Northeast of Oosterland', which is very accurate. 


RAF 83 squadron were 'Pathfinders'; elite crews that flew in the spearhead of the bomber stream to lead the others and mark and bomb the target as first. In the build-up of the squadron end 1942, the new 83rd received the most experienced and best men from other squadrons. By the time the ED603 OL-L was lost, it's crew were all officers. Three of them had already won a Distinguished Flying Medal; these are the three missing (MIA) crew members. In the early morning of 13 June 1943, the aircraft did not return to Wyton and was declared lost/missing. After some weeks the message came that four of the crew had washed ashore along the Dutch Lake IJsselmeer north-eastern coast line, which made it clear that ED603 had crashed in this water.

In March 1996 the wreck, in remarkable good condition thanks to the emergency belly landing in 1943 in which it flipped over and the fresh water in the Lake, was found by fishing boat VD64 and reported to the authorities. The VD64 took an engine serial number plate off one engine (Rolls Royce Packard Merlin 28, see photos below). With this Dutch Air Force Recovery Officer J. van den Berg and the RAF coud identify the wreck as the since June 1943 missing ED603. A half year later, for publicity reasons to speed up the recovery procedure, the VD64 took an engine with propeller off and delivered it by truck (truck and driver provided for the just cause by Sierbestrating Jonk BV) at the museum of the ARG 40-45 in Heemskerk (Fort Veldhuis).

Because of cold bureaucratic reasons it never came to a recovery, despite the possible presence of the three DFM-decorated missing officers inside. The wreck became a registered field grave. At first it was believed the wreck was on lake-territory belonging to Wieringermeer (Wieringerwerf/Den Oever), but it was actually on gounds of community Wonseradeel (Makkum, Cornwerd, Witmarsum, Pingjum, Kimswerd). The long awaited recovery seems now to be planned for 2021 with cooperation of the new formed community Sudwest-Friesland (Bolsward, Sneek, Hindeloopen, Workum, Stavoren) and as part of the Dutch National Recovery Program, which has the aim to recover the last WW2 aircraft wrecks in the Netherlands with likely crew still inside.      

Photos above and below. 1996. First dive on the wreck since WW2. Fishing boat VD64. The cloth on the propeller is a parachute. 

Photo 1996, first dive, bomb camara. 

Below. Photo of a model made, situation 1996 first dive. The diver is on correct scale and shows the enormeous size of the Lancaster ED603 belly-up on the sandy seabed.

Raid Map. Attack on Bochum 12/13 June 1943. 



After 1996 the Lancaster was left in peace. However, in 2007 the wreck was raided by a dive group from Frisian Island Terschelling who had learned about this wreck. Their plans with the engines and propellers were stopped by the police who confiscated the material when the boat came into the harbour (photo below). It is unknown what damage was done to the fuselage with the suspected missing men inside. 



Artist impression of the wreck today, if it were hoisted-up in a future recovery. The red lines on the inside of the inner engine nacelles can be positions to cut through and disassemble the wings. Image thanks to PATS. 

- P/O Harold Howsam and P/O Arthur Fletcher (RCAF), washed ashore 21 and 23 June 1943, buried in Workum cemetery
- P/O Gordon Sugar, washed ashore 22 June 1943, buried in Hindeloopen cemetery
- P/O (pilot) Eric Tilbury, washed ashore 22 June 1943, buried Stavoren cemetery: 

Epitaph Eric Tilbury: "Leaving here a name I trust, that will not perish in the dust". Photo

© ZZairwar (Zuyder Zee Air War)