The Ministry of Defence has completed the recovery of Lancaster ED603 on the IJsselmeer. In total, about 40% of the plane has been recovered and human remains have also been found. Leemans Speciaalwerken has now started cleaning up the salvage location. Starting next week, the sheet pile walls will also be removed from the water.
Remains found until the last day of recovery
The recovery proceeded smoothly and it was reported fairly quickly in the recovery process that human remains had been found. That was a boost for the municipality of Súdwest-Fryslân and the Ministry of Defence. “We found remains until the last day. At this time we cannot say whether we have found the remains of all missing crew members,” said Hubert Schuncken, aircraft recovery staff officer at the Ministry of Defence.
The Salvage and Identification Service Royal Netherlands Army (BIDKL) will investigate the remains. This should show whether the missing crew members have been found or not. So it remains to be seen. The municipality hopes to be able to bring good news to the relatives soon. “It sounds crazy to call this ‘good news’, but I spoke to the relatives when they visited here. And the identification of their missing relative would be good news, given the circumstances. The final chapter of the crew members’ story was searched for by family for 80 years. I hope we have found that now,” says councillor Petra van den Akker.
The salvage also yielded special finds, such as one of the wheels, the on-board radio and one of the pilot seats. “In total we managed to recover about 40% of the aircraft, the rest was not present,” said staff officer Schuncken.
The recovery process went very smoothly. The weather conditions were generally good. At the end of September, the salvage facility was closed for a week due to the strong wind on the IJsselmeer. In the two weeks that followed, various pieces of wreckage were recovered and human remains were found.
“We are satisfied with how everyone worked and how the recovery went. An extremely respectful project that was treated in that way by everyone. I would like to thank everyone for that,” concludes councillor Van den Akker.