Salvaging operation of the Lancaster ED470

September 23, 1944, a British bomber of the type Avro Lancaster III crashed at the Humeloseweg near Zelhem (NL). The plane landed almost vertically. Because part of the bombload was still present on board, there was a huge explosion, killing six of the seven crew members. The plane wreck and its crew have never been officially recovered. The municipality of Bronkhorst decided to salvage the aircraft wreck for safety reasons and out of piety for the next of kin.

The municipality had several goals: cleaning up soil contamination and UXO,  but also creating a more concrete picture for the family members of the deceased  and their commemoration. In addition, the results were used for educational purposes.

Because of the risk of UXO in the subsoil, it was of great importance to carry the work out safely. The salvaging operations were therefore carried out under current UXO (WSCS-OCE) legislation and archaeological supervision


October 23, 2013, evidence was found that the crashed plane was indeed the Lancaster ED470. Amongst the last recovered parts was  a piece of armor plate with the number 470, making it possible to identify the plane. No large UXO or material remains have been found in the crater. After the salvaging operation, the detection area could be declared free of UXO.