Salvaging of a Short Sterling in Echt-Susteren

75 years after the Second World War, airplane wrecks with human remains can still be found in the Dutch subsurface or seabed. In September 2019 a special multi-year project financed by the Dutch Government was started  for the salvaging of many dozens of World War II aircraft wrecks with missing crew members.

Promising salvaging operations project

The Studiegroep Luchtoorlog 1939-1945 (SGLO) convinced Dutch politicians to do something about the situation and handed over a list of promising salvages. The SGLO has been researching crashed aircrafts and their crew for years. Over 5500 aircraft were lost in the Netherlands during the Second World War. A large part still remains in the Dutch subsurface. In about 400 aircrafts, the remains of crew members are probably still present. Recent research shows that the number of locations where remains of missing crew members can be found with some degree of certainty is limited. According to the insights of the SGLO, it concerns 30 to 50 locations.  

First salvaging operation

The first aircraft in the series of promising salvagings with missing crew is the Short Stirling W7630 MG-M, a RAF aircraft that crashed in 1942. The excavations in Echt-Susteren, Limburg, started on September 16th 2019. In September 1942, returning from Düsseldorf, the damaged aircraft landed on a field which belonged to an abbey. Two crew members managed to escape with a parachute. One of the pilots survived the war, two others were found dead and were immediately buried. The other four occupants are missing and will hopefully be found after almost eighty years  

Role of T&A Survey

For the salvaging of the Short Stirling, T&A Survey has mapped and visualized the horizontal and vertical delimitation of the crashed aircraft, as well as the environmental and soil conditions. T&A carried out the same survey for an aircraft salvaging operation in Markermeer. In the coming years, about three aircrafts per year are expected to be salvaged.