Can you help?
Have you ever witnessed any aircraft crashes during World War Two? We are looking to hear from anyone with ANY information regarding aircraft crashes in the UK and Europe. Have you ever wanted to know more about why it crashed or perhaps you have often wondered about the pilots name, age etc. If so we can often help.
WW2 Casualty Groups - RAF, Army, Navy. We will ensure their names are not forgotten.
Volunteers wanted to attend museum during open weekends - would suit retired person within the Surrey/Sussex area.


– – M

Short Stirling BF479 E for Easy 149 Squadron 13/14th March 1943.

Shot down near at Vorsell near Kasterlee, Belgium.
One the RAF's "Heavies" a Short Stirling seen being bombed up.
Short Stirling III BF479 OJ-E of 149 Squadron took off from RAF Lakenheath in England on the Night of the 13th/14th March 1943. Its target that night was to bomb Bochum which was situated in the industrial region of the Ruhr Valley in Germany. BF479 was part of a force of 442 aircraft, 135 of which were Halifaxes, 104 Wellingtons, 98 Lancasters, 95 Stirlings and 10 Mosquitoes. Overall 24 aircraft and their young crews were lost on this raid alone including 13 Halifaxes, 6 Wellingtons, 4 Stirlings and 1 Lancaster.
The raid started well but after 15 minutes, what were believed to be German decoy markers drew much of the bombing away from the target. 394 buildings in Bochum were destroyed, 716 were seriously damaged. Tragically 302 people were killed in the bombing.
The crew of Stirling BF479, with there mission complete, the young crew began their homeward journey, but they were not safe yet. At 03.05 hours on the 14th May 1943 when flying over Belgium the crew requested a bearing which was given – nothing further was heard from the crew of BF479. The aircraft was claimed by a night fighter Obfw Fritz Schellwat of 2/NJG1 at 03.15hrs, the Stirling crashed 10km SE of Turnhout near Kasterlee. The gun camera of Schellwat confirmed the kill. Obfw Fritz Schellwat had a total of 17 confirmed victories by the end of the war. The crew of BF479 were buried locally at first before before being re-interred at Schoonselhof after the war.

The aircraft crashed in flames in the Vorsell near Kasterlee where the German Luftwaffe were quickly on the scene to recover the bodies of the crew of BF479.

The Crew of Stirling BF479
Flying Officer L C Martin - Pilot
Sgt R C Ferguson RCAF - 2nd Pilot
Sgt J E Butt – Flight Engineer
Sgt N H Frank – Navigator
Flying Officer G R Royde DFC – Bomb Aimer
Sgt. Edmund Hazelden French – Wireless Operator
Sgt H P Fudge – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt H A J Berry – Rear Gunner
None of the crew survived the crash and all are now buried in Schoonselhof Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves section.

The crew of Stirling BF479

Norman Harry Frank
Norman Harry Frank in flying gear
Norman Harry Frank in flying gear
Norman Harry Frank
Norman Harry Frank
Award of DFC: On 28th November 1942 F.O. Royde took part in an attack on Turin, their aircraft was repeatedly hit by flak. A shell rendered the captain Flt. Lt. Middleton VC (Victoria Cross) unconscious and wounded the 2nd Pilot Flt. Sgt. Hyder. Flt. Sgt. Hyder took over the controls and regained control of the aircraft OJ-H. By the skilful navigation by Flying Officer Royde enabled the aircraft to return back to the UK where due to lack of petrol the aircraft was abandoned.
ROBERT CHRYSLER FERGUSON, during his pilot training in Canada
Investigation by the Wings Museum
The crash site of Short Stirling BF479 had been investigated in recent years by other Belgian recovery groups & individuals. Their investigations had concluded that there was nothing to find & that the aircraft had crashed in open farm land.
The Wings Museum Recovery Team first searched for BF479 in the late 1990's, but the location was completely incorrect. Later, further eye-witness reports came in giving a more precise location, this led to the discovery of the crash site of BF479. The Wings Team carried out their investigation while we were unveiling a memorial to the crew of an Avro Manchester that crashed near by more on this>
The Wings Team started their search in the field where it was thought BF479 had crashed but we soon discovered 4 very shallow craters in a wooded area where the 4 engines had burnt out. With some forensic style searching using a sieve some very interesting & worth while finds were recovered for the museum from just below the surface. Some of these finds moved the team so much that it was decided on the spot that this crash site should be permanent marked in the way of a memorial to the unfortunate crew. On return to England we at once began tracing family members. Meanwhile our Belgian friends made arrangements with the local community for a memorial dedication to be held the following year. The Wings Museum is very fortunate to have the full support of the local community as well as the support from the town Major.
The final memorial dedication took place on 24th May 2013 & more information on this can be seen here> some photos can also be seen below.
Marcel using a sieve to find small parts
Daniel holds an RAF Cap badge & button
Kevin using a sieve to locate small finds
A tiny escape compass - in all 4 of these were found, one was given to our friend Luc Cox.
Kevin with another small find from just below the surface
The wreckage of Stirling BF479 burnt out on the surface & was recovered by the Germans. Even so the Wings Museum Recovery Team managed to recover many interesting small items that were left behind just below the surface. Very little of the airframe was found & it is believed that this completely burnt out & was taken away.
The crew of BF479 are finally remembered
f-16 memorial flypast belgium
A first in Belgium, two Belgium Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons perform a flypast over the crash site on Friday 24th May 2013.
The Memorial before the dedication
Representatives of the families of Sgt Ferguson, Sgt Frank, Flying Officer Royde, and Sgt Berry
A large crowd gathered to pay their respects
The memorial now stands in proud memory of those who lost their lives close to this spot in fight for freedom.

© Wings Museum