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The story of the RAF Wellington Mk III SQ 115, shot at close 27/03/1942 Wichmond by Manfred Meurer.

The recovery was carried out on Saturday, November 3, 2007 near the small village of Wichmond. The ARGA received information that the two engines were never recovered from the crashsite. Efforts to recover them during and after the war all failed. During the first investigations at the crashsite two counterbalance weights and a cable-cutter were found. Also a large object was detected just at the edge of the field. It became clear that this object was to deep to recover by hand. This weekend a crane was brought in to do the job. A propeller-hub, engine and wing parts were found. The engine itself was totally destroyed and the second engine was not at this site. The site was the impact area of one of the wings. The remainder of the a/c was probably recovered by German forces during the war and during the search for the engines after the war. All parts were extremely well preserved.

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Wellington X-3604 belonged to 115 squadron at Marham. 115 squadron took part in an attack on the German city Essen in the Ruhr with 15 a/c from a total of 104 Wellington bombers and 11 Stirling bombers. The attack took place during the night of March 26 and 27, 1942. 115 squadron took off from their base between 19.40 and 19.59 hours. Wellington X-3604 took off at 19.54 hours. The crew met their end just hours later approx 1 km east of the village of Wichmond.

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The following crewmembers were on board of Wellington X-3604:
P/O Geoffrey Gordon SOAMES, pilot, age 23
Sgt Patrick Austen Gwyer FINCH, 2nd pilot, age 27
Sgt William Lionel MOGFORD, observer, age 25
Sgt Victor Charles Rudkin BAKER, Wireless Op. age 19
Sgt Alan BURNS, front-gunner, age20
Sgt Roy FREAK, rear-gunner, age 21

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On arriving at the target visibilty was good and the a/c bombed visually from a height between 14.000 and 18.000Ft. Fires were reported ivo the target by 115 squadron crews. The question today is if 115 squadron actually bombed Essen. Bomber Command reported heavy FLAK at Essen. 115 squadron did not mentioned this in their reports. The reports from Essen only spoke of 22 explosions. 115 squadron also didn't reported the German nightfighter activity. They shot down 10% of the RAF a/c......10 Wellington bombers and 1 Stirling bomber never returned again! We will never know if Wellington X-3604 did bomb their target. What we know is the fact that they were caught by a searchlight at Toldijk and shot down by a German nightfighter.

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Airbase Twente, home of the 3rd Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1. Their Messerschmitt Me110's were stand-by this night and after the message of the approaching bomber force they all took off. Among them Leutnant Manfred Meurer and his radio-operator Uffz Gerhard Scheibe. It was the first combat mission of Lt Meurer.

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Meurer in his Me110 was directed to his target by their ground-ops officer. Near the town of Dieren Meurer saw his target, a Wellington bomber caught in a searchlight cone. The Wellington didn't had a change. The guns of Meurers Me110 spoke and the Wellington went down in flames. Local policeman van Hattem saw a firely shape going down with incredible speed. He wittnessed the end of Wellington X-3604. Both Meurer and Scheibe received the Knights Cross in 1943. After 130 sorties and shooting down 65 a/c he and Uffz Scheibe were killed when their Heinkel He219 collided with a RAF Lancaster on Januari 22, 1944.

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Wellington X-3604 came down just 1 km east of the small village of Wichmond over a large area. The 6 men crew were found by German forces and recovered. They were buried at the Algemene begraafplaats(General Cemetery) of Wichmond. Three of the crew couldn't individualy be indentified due to the incredible force of the impact so they rest in a collective grave.

The crew of Wellington X-3604 still are buried at Wichmond......We will not forget!!

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