The story about the Lancaster AR°F²

February 1945. Linkhout was liberated in September 1944 by the British 2nd army, 21st Army group, Welsh Guards and Household Cavalry, 12 troops under command of lieutenant Michael Franklin. The bombing raids over Germany continued to end the Second World War definitely.

During the night of February 20-21, 1945 there was a bomb raid on Dortmund. 1.283 planes took part in this raid, of which only 22 never returned. The 460th Bomber Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force was part of the RAF-command and took part.

Jenkins and his crew were flying the Avro Lancaster AR-F² and will succeed to reach Dortmund and bomb the city. Unfortunately there was a technical problem which prevented one bomb from falling, most likely the release was frozen. The crew was forced to take the unexploded bomb back and drop it somewhere while returning because landing with the bomb still on the plane was much too dangerous.

AR-F² (photo: Rudy Kenis)

AR-F² (photo: Rudy Kenis)

AR-F² (photo: Rudy Kenis)

Avro Lancaster technical drawing

The crew tried to drop the bomb in the North Sea before landing in Binbrook. When they reached Belgian skies they were attacked by a German plane, most likely a Ju-88 (Junkers) or an Me-262 (Messerschmidt).

Ju-88 (photo: Wikipedia)

Me-262 (photo: Wikipedia)

The Ju-88 had two engines and operated during day and night. This kind of airplane had two upper turret guns so it could shoot targets that were flying above them. This is the plane that mostly depicts Jenkins declarations, although he still wasn't fully convinced it was this kind of plane.

The Lancaster was shot from below where there was no protection. It is suspected that the remaning bomb was hit and exploded. The Lancaster burst into pieces and crashed in the meadows of Linkhout and Zelem.

Six of seven crew members lost their lives. Pilot Alex Jenkins was the sole survivor, most likely thanks to the iron pantser that was behind his seat.

Standing from left to right: Bernard M. Clegg (marconist, RAAF), Bryant Braddock (upper turret gunner, RAAF), Sydney C. Swift (navigator, RAAF).
Sitting from left to right: Alex E. Jenkins (pilot, RAAF), Frank S. Stone (flight engineer, RAF), Alan Graham (tail gunner, RAF), Herbert T. Campbell (bombardier, RAAF).

The six crew members were buried in Zelem for about one year, in the current Donderbosstraat. The graves were taken care of by a young lady from Zelem, Octavie Vanuytrecht.

Graves in the Donderbosstraat (photo: Rudy Kenis)

After one year the bodies were retrieved and transferred to the Commonwealth cemetery in Hasselt which is located on the communal cemetery, where they got their final resting place.

Cemetery Hasselt (photo: Marcus Theile)

Cemetery Hasselt 2015 (photo: Nick Lieten)

Rudy Kenis, Alex Jenkins and Keith Teasdale looking at a piece of the tail from the crashed Lancaster (photo: Rudy Kenis)

Lest we forget...

Plan of Linkhout with important places (Google Earth)

Sources: Alex Jenkins & Rudy Kenis