Memorial Lancaster ED629
During the night of 16 to 17 June, 1943, around 01:00 hours, a Lancaster bomber exploded in mid air over the hamlet of Grote Heide in the municipality of Neerpelt. The bits and pieces were blown apart over a large area that borders to the nature reserve Hageven. All seven crewmembers perished.
The four engined Lancaster ED629 PH-K of nr 12 Squadron of the British Royal Air Force was carrying approximately 4000 kilograms of bombs. The aircraft had taken off from the airport of Wickenby in Lincolnshire together with 15 other bombers. Their mission was to bomb Cologne. That night the attack on Cologne was carried out by 220 aircraft from the RAF.
The crew consisted of:
- Sgt. Pilot Arthur C. Aylard, RAF, 29 years of age from Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex.
- Flight Engineer Sgt. Joseph Scott, RAF, 22 years of age from Deckham (Gateshead, Co Durham).
- Navigator Sgt. Thomas Alexander, RAF, 30 years of age from Edinburgh.
- Bombardier Sgt. Marice Roy Williams, RAF, 21 years of age from Surbiton, Surrey.
- Radio-operator Sgt. Henry Joseph Patrick Lackey, RAF, 31 years of age from West End, Woking, Surrey.
- Nosegunner Sgt. John Wilfried Noël Westlake, RAF, 28 years of age from Mars Mills, Plympton, Devon.
- Tailgunner Sgt. Rex Swain, RAF, 19 years of age from Langford, Bedfordshire.
After the crash, the German occupying forces buried the crew in the cemetery of the airport of Brustem (Sint-Truiden). This airbase was used by German fighter aircraft to attack bomber aircraft of the RAF. After the war, the crew received a last resting place on the British military cemetery in Heverlee (Louven).
Lancaster ED629 was shot down by the German Flight Lieutenant Werner Baake. He was flying a Messerschmitt Bf110 that night. The German occupying forces cut out the picture of a kangaroo from the fuselage of the crashed Lancaster (see photograph.)
In order to memorize the crew of the shot down aircraft the local heritage society attached a plaque at the corner of the Achelsedijk and Polstraat in Grote Heide.
- Text: Heemkundekring Neerpelt
- Photos: Ben Harmsen
Address and contactinformation
- WWII grade:
Where is it?
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Point of interest
- Dutch War Graves (Hof)
- Dutch War Graves General Cemetery Eikenhof Cemetery
- Polish War Cemetery Lommel
- I thought that your story was very sensitive, As my uncle was one of the crew of the Lancaster 629 that went down that day. I would love to be there on the 70th anniversary,
Where the plane crashed !
- By: julian westlake
- City: Exeter
- Date and time: 25-10-2011 13:32:30
- Ranking: 5 out of 5 stars
- I have just come to realize that this was actually the British plane that my parents told us about (not the plane that fell, in September 1944).
My parents and oldest brother who was 9 months old at the time, were in hiding in an abandoned farmhouse at 76 Grote Heide, Neerpelt, BE. They told us about the story of the British plane that was shot down right in front of the farmhouse that they were hiding in.
Very many German soldiers quickly came and flooded that entire area to check out the fallen plane and they went inside the farmhouse to check it out too. My mother had to stay inside the farmhouse because she was unable to escape with my brother and so they hid behind the door of a room. My mother told us that she gave my brother her breast so he would not cry.
As one of the soldiers was beginning to enter the room where my mother and brother was, and he was standing right by the door, he was called back by another soldier who said that nobody was there, and to “let’s go.” Both solders left the farmhouse.
My mother told me that had my brother cried or had he made any noise, that they both would have been caught and shot on the spot.
My father was able to flee the area before the Germans came because he was already outside of the farmhouse and he was able to run into the forest after being hit with shrapnel from the plane.
It was sometime later that my parents found each other again, somewhere. And that is the story my parents told their children.
- By: Millie Friedman
- City: Fort Lee, NJ (USA)
- Date and time: 17-09-2011 17:40:07
- Ranking: 5 out of 5 stars