Text : Serge Van Heertum - Pictures : Jef Pets (www.lunak.be) © sbap 2012
We are in 1944, the German begins to be nervous because of a possible landing of the allied forces in Europe. The USAF and the RAF are doing thousands bombing missions to prepare the invasion. The objectives are located in France, Belgium and Germany. The night of May 12th, 1944, a RAF Lancaster from the RAF 103 squadron based at RAF Elsham Wolds was shot down by a Luftwaffe night fighter. The PM-X / ND700 Lancaster exploded and crashed in Malle (Belgium).
The usual pilot of this plane, was P/O Florent Van Rolleghem a Belgian compatriot engaged in the RAF. The crew had already made a tour of operations together, But at that time Van Rolleghem felt sick. As P/O Florent Van Rolleghem was in hospital his task was overtaken by Wing Commander H.R. Goodman from the South African Air Force.
The night of May 12th, 1944, Hasselt was attacked and the Wing Commander Goodman took the PM-X Lancaster with Van Rolleghem's crew. The same night, British formations also attack Leuven and Leopoldsburg. Above Hasselt, forced by thick fog, the Master Bomber gives the order to cancel the mission. The result was some confusion because another Master Bomber above Leuven confirms the attack on his goal. This order is heard by two members of the PM-X crew and Wing Commander Goodman follows the order of his own Master Bomber and heads back home with his load of bombs.
A few moments after midnight, the Lancaster is detected by Werner Baake Hptm of 1/NJG. He opens fire with his Messerschmitt BF-110 G4 and the Lancaster explodes in midair at 00:26 am. This was the 26th victory registered by Hptm Werner Baake.
All seven crew members lost their lives above Belgium a sad night of May 1944
H.R. Goodman (SAAF)
On May 4th, 2012 a ceremony was held on the Oostmalle-Zoersel airfield, where a memorial plate was inaugurated in the presence of authorities and members of the Lancaster crew families. This ceremony was highlighted by the Battle of Britain memorial flight Lancaster and two Belgian Air Force F-16s fly by.
|Malle airfield ceremony||Wrecks of the PM-X / ND700 found on the site|
|In memoriam||Visit of the crash site|
|Some RAF vehicles...||...to remember the past|
|BBMF Lancaster over Malle airfield||Salute of the Belgian Air Force|
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