207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY

Items from the Solly Crew Crash Site,
Lancaster EM-M LL973
22 June 1944, near Dorne
Province of Limburg, Belgium

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The following Lancaster wreckage items are among those which were gathered from walking the crash site field, which is between Dorne and Niel-bij-As, after the crop had been cut and with the permission of the farmer.

They are part of the continual harvest of ammunition, metal parts and perspex that the soil produces as a result of cultivation and ploughing. The same is true of many other crash sites. Items which have any kind of writing on them, especially serial numbers, are of great interest as it is possible that these can be identified by those with working knowledge of the construction, servicing and equipment of the Avro Lancaster.

According to The Lancaster File, compiled by JJ Halley (Air Britain, 1985) this aircraft LL973 was one of a batch of 350 Lancaster Is delivered between November 1943 and August 1944 by Armstrong Whitworth. It arrived on No.207 Squadron at RAF Spilsby on 11th May 1944 and by the time it was lost on its 16th operational sortie (P/O CJ Solly, Wesseling) on 22nd June 1944, it had logged 81.35 flying hours.

Three members of the Solly crew were found dead at or very near the field:

Pilot Officer Charles John "Mike" Solly RAFVR, Pilot, age 22
Flight Sergeant John Shaw RAFVR, Navigator, age 22
Sgt Edwin Jack "Jacky" Jewell RAFVR, Mid Upper Gunner, age 23

The Bomb Aimer Sgt Eddie Chapman and Rear Gunner Sgt Peter Loakes were taken PoW. The Flight Engineer Sgt Arthur Barton and the Wireless Operator Sgt Frank R Haslam both evaded capture.

Especial thanks are given to Danny Vanstraelen-Reumers, Friend Member of 207 Squadron RAF Association and grandson of Gerard and Helena Delsaer, the couple who hid the Solly crew's Wireless Operator Sgt Frank R Haslam for 13 weeks. Many of the items below were donated to the editor by Danny, to supplement those the Haslam family have collected on visits to the crash site. The .303 round and item 12 were found by the owner of the field.
Raymond Glynne-Owen provided information about the aircraft's service on 207 Squadron.

If you are able to identify any of these items please contact the www.rafinfo.org.uk editor, Frank W Haslam

item 1: three views

serial: 1 SS518 with a possible further digit 6
other marks: figure 1 inside a partially obliterated ellipse?
the white deposits are the result of fire damage
dimensions: in image at left, width 35mm (1.4"); joining rod diameter about 7mm (2/10"-3/10")



item 2, both sides of which are shown

painted in different colours: brown/thin black/bare metal in upper view, all black in lower view
serials: none
dimensions: the bare metal/thin black part approx 14mm (half an inch), the brown part about 17mm (7/10")

 



item 3: two views and detailed view below

upper view shows a manufacturer's mark and a serial (???I?)MD 1628
dimensions: centres of the two holes are 1cm apart (4/10")
the wedge shaped piece is 8mm (half inch) wide and 35mm (14/10") long

 

item 4

it has been suggested that this might be a buckle from some kind of equipment harness, rather than from something worn by aircrew.
serials: none
dimensions: top width 44mm (1"), bottom width 54mm (just over 2"): internal width 25mm (1")

 

item 5

perspex
serial visible: X 94829 AB
dimensions: 4mm thick (between 1/10" and 2/10")

EMM LL973 small wreckage item 6

item 6

perspex, fire damaged
shows figures in white 230 against what appears to be a scale gradation mark
dimensions: about 2mm thick (just under 1/10")

item 7

perspex, fire damaged
shows figures in white 18 against what appear to be scale gradations

item 8

bent thin black painted metal strip, with two fixing holes approx 25mm (1") apart
faint lettering residue visible but hard to make out
top line: AILERON
bottom line: BLAR???
dimensions: 12-13mm (half inch) wide

 


item 9, two views

hard plastic type material
marks: on image above note the word fragment IZER
serials: none
dimensions: see right - height about 25mm (1")


item 10

metal
markings: serial 1?5S3202 and below that, within a circle, possibly PT or PI 506
dimensions: fixing centres are 20mm (") apart, the item is slightly tapered down to 25mm
(1") across and is about 2mm (1/10") thick

 

click for view of reverse of this item

item 11

view above shows brown and black painted strip of metal
with two corroded attachment points (appear to be nut and bolt).

the left hand attachment point has a fragment of perspex fixed to the metal
(see close up on right), suggesting that this could have come from somewhere
such as a turret or window.
dimensions: 3cm (1.1") wide; spacing of attachment points 8cm (3"),
thickness of perspex fragment 4mm approx (between 1/10" and 2/10")

 

item 12 front and back

presented to the Haslam family by the owner of the field
markings: serial A 1(3?)1269 plus in an ellipse F or E 643
dimensions: thickness 4-5mm (15/100"), top to bottom max 43mm (17/10"), width 75mm (29/10"): large holes 12-13mm (half inch) dia, middle size hole 8-9mm (4/10") dia, small holes 6mm (") dia.



the reverse side shows what looks like rotational wear in the two upper apertures on the right

 


item 13 two views

appears to be a bakelite control knob
markings: the image on the right shows 71S70
dimensions: the knurls on the knob are separated by approx 20mm (7-8/10")

item 14

thin (1-2 mm) flexible plastic type material, some fire damage
markings: the capital letters ELE can be seen

 

 

item 15

it is suggested that this may be an oil pipe, indicated by the fluted end for an olive.

markings: none
dimensions: tube external diameter 10mm (4/10"), width of flute about 12mm (45/100")

 

a .303 round seen in Belgium,
found by the owner of the field

cap markings (see left) are difficult to make out
possibly top RO 1942, bottom WD

Links
207 Squadron RAF History
Solly crew EM-M LL973
The Wesseling Raid

images: Haslam
page last updated 1 Dec 2005: 28 Dec 13