The year 1944 was the single most destructive year for both the RAF and USAAF during the strategic bombing of Germany. Combined, over 900 thousand tons of bombs were dropped – more than in all previous years combined. The German Luftwaffe had mostly lost air superiority over Germany by early spring that year – but still had enough strength to engage enemy fighters, and could still count on the German Flak to inflict heavy losses on allied bombers (half of all USAAF shot down in Germany were due to Flak fire and an estimated 1229 RAF aircraft were shot down in the last three years of the war).
With a thinned out Luftwaffe, daytime raids over germany had become more common, though the aforementioned Flak was still a deadly obstacle. According to a local eyewitness, a German Flak crew located close to Beeskow engaged a group of allied bombers in August 1944, critically hitting on of the aircraft. The plane supposedly exploded and its remnants crashed into a field on the outskirts of the town Märkisch Buchholz. Other sources report that the Aircraft was shot down by in February 1944 by german “Nachtjäger” – though it seems quite unlikely that well get any more precise details as to what really unfolded.
The bomber supposedly carried a crew of 8, none of which survived the crash. The crew were buried in the local cemetery, though their remains were repatriated in 1948 by British Military authorities, while the wreck of the bomber plane remained lodged in the field for another 15 years. In early 1960, most of the plane was scrapped, though part of the wing and what appears to be fragments of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine were left behind for some reason. Its been debated by some people far more knowledgeable about this topic, what type of bomber crashed here, and most agree that it was a Avro Lancaster Bomber.
Over 7000 Avro Lancaster bombers were built between 1941 and 1946 (3249 were lost in action) and were designed to be the primary nighttime bomber (which would the second scenario mentioned above quite plausible) of the RAF Bomber Command.
It’s unclear as to why this fragment of the Avro Lancaster was left behind, possibly because the wing might have dug in too deep into the ground and would be impossible to remove without digging up a large section of the field. Having seen several photos over the years, it also seems like some trophy hunters have started “picking” at the remnants, as the “condition” of the avro lancaster wing has noticeably changed, with quite a few parts now missing.
Nevertheless, the crash site of the Avro Lancaster bomber in Märkisch Buchholz is an unexpected yet interesting little piece of history “hidden” in Brandenburg worth a visit if one is ever in the area.
The Avro Lancaster Crash Site – Address