On Wednesday 4 May 2022, the Netherlands will commemorate all war victims and not only those from the Second World War. How special is it then, that the initiative was taken to make a commemorative flight with an authentic four-engined Avro Lancaster of the Royal Air Force? ECG Air Branch was also allowed to witness this unique moment.

This is the Lancaster bomber "City of London" PA474 of the 'Battle of Britain Memorial Flight'. Only two Lancasters are still flying worldwide; one in Canada and the "City of London" from England.

A Lancaster had a wingspan of no less than 31.09 metres and was more than 21 metres long. The four powerful Rolls Royce Merlin V12 in-line engines provided great power, allowing the beautiful, elegant workhorse to carry up to 10,000 kg of bombs. And that bomb load makes us involuntarily think of the disastrous images of destruction in the Ukraine. A country that was the scene of fierce fighting in the Second World War and is undoubtedly full of Explosive Remnants of War, and where enormous quantities of ammunition are now disappearing into the ground again... With the experience that Explosive Clearance Group has gained in the Netherlands for more than 15 years - because our company is confronted with leftover war material on a daily basis - we know that because of this terrible war in the East, the Ukraine will be confronted with leftover war remnants for a long time to come!

Back to the commemorative flight. The Lancaster had a seven-man crew at the time. Apparently, 3,249 of this type of aircraft crashed during the Second World War. Many hundreds also ended up on Dutch soil, and the human remains of missing occupants can still be found in various wrecks to this day. The commemorative flight also reminds us of all the effort that is put into the 'missing persons programme'. The programme of the Ministry of Home Affairs, whereby the Royal Netherlands Air Force Salvage Service and the Salvage and Identification Service of the Royal Netherlands Army are actively searching for missing flight crew members. The repayment of a debt of honour! ECG Air Branch also did its bit in 2019, by relieving the municipality and various defence units of the burden of our special salvage equipment during the recovery of the remains of the Short Stirling at Echt-Susteren.

The flight on May 4 went from Coningsby airfield in the United Kingdom to Belgium. Via a stopover at Gilze-Rijen (where ECG actively helped to clear bombs from the runways), the journey continued via Hank, Werkendam, Elst, Dronten to Markelo. Here we were allowed to witness the march. With the above in mind, it provided the spectators with a particularly emotional moment. A moment of reflection! Afterwards the British bomber disappeared in a soft humming flight to Den Ham, Assen and flew back via Texel to her homeport in England.

Avro Lancaster during 'Memorial Flight' on May 4, 2022 over Markelo.

War graves of fallen Allied airmen in Markelo, 4 May 2022

"...Soft humming disappeared towards Den Ham and finally Coningsby airfield, UK.