Germany / Audiospot
In the night of 16 to 17 June 1943, a heavily loaded Lancaster bomber takes off from Bottesford to bomb Cologne. The aircraft is shot at along the way by a German night fighter and explodes. The debris comes down near Niederkrüchten and some of the houses on Lamertzweg collapse. This causes civilian casualties, including children. After the crash, another drama unfolds…
The Lancaster ED737, commanded by Sergeant John Binnie, is part of the No. 467 Squadron (RAAF). According to the operation’s record books, at least one aircraft encountered problems with its communication equipment during the bombing. During the flight to Cologne, the Lancaster ED737 is hit by a German night fighter. The aircraft loses altitude and explodes in the air. A large number of crew members do not survive the crash. The debris causes considerable damage in and around the village of Oberkrüchten, resulting in multiple civilian casualties.
After the war in 1946, the British intelligence service carried out an investigation into an assistant customs officer who was stationed in Oberkrüchten at the time. It becomes clear that Arthur Smith, the co-pilot of the aircraft, initially survived the crash and was found injured next to a ditch by the German official. During interrogations, it appears that the accused was traveling by bicycle to combat illegal border traffic when the aircraft caught on fire. According to various eyewitnesses he told the co-pilot to put his hands up. When Smith did not respond fast enough, he beat him with the butt of his rifle. A police officer who arrived at the scene a little later, called a doctor to examine the co-pilot. Smith was then transported by Luftwaffe ambulance to the Mönchengladbach hospital where he died.