View Full Version : Excavation of a 10 Sqn Halifax Bomber Germany

24th Jul 2014, 11:13
Later this year Dr Phil Marter AIFA FHEA an archaeologist of The University of Winchester is supervising a multi-national excavation of a Halifax bomber that belonged to No. 10 Squadron.

HALIFAX Mark III, LV881 ZA-V 10 Sqn crashed on 30-31 March 1944. The aircraft took off at 22.16 hrs as part of the Nuremberg raid and is recorded as being shot down at around 0100 hrs on 31 March by a night-fighter. 3 of the 7 crew descended by parachute and were subsequently captured. The remaining 4 were killed, presumably in the resulting crash, near Steinheim, some 33 miles east/south-east of the old RAF Gutersloh, Germany, not far from Detmold.

The crew comprised of:

FS W T A Regan (PILOT)


WO2 W S Norris RCAF (pow)

FS N Wilmot (pow)

Sgt R W Tindal

Sgt D L Smith

Sgt A D Lawes (pow)

Those killed on the crew were buried in Hannover. Dr Marter has managed to contact relatives of Sgt D L Smith and would very much like to trace the families of the other crew if possible.

I have been asked by the Chairman of the 10 Sqn Association to coordinate a small team along with Dr Marter to gain as much information we can about our downed aircraft and crew. Any help from members of this forum would be appreciated.

As the dig progresses I will keep you all informed on this thread.

Many thanks in advance.

25th Jul 2014, 08:05
This is certainly Good News, the more so as it comes in the run-up to the Squadron's Centenary on 1 January 2015.

25th Jul 2014, 09:16
ICM It is indeed, you probaly know that the 10 Sqn Association plan to make it all part of the anniversary.

28th Jul 2014, 08:54
The historian researching the background of this mission has come up with the following:

I have researched the last flight of LV881 ZA-C which I feel is pretty common knowledge. The mission was unusual however as to the facts I have put in the attached report.(below)

Sir Arthur Harris was under heavy pressure to cancel the mission due to the weather conditions: Clear sky, no cloud cover and a full moon. It is not clear why he was so insistent that it went ahead. The resulting loss of life and aircraft from that mission was the worst ever.

There is a 'conspiracy theory' (CT) surrounding that evening, as it is obvious that German intelligence were aware of Bomber Command's plans in advance. It is suggested Harris knew this but went ahead anyway to convince the Germans that their spy intelligence network was reliable.Hard to believe.

I might mention that my father took part in that mission as part of 10 Squadron in LV785 ZA-C. The aircraft received damage from flack and were attacked by a defensive night-fighter whilst returning. It crash landed at Melbourne which resulted in the aircraft being damaged beyond repair.
The mission was just 3 months before D-Day and it is thought that the intelligence reports for March 30th had to be trusted so a diversion could be employed in June. Depends if you believe in CT.


MARCH 30th 1944.
Starting on the night of November 18th 1943, the RAF began a bombing campaign against Berlin, a campaign that culminated in a night raid on Nuremburg, on the night of March 30th 1944.

The campaign was launched by the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of RAF Bomber Command, Sir Arthur Travers Harris, GCB, OBE, and AFC. The campaign also included raids on Cologne, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Leverkusen, Manheim and Stuttgart.

It is well documented that the ‘Battle of Berlin’ was a failure, losing 1,047 bombers, 1,682 being damaged, resulting in the loss of 7,000 aircrew. The raid on Nuremburg was however, the costliest RAF Bomber Command mission of the war, losing 95 bombers with a further 71 damaged out of a total of 795 aircraft: 12% of the task force. This force was made up of 572 Lancaster bombers, 214 Halifax and 9 Mosquitos.

German intelligence had identified Nuremburg as the target that night and defences were well prepared; every available night-fighter was lying-in-wait and the ground defences of searchlights and anti-aircraft flak guns were increased along the bomber stream’s route. It is also documented that the evening was clear and featured a full moon; unusual for a night mission and against normal procedure.

The task force was intercepted as they crossed over the Belgian border with 82 bombers being lost in the first hour. A further 13 aircraft were lost on their return and it is clear that LV881 met its fate in these circumstances along with the other casualties.

RAF 10 Squadron provided 22 Halifax bombers on that evening, LV881, ZA-V being part of the third group, ‘C flight’.

In a message sent to “Exascot”, it is recorded that LV881 was shot down by defensive night-fighters at approximately 0100 hours on March 31st 1944, crashing close to Steinheim, in North Rhine, Westphalia.

These facts would appear to fit the above information surrounding the details of the last flight of LV881 ZA-V.

What we would really appreciate is if anyone can help us with the background or living relatives of the crew.

29th Jul 2014, 07:18
The association member researching the crew has now come up with this:

I intend to work down the list of the crew and have already found information on Walter Thomas Regan the pilot

The records show him as a Pilot Officer. He has the same service number as Flt Sgt Regan so he must have been commissioned at some stage. I will look further into this. I couldn’t initially find his birth and then found that strangely he may have been born in Germany in1923. His parents were Walter & Nora Regan of Barnsley. His Father was a Pelt Monger, a seller of animal hides. He also had a brother William Patrick Regan who was an AC 11 in The RAF Volunteer Reserve. He died in August 1943 when he was 18, seven months before his brother. He was not aircrew and is buried in a war grave in Barnsley Cemetery.

1st Aug 2014, 06:06
Dr Phil Marter asked me to add this:

The project is a collaboration between researchers and students from English, German and Dutch universities, together with local enthusiasts from the Hessen area. The project is being run by HessenArchäologie. I think its worth adding this just so everyone knows its being taken care of properly. Also a small correction, the Steinheim you have mentioned is the larger of two that exist, but the Steinheim where the crash is, is a much smaller one near Hungen.

11th Aug 2014, 10:06
Further information about the excavation.

The aircraft was identified as Lv881 because its remains and their location match perfectly with the reported loss of the aircraft. Objects from the site also confirm this.

Material and remains were removed from the site after it crashed with the deceased being taken to Hannover cemetery. Remarkably, the crash itself was witnessed by a 15 year old boy who is now a local farmer and remembers the event.

The site has also already been subject to a walkover survey by archaeologists and will be subject to excavation this September.

Excavations on these sorts of sites are carried out in a variety of ways, some more 'delicate' than others. As I understand it, the aircraft did not create a deep impact crater but must have come in at a shallower angle dispersing objects over a reasonable area. Therefore it is not expected that material will be very deeply buried. As a result the excavation will take place in gridded squares that will subdivide the various debris locations. This will help to create a distribution record of object locations across the area. This work will help us not only to recover objects from the site but say a little more about the final moments of the flight.

Work will be directed by an experienced group from HessenArchaeologie. I will be visiting the project at the beginning of September.

12th Sep 2014, 22:40
Hi, Exascot!
I yust were at a talk about this excavation this evening!
The correct crashsite-coordinates are
50degrees, 26minutes, 38seconds NORTH
08degrees, 56minutes, 13seconds EAST, on a mountaintop, which is formed like a tongue in northwestern direction --> between Steinhein and Rodheim in WETTERAUKREIS, HESSEN,GERMANY.
They´ve made a excavation due to the archeoligic rules and swept the bottom in 2 by 2 meters. Because there is less earth upon the rock, they only made it down to 15-20 centimeters. Some parts of instruments, electrical wire, and a RAAF-badge of the upper turret operator from Australia were found. The digging-group out of students from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and one person from Finland did a very good work and found a lot of parts. Packed in nearly 100 plastic bags they will be checked out and catalogized volounteerely by two students from Great Britain.

Best Regards
Al. Crowley

denis smith
29th Nov 2014, 20:53
hi, I am the brother of Donald Smith. How is the dig going.? I have just found this forum. I have not been able to keep in contact with those involved due to my wife being ill. She has MS. Just spending a few minutes to myself on the web and thought I would see how the dig was going/