The fatal mission
Wellington HE 154 was part of a group of no less than 783 Allied bombers who bombed the German city of Düsseldorf on the night of 11/12 June 1943. An area of 5 by 8 km was completely destroyed, in particular a part of the city centre, 42 industrial companies, 20 military objects and 8 ships. Of the 143 Wellington bombers who participated in this raid, ten did not return, including HE 154. The "Operations Record Book" of the RAAF of 12 June 1943 stated: "Glow of fires on return after passing AMSTERDAM. This aircraft took off at 23.14 and has been reported missing."
Air Protection Service
In 1936 in the Air Protection Service ("Luchtbeschermingsdienst" LBD) was established in the Netherlands to detect possible enemy air attacks and to warn the Dutch civilians. This civil service had observation posts at various strategic locations. In the "LBD Record Book, section 'WK-lookout Amsterdam" of 12 June 1943 we can read the following interesting remarks:
2.17 pm.: WK reports: at 15° + 40° + 45° defence.
2.18 pm.: WK reports: plane shot down at 15° far away.
["WK" is short for "Wolkenkrabber", the Dutch translation for "skyscraper". In fact in 1943 this was the tallest building in Southern Amsterdam.]
So Wellington HE 154 turned out to have been shot at 15° (east of the Amsterdam skyscraper) and had been crash "far away" at 2.18 pm. It was not mentioned which German anti-aircraft gun had shot down the Allied aircraft.
From the "Raid Tracks" map of HE 154 it can be concluded that the German air defence systems (FLAK), as far as were know to the Allies, were planned to avoided as much as possible. The return flight of the HE 154 ran from Düsseldorf via Arnhem to the coast of Lake IJssel (IJsselmeer) to continue via the cities of Muiden, Diemen, Eastern Amsterdam and the Northern part of the county of North-Holland crossing The Chanel to Leconfield Airbase in Yorkshire. For the time being it is assumed that the HE 154 was shot down by a mobile German FLAK-unit that was operational near Muiden.
The exact location where HE 154 crashed in 1943 has caused some confusion over the years.
Most parts of the crashed Wellington were found within the municipality of Diemen. Next some remains also were recovered in the near-by municipality of Muiden.
The Dutch Ministry of Defence states in its "Loss Register 1939-1945": time of the crash 02.16 hours; crash location "Diemen (Overdiemerpolder)".
At sunrise of June 12th, many German soldiers came over to recover the remains of the Wellington for valuable scrap metal. Because of the hard landing of HE 154 one of the engines was completely broken off and sank into the swampy peat. Due to lack of the right equipment, the Germans did not succeed in excavating the heavy engine. The complete salvage operation of the aircraft wreck took about four days.