War Heritage Institute

Launch of the recovery of a Messerschmitt downed in February 1944

The Hague (ANP-BELGA). On Monday the Retrieval and Identification Service of the Dutch Army launched the excavation of the wreckage of a German fighter downed in Dalfsen (in the north east of the Netherlands) in 1944. The police have indicated that the pilot might still be on board. The airplane, a Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf109, crashed in the province of Overijssel on February 1, 1944. German and allied aviators then fought heavily in the east of the Netherlands. Eight German pilots were taken down; four of them are still missing to this day.

The Dutch territory probably counts some thirty to forty wrecks containing human remains. In 2019 the Netherlands launched a national retrieval program. The Dutch Army Retrieval and Identification Service (BIDKL) tries to inform families about missing pilots. The BIDKL hitherto only recuperated allied planes. The investigation launched on Monday is the first concerning a German plane. Dutch authorities estimate that some 2,000 Second World War aircraft are still to be found in the Dutch waters and soil.