Volunteers from Zachodniopomorskie Province in the northwest part of Poland have begun excavating the crash site of a World War II American bomber. The B-24 “Liberator” crashed into a field between the cities of Bolewice and Przekolne.
The plane was discovered by accident during installation of water and sewage systems in the area. The discovery sparked the interest of Gerard Sopinski, a policeman and history lover from neighboring Pelczyce, who fulfills his passion by running a museum in his city. He inspired his friends and other history buffs to “get to the bottom” of this interesting story and to dig out the wreckage.
Before starting the excavations, the volunteers had to receive the permission of the owner of the land and the head of Regional Conservation Office. Excavation began a week ago, and Sopinski expects to find significant remains of the plane – especially its front part and the engine.
The excavations may also answer many questions. As the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports, Sopinski believes that he can determine the last moments of the plane and its crew. The area around the crash site is to be excavated as well, because the plane’s crew members were probably buried nearby. Sopinski does not expect to find any large portions of the plane still intact. The Liberator probably shattered on impact, and residents of the area may have sold some of the wreckage as scrap metal. If significant pieces of the Liberator are found, they will be given to museums in Szczecin and Kolobrzeg.
At present, there are no original Liberators in Polish museum collections. The only large-scale model is in the Warsaw Uprising Museum – reconstructed from remnants of a bomber attacked by German Luftwaffe fighter planes and shot down near Bochnia after a food drop for insurgents of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The B-24 Liberator was a four-engine bomber and a major weapon of the Allied Forces during World War II.
It was designed and built in the U.S. by the Consolidated Aircraft Company and produced in greater numbers than any other American combat aircraft during the war. The Liberators had a good reputation among the airmen. “Give us more B-24s,” one could read on a World War II poster, referring to a victorious battle between one Liberator and 12 Japanese Zero fighter planes, after which the B-24 returned safely to its base.