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Lancaster I R5702 shot down near Avne 15/2-1944.
The aircraft belonged to RAF 625 Sqn Bomber Command and was coded CF-Y.
T/o 17:25 Kelstern. OP: Berlin.
When outbound over the Jylland peninsula at 5200 metres Lancaster R5702 was
attacked by a German night fighter piloted by Oberleutnant Gerhardt Raht of 4./NJG
3 and at 20:03 it crashed near Avne north east of Haderslev.
After having dropped its bombload while trying to escape the fighter it exploded
in the air at low altitude.
The pilot Sgt William Ashurst had just given the order to bail out and Airbomber
F/O Harry Proskurniak RCAF who fruitless had tried to open the forward escape
hatch was blown out of the fuselage. He came too while hanging in his parachute.
Seconds later he landed in his socks not far from the village of Sillerup, his
boots having come off when the chute deployed.
At 05:30 hours in the morning CB constable Freddy Kroul met him on the main road
and took him to Sillerupgaard farm where Proskurniak was treated with breakfast
and a bath while his clothes was dried. With the Wehrmacht swarming all over the
area it was not possibly to help Proskurniak to escape and with his acceptance
the Haderslev police was called. They in turn informed the Wehrmacht about his
whereabouts and at 09:30 twelve privates and an officer came to Sillerupgaard
farm to pick Proskurniak up. He was taken to Haderslev and from there to Dulag
Luft in Oberursel.
After questioning he was sent to Stalag Luft III Sagan.
The rest of the crew all died. Two bodies were found in the front of the
fuselage while one man was found in the fuselage. Two bodies were found 50
metres away while the sixth body was found 600 metres from the crashsite near
Avne. The bodies were left lying in the field until 19/2 when they were picked
up by the Wehrmacht and taken to Aabenraa where they were laid to rest in the
cemetery on 25/2 1944.
They were Pilot W. Ashurst, Op Sgt Robert A. Campbell, Air Gnr. F/Sgt Stanley W. Downes,
Navigator W/o Edward T. Edwards, Air Gnr. Sgt Cecil F. Lewis and Flt. Engr. Sgt
Harold R. Reardon
A memorial stone have been erected near the crash site.
Sources: BA, BCL, Leif Gr. Thomsen, Haderslev, LBUK, AS 66-253, RL 19/458, TW.
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