|by Bill Bawden, PRO|
20 February 2007
Escape from a Burning Bomber
Stan was the sole British crew member of a Lancaster bomber of 419 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined in 1944. After eight successful, but far from uneventful, operations over Germany, Stan and his crew set out in February 1945 from their North Yorkshire base for a raid on the industrial Ruhr city of Dortmund.
Approaching the target, the Lancaster was attacked by a night fighter, most probably a Schrage Musik ("Jazz")-equipped Messerschmitt 110 firing its upward-aimed cannons into the least protected underside of the raiding bomber. With fuel tanks on fire and other crippling damage, the order was given to abandon aircraft.
Stan tried unsuccessfully to free the rear gunner whose turret doors had frozen fast and was then blown out of the aircraft as the bomb load exploded. Regaining consciousness during his fall, Stan opened his parachute just in time but was captured shortly after landing almost unhurt in a pine forest. He was joined in captivity by the four other surviving crew members including the rear gunner whose turret had been unfozen by the fire enabling him also to bale out at the last moment!
Two months later, Stan and his fellow POWs were marched out of their prison camp at Nuremberg as the allied forces approached and, after surviving a "friendly fire" attack from American fighters, he was freed by the advancing US Third Army in April 1945.
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