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* Ceremony of solemn tribute at Rebecq on September 29th 2021 *

RAF aircraft's crash sites in Province of Oost-Vlanderen:
Ursel

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Last update: 31/07/21

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Elegy to
the Heroes of Silence


* To the 61 Squadron *
* To the crew of LL777-QR-S *
* To the monument erected in remembrance *
* Cemetery where rest the crew *

Crash site of Lancaster LL777-QR-S
6/12/1944

aircraft
crest raf squadron
Unit: 61 Squadron
Aircraft: Lancaster
Code: LL777-QR-S
Base: Skellingthorpe
Mission: Glessen
Crew officer: P/O Byers
Incident: Shot down by German fighter

Location: (Prov. Oost Vlanderen)

crash

Facts

During the night of 6 to 7 December 1944, an air giant with problems flew into the Urselse track. It was the Lancaster LL777 of 61 Squadron, a machine that flew its eighty-first and final attack that night. With so many missions in its wings, the LL777 could be called a veteran - quite a few Lancs never made it past 20 missions. The serial number inspired a crew in January 1944 to create a drawing that was painted on the nose: a hand containing three cards with the number 7. The British know this deck as “Black Jack” or “Pontoon”, we are talking about "Twenty-one". The Lancaster LL777 was therefore christened the “Royal Pontoon”. But after a year of loyal service, this machine would also lose out.
The New Zealand Fying Officer IH Byers was the sixth theTake off from Skellingthorpe in December 1944 at 5.16 pm for an attack on Giessen, when he was intercepted by a night fighter over enemy territory. A salvo from the guns knocked out the gunner, Sergeant Earnshaw Ashworth. The LL777 was hit by Flak, and above the target area by bombs from a Lancaster flying above it. Byers ordered his crew to jump. Sergeants TVMorris and RB Harsley, as well as New Zealand Flying Officer WR Neave and Flight Sergeant HP Hardy jumped into darkness over Germany and were eventually taken prisoner of war. A crew member did not hear his “skipper” command and remained seated. And maybe that was good too because eventually the captain regained control of his machine and decided to fly it over liberated territory. So he landed in the dark on Ursel, safe and sound.
The ambulance services removed the dying Earnshaw Ashworth - his injuries were so bad that he could not be treated on the spot and was immediately repatriated to Brussels. The 28-year-old succumbed and found his final resting place in the capital's cemetery.
The Lancaster LL777 remained at Ursel until New Year's Day 1945, when it was set on fire by the pilots of Jagdgeschwader 1.

Sources:
Rate One
The International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
Aircrew Remembered
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