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

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Last update: 25/06/23

Elegy to
the Heroes of Silence

* To the 57 Squadron *
* To the crew of W4234-DX *
* To the monument erected in remembrance *
* Cemetery where rest the crew *

Crash site of Lancaster W4234-DX

crest raf squadron
Unit: 57 Squadron
Aircraft: Lancaster
Code: W4234-DX-P
Base: Scampton
Mission: Munchen
Crew officer: P/O Ronald Bowles
Incident: Shot down by German fighter

Location: (Prov. Oost Vlanderen)



During the night of 21/22 december 1942, whilst RAF Bomber Command organised a raid to Munich, several German night fighter aces were in Belgian skies roaming for another prey. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer of NJG 1, based at Sint-Truiden, interecepted a Lancaster near Geraardsbergen.
But another Gruppenkommandeur of NJG 4, Wilhelm Herget, stationed in Northern France, was patrolling the same area. The following morning both Luftwaffe pilots claimed the same Lanc and had to toss a coin. Herget won, but the during the whole war a kill marking for this particular Lancaster would remain on Schnaufer's rudder. This is still visible on the one which is on display in the Imperial War Museum at London - the other Bf 110-rudder is to be found in Australia.
Anyway, the victim turned out to be Lancaster W4234 of 57 Squadron, which crashed at a village called Sint-Maria-Lierde. Only the rear gunner, Roden Pickford of New Zealand, was able to bale out. He was taken prisoner with some injuries.
The rest of P/O Ronald Bowles' crew was killed and found a final resting place in the cemetery of Geraardsbergen.
During september 1999, BAHAAT member Dirk De Quick organised a recovery operation of what was left of the Lancaster. During a bright sunny day, the team recovered many interesting items, including a fire exinghuisher, a flare gun, instrument dials, a cable cutter and countless other fragments. All were cleaned and put on display.
In May 2000, an impressive monument was inaugurated nearby - a stèle with seven original 4lb incendiary counterweights which were found during the recovery operation. Each of these stands for one of the crew. They were also represented by the relatives of several members of the crew -including Roden Pickford's, who unfortunately had passed away a few years before. The family donated Roden's medals, cap and insignia, which are also included in the BAHA Collection. We were pleased and honoured to give each of them a piece of Lancaster W4234.
Every year, on December 21, members of our team gather arround the monument. A torch is lit at the very moment the Lanc crashed in the nearby field.


Parts of the Lancaster found on the spot of the crash

Town of Lierde Web site
The International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
Aircrew Remembered

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