The Loss of Lancaster JA691

The missing airman

There is little doubt that two bodies were recovered from the wreck of JA851. The first body, found at the crash-site is identified in the records as "the one from Sønderborg". The second body, P/O Tomlin, was washed onto a beach a month after the crash.

Quite by chance, a lady called Jo Houlihan was researching the story of her Great Uncle, Sgt George Silvester, who was the rear gunner of JA851 that fateful night. Her research led her to this website and enabled her to contact local historian Jørgen Jørgensen.
 


 

It was decided to create a memorial for JA851 to be unveiled on the 17th August 2003, the sixtieth anniversary of the crash. Details of the memorial stone published in the local press brought forward a new witness.

Chresten Schultz was born in 1917 and was 26 years old in 1943. Jørgen Jørgensen interviewed him in July 2003 and was very impressed by his mental faculties. He could remember every detail of that night.
 



Chresten Schultz (on the right) with his son and Jørgen Jørgensen

He remembers standing outside his house in Holm with friends. Aircraft had been passing over for quite some time. Suddenly shooting was heard over to the east and, following a burst of tracer, a huge fireball was seen in the sky. He saw a bomber coming down "in circles" engulfed by fire. For a moment they were very frightened as they thought the aircraft would hit their village. Just before impact the bomber's nose pulled up and it passed very low over some nearby houses. A fierce fire which lasted over an hour was then seen to the west. They saw nobody leave the aircraft.

The next morning they saw a dead airman laying in this field. Nearby they saw a part of the rudder and a vertical fin.


 

The airman was lying on his stomach with an arm under his head. Although the face was mostly turned downwards Chresten clearly remembers the face of a small, good looking man about his own age. He especially remembered the hair which he thought was a little long.
 

 
 

Jørgen Jørgensen then gave Chresten ten 6 x 8cm photographs of airmen. One by one the photographs were examined and put to one side with the comment, "none of these".

When he saw the nineth photograph he said immediately, "I am sure, it is him!" This was the photograph of George Silvester.
Jørgen Jørgensen then gave Chresten a large 10x15cm official photograph of George and he confirmed again, "It is him."
 

 Chresten reaches the final two photographs
 

Other local police reports indicated that the body in the field was wearing an Air Gunner's wing on his uniform. Additional comfirmation comes from the fact that only the pilot and two of the gunners had been awarded medals and it was recorded that a medal ribbon was sewn onto the uniform of the body found in the field.
 

An Air Gunner's wing
 

Andreas Andreson was only 14 years old at the time and he and his brother saw the body in the field. As this was the first body they had ever seen they both ran away. Andreas is shown standing by the spot where he saw (as we now know) George Silvester.
 


 

On the 17/18th August 2003 a memorial stone was unveiled and a Danish naval boat placed a wreath over the location of the wreckage. The memorial unveiling was attended by many locals and also Alan Parr (nephew of Bob Slaughter) and "Uncle Will" (49Sqn Association).