On the left hand side of a narrow country lane leading to the small Danish island of Barsø there is a simple stone memorial to the crew of a Lancaster bomber shot down during WW2. The letters are a little faded now but it is perfectly straightforward to read the names of the seven airmen and a date.
The day of my chance visit started cold and clear but then a thick February mist rolled in from the nearby fjord and quickly wrapped the surrounding countryside in a silent grey blanket. Perhaps the sombre nature of the weather prompted the desire to know the people behind the names and what events in their short lifetime conspired that they be remembered by a memorial in a bleak corner of Denmark.
The basic facts:
Lancaster JA691 EA "L" took off from Fiskerton (Lincolnshire) at 2146hrs on the 17th August 1943. After bombing Peenemünde it was shot down by Oberleutnant Hans Meissner of II/NJG3 and crashed at 0301hrs 7kms NE of Aabenraa.
The crew were (from left to right):
Sgt N W Buchanan (Mid Upper gunner)
Sgt L F Freeman (Navigator)
Sgt R W Slaughter (Rear Gunner)
FO H J Randall (Pilot)
Sgt W J Stiles (Bomb Aimer)
Sgt L J Henley (Flight Engineer)
Sgt R Fowlston (Wireless Operator)
I have been fortunate to tell this story because of the information received from Alan Parr, whose "Uncle Bob" was Sgt R W Slaughter, the rear gunner of JA691.