|by Simon Pollock
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Reconstruction by Simon Pollock.
Avro Manchester L7463 is returning to its base RAF Coningsby after a successful bombing attack on the Heinkel factory at Rostock. The route, outbound and back, is over Denmark to avoid German heavy flak. The time is 02.30 am GMT.
7-5 min. before crash.
Port engine catches fire. Stoffer, the aircraft's captain, takes emergency actions; shuts down engine, activates engine bay extinguisher, turn off fuel supply, feathers propeller, sets stbd engine to full power, re-trim plane, etc assisted by P-D (Prescott-Decie) the co-pilot.
Note: The Manchester aircraft is underpowered, and cannot maintain altitude on one engine, so immediately it starts a slow descent. Returning to England is now impossible.
5-3 min. before crash.
Stoffer orders "Prepare to abandon aircraft". Crew move to 'abandon aircraft' stations, clip on parachutes, disconnect oxygen, heating, etc. Stoffer is now struggling to control the aircraft. With the stbd engine running at full power the aircraft wants to turn left; Stoffer must use full right rudder to counter this turn. There are no powered controls and this is very tiring.
3-2½ min. before crash.
Pollock leaves front gunner position and clips on parachute. He looks back and up into cockpit lit up by the flames from the burning engine, sees P-D talking to Stoffer.
2½-2 min. before crash.
Pollock has difficulty but succeeds in removing and ejecting emergency hatch. (Note: the hatch was later found near Kliplev). Paton now in fwd compartment behind Pollock, saying "Hurry up". Stoffer orders "Abandon aircraft".
2-1½ min. before crash.
Pollock jumps through exit, banging his head, followed by Paton. Stoffer smiles and waves P-D to go away and jump. By now the aircraft is very low, flying slowly, and Stoffer cannot control the direction. The plane is starting a turn to the left.
1½-1 min. before crash.
P-D jumps from fwd exit. Hamilton talks to Stoffer in cockpit. Stoffer knows it is impossible for him to escape; if he leaves his position the aircraft will immediately go out of control.
Last min. before crash.
Hamilton returns to rear exit where Lewis is waiting and George just arriving from tail gunner position. Hamilton jumps, followed by Lewis then George. They are just in time; the aircraft crashes about 30 seconds later. Stoffer does not survive.
Link to short history about Simon Pollock.
From jump to capture.
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The front-gunner: clik on ‘Frontskytten’
The navigator: clik on ‘Navigatoren’
The co-pilot: clik on ‘Copiloten’
The wireless-operator: clik on ‘Telegrafisten’
M-upper and rear-gunner: clik on ‘Skytterne’