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Argyle Bruce ''Sly'' Cunningham

 

                Cunningham.jpg       Bruce2012.jpg

                                                                                    Photo: APNZ

Rank: P/O

Service No.:  NZ424433

Function: Pilot

Squadron: 514

Hometown:   Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand

Born:

Died:

POW: Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser)

 

 

 info NZ Harald magazine

It was 1944 and they were tasked to bomb railway lines near Brussels in Belgium when something hit his Lancaster aircraft.

Mr Cunningham doesn't know where the shot came from but the 92-year-old will never forget what went through his mind as he watched his mates fly away while he parachuted to ground.

(The New Zealand pilot fell on the roof of cafe 'La Lanterne' in Rixensart: info Paul Buffin)

"I distinctly remember thinking: 'They're a mile above me, I'm sitting down here ... and they're going home for eggs and bacon'."

The World War II veteran, who became a prisoner of war

Mr Cunningham, of Wellington, said he went back to Belgium in 1996 and visited the cafe where he landed after parachuting to safety.

A woman working there returned part of the parachute, which she had kept and made a wedding dress from after Mr Cunningham was dragged to a Russian detention camp.

Twice he tried to escape. Once was with a former Eden College prefect Guy Pease, a soldier originally from England who studied in New Zealand and now lives in Australia.

Mr Cunningham said he remained close friends with Mr Pease, the pair sharing a special band from their days at the camp.

 

info Printer & Docorator: Volume 67, number 2,  2014

All of his crewmembers were able to exit the burning aircraft, at 1 AM on 12 May 1944, without serieus injury thanks to the emergency actioons by Bruce.

He landed on the roof of a Belgian restaurant and was captured by the Germans to become a prisoner of war at Sagan in Eastern Germany.

As a prisoner he marched in the snow by the Germans to a large camp near Berlin which was later taken by the Russians.

Twice he tried to escape with a former Eton College prefect, Guy Pease, a Mustang pilot, originally from England and living now in Australia.

 

Visit to Belgium:

On a trip back to Begium and visit to the restaurant in 1996, he was surprised to be the centre of attention by the town's civic dignitaries and delighted to get part his of his silk parachute back.

The rest had long time ago been made into a wedding dress by the restaurant owner's daughter;

                                      1996.jpg

Also at that time a picture from Bruce Cunningham at the controls from one of the last ''flying'' Lancasters when he visited London in 1996. 

                 LastLancaster2012.jpg

 

Info from Retro - Rixansart:

On 12 June 1944 a Lancaster crashed near the road L'Avenue Leopold in Rixansart .

The pilot landed on the roof of cafe La Lanterne on the place Vieille Taille, Rixensart.