Cornwall

Crew of Praa Sands WWII crash plane remembered

Praa memorial
Image caption The memorial marks the spot where the Sunderland was beached

A memorial has been unveiled to the crew of a Sunderland flying boat which ditched on a Cornish beach during World War II.

The aircraft, flown by nine Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and two RAF personnel, had been shot at by eight German fighter planes.

The crew nursed the stricken plane for 300 miles before it crash landed at Praa Sands on 2 June 1943.

Relatives of the crew, from Australia and Canada, attended the ceremony.

'Everybody agog'

The plane and its crew, based at Pembroke Dock in Wales, was over the Bay of Biscay when it was attacked by German fighters.

The crew had been looking for survivors of an airliner which had been shot down the previous day.

The Sunderland's crew shot down three of the German fighters but RAF crewman Ted Miles was killed and most of the others wounded.

Image caption The crew of the Sunderland shot down three planes before heading home

With no communications and with one engine not running, the Sunderland headed for home until ditching in the sea near Praa and beaching the plane.

Local people took the men into their homes and gave them medical assistance.

Colin Windlay, who was 10 at the the time, said: "Everybody was all agog. There was a plane on the beach.

"I remember looking in the rear gun turret and it was full of spent ammunition cases. They had put up a tremendous fight."

Patricia Swain, 92, sister of Captain Colin Walker of the RAAF, said: "It was a miraculous thing.

"It's very emotional coming here. To think after 70 years it's being remembered in the spot it actually happened."

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