Halifax III (#LK802) aircraft took flight from RAF Leeming on 22 Apr 1944; the aircraft, with seven 429 Squadron aircrew members aboard, was one of 800 aircraft participating in this mission, a night operation over Düsseldorf, Germany. On 23 April, following completion of its mission, the Halifax was shot down by a German night fighter and it crashed into a flooded polder near Herkingen, on the island of Overflakkee , 7 km SSW of Middelharnie, in the Netherlands.
Three airmen perished in the crash: RCAF Pilot Officer Alexander ACHTYMICHUK, unable to swim, drowned and his remains were never found; RCAF Flying Officer James Francis FENNESSEY was laid to rest in the R. C. Cemetery in the town of Middelharnis, but later was re-interred in the Canadian Military Cemetery at Bergen op Zoom; and RAFVR Flight Sergeant Herbert Ingle AUSTIN was laid to rest in the General Cemetery in Herkingen—-the citizens of Herkingen honoured Flight Sergeant Austin’s sacrifice by providing a fine headstone to mark his grave.
The remaining four airmen survived the crash, three immediately being taken POW by the Germans: RCAF Flying Officer Percy Bruce CROSSWELL was able to avoid capture for about 3 months by being sheltered and bravely hidden by local Dutch families—he was eventually taken POW, but was shot while trying to escape from Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria late on 13 April 1945--he died the next day, about 3 weeks before the Second World War came to an end; RCAF Flying Officer Robert Bruce Low was POW #4463 in the Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria camp (Poland); 24 year-old POW USAAF Master Sergeant Arthur Fred KEMPTON was liberated by British soldiers on 26 April 1945; and RCAF Sergeant Willard Jim Miller was POW #3578 in the L6 /357 Stalag Luft Heydekrug (Lithuania) and Stalag Kopernikus (Poland) camps.
Rank: Pilot Officer
Service Number: J/87053
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division:-429 RCAF 'Bison’ Squadron [MOTTO: Fortunae Nihil (‘Nothing To Chance’)]
Son of Andrew George and Mary/Maria (née Zukiwski) Achtymichuk of Andrew, Alberta, Canada.
Pilot Officer Alexander Achtymichuk is commemorated on Page 234 of Canada's Second World War Book of Remembrance.
ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE