• Plage Bonaparte à Plouha (Côtes d'Armor) - Haut-lieu de la Résistance

  • Sacy-le-Grand (Oise) - Mémorial en souvenir du F/O H. H. MacKenzie (RCAF)

  • Supermarine LF Mk.Vb Spitfire EP120 - G-LFVB - (The Fighter Collection)

  • Le Cardonnois (Somme) - Stèle à la mémoire de l'équipage du Boeing B-17 #42-31325, 452nd Bomb Group

  • B-17G-85-VE 44-8846 - F-AZDX - (FTV)

 

July 2010

 

 Montiers - Plainval - Wavignies - Clermont
 (Oise)
 
 

Visit of Kathleen BORMUTH

daughter of 2nd Lt. James G. BORMUTH

 
 
                                                                                                                 Copyright © 2014 Association des Sauveteurs d'Aviateurs Alliés - All rights reserved -
                                                                                                                 En français france

 

Coming from the Baltimore area, Maryland, we had the honour of welcoming Kathleen Bormuth, the daughter of 2nd Lt. James G. Bormuth.

Passionately interested in her father's adventure in France, during his escape in 1943, Kathleen wanted to visit the places where her father had been hidden and meet with the witnesses and the families of our region who helped him in his escape.

 

MONTIERS

The visit began in Montiers where we went to the site where the aircraft crashed.
In the immediate vicinity of the village, in a field, we met M. Fresnaux, one of the witnesses of the crash. Aged 17 at the time, the crash of the plane in the evening of 15 September 1943 is still alive in his memory :

"Inhabitants of the village and I went to the crash site to rescue possible survivors. But the Germans arrived quickly and we had to leave. Most of all they were looking for airmen and we were asked if we had seen them. Although I had seen two parachutists in the sky, I was careful not to inform them "!

Visible on the surface of the field, many small aluminium parts from the Flying Fortress were found. They will be kept as precious souvenirs by Kathleen.

 

PLAINVAL

The castle of Plainval was next on Kathleen Bormuth's pilgrimage.
We were warmly welcomed by Mr Henri de Jandin and his family for this unexpected visit of a few weeks ago.

Plainval - Kathleen Bormuth with the de Jandin family
Kathleen Bormuth greeting and thanking Madame de Jandin
for the immediate assistance to her father after his landing.
 

Madame de Jandin, wife of Charles, honoured us with her presence. She vividly remembers the American airman who fell from the sky and became tangled in the straps of his parachute.

Very emotional, Kathleen did not have enough words to thank Mme de Jandin and her family who, ignoring all the risks, had immediately rescued her father.

Then we went to the park, at the precise spot where almost 68 years ago, Kathleen's father had landed in the middle of the garden, breaking the bean poles. Once freed from his parachute and equipment, the airman had been concealed in a corner of the park.

Plainval - The place where 2nd Lt. James G. Bormuth landed
 
  Plainval - The place where 2nd Lt. James G. Bormuth landed

" ... He fell from the sky at this very place ..."

On 1st September 1944, the day of the Liberation of Plainval by the U.S. Army, the parachute was displayed on the front of the castle. Thereafter, the silk was cut up to make clothes.

 

WAVIGNIES

Kathleen Bormuth's journey continued on 3rd July to Wavignies where a ceremony was held in honour of Henri Vincenot.

This Resistance fighter, aged 37, was killed by the Germans, right in front of the eyes his wife and two children on the steps of the castle where he was the caretaker, on 3rd July 1944.

Joining the Resistance in February 1943 Henri Vincenot was incorporated in the FTP detachment "Jacques Bonhomme" of Saint Just-en-Chaussée. Codenamed "Gustave" in the Resistance, he was the instigator of at least fifty sabotage attacks against the enemy and also of attacks on convoys, derailments of trains, arms recovery etc.
He also participated in housing Allied airmen including Kathleen Bormuth's father in September 1943.

In pouring rain, in the presence of many people, former Resistance fighters and elected representatives, Michel Goes, Mayor of Wavignies, remembered the assistance of Henry Vincenot's exemplary career.

"Having died for France, he deserves a tribute from the town and the population. This street, this name, will mean in the future that in this village he and many others faced up and said 'No'. The older members of the population remember and today most young people are learning just what were his dedication, his fighting in the shadows, and his resilience in occupied France" said Michel Goes.
 
Wavignies - Henri Vincenot

                                                                                                          Henri Vincenot

                                                                                                                                                
With great emotion, assisted by Michel Goes, Bernard Vincenot, son of the resistant, then unveiled the street sign bearing the name of his father on the very place where he was killed.                                                  


 Wavignies - The street sign is unveiled

Wavignies - Rue Henri Vincenot

 

After the ceremony at the war memorial where homage was paid to the inhabitants of the village who died for France, all those present went to the village hall.

 

Wavignies - Inauguration of the exhibition

Then Michel Goes, Bernard Vincenot and Kathleen Bormuth conducted the inauguration of an exhibition on the history of Wavignies during the Second World War.

Wavignies - The exhibition

Various panels depicting Henry Vincenot's career and the adventure of the escape of 2nd Lt. James G. Bormuth were represented by dummies and objects relating to this dark period of our history.

Wavignies - The Mae-West belonging to 2nd Lt. Bormuth

It was a very emotional moment when Mr Henri de Jandin handed to Kathleen Bormuth the Mae West and silk maps that belonged to her father.

Found at the Castle of Plainval in 1985 and perfectly preserved since 1943, Kathleen Bormuth had the great surprise of discovering the name and Service number of her father on the Mae West. A panel comprising some small parts of debris found at the crash site of the plane were also handed over.

Bernard Vincenot and Kathleen Bormuth were also given by the municipality of Wavignies a reproduction of the castle before it was burned down by the Germans in July 1944.

Wavignies - The Mae West
 

 Wavignies - With the families of helpers

Also present on this occasion were former Resistance fighters or their descendants who helped 2nd Lt. Bormuth, namely
- Alain and France-Raphaële Fleury who housed the airman and many other Allied airmen at their parents' house during WWII. Alain Fleury conveyed some of them to Paris.
- Geneviève Le Berre, of the Burgundy escape network, who took the airmen in charge in Paris and convoyed them by train to the Spanish border. It is through the action of this escape network 2nd Lt. Bormuth could reach Freedom.
- The children of Dr. Edmond Caillard who came to the aid of over 80 Allied airmen in the region in taking care of them and escorting them, including 2nd Lt. Bormuth.
- Mr Bertin, who lived at Wavignies during the war and who picked up two British airmen, Robert Hollocks and James Reid, survivors of the Halifax bomber which crashed in the neighbouring village of Thieux.

 

CLERMONT

Another day of great emotion for Kathleen, who was warmly received by the Fleury family in Clermont, in the same house where her father had stayed for 18 days with three comrades of his crew.

She saw for herself the room where the four airmen slept and ate their meals. At the slightest warning, the airmen were instructed to go upstairs with their plates.

"67 years later, it is amazing to think that we are having a meal with the daughter of one of those we hid ! " exclaimed Alain Fleury.

Clermont - With the Fleury family

Then we went into the garden, to the very spot where the picture of the airmen was taken and on which Kathleen was able to identify her father. Apart from the vegetation, the place is unchanged.

"I knew that my father came to Clermont where he was hidden, but he went back without any photos. I am very excited to be here. It is a tribute to come and meet the Fleury family, who saved his life. Throughout his life, my father told us about his adventure he lived in France. He never had the opportunity to return in person to France to thank all those who had saved him. I'm here to do this in his place "said Kathleen.

Clermont - Reception at the town hall

In the evening we were welcomed at the Clermont town hall where the municipality had organised a reception. After his welcome speech, the mayor, Mr Lionel Ollivier, presented the Medal of the Town to Kathleen Bormuth.

Kathleen Bormuth's pilgrimage in the footsteps of her father came to an end.

Throughout her stay, Kathleen was able to visit the places where her father had stayed, and thanked all the people who had welcomed and had hidden him at the peril of their own lives.


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