• 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)

 

May 2013

 
 

Catheux, Domeliers,

Crèvecoeur-le-Grand

Beauvais, Clermont (Oise)

 

Visit of Robert and Douglas SHEVCHIK

(1st Lt. Milton V. SHEVCHIK'S sons)

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

 

From 10th to 16th May 2013, we had the great honour of receiving the children of 1st Lt. Milton V. Shevchik, pilot of one of the two Flying fortresses shot down at Catheux on 8th February 1944.

Coming from Virginia and Pennsylvania, his two sons, Douglas and Robert Shevchik and Stephanie (wife of Robert), crossed the Atlantic and visited us in Oise in the footsteps of their father.

Having agreed this intended visit, Mr Tribout, mayor of Catheux and Mr Pupin, mayor of Domeliers, were both immediately fully involved and have made every effort to organise, in partnership with the Community of Communes, the reception of this American family.

 

Saturday 11th May

DOMELIERS

The ceremony began in the morning at Domeliers. It was in the immediate vicinity of this village that Lt. Shevchik landed by parachute on the cold morning of 8th February 1944.
Surprise! A large "WELCOME" banner received the Shevchik family.

Domeliers - Welcome

On site, there were already many who wanted to pay tribute to this family and to the airmen. Also present were newspaper and television reporters.

Domeliers - Jeeps

Many military vintage vehicles took over the village square

Domeliers - The war memorial

After being warmly welcomed by Mr Jean Pupin, mayor of the village, a ceremony with wreath laying took place at the war memorial. Everyone was then invited inside the church where the official speeches took place.

Domeliers - The church - Speech

Robert Shevchik spoke (in French) and thanked the villagers who helped his father return safely to the United States.

Robert Shevchik was born on 29th January 1944, only ten days before the plane crash of his father who had just been informed of the birth of his first son.

An exhibition honouring the airmen and the villagers was also presented.

At the end of the ceremony and after visiting some of the barns where Lt. Shevchik was probably hidden, we headed to a meadow where a big surprise awaited our guests.

Moments later, a buzzing noise could be heard in the blue sky, followed by the appearance of multicoloured parachutes. The skydiving Club of Dieppe was paying homage to the airmen by landing on the very place where 1st Lt. Shevchik had arrived 69 years earlier.

Domeliers - Parachutists

 

CREVECOEUR-LE-GRAND

It was in this village that most of the 13 rescued airmen had stayed in the days that followed, before continuing their escape.

In this respect, we can mention, among others, the Bourgois, Caron, Cocuelle, Debray, Dizambourg, Fordinois, Hanniet, Lefranc, Plichon and Villette families... who, despite the omnipresence of the German occupiers, had not hesitated to take great risks in lodging escaped airmen survivors.

1st Lt. Shevchik stayed for nine days with George and Marcelle Bourgois.

Crevecoeur-le-Grand - Speech of Mr Coet, Mayor

In front of the town hall, during the welcoming speech by the mayor, Mr. Andre Coet, he recalled the prominent role played of the inhabitants of the town, who contributed with courage and discretion to the escape of Allied airmen during the Second World War.

He presented the Medal of the town to Robert and Douglas Shevchik in memory of their father's stay in February 1944.

The whole assembly was then invited to a reception.

 

CATHEUX

This was again a very emotional moment for the Shevchik family, when we reached the heights of Catheux, near the woods where their father's plane had crashed.

Catheux - Stele unveiled

Catheux - Stele

Two memorials marking the points of impact of the two Flying fortresses which crashed a few hundred meters apart were unveiled by Robert and Douglas Shevchik who cannot restrain their tears at the time of the American anthem.

In homage to the airmen and as a symbol, aircraft flew over the ceremony.

Catheux - Stele    Catheux - Stele

Some small fragments of metal and Plexiglas of their father's bomber were found in vegetation. These will be treasured by the children of the pilot.

We then took the direction of the village square where a memorial honouring the two crews had been inaugurated in 2011. After that was the rain, which we had spared us up to that time which continued the homage to the airmen.

Catheux - Speech of Eric Tribout, Mayor

During his speech, the mayor, Eric Tribout paid tribute to the U.S. allies and to the airmen who, so far from their country, fought for our Freedom. He also recalled how his village had experienced those events of 8th February 1944 after the crashes of the two aircraft and thanked those who came to the rescue of the airmen, either individually or in organized Resistance networks.

A number of people in the audience were direct witnesses of the events. Among them, Mr. Jean Grégoire, who still vividly remembers the crashes taking place while he was working in the fields.

Then Mr Olivier Paccaud, deputy of the parliamentarian Mr Dassault, recalled how important it is to remember past events by commemorating and underlining the strong friendship that still unites the United States of America and France.

Catheux - Laying of wreaths

Catheux - Memorial to the airmen

In the former school of the village, our Association (ASAA) presented an exhibition that tracked the path of the airmen as well as showing original equipment.

"It is both a happy and a sad day and we did not expect to receive such a welcome" confided "Bob" and "Doug." "It is also very moving because we can meet the families who helped our father and permitted him to be back home safe and sound."

 

Sunday 12th May

LEVALLOIS

It was in Levallois, in the suburbs of Paris, that the Shevchik family had the great honour of meeting Mr René Loiseau, a great Resistant, and who looked after Lt. Milton V. Shevchik during his escape.

At the foot of a building located in the rue Baudin, where this moving meeting took place 69 years later, René Loiseau still vividly remembers 1st Lt. Shevchik. "Your father was a crack ! He had to be repatriated as soon as possible to England !" he recalled with simplicity and modesty.

Levallois - Rue Baudin

In this building in Baudin street, on the top floor, were hidden dozens of airmen in the flats and apartments of two ladies in the Shelburn network, Marguerite Di Giacomo and Yvonne Latrace.

On the other side of the street was the apartment of René Loiseau's parents who also housed airmen and members of the network.

René Loiseau travelled many times to the department of Oise to collect airmen, particularly in the region of Creil and Beauvais. He also escorted airmen to Guingamp, Brittany.
Later, it was around the camp of the Fréteval Forest that he led airmen.

 

Monday 13th May

MUSEUM OF AVIATION at BEAUVAIS-WARLUIS

Musee Beauvais- Warluis

The morning of Monday 13th May was spent at the Museum of Aviation at Beauvais-Warluis where we were welcomed by its president, Michel Mercier. A French TV team of France 3 was present and we participated in the live feed "Picardy-Matin" devoted to the history of aviation during the Second World War in our region. Robert and Douglas Shevchik took part, amongst others, in the show.

In the afternoon, we went to Saint-Just-des-Marais which is a quarter of Beauvais. This is one of the places where 1st Lt. Shevchik was hidden during his escape. We had an appointment with Denise Lefeuvre in front of the house of her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Emile Vifquain, who had lodged 1st Lt. Shevchik for 6 days in February 1944, as well as Lts. Thorson and Hoffman and Sgt Wall.

For the first time, Mrs Lefeuvre met with great emotion, descendants of one of the airmen lodged by her family.

Beauvais - St Just des Marais        Emile Vifquain
                                             In front of the house of the Vifquain family.                                                          Emile Vifquain                  
    
As her father was a prisoner of war since 1940, Mrs Lefeuvre lived with her grandparents in 1944. In front of the brick house, Mrs Lefeuvre, although very young at the time, related to us a few anecdotes about which she still remembers. She remembers the airmen who lived on the top floor of the house. They sometimes climbed down the gutter located in the backyard to go to Mr and Mrs Rousse, who lived in the adjoining house and who were members of and active in the Resistance organisation.
 

Tuesday 14th May

CLERMONT

This Tuesday 14th May, it was a moving experience for both the Shevchik and Fleury families. We were greeted by Patrick Fleury and his family in the same house where 1st Lt. Shevchik and many other Allied airmen had stayed during the war. Hiding airmen was not without risks in the very heart of the city, in the middle of the German garrisons.

Clermont - The Shevchik family at the Fleury's

Patrick Fleury is Georges Fleury's grandson who joined the Resistance from 1940. Georges Fleury became the leader of the Centre-Oise sector of the OCM (Military and Civil Organisation) and became sub-prefect of Clermont at the Liberation.

In a friendly atmosphere Douglas Shevchik said that it's very emotional for him and his family to be in the house where their father was hidden and to meet the Fleury family.
Back in the United States, their father never talked about the war. His children knew almost nothing of his adventure. They only knew he had come to France, nothing more.

During this meeting, the stay of the airmen in the house sometimes evoked amusing anecdotes.

The Shevchik family expressed deep gratitude to the Fleury family, one of the links in the chain without which their father would not have returned to his country. The Fleury family stressed that mutual recognition was during the war when the Americans and the other allies helped in the Liberation of France.

In the evening, we took the direction of the town hall of Clermont, where we were welcomed by the Mayor, Mr Lionel Ollivier, and his municipal council.

After words of welcome, the mayor recalled the essential role played by the Allied armies during the Second World War in helping France to regain freedom. The adventure of 1st Lt. Shevchik and his crew was brought up while recalling the action and courage of the families of Clermont and groups of resistance that, sometimes, paying the price of the ultimate sacrifice, permitted the airmen to return to their country.

Clermont - Robert and Douglas Shevchik awarded the Medal of the town

      The Medal of the town was then presented to each of the two sons of 1st Lt. Shevchik in memory of their father's stay in the town.

Clermont - The Shevchik family with the French families who helped their father

Thus ended the journey of the Shevchik family in the footsteps of their father.

Stunned by their reception all throughout their stay, the children of 1st Lt. Shevchik came to realize that the memory of their father is not forgotten in our area and they have never stopped thanking all the witnesses and the descendants of families who had allowed his return to the United States to become a reality.

 

Nous avons 8 invités et aucun membre en ligne

Conception, développement et formation,

Pyperpote -

Copyright ASAA.

Association des Sauveteurs d'Aviateurs Alliés -

Tous droits réservés