• 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)

 

28th May 2011

 

Le Cardonnois (Somme)

 

Inauguration of a monument to the memory

of the crew of B-17 # 42-31325

452nd Bomb Group

730th Bomb Squadron

                                                                                                                                                                                    
 
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Le Cardonnois

On 28th May 2011, a monument was inaugurated in the heart of the village of Le Cardonnois near Montdidier, during a ceremony honouring the crew of the Flying Fortress shot down on the territory of the commune on 8th February 1944.
 
Le Cardonnois - Welcome  Le Cardonnois  Le Cardonnois - Jeeps

 

A large "Welcome" banner deployed at the entrance of the village, the houses decked with Franco-American colours, Jeeps parked by the church... On this 28th May 2011, the village of Le Cardonnois became truly American.

This small village of 90 inhabitants, usually so quiet, was a hive of activity. Hundreds of people mingled about the place.

Le Cardonnois - The militaries

Representatives of the State, U.S. and French military authorities, elected representatives of the region, patriotic associations and newspaper and television reporters were all present for the event.

Le Cardonnois -Programme

2nd Lt. Abraham W. Rosenthal was the only crew member to be killed during that fateful mission of 8th February 1944.
His wife Dot, 92 years old, did not hesitate to make the long trip from New York State to pay tribute at the very place where he lost his life. She was a young mother of 13 days when her husband was swept into the vortex of war.
Her daughter, Gale, was also present along with other family members.

Le Cardonnois - The American families

Mrs. Lorenzi, the pilot's wife, also honoured us with her presence, accompanied by her son.

The airmen Costello, Packer, Sweeney, Kirby and Fischer were represented by their children.

In total, spread over 3 generations, 21 family members of the crew from the four corners of the United States, have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to honour their husbands, their fathers, grandfathers or uncles. Some of these families met for the first time.

Also present was the daughter of 2nd Lt. Dean W. Tate, accompanied by her husband. Her father, bombardier aboard a B-17 of the 379th Bomb Group, had also participated in the mission of 8th February 1944. Hit, his aircraft was shot down at Monchy-Humières (Oise). 2nd Lt. Tate, first rescued in Oise, was helped to return to England by the Shelburn escape line in March 1944.

Le Cardonnois - Honor Guards  Le Cardonnois - In front the memorial

The ceremony began. After the raising of the flags of the American Guard, Mr Guyon, Mayor of the village, went with the wife of Lt. Rosenthal to the front of the stele to unveil it.

Le Cardonnois - The stele is unveiled

The stele is unveiled

Engraved on the black marble under the outline of their Flying fortress, were the names of the ten airmen. Two children read out their names. The emotion was intense.

Le Cardonnois - Gerard Guyon

Mr Guyon stood behind the lecturn and began his speech. After words of welcome, he brought back the memories, still etched in his memory, of the stricken aircraft :

"I was not yet four years old. The weather was clear. It was a little past 1:00 p.m. At the farm with my parents, my brothers and sisters, we were finishing lunch when suddenly an increasingly deafening noise made us go outside. And there, at the other end of the farm, I saw a burning plane disappear behind the dovecote, then reappear and eventually crash a few hundred metres further on, after turning over Broyes. "

Le Cardonnois - Dominique Lecomte

Dominique Lecomte, of the ASAA, then took the floor. It is through him that it all began in 1999 when he started his research about the crew. Research motivated by the fact that his family had come to help the pilot shortly after he landed near the village of Welles-Perennes. Over months and years, he managed to find, one by one, the family members of the crew. He also found French families and resistant workers who came to help the four escapees. Ever since, all these families have established strong relationships with each other. That day of commemoration was a sort of culmination of all his years of research.

Le Cardonnois - Gale Prentice  Le Cardonnois - Dot Rosenthal

 

Then it was the turn of Gale, daughter of Lt. Rosenthal, in the name of all the American families, warmly thanked the municipality and the people who had contributed to this moving tribute to her father and the crew. "We do not have enough words to thank you Dominique ! "

Then it was the turn of Dot, the widow of 2nd Lt. Rosenthal, to express her deep gratitude to all the French, who took great risks in rescuing airmen. Her husband was unfortunately not so lucky!

Le Cardonnois - Lt-colonel John A. Lacy

Lt. Colonel John A. Lacy, representing the Embassy of the United States, Mrs. Quignon, of the General Council of the Somme, Mr Gest, member of the Parliament and finally Mr Florin, sub-prefect of Montdidier, all spoke in turn.

Le Cardonnois - Stearman

Then, many aircraft, some dating back to World War II, flew over the ceremony in tribute to the airmen.

Le Cardonnois - Wreaths are laid    Le Cardonnois - Taps

Then took place the laying of wreaths at the foot of the monument followed by the taps and the national anthems played by the municipal band of Montdidier.

Le Cardonnois - The flags    Le Cardonnois - Jeffrey Rosenthal and the American soldiers

The official ceremony was nearly finished. The Guard of Honour retired, the flag bearers saluted the monument and the civil and military authorities in turn came to greet the families of the airmen.

Le Cardonnois - Paula Lorenzi    Le Cardonnois - Interview by French TV

Then followed cocktails, a time of great conviviality shared with the considerable number present ... Interviews...Souvenir photo ......

Le Cardonnois - The American families around the memorial
Families representing seven of the ten crew members pose for the souvenir photo
 

Le Cardonnois - The memorial

 

 Le Cardonnois - Moving meeting

 

With great emotion and a sense of mutual appreciation, the American families met resistant workers and French families who participated in the rescue of escaped airmen in 1944.

Le Cardonnois - The exhibition    Le Cardonnois - The jacket of 2nd Lt. Rosenthal
                                                                                                                      The jacket of 2nd Lt. Rosenthal
                                                  

A meal then awaited the guests in a huge hangar provided by the mayor. An exhibition was shown tracing the history of the mission and the fate of the crew of the B-17.

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Two days later, we returned to Le Cardonnois with the American families, hosted once again by Mr. Guyon. We went to the middle of the field, to the very place of the crash of the Flying Fortress. Small bags of earth were given to each family member. Symbolically, and with intense emotion, a small American flag was planted by the Rosenthal family where the body of the young lieutenant had been found amongst the wreckage.

Le Cardonnois - At the crash site

 

 Le Cardonnois - Moving moment of silence
An intense and moving moment of silence for Ms. Dot Rosenthal
 

Le Cardonnois - American flag on the crash site 

What a great honour it was to receive these American families! Very honoured and very moved, these families now know that a memorial will forever remember the sacrifice of 2nd Lt. Rosenthal and the memory of the crew consisting of their husbands, their fathers .... They expressed deep gratitude and infinite thanks to all who made this tribute possible, especially to Mr Guyon and all the inhabitants of the village of Le Cardonnois.

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