• 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)


21st June 2009

Gannes (Oise)

Ceremony in memory of the Lancaster HK-559

RAF 115 Squadron 

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                                                                                                               En français france



On 21st June 2009, a ceremony was held in Gannes to honour and perpetuate the memory of the seven Australian and British airmen who perished aboard the Lancaster HK-559 of 115 Squadron of the Royal Air Force in the night of 17th to 18th June 1944.


On this occasion, we had the honour of greeting three descendants of the crew members, who had come especially from England and Scotland: Anne Storer, daughter of Ernest E. Stapley, gunner, Christine Dawson, niece of Douglas A. Dawson, flight engineer, and Mike Duff, nephew of Peter Duff, wireless operator.

Also present from England was the current Wing Commander of 115 Squadron, Nick Goodwyn, accompanied by two officers and members of the Finsbury Park Cycling Club of London, who made the bicycle trip from the Witchford air base and paid a special tribute to Ernest Stapley who was a member of the club before the war.

Coming from Belgium, members of an Association of Malines were keen to join this ceremony since a Lancaster of the same 115 Squadron crashed in April 1944 in their area.

Former combatants, standard bearers and the audience gathered at the entrance of the Gannes cemetery awaiting the arrival of the authorities. Then the long procession went to the graves of the seven airmen to the sound of bagpipes.

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Mr Olivier De Beule, Mayor of Gannes, thanked the families of the airmen, the politicians and all those present on the occasion of this day of tribute. During his speech, he recalled the tragic events that occurred on the night of 17th to 18th June 1944.


Mr Olivier Dassault, member of Parliament for the Oise, then took the floor :
".... Let us never forget! Never forget our liberators, whether infantry or airmen and especially those where the soil had not been invaded by Nazi aggression but who fought on behalf of the Freedom of Europe, on behalf of world freedom. From the Pacific or from the other side of the Atlantic, they all gave us everything without being asked.
Never forget their generosity and let us learn lessons .... "

Mr Rouhier, sub-prefect of Clermont, evoked particularly the parallel between the two "18th June", the one of 1940 and the one of 1944 :
"... In France, the 18th June is a highly symbolic date when talking about the Second World War. The 18th June is the symbol of the Resistance, the symbol of those who do not accept fascism, those who do not accept the reign of terror imposed on a country or on the whole world. It turns out that the aircraft crashed on the 18th June and I see this as a symbolic sign because on the 18th June was a French national Appeal by an officer of the Army, General de Gaulle. Also on the 18th June, four years later, British and Australian airmen who came to join the same fight, gave their lives... "


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On the left: Christine Dawson and Mike Duff. In the centre: Anne Storer with the members of the Finsbury Park Cycling Club.
After the minute of silence and the national anthems, wreaths of flowers were laid on the graves of the seven airmen.
A great moment of contemplation when our thoughts were with the families of the Australian airmen who could not make the trip.



The long procession then headed to the corner of the rue de l'Epinette where the bomber crashed 65 years ago.



Emotionally, Anne Storer was invited to unveil the small stele recalling the sacrifice of the airmen. Mr De Beule spoke a few words, recalling the terrible tragedy that took place at this place.



Wreaths were then laid at the small monument.


This day of remembrance ended in the school yard where a reception was organised. In the covered playground, an exhibition traced the history of the Lancaster HK-559 and the sacrifice of its seven crew members.

A day dedicated to the duty of memory. To never forget!



During the ceremony, Robert "Bob" Grécourt, a former pilot of the Free French Forces in the 342 Squadron "Lorraine" greatly honoured us with his presence.


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