• 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 2014



Gannes (Oise)



Ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the crash of 

Lancaster HK-559 
RAF 115 Squadron 


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                                                                                                               En français france


June 1944 - June 2014

Fifteen days after the many and grandiose official ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Allied Landings on the Normandy coast, the municipality of Gannes and the Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés, on the 21st June 2014, paid a solemn tribute to the members of the crew of the Lancaster bomber HK-559 of 115 Squadron which crashed near the railway station on the night of 17th to 18th June 1944.


None of the seven airmen of the crew originating from Australia and Great Britain had survived this terrible tragedy. They are buried in the small cemetery of the village.


The Samarobriva Group livened up this ceremony of commemoration


In bright sunshine and the sound of the bagpipes of a delegation of the Samarobriva Group, this ceremony brought together a large audience together with the elected members of the region, former Resistance fighters, associations of veterans and residents of the village.

This event saw the exceptional and moving presence of four families of the airmen. Coming from England were Anne Boodt and her husband, daughter of the mid upper gunner Sgt. Ernest E. Stapley, and Christine Dawson, niece of the engineer Sgt. Douglas A. Dawson.

Ian Duff and his family, nephew of the wireless operator F/S Peter Duff, arrived from Scotland while Michelle McDonagh, great-niece of the navigator F/S Ian H. Smith, had made the long journey from Australia.

At the entrance of the cemetery, Jeeps of the Victory Vehicles Group recalled the time of the Liberation.



Laying of a wreath at the graves of the seven airmen


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             Olivier Debeule, mayor of Gannes                                     Speech by Mr Olivier Dassault, member of the Parliament


After the laying of wreaths at the foot of the graves of the seven young airmen, Olivier Debeule, Mayor of Gannes, honoured and remembered, during his speech, the memory and sacrifice of these seven airmen who, having left their homelands which had not been invaded, did not hesitate to come and fight for freedom.


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                            Christine Dawson and Anne Boodt                                                           Ian Duff and Michelle McDonagh


The Member of Parliament Olivier Dassault, meanwhile, stressed the importance of our duty in remembering our Liberators and mentioned that there are still struggles in the world to oppose totalitarianism.

Then followed the national anthems of Australia, Great Britain and France and the moving minute of silence.


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The families’ tributes at the graves
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The families of the airmen in the greatest reverence, then laid in turn, flowers and souvenirs on the graves of their loved ones whilst bearing in mind those who could not make the trip.


The laying of flowers at the scene of crash

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Everyone was then invited to go to the place called l’Epinette, near the small memorial remembering where the Lancaster crashed. Again a tribute was paid.

This wonderful day then continued in the courtyard of the village hall where a reception had been organised by the municipality. An opportunity for all to share a round of drinks with families and friends.


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The exhibition presented by Jean Philippe and the ASAA


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Under the covered playground, an exhibition presented by Jean-Philippe and the ASAA-Oise, consisting of pictures, uniforms and various equipment of the Royal Air Force, got a lot of interest from the audience.


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  The church at Gannes


By late afternoon, the families were able to visit with emotion the inside of the church. Indeed, it was in this place that on 21st June 1944, exactly 70 years to the day before, that the funeral of the seven airmen was celebrated in the presence of many villagers.




The British and Australian families strongly and warmly thanked the mayor, the municipality and all those present for this memorable day and this beautiful tribute to their fathers and uncles. They know that for 70 years, the villagers have never forgotten the sacrifice of these young men fallen so far from their country and that they are still very attached to perpetuate their memory.



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