• 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)

 

2nd August 2014

 

Fournival (Oise)

 

Tribute to 2nd Lt. Gerald C. CHAPMAN

4th Fighter Group

336th Fighter Squadron

8th Air Force

 

                       

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It is 70 years to the day, on this Saturday 2nd August 2014, at the initiative of the A3P (Association pour la Preservation et la Promotion du Patrimoine of Fournival) which was associated with the ASAA, that a tribute was paid to 2nd Lt. Gerald C. Chapman, pilot of the P-51B "Mustang" # 43-6846, VF-A, belonging to the 4th Fighter Group, 336th Fighter Squadron of the 8th Air Force.

4th Fighter Group

4th Fighter Group

 

Born on 23rd September 1923, 2nd Lt. Gerald C. Chapman came from Stoughton, a town south of Boston, Massachusetts. Trained for many months in the United States, he was sent to the European Theater of Operations in December 1943.

On 2nd August 1944, a group of three "Mustangs" of the 4th Fighter Group which included 2nd Lt. Chapman took off from the base at Debden, Essex. Having as leader Captain Otey M. Glass Jr, its mission was to fly over our area in search of potential enemy targets to strafe. The mission almost complete, the "Mustangs" were preparing to return to England when they flew over the Beauvais-Tillé German airfield. Preparing to strafe possible aircraft on the ground, anti-aircraft batteries protecting the base began to target the attackers who were forced to disperse in a sky with poor visibility.

To the east of Beauvais, the "Mustang" # 43-6846, piloted by 2nd Lt. Gerald C. Chapman was again targeted by a German mobile antiaircraft battery. Positioned to protect the German fuel depot of the Bois de Mont, southwest of St. Just-en-Chaussée, the German gunners fired on the "Mustang" of 2nd Lt. Chapman which was approaching at low level.

Hit full on and immediately on fire, the out of control and destabilized aircraft crashed near the Huyard wood, close to the small road connecting Fournival and Le Mesnil-sur-Bulles, about 400 meters from the German battery, leaving no chance for the young pilot aged 20 to evacuate his plane. It was about 8:30 pm.

It was harvest time. Witnesses, working in a nearby field, remembered the aircraft falling. Dislodged on impact, the engine of the "Mustang" was thrown into the woods on the other side of the road.

Lieu du crash

The crash site
 

The horribly mutilated body of the pilot was recovered by the Germans. The dogtag found on his body allowed him to be identified. On 5th August, they buried him in grave No. 316 marked by a British type metal cross wearing the inscriptions found on the dogtag : "0-815581 T43 S43 AP, Gerald C. Chapman USAAF 2-8-44”.

Several months after the Liberation, U.S. authorities inspected his grave and confirmed the identity of the pilot. On 15th June 1945, the remains of 2nd Lt. Chapman were transferred to the U.S. provisional cemetery of Champigneul, Marne. The family of the pilot was then contacted to see if they wanted the repatriation of his body to the United States. They chose to keep it in France.

Exhumed again on 23rd August 1948, the body of 2nd Lt. Gerald C. Chapman now lies for evermore in the Epinal-Quépremont American military cemetery, Vosges.

On this 2nd August 2014, under a hot summer sun, it was on the exact site of the crash that both History enthusiasts, Associations of veterans and the population from the nearby towns and villages gathered together. Mr. Desmedt, departmental Councillor, honoured this tribute with his presence.

This ceremony, characterized by simplicity, was led by Mr. Revelin. First of all he did not fail to recall that exactly 100 years before, France decreed the general mobilization order for a war that would ultimately last four years before recalling the circumstances of the death of the young American pilot Gerald C. Chapman.

 

 

Allocution de Mr Revelin

Mr. Revelin’s speech
 

He then left the floor to Dominique Lecomte, of the ASAA, who successively read the mission report of Captain Glass but also that written by the German officers serving the Flak battery who had shot down the aircraft.

It was also stated that Captain Glass Jr was shot down in aerial combat on 18th August 1944, 16 days later. He had managed to escape death by landing his "Mustang" in a field near Lannoy-Cuillere (Oise). Rescued by the population, he waited for the Liberation which occurred a few days later and joined the Allied lines.

 

Dominique Lecomte

Dominique Lecomte reading the reports

 

Mr. Desmedt also drew a parallel between the dates of 2nd August 1914, when France was entering a war that was to be the war to end all wars" and of 2nd August 1944 which, 30 years later, saw a young American pilot being killed in action in a world that was still not pacified. He remembered how it is still important today to remember the sacrifice of all those young soldiers and Allied airmen killed on our soil, so far from their homes.

Minute de silence

 

Then followed the national anthems of the United States and France and a very reverential minute of silence in memory of 2nd Lt. Chapman.

Various documents were presented including a picture of the grave of 2nd Lt. Chapman in the Epinal American Cemetery and small pieces of debris found recently at the very place of the crash.

Prsentation   Pieces de lappareil 1

Piece de lappareil

The whole assembly was then invited into the courtyard of the Fournival village hall for the traditional drink.

A philatelic souvenir limited edition, especially in memory of 2nd Lt. Chapman, was distributed to those interested.

Enveloppe Chapman

 

CHAPMAN

Epinal American Cemetery - His grave

 

The ASAA wishes to thank Mr. Revelin and his “A3P” Association for having shared with us this moving tribute in memory of 2nd Lt. Gerald C. Chapman.

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