• 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)


19th October 2014


Vitry-en-Artois (Pas-de-Calais)

70th anniversary of the landing
of the Group "Lorraine"
Free French Air Force



Insigne FAFL



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                                                                                                                En français france



 Vitry-en-Artois - Poster


On the weekend of 18th and 19th October 2014 and in summer weather, a large event organized by the municipalities of Vitry-en-Artois and Brebieres marked the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Group "Lorraine" Free French Air Force on the airfield located between the two towns.


On 17th October 1944, coming from Hartford Bridge British airbase, the light bombers Douglas "Bostons" of the Group "Lorraine" landed for the first time on the airfield of Vitry-Brebieres in order to get closer to the frontline.


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Various local Associations, animated by the desire to remember the Group "Lorraine", displayed multiple stands, camps and exhibitions allowing the many visitors to plunge into the atmosphere of the autumn of 1944 which saw the return of the French wearing the Lorraine Cross uniform in this part of liberated territory.


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North American T-6




By late morning, a ceremony was held in front of the memorial erected in memory of the Group "Lorraine" in the presence of many authorities and representatives of the French Air Force. Among the audience were families of airmen. The commemoration of the 70th anniversary saw the exceptional presence of three amazing veterans of the Group "Lorraine" : Roland Lepers, pilot, Robert Montillaud, ground crew, and Robert "Bob" Grecourt, pilot.


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                                                  Roland Lepers and Robert Montillaud                                        Robert Montillaud and Roland Lepers
                                     laying a Cross of Lorraine wreath at the memorial


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Robert "Bob"Grécourt


A native of Noyon, in the Oise department, Robert Grécourt enlisted in the Free French Forces in London in September 1941. After months of training in the schools of the Royal Air Force in England and Canada, he joined the 342 Squadron "Lorraine" in May 1944.

Sgt Robert "Bob" Grécourt flew a total of 49 combat missions, by day and night, piloting his Douglas "Boston" from June to December 1944 with his crew consisting of the navigator-observer Joseph Halléguen, the wireless-gunner Pierre Ducancelle and the rear gunner Gilbert Perrin.

49 tactical bombing missions carried out from the Normandy front to Germany in support of the Allied ground troops and facing the dangers that Flak still represented over the territories defended by the enemy.

A time where the future was uncertain. Death lurked in every mission.



 Speech by Mr. Georget, Mayor of Vitry-en-Artois


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70 years later, the emotional return to the airfield at Vitry-en-Artois excited and rekindled memories for "Bob" Grécourt. Very much sought after, he could happily evoke his memories throughout the day with a passionate public very honoured to meet this hero.






Interview by a radio-reporter


Parts of planes found in the region



This beautiful day was also for "Boby" Grécourt, the opportunity of an emotional reunion with a part of his family who came especially from England and with some descendants of his crew members : Jacky Perrin and Nicole Ducancelle also present to honour the memory of their fathers.

This strong friendship between the four crew members in 1944 still persists today with all their families.



 Tribute by a T6 to the Group"Lorraine" over the airfield

The book "Voler pour la Liberté" retraces the times of Robert "Bob" Grécourt in the prestigious Squadron 342 "Lorraine".


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