• 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 2019


Creil, Saint-Leu d’Esserent, Apremont (Oise)


Visit of the WILSON, MATTHEWS and STAPLETON families



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Three families of descendents of the crew of Lancaster LM125, 207 RAF Squadron, shot down in the night of 4th to 5th July 1944 during the massive bombardment of the quarries of Saint-Leu d'Esserent, visited us for a tribute to their ancestors who tragically lost their lives during this high-risk mission.

For Pilot Officer John Horsburgh WILSON (pilot) :

- his son David Wilson, his granddaughter Catherine McMinn and his great-grandson Andrew McMinn, from England and Scotland.

For Sgt. Jeffrey MATTHEWS (Flight Engineer) :

- his grandnephew Ben Matthews and his wife Leanne, from Perth (Australia).

For Sgt. Cyril STAPLETON (gunner) :

- his nephew Clive Stapleton, accompanied by his son Alessandro, from England.

On this day of remembrance, we accompanied them to different places in the region of Creil. First of all, we went to the Creil communal cemetery where the seven members of the crew rest. The families laid wreaths at the foot of the graves of their ancestors. Symbolically, P/O Wilson's family placed the posthumously awarded medals on the pilot's grave.

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Creil - The graves of the crew of Lancaster LM125.

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David Wilson, son of the pilot.

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Ben Mathews in front of the grave of his great-uncle.

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Clive Stapleton laying a wreath at his uncle's grave.

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Pilot Officer John H. Wilson's medals placed for the first time on his grave by Catherine, his granddaughter

and Andrew, his great-grandson.

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Our group then headed to the heights of Saint-Leu d'Esserent to visit the remains of the V1 flying bomb assembly and storage centre which was the target of the British heavy bombers on the night of the 4th to 5th July 1944.

During this night mission, the Royal Air Force sent a total of 246 aircraft, including 231 Lancasters. This raid was guided by the Group Captain Leonard Cheshire who marked the target with flares dropped from his Mustang III to allow a greater accuracy of the bombing. Three waves of Lancasters followed, including those of the 617 Squadron equipped with "Tallboy" bombs of more than 5 tons intended to pierce the thickness of the vaults. The RAF lost 13 four-engined aircraft during this mission. Seven of them crashed in our department, killing 48 of their crews. Only 3 airmen survived and were helped by residents of our region. Among these losses was the Lancaster LM125, 207 Squadron, which was attacked and shot down by German night fighters when approaching the target. None of the seven members of the crew could evacuate the aircraft that crashed in the forest near the village of Apremont, northeast of Chantilly.

This mission of the night of 4th to 5th July was part of a series of raids operated against the quarries of Saint-Leu d'Esserent in July and August 1944.

These numerous bombings allowed a significant reduction in the number of V1s intended to be launched from the Channel coast to England. Admittedly, these large-scale raids probably saved thousands of British civilians but also cost the lives of many French citizens in the vicinity of the quarries.

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Vestige of the past, this bunker was used by the Germans near the entrance leading to the V1 assembly centre.

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The goal was to block the entry of the quarries to paralyze the German activity.

Our visit with the families continued at the presumed crash site of Lancaster LM125, near the village of Apremont.

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This beautiful day ended with a convivial meal before our friends left for other destinations.

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