Shown is the grave site of the six airmen. (Submitted photo)

B.C. resident thankful to the French for their welcome

Cliff Irving, resident of Vanderhoof visited the village of Plougoumelen for the 75th anniversary of an Allied Bomber crash

A B.C. resident is grateful to the French for their hospitality and warmth during his visit to the village of Plougoumelen in France where his uncle is buried.

For the 75th anniversary of the allied bomber crash on 5th August, 1944 in the village of Plougoumelen, relatives of the six airmen involved in the crash were invited to the village to honour the military and civilian victims on Aug. 5, 2019.

The last mission of the Stirling bomber Mk IV LJ 878

Between 10:38 and 11:00 pm (GMT) on Aug. 5, 1944 three Royal Air Force four-engine heavy bombers took off from RAF Keevil in Wiltshire. Their mission, as most other nights was to drop equipment in and around Brech to a group of French resistance fighters.

During the night of Aug. 5 and 6, on its eleventh sortie flying at 450 m, it was hit presumably by the Kriegesmarine battery of 20mm single-barrel anti-craft guns.

The Stirling crashed in the village of Plougoumelen, just missing their church and village square by 25 m.

All six airmen on board died due to the crash and one civilian family from the village perished as well.

The six airmen were — Pilot Henare Wuru, 23-years old from Canterbury, New Zealand; Navigator: Warran Officer Robert J. Braddock, 26-years old from Wellington, New Zealand; Bomb aimer: Sgt. Leonard A. Euson, 24-years old from Preston, Victoria, Australia; Wireless Operator: Walter N. Irving, 21-years old from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada; Flight Engineer: Sgt. Alfred A. Hull, 20-years old from the United Kingdom and Air Gunner: Warrant Officer I. Gordon F. Harrison, 21-years old from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

B.C. resident thankful to the villagers

During the commemoration held in the village this year, Cliff Irving, nephew of the airmen Walter N. Irving, said he went with relatives to France to be a part of the 75th anniversary of the crash.

“This community has looked after those six airmen’s graves, they have it separately in their graveyard.”

“Its still emotional. Even though I never met the man, but the villagers and family members are still emotional. The commemoration was so well done. I think that my family and I were overwhelmed by the attitude of the French people. It was so heartwarming. I am extremely thankful. We in Canada don’t understand this because we have never been occupied. We have never had anyone on our doorstep.”

“They are making sure, their kids don’t forget,” Irving said.

Over 60 relatives of the six airmen came for the commemoration, he said, noting there were approximately 1000 people at the event.

He said there were candlelight ceremonies at the church and to start the event off, as the village has a new subdivision opening, they have named the streets after each of the airmen and the local family that perished, in English.

The ceremony was held in both English and French and there were over six interpreters on site for the families, Irving said.

At the end of the ceremony, the relatives were taken 45 miles away to a museum for the French underground resistance.

“Here they had samples of everything that was dropped. From holders for rifles, ammunition, parachutes and they had picture of all the outfits that the airmen wear,” he said.

Irving said his family from B.C., Calgary, Vancouver and England came for the event.

The commemoration was organized with the help of — l’Union Nationale des Combattants, l’Association Air Memorial, the Royal Air Force Association, the Royal British Legion and attending members included over 60 descendants of the aviators that came from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Information about the mission was submitted to the Express by Cliff Irving.

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