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1944-06-13 The Loss of Mitchell FR205 NO-O (Sillevis)

Crash site: 2 km Northwest of St. Aubin-de-Scellon, Eure, France, at the hamlet of 'La Boffetière', 0.2715E/49.1040N. The crash site is about 18 km East of the target, Lisieux railway station. Aircraft crashed in the very early morning of June 13th, 1944, about 01.00h.

Crash cause: aircraft presumed to have been shot down by enemy nightfighter.

Name

4. Leeuwen, George Lewis Rudolf van

Grebbeberg 090204 Leeuwen GLR van

Rank

Sgt Vltg Telegr, Wop/Ag

Stb.Nr. 20485

Decorations

None known

Born

30/4/1919

Place

Medicine Hat, Canada

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25D Nr. FR205 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on Lisieux rail emplacement

Status

KIA, aircraft presumed shot down by enemy nightfighter

age

25

Killed

13/6/1944

Place

St. Aubin-de-Scellon, Eure, F, at the hamlet of 'La Boffetière', around 01.00h

Buried

Initially at Cimetière de Bernay, Eure, F. Reburied 28/2/1950 at Militaire ereveld Grebbeberg, Rhenen, NL, grave 8/16

Source: CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/81, 300

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Res 1Lt Wnr H. Huijskens, Obs - KIA

2. Sgt Vltg Sch MLD A.W. Klaassen, Ag - KIA

3. Res 2Lt Wnr J. van der Land, Nav - KIA

5. Off Vl 1kl MLD J.C. Sillevis, Pilot - KIA

Remarks

Memorial

None known

GB arrival

Data

Confusion

OGS & Geldhof: died/crashed Lisieux, Eure, F (= 18km W of the crash site).


Name

1. Huijskens, Harrold

Grebbeberg 090204 HuijskensH

Rank

Res 1Lt Wnr, F.O., Obs

Decorations

Kruis van Verdienste

Born

12/7/1917

Place

Amersfoort, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25D Nr. FR205 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on Lisieux rail emplacement

Status

KIA, aircraft presumed shot down by enemy nightfighter

age

26

Killed

13/6/1944

Place

St. Aubin-de-Scellon, Eure, F, at the hamlet of 'La Boffetière', around 01.00h

Buried

Initially at Cimetière de Bernay, Eure, F. Reburied 28/2/1950 at Militaire ereveld Grebbeberg, Rhenen, NL, grave 8/13

Source: CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/81, 300

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. Sgt Vltg Sch MLD A.W. Klaassen, Ag - KIA

3. Res 2Lt Wnr J. van der Land, Nav - KIA

4. Sgt Vltg Telegr G.L.R. van Leeuwen, Wop/Ag - KIA

5. Off Vl 1kl MLD J.C. Sillevis, Pilot - KIA

Remarks

Of B.W. Laan 150, Amersfoort, NL. He was a Res 2Lt Vl of the Dutch Air Force shortly before War broke out.

His Kruis van Verdienste is not mentioned on his headstone

Memorial

Vijfluik Loenen, Gelderland, NL

GB arrival

Engelandvaarder. He left Holland on 22/2/1942 and travelled via Belgium, France, Switzerland, France again, Spain, Portugal. In Lisbon he was allowed to board a British floatplane headed for Poole, GB, where he arrived on 13/5/1943. Source: NA 2.09.06-13049

Data

Confusion

OGS & Geldhof: died/crashed Lisieux, Eure, F (= 18km W of the crash site)


Name

2. Klaassen, Adriaan Willem

A.W. Klaassen Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50 Grebbeberg 090204 Klaassen AW

Rank

Sgt Vltg Sch MLD, Ag

Stb.Nr. 15660

Decorations

Vliegerkruis

Born

9/3/1917

Place

Breskens, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25D Nr. FR205 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on Lisieux rail emplacement

Status

KIA, aircraft presumed shot down by enemy nightfighter

age

26

Killed

13/6/1944

Place

St. Aubin-de-Scellon, Eure, F, at the hamlet of 'La Boffetière', around 01.00h

Buried

Initially at Cimetière de Bernay, Eure, F. Reburied 28/2/1950 at Militaire ereveld Grebbeberg, Rhenen, NL, grave 8/15

Source: CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/81, 300

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Res 1Lt Wnr H. Huijskens, Obs - KIA

3. Res 2Lt Wnr J. van der Land, Nav - KIA

4. Sgt Vltg Telegr G.L.R. van Leeuwen, Wop/Ag - KIA

5. Off Vl 1kl MLD J.C. Sillevis, Pilot - KIA

Remarks

Vliegerkruis, 28/5/1942

Het gedurende geruimen tijd op oorlogspatrouille-vluchten van het 320e Squadron R.D.N.A.S. van Onzen Marine Luchtvaartdienst blijken geven van moed, bekwaamheid, volharding en plichtsbetrachting.

Memorial

None known

GB arrival

31/5/1940 with Dutch vessel 'Batavier II' from Cherbourg, France, after an escape from Holland on 16/5/1940


Name

3. Land, Johannes (Hans) van der

J. van der Land Sources: SLH & JP Kloos Grebbeberg 090204 Land J van der

Rank

Res 2Lt Wnr, Nav

Stb.Nr. 1649938

Decorations

Kruis van Verdienste

Born

21/11/1915

Place

Amsterdam, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

5/10

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25D Nr. FR205 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on Lisieux rail emplacement

Status

KIA, aircraft presumed shot down by enemy nightfighter

age

28

Killed

13/6/1944

Place

St. Aubin-de-Scellon, Eure, F, at the hamlet of 'La Boffetière', around 01.00h

Buried

Initially at Cimetière de Bernay, Eure, F. Reburied 28/2/1950 at Militaire ereveld Grebbeberg, Rhenen, NL, grave 8/14

Source: CAD-MvD 5.050.5220/81, 300

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Res 1Lt Wnr H. Huijskens, Obs - KIA

2. Sgt Vltg Sch MLD A.W. Klaassen, Ag - KIA

4. Sgt Vltg Telegr G.L.R. van Leeuwen, Wop/Ag - KIA

5. Off Vl 1kl MLD J.C. Sillevis, Pilot - KIA

Remarks

He trained in Canada together with Jan Kloos

Memorial

Vijfluik Loenen, Gelderland, NL

GB arrival

Engelandvaarder. He left Holland on 3/6/1941. He travelled a land route via Belgium, France, Switzerland, France again, Spain, and then Gibraltar. He saw his share of imprisonments along the way. The final stretch from Perpignan, France, was travelled with J.L. van Olmen and A. Berkley. He arrived in the UK on 13/5/1942. Source: NA 2.09.06-10135

Data

Confusion

OGS & Geldhof: died/crashed Lisieux, Eure, F (= 18km W of the crash site)


Name

5. Sillevis, Johannes Christiaan (Joop)

J.C. Sillevis Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50 Grebbeberg 090204 Sillevis JC

Rank

Off Vl 1kl MLD, Pilot

Decorations

Vliegerkruis, Distinguished Flying Cross

Born

9/4/1913

Place

Rotterdam, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25D Nr. FR205 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on Lisieux rail emplacement

Status

KIA, aircraft presumed shot down by enemy nightfighter

age

31

Killed

13/6/1944

Place

St. Aubin-de-Scellon, Eure, F, at the hamlet of 'La Boffetière', around 01.00h

Buried

Initially probably at Cimetière de Bernay, Eure, F. Reburied 28/2/1950 at Militaire ereveld Grebbeberg, Rhenen, NL, grave 8/12

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Res 1Lt Wnr H. Huijskens, Obs - KIA

2. Sgt Vltg Sch MLD A.W. Klaassen, Ag - KIA

3. Res 2Lt Wnr J. van der Land, Nav - KIA

4. Sgt Vltg Telegr G.L.R. van Leeuwen, Wop/Ag - KIA

Remarks

He was credited with one 2.500t cargo vessel sunk 15' WNW of Brandaris, the West Terschelling light house, on 18/1/1943, and one 2.500t cargo vessel 9' WSW of IJmuiden, NL, on 18/2/1943

Vliegerkruis, 29/4/1943

Als vliegtuigcommandant bij het 320e Squadron R.D.N.A.S. van Onzen Marine Luchtvaartdienst in het Vereenigd Koninkrijk gedurende ongeveer acht maanden blijk gegeven van moed, voortvarendheid, bekwaamheid en doorzettingsvermogen tijdens vele dag- en nacht oorlogsvluchten waarbij meerdere geslaagde bomaanvallen op de vijandelijke scheepvaart werden verricht onder vaak zwaar vijandelijk afweervuur, terwijl meermalen aanvallen van vijandelijke jachtvliegtuigen moesten worden afgeslagen.

Memorial

None known

GB arrival

Unknown, but likely via a KLM passenger aircraft

Data

Confusion

OGS: died Lisieux, F (= 18km W of the crash site); DFC not mentioned.


2. Crash site data

As a result of the Invasion, June 6th, 1944, 320 Squadron flew missions almost daily in this month.

In the night of 12 to 13 June 1944 eight 320 Sqn Mitchells were send on a sortie. The second sortie of that evening. Six were to mark targets with flares, two were to bomb the Lisieux marshalling yards, using the GEE-H system. These aircraft were the FR205 and the FR176. The second aircraft, FR176 flown by M.J. Stenvert, returned to base shortly after take-off because its GEE-H system malfunctioned. M.J. Stenvert and his crew would be killed in action over France a month later. FR205 flown by J.C. Sillevis was on its own when approaching the target on this mission. The Squadron's Operations Record Book mentions that it is unknown whether the aircraft bombed the target before it was lost.

Jan Kloos adds, that the Germans were using the railway system mostly at night, as by day the Allied fighter bombers were shooting up anything moving. A night attack on a mayor railway station, such as in Lisieux, promised more results than an attack by day. Jan Kloos lost good buddies with this crew.

Source: Jan Kloos, email 24/10/2005

The aircraft crashed in the very early morning of June 13th, about 200 meters Northeast from the small farm where Mme Denise Capelle, who was 21 year of age at the time, was living. She still lives there. In a conversation held on 21/10/2005 it becomes evident that the matter is still very emotional to her. Details, as she surely must have seen, have been surpressed in her otherwise vivid memory. No-one has asked her before about this incident. Mme Capelle was found with the kind assistance of Mme Espaldet, wife of the St. Aubin-de-Scellon mayor. In the meadow some 200 meters West of the cottage of Mme Capelle, we find a hole measuring approximately 20 by 10 meters, with a depth of 2 meters. The center is filled with water. The hole is surrounded by a wall raised a meter above ground level. There is no wall at the road side, and the cavity bottom runs much flatter here. It looks as if one or more explosions took place, causing this elliptical hole and its walls. It looks as if the wreck was removed towards the road side, which would be the obvious thing to do. Holes such as this one are not found in other meadows in the near or wide area. We have to assume that Mitchell FR205 came down here. We assume that the bomb load was still on board, and that the bombs exploded on the ground. That must have led to human remains scattered all over the place, as was the case in the Horsham, West Sussex, GB, crashes four days earlier. It is perfectly clear why Mme Capelle does not care to remember all details.

La Boffetière, the tiniest of hamlets, seen from the St.-Aubin-de-Scellon direction. Mme Denise Capelle lives in the 2nd house visible from the right. La Boffetiere 051020-1

La Boffetiere 051020-4

The crash site, looking West towards La Boffetière. La Boffetiere 051021-1

The crash site, looking East towards St. Aubin-de-Scellon. We see an oval crater of 20 x 10 x 2 meters, with walls raised above ground level. No wall facing the road side. The site has been cleared of the aircraft wreck, but the hole escaped the usual fate of being shoveled level. La Boffetiere 051021-2

Mme Capelle told us that the aircraft wreck remained in place for a long time, but she cannot tell for how long. We assume that this wreck site escaped the usual fate of being shoveled level, after the wreck was cleared, as the watering place was convenient for the cows.

We have found no report on initial burial of the FR205 crew. The Germans were present in St. Aubin-de-Scellon, as evidenced by the local archive.

Source: Pierre Espaldet, “Saint Aubin de Scellon, notre village a travers le temps”, Gauthier-Villas, 1984

We have asked OGS if there is any information about initial and later burials of the FR205 crew:

De stoffelijke overschotten van de slachtoffers van de Mitchell FR205 zijn op 28/02/1950 herbegraven op het Militair ereveld Grebbeberg te Rhenen. Dit ereveld was toen nog in beheer van het ministerie van Oorlog.

De Oorlogsgravenstichting beschikt niet over de identificatiegegevens van de bemanning van de FR205. Wij adviseren u daarvoor contact op te nemen met het ministerie van Defensie, Centraal archievendepot te Rijswijk, Postbus 20701, 2500 ES, Den Haag, tel: 070-31888931.

Voor wat betreft de plaats (of gemeente) van overlijden berichten wij u dat wij in 1953 bericht hebben gekregen van de gemeente Den Helder dat zij op basis van een schriftelijke aangifte van de Rijksinspectie van de Bevolkingsregisters in Den Haag, waaruit blijkt dat de heer J.C. Sillevis op 13 juni 1944 in Lisieux, Frankrijk is overleden, een overlijdensakte hebben ingeschreven. Zoals u weet hebben wij, voor wat betreft de geboorte- en overlijdensgegevens, slechts een registrerende functie.

Source: OGS, J.J. Teeuwisse, email 25/10/2005

Translation:

The remains of the victims of Mitchell FR205 were reburied on 28/02/1950 at the Militair ereveld Grebbeberg, Rhenen. At the time, this Field of Honour was in the care of the Ministry of War.

The War Graves Foundation does not have data about the identification of the FR205 crew. We advise you to contact the Ministry of Defence, Centraal archievendepot, Rijswijk, PO Box 20701, 2500 ES, Den Haag, phone: 070-31888931.

Regarding the location (or city) of death we inform you that in 1953 we received word of the city of Den Helder that they, based on a statement in writing from the Rijksinspectie of the Bevolkingsregisters, The Hague, stating the death of Mr. J.C. Sillevis on June 13th, 1944, in Lisieux, France, have registered a death certificate. As you know, we only have a recording function regarding birth and death data.

Mr. Teeuwisse seems to sense that the OGS data is confused, or at least confusing, but he cannot help that. OGS needs to stick to the official records.

The Centraal archievendepot (CAD-MvD) holds the archive of the Dienst Identificatie en Berging (DIB) of the Dutch Koninklijke Landmacht. In 5.050.5220/81 we find that the crew was buried at the Communal Cemetery of Bernay, Eure, in a joint grave. No mention of J.C. Sillevis, but we have to assume that he was buried here too. Bernay is directly Southeast of St. Aubin-de-Scellon. There is no mention of how the remains were identified, and by whom. The remains were transported to The Netherlands on January 17th, 1950, and reburied with full military honours at ereveld Grebbeberg on Tuesday, February 28th, 1950. The ceremony was meticulously organized by the Royal Dutch Navy, and it included the Marinierskapel and a firing squad of 20 men. In all, the remains of 29 Dutch servicemen, who had died in France, were reburied at the Grebbeberg on this occasion. Sixteen belonged to the Marine Luchtvaartdienst (MLD), several of the others were detached to the MLD. Their names are reproduced in the chapter on ereveld Grebbeberg.

The Germans operated a fighter airfield in nearby Barville, 2 km South of St. Aubin-de-Scellon. The village was liberated by Canadian forces on August 24th, 1944, eleven weeks after FR205 crashed.

Source: Pierre Espaldet, “Saint Aubin de Scellon, notre village a travers le temps”, Gauthier-Villas, 1984

Frontal view of the Luftwaffe blast pen, that still exists in 2005 in the Barville farmland. This picture was probably taken long after the War. Source: Pierre Espaldet, “Saint Aubin de Scellon, notre village a travers le temps”, Gauthier-Villas, 1984 Barville 060212-3b.jpg


Blast pen wall, showing the metal hooks to which camouflage nets were attached. Office & maintenance buildings are at the rear. Barville 060212-2b


3. Four 2TAF Mitchells down on 1944-06-12/13

One and a half kilometer Southwest of St. Aubin-de-Scellon is the hamlet of Fontaine-la-Louvet. In the yard of the village church we find the joint graves of a five man B-25 Mitchell FV969 crew, that perished in this area in the same night as the Sillevis crew. They flew with RAF 98B Squadron, one of the Squadrons of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. The aviators were therefore collegues of the Sillevis crew. As the circumstances of the Sillevis loss are unclear, author feels that studying this other Mitchell crash is within the scope of the present work.

The night of 12 to 13 June 1944 was not a good night for 2TAF, and certainly not for 320 (Dutch) Squadron. Two sorties were flown, one to the Forêt de Grimbosq area, and the very late night sortie to Lisieux railway station. On the first mission two 320 Sqn Mitchells were hit by Flak in the target area. One crashed there, and one had to make an emergency landing in The Channel. All crew were safe, but four were taken POW.

1. Two sorties this night

The two Mitchells lost by 320 (Dutch) Squadron were:

FR149, shot down by Flak at 20.35h in the Grimbosq target area. The entire crew got out by parachute, and was taken POW

Crew:

Res 1Lt Vl ML D. Brand

Off Zwnr 3kl W.C. van Haeften

Sgt Telegr R.P.M. van der Heyden

Sgt Schutter C. Smit

FR191 was seriously damaged by Flak in the Grimbosq target area. The aircraft had to be ditched at 21.02 in The Channel. Pilot G. van der Wolf coolly parked his lame Mitchell near an Allied convoy. From his ditching report: The impact was very slight, but when the aircraft came to a rest my navigator and I were sitting more than waistdeep in the water. The entire crew was safe in a dinghy, when after 4 to 5 minutes the aircraft had disappeared under water. Twenty minutes later they were picked up by HMS Destroyer Blankney.

Source: J.P. Kloos, '320 Squadron Memorial', p.202

Crew:

Off Vl 1kl G. van der Wolf

Off Zwnr 3kl J.W. Arriens

Off Schutter 3kl A.J. de Haan

Sgt Telegr T. van Dijk

Mitchell FR205 with the Sillevis crew was lost on the second sortie. And so was a fourth Mitchell, FV969, from RAF 98B Squadron, that also crashed around 01.00h on June 13th. Their target was the Mézidon railway junction, a target similar to Sillevis' target Lisieux. Mézidon is 20km WSW of Lisieux.

An extract from the Operations Record Book of 98B Squadron, 12th /13th June 1944 reads as follows:

Eighteen aircraft from this Squadron led by Wing Commander Lynn, Lt. Waardenburg, F/Lt. Carter and P/O. Cudlipp. Attacked the Foret de Grinberg and villages of Grinberg and St. Sauvent de Cendel.

Although equipped with G.H. (=GEE-H navigation system) the leader bombed visually from a height of 10.000ft and good concentrations were seen in the target area where there is the servicing echelon of the 21st Panzer Division – a goodly target. Flak was encountered but this Squadron was not hit, although the Dutch 320 squadron lost two aircraft. One was seen to ditch, the other crew baled out, All aircraft of 98 squadron returned safely and undamaged. An immediate turn around was ordered, all crews hurried back for briefing. The boys are working really hard these days, it is total warfare with a capital T now. The ground crews are magnificent. S/Ldr. Dring (C.T.O. (=Commanding Technical Officer)) and F/Lt. Ballett (Armament Officer) are at their very best with the men. The War goes well and spirits are high.


Tonight 4 (four) aircraft of this Squadron were briefed to bomb by G.H. Mezidon M.Y. (=Marshalling Yards, Railway Station) These were S/Ldr. Eager and crew, F/Lt. Dawes, F/Lt. Spong and F/O. Creeke (who did not take off).

Only S/Ldr. Eager bombed but his results were unobserved, F/Lt. Dawes, F/Lt. Richardson, P/O. Green, F/O. Everest and W/O. Jenkinson did not return and must be presumed missing. They were on their second tour of operations and some of the older members of the Squadron knew them when they were on our sister Squadron 180 at Foulsham and prior to that on 18 Squadron at West Raynham.

Daily Operation Record

12th /13th June 1944 Time Up Time Down

FW189 ‘A’ S/Ldr. Eager 23. 40hrs 02.00 hrs

F/Sgt. Parrish

Sgt. Page

F/O. Webber


FV969 ‘D’ F/Lt. Dawes 23.40hrs

F/Lt. Richardson

F/O. Green

W/O. Jenkinson

F/O. Everest


FW115 ‘K’ F/Lt. Spong 23.59hrs 02.35hrs

F/Sgt. Goodwin

F/Sgt. Boyes

W/O. Fenwick

F/O. Webster

NOTES OF OPERATION

Four crews were briefed to bomb by G H. Mezidon marshalling yards. F/O. Creeke did not take off and only S/Ldr. Eager bombed, but his results were unobserved. Fighters were in the area and F/Lt. Dawes and crew did not return. Weather 10/10 cloud at 10.000ft. Moderate Flak vis. No low cloud.

Russ Legross:

The Squadron Records record that F/Lt. Dawes was flying B25 Mitchell FV969 ‘D’, however information from a document listing the allocation of B25 Mitchells to the RAF from the USA states that FV969 was with 98 Sqn but went to 13 OTU before being Struck Off Charge on 5th June 1947. B25 Mitchell FW129 is recorded as missing from night intruder sortie on 13th June 1944.

I have looked at the Luftwaffe Night Fighter Combat Claims 1939-1945 (John Foreman, Johannes Matthews and Simon Parry) and there is no record of a Mitchell aircraft being shot down that night.

Source: Russ Legross, email 23/2/2006

2. The crash and burial sites

Note that two of the three French villages mentioned in the ORB above, do not exist. Mézidon-Canon, with its railway junction, is about 24km WSW of Lisieux, both in Calvados. We could not find a likely match for 'St. Sauvent de Cendel', nor for 'Grinberg'. Many villages with the name St. Sauveur in France, none that could be connected with 'de Cendel'. The closest match would be St. Sauveur-de-Chaulieu, about 10km South of Vire. The two villages with the name 'St. Sauvant' are in the South of France, outside of 2TAF's theatre of operations. We did find the village of Grimbosq, and a Forêt de Grimbosq, 9 km West of Bretteville-sur-Laize, in Calvados, as the most likely match for 'Grinberg'. The 320 (Dutch) Sqn ORB states Forêt de Grimbosq, Grimbosq, and St. Laurent de Conde as targets for the evening mission of June 12th, 1944. The last should undoubtably be St. Laurent-de-Condel, Calvados, directly East of the Forêt de Grimbosq.

Details of the FV969/FW129 crew members:

1. F/Lt. William Edward Dawes, Pilot, British, RAF Nr. 125758. He died at the age of 31.

2. F/O. Verity Everest, Airgunner, of Duncan, British Columbia, Canada, RCAF Nr. J/41055. He died at the age of 18.

3. F/O. Leslie Frederick Green, Wop/Ag, British, RAF Nr. 129964. He died at the age of 29.

4. W/O. John Andrew Jenkinson, Airgunner, British, RAF Nr. 1057230. He died at the age of 22.

5. F/Lt. George Richardson, Navigator/Bomb Aimer, British, RAF Nr. 101578. His age is not known.

Fontaine-la-Louvet 060212-3

It strikes as curious that this crew was not buried in Bernay, Eure, as was the Sillevis crew. So we set out to ask questions, and had the good fortune to meet Mme Jeanne Dufay, on her Sunday visit to her husbands grave in Fontaine-la-Louvet, Eure. She has taken it upon her to look after the aviator graves too. Aviators are special to her. A Lancaster crashed in this area too. One of the crew members, Ronald H. Riding of Anlaby, Yorkshire, GB, was helped to evade captivity by her late husband, Mr Jean Dufay, together with Jean Bréart and Gaston Prévost. Mr Riding, now a RAFES member, visits the area and the graves in Fontaine-la-Louvet each summer. He is still haunted by the crash, and does not want to say much about it. He chooses to remember the first class support received from his coeriers in France. He wrote the following tell-tale expression: 'I have no right to be a survivor. So many young, good man died.'

Source: Ronald H. Riding, letter dated 28/3/2006

Mme Dufay was asked if she knew where the Mitchell had come down. She did not, but immediately started to contact local farmers who could know more. Working her old Renault 5 very hard on steep, narrow and muddy roads, we visited half a dozen farms. Finally Mr Bernard Chesnot was found, who had seen the aircraft wreck, and who could pinpoint the location. He tells us that the wreck was on fire on the ground.

The site is locally known as St. Léger-de-Glatigny, actually farmland with a few farms, Northeast of Fontaine-la-Louvet. Coordinates are 00.2617E/49.1045N. At the site we find a meadow with two craters. One is a circular depression with a diameter of 10 meters and a depth of about a third of a meter. Similar in size and shape as the filled-in Mitchell crater in Horsham, Sussex, GB. The other is a water-filled hole of about 6 x 10 meters, 3 meters deep. Actually similar in shape as the crater at La Boffetière, but smaller. Convenient for cattle, so nobody bothered to fill in this crater.

Presumed crash crater of the other 2TAF Mitchell, in St Léger de Glatigny, Eure, France St Léger de Glatigny 060216-2

Actually seeing the crash site was moving to Mme Dufay. She reflected upon the wastage of lives during the War.

Another farmer recalls that his father had told him that he had removed the remains of the aviators, and had buried these in the Fontaine-la-Louvet churchyard. This had annoyed the Germans, when they came to inspect the crash site. The Germans punished the farmer with a shot through the hand.

Obviously we cannot check these details, but it seems reasonably certain that the five aviators still lay buried where they were buried initially. The Germans removed the remains of the Sillevis crew from the crash site to Bernay, being the nearest larger city in the area, where they had their facilities. But they did not bother about the Dawes crew, that was already buried via local initiative. Identification of the Dawes crew was undoubtably done by Allied Grave Services, after the liberation of the area, using logics only. The crew members were not individually identified. The Fontaine-la-Louvet churchyard now carries the green plate indicating the presence of Commonwealth War Graves.

Fontaine-la-Louvet obtained its name from the well or fountain from which springs the La Calonne river.

Origin of the La Calonne river in Fontaine-la-Louvet. The well delivers 370 cubic meters of water per hour, making it one of the most potent wells in France. We see the renovated roof of the very old facility for cattle washing. Fontaine-la-Louvet 060212-7

4. Crash site maps

Map 75. 13/06/1944 targets and crash sites

FR205 (Sillevis & crew) was detailed to attack Lisieux railway station. FV969 or FW129 (Dawes & crew) was to attack Mézidon railway station. Similar targets, same time and night, but different targets. Both aircraft crashed Eastnortheast of their targets, which is 90 degrees off the home vector. Both crashed within 1.100 meters of each other. Is this coincidence, or were the men lured away on a wrong vector, radioed to them by the Germans, in the direction of enemy nightfighters waiting for their pray? Especially Mitchell FV969/FW129 crashed in an unlikely place, when its mission was Mézidon. After all, there is no point in flying longer than needed over enemy territory. There is also no point in flying in via a devious route, designed to mislead the enemy about the intended target, when that route leads over a target that is also marked for that day. So both aircraft are likely to have crashed on the way out, and especially FV969/FW129 on a very wrong way out. But at this point the evidence is circumstantial only.

Map 76. St. Aubin-de-Scellon, Eure, France, crash sites

The hamlet of La Boffetière, 2 km Northwest of St. Aubin-de-Scellon, where Mitchell FR205 crashed on 13/6/1944, taking the lives of the five man crew. Only 1.100 meters West another 2TAF Mitchell crashed this same day, at a place locally known as St. Léger de Glatigny, also taking the lives of five men. They were and remained buried in nearby Fontaine-la-Louvet Communal Cemetery. The evidence of these crashes is still present in the landscape. The concrete remains of the Luftwaffe blast pen at Barville are also still there, only a kilometer from the Barville cemetery, that holds the graves of six RAF airmen, that crashed here on 14/10/1944.


List of Aviator Losses  •  
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