13.08.1944 412 (Falcon) Squadron, RCAF, Spitfire LF.IX MK576, WO1. Griffin James Young
Operation: Armed Reconnaissance
Date: 13th August 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: 412 (Falcon) Sqn, RCAF, 2nd Tactical Air Force, 126th (RCAF) Wing.
Type: Spitfire LF.IX
Serial No: MK576
Location: 3¼ km SW of Vassy, France
Base: ALG B.18 Cristot, NW France
Pilot: WO1. Griffin ‘Griff’ James Young R85855 RCAF Age 28. PoW/Murdered
REASON FOR LOSS:
WO1. Young took off at 11:10 hrs of the 13th of August 1944 from the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) B.18 Cristot, on an armed reconnaissance mission over Condé-Falaise-Bernay-L’Aigle-Argentan-Flers area. He was flying as Blue #4 in a section of four Spitfires.
Cristot is a commune in the Calvados department and Normandy region of NW France.
He radioed that his aircraft had been hit by flak and that he was bailing out. Fg Off. T.M. Saunderson, J23043 RCAF, flying as Blue #3, saw him bail out between 4,000 ft and 5,000 ft, followed him down and saw him land safely approximately 3¼ km SW of Vassy, France.
The circumstances of his capture are not known, however, it appears that he was eventually held by personnel of an SS Infantry unit during which time he met with a 2nd Lt. George M. Mikels O-759899 US AAF, whose B-17 was shot down the same day. They were interrogated and then held in a farmhouse where they met with a S/Sgt. Norman E. Thielan 14057011 US AAF, whose B-26B had been shot down at 20:40 hrs the day before.
The three were moved back from the advancing front lines in a car until they arrived at a temporary PoW prison camp located SE of Rouen, France. The camp housed many black South African nationals, French Colonial Arabs and Turks who were being used as slave labour. Also held at the camp were:
Flt Lt. Denis Clark 119758 RAFVR, a Mustang pilot who had been shot down on the 20th of August 1944;
Pvt. Gordon Lafayette Bryant 6969514 from the 117th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, US Army. The circumstances leading to his capture are unknown;
Two British soldiers from the Royal Artillery (RA), one whose identity is unknown and a L/Bdr. Jack Martin 976272 from the 65th (The Norfolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment. The circumstances leading to their capture are unknown but L/Bdr. Martin was reported missing on the 21st of August 1944.
On the 25th of August 1944 at about 17:30 hrs a group of 10 SS troops broke into the camp apparently looking for American and British captives. They abused and shot to death WO1. Young, Flt Lt. Clark, Pvt. Bryant, L/Bdr. Martin and the unidentified British soldier from the RA. Their bodies were buried, apparently without removing their personal belongings, at the site of the camp.
Note: it is assumed that the men buried together in the collective grave at the Les Hogues Communal Cemetery were also the victims of that SS massacre.
2nd Lt. Mikels and S/Sgt. Thielan were not noticed and escaped the murderous intentions of the SS troopers. 2nd Lt. Mikels later escaped and hid with the help of French citizens until the arrival of British troops. He reported what he had witnessed to the authorities.
There is some evidence that this atrocity had been investigated and that a Court of Enquiry was held on the 11th of January 1945. The results of the Court of Enquiry are not known at the time of researching this report.
Above: Cutting from the Calgary Herald, dated Friday February 16th, 1945
Above: Les Hogues Communal Cemetery (credit: TWGPP)
Above grave marker for Plt Off. Young (credit: TWGPP)
Plt Off. Griffin ‘Griff’ James Young. Les Hogues Communal Cemetery Coll. Grave 439C. Inscription reads: “WHAT IF THEY FELL AFAR SOMEWHERE, PERHAPS UNKNOWN, THE LORD WAS THERE”. Born on the 20th of January 1916 in Peterborough, Ontario. Son of James Lewis and Annie Elizabeth (née Griffin) Young of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
WO1. Young was commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. (J88753) with effect 12th August 1944.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Thanks to The War Graves Photographic Project for the war grave images.