127 Wing Memorials
And for all they did for us, what trace is left? What can we point to and say, "That was their doing -- that was for us. Will anyone ever know they were there?"
Well, even after sixty years, there are some marks -- some signs -- that show where once these ordinary Canadians strode across the face of history, did their best to abolish tyranny and injustice, and in many cases, died in the attempt.
Behind the little village called Bazenville, just north-east of Bayeux in Normandy, farmers' fields cover the place where B.2 Bazenville advanced airfield served as base for 127 Wing. A returning veteran would find it difficult to be certain it was the place -- except for a tell-tale section. On the north-west side of the plowed field there is a stand of grey birch and scrub underbrush. Amongst the brush one can find bits of metal -- parts of tubing, flanges and pieces of sheet metal. The grey birch stand is only a decade or so in age, and the shrubs in the hedgerows have passed through several generations since the Rolls-Royce Merlins roared past them. But this is the spot where the servicing and repair units did their work to keep the Spitfires flying.
And there is the monument. In front of the parish church, on the south side of the village, there is a memorial in the shape of a SPITFIRE wing. The picture below shows this memorial.
<>Author's photo 2002 (flowers left by those attending
the 60th Anniversary of the Dieppe Raid)
On the wall behind
the monument, a plaque reads:
"R A F
Le 83ème Group Control Centre
de la 2ème Tactical Air Force
qui contrôla tous les vols
durant la Bataille de Normandie
était basé à Bazenville
du 7 Juin au 10 Août 1944."
The upper plaque on the replica
of a Spitfire wing reads:
Squadrons 403, 416 and 421 de la
Royal Canadian Air Force
nous nous souvenons
Bataille de Normandie
16 Juin a 15 Août 1944."
the lower plaque reads:
"Sur l'Aérodrome de
Bazenville le 15 Juin 1944
Héros des Forces Aeriennes
atterrit pour le première fois
en France Libereé"
There is another place where the pilots of Normandy are remembered. The beautifully manicured cemeteries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are scattered all over the world -- some 23,198 in all. There are 2,909 Commonwealth cemeteries in France. Army casualties were usually buried in large groups because they fell in large numbers; Air Force casualties are spread around because they were interred as close as possible to the site of their death. In Normandy there are two large Canadian cemeteries. Beny-sur-Mer cemetery contains the graves of 2,644 Canadians. Bretteville-sur-Laize cemetery has 2,872 Canadians, of whom 79 are RCAF, the rest army casualties. Frank Clark, Lorne Curry, Fred Ward, John Earle and James Lanfranchi are buried at Bretteville.The list below shows where the other 127 Wing pilots who died in the Battle of Normandy are buried:
Dave Clark at Bretteville-sur-Laize Cemetery before the grave of his brother.
127 Wing W/C Lloyd Vernon Chadburn, killed 13 June 1944, age 25, is buried in Rainville Cemetery, Normandy, Section V, Row R, Grave2. 403 Squadron P/O Harry Vern Boyle, killed 17 August 1944, age 21, Castillon-en-Auge Churchyard, Calvados, France, only military grave (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) F/O John Walter Benson Earle, killed 5 August 1944, age 28, Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Calvados, France Section XIX.Row F Grave 9. (Westmount, Quebec) P/O James Leon Lanfranchi, killed 28 June 1944, age 26, Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Calvados, France Section XXVIII Row H Grave 2. (Montreal, Quebec) F/O Miall Bourchier O'Kelly, killed 16 July 1944, age 33, Ecouche Communal Cemetery, Orne, France, only military grave (Vancouver, British Columbia) W/O William Charles Powers, killed 14 July 1944, age 23, St. Charles de Percy War Cemetery, Calvados, France Section VIII Row B Grave 10. (Brandon, Manitoba) F/O Donald John Shapter, killed 14 July 1944, age 24, St. Lambert Churchyard, Calvados, France, only military grave (Toronto, Ontario) W/O Milton Eldon Soules, killed 28 August 1944, age 22, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, United Kingdom Panel 254. (Orilia, Ontario) 416 Squadron P/O Joseph Cyril Robert Maranda, killed 8 June 1944, age 21, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, United Kingdom Panel 251. (Quebec City) 421 Squadron F/O George Allan Cashion, killed 25 July 1944, age 23, is buried at Cemetery 942 -- Charlevoix, Normandy -- the only Canadian grave (Winnipeg, Manitoba). F/L Frank Joel Clark, killed 13 June 1944, age 23, is buried in Bretteville-sur-Laize Cemetery, Normandy, Section XXIV, Row C, Grave 5. (Montreal, Quebec). F/O Lorne Franklin Curry, killed 15 June 1944, age 27, is buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize Cemetery, Normandy, Section XXIV, Row B, Grave 3. (Hamilton, Ontario). F/L William John Drope, killed 7 June 1944, age 21, is buried at Bayeux Cemetery, Normandy, Section IV, Row F, Grave 11. (Regina, Saskatchewan). F/O James McVeigh Flood, killed 26 August 1944, age 22, is buried in Dieppe Cemetery, Normandy, Section IV, Row M, Grave 56. (Toronto, Ontario). F/L Charles Donald Grant, killed 25 June 1944, age 24, is buried at Hottot-les-Bagues Cemetery, Normandy, Section I, Row A, Grave 11 (Carrying Place, Ontario). F/O Robert Jackson Grigg, killed 7 June 1944, age 23, is memorialized at Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, panel 246. (Sault Ate. Marie, Ontario). F/L Paul Gilbert Johnson, killed 18 July 1944, age 24, is buried at Revieres Cemetery, Normandy, Section XVIU, Row H, Grave 8. (Connecticit, USA). F/O Robert Wilson Murray, killed 13 June 1944. age 24, is buried at Brookfield Cemetery, Sussex, Section 52, Row E, Grave 9. (Vancouver, British Columbia). F/O Glen Whitcomb Taylor, killed 23 August 1944, age uncertain, is buried in Forfry Cemetery, the only Commonwealth grave in the cemetery (Brantford, Ontario). W/O Robert George Wallace, killed 23 June 1944, age 21, is buried at Ste. Gauberge-Ste. Colombe cemetery, the only Canadian grave. (Toronto, Ontario). F/O Frederick William Ward, killed 25 July 1944, age uncertain, is buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize Cemetery, Section XXIV, Row C, Grave 6. (Lachine, Quebec). 443 Squadron F/O William John Bentley, killed 12 August 1944, age 24, St. Valery-en-Caux Franco-British Cemetery, Seine-Maritime, France Row B Grave 10. (Willowdale, Ontario)
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