2016/07 – L9527 Commemorations

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Information on the loss of Halifax L9527 (24/07/1941)


2017 Commemoration

We received this information from David Forsyth regarding the 2017 commemoration ceremony for the crew of Halifax L9527

ANGLES: 24 JULY 2017

The men and women of Angles and the British community responded to the L’Union Nationale des Combattants (Angles) invitation to commemorate the anniversary of the loss of Halifax L 9527, shot down by enemy fire at the Terrier du Four on 24 July 1941.

The major commemoration of the 75th anniversary in 2016 had rekindled memories and we were pleased to see that more people than usual were present.

The ceremony began at the Stèle at the Terrier du Four, the site of the Halifax crash, with a presentation by Alain Gossuin, President of Angles Veterans, followed by a speech by Joël Monvoisin, Mayor of Angles.

After the laying of wreaths, including one by Wing Commander Ian Gawn on behalf of the Yorkshire Air Museum & Allied Air Forces Memorial, the first part of the ceremony was brought to a close by the salute of the Standard Bearers, accompanied by the bagpipes of Michel Ladan of the 51st Highland Division.

After gathering at the gate of the cemetery, the participants, led by the piper, paraded to the Carré des Anglais where Sergeants Rudlin, Esnouf, Godwin, Shirley and Newstead lie at peace for eternity, together with the ashes of Sergeant Balcomb.

Having observed a minutes silence, floral tributes were laid by veterans and the British contingent and a wreath was laid on behalf of the Royal Air Forces Association by Group Captain David Forsyth. A rendition of “God Save the Queen”, sung by the choir “La Chanterelle Angloise”, was followed by a lament played by piper, Michel Ladan.

After the ceremony, glasses were raised in friendship at the local tourist office.

 


2016 Commemoration

A Commemoration Ceremony was held on 24th July 2016 to mark the 75th anniversary of the loss of Halifax L9527 over Angles, France.

Prior to the event, retired Group Captain David Forsyth, who lives in the Vendee region of France, worked with locals and researchers in the UK to trace relatives of the crew so that they could be invited to attend.

Summarising the proceedings, David wrote:

14 family members of 4 of the crew travelled to Angles on July 24th 2016 for a very emotional and uplifting ceremony attended by several hundred people, British and French. Sergeant Rudlin’s family did not feel fit enough for the journey and, sadly, Eric Balcomb’s son died unexpectedly at the end of June. This meant that family was not present to hear Arthur Eperon’s daughter thank publicly the man who had saved her father from an otherwise certain death. A highly poignant moment. 

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Eperon family members at the Stele Anglais

Around 40 standards from French Veterans’ Associations as well as the Union Jack and the standards of the RAFA and the RBL were paraded in the presence of the Air Attaché from Paris, the local Deputé (MP), and community leaders.

In addition to speeches recording the events and the debt felt by the locals, there was a reading of “High Flight” by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee and a rendering of “Abide With Me” by a local Choir. A Frenchman in full Scottish Regimental piper’s uniform played a lament.

A temporary exhibition was set up with items created by the local school, a large, scale model of a Halifax created by the local Modelling Club, items lent by the Yorkshire Air Museum and several personal letters, photographs and documents, including Eric Balcomb’s Log Book for the 6 months preceding the mission.

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A small number of eye-witnesses were able to speak with the families and the contents of a bag of bits from the crash-site were shared with those who wanted them.

A newly-commissioned painting by aviation artist Keith Mills was presented to the Maire of Angles by James Wilford. James is the grand-son of Wing Commander, Peter Stanley James DFC, AE, RAF VR (24 February 1917-11 January 1999). The painting depicts the moment prior to the crash of L9527, as seen from the cockpit of another aircraft in the formation, piloted by then Pilot Officer James.

 The 24th July 2016 in Angles was indeed a remarkable day.