22/23.05.1944 432 Squadron Halifax III MZ506 QO-X Plt.Off. Kuleski
Operation: Le Mans
Date: 22/23rd May 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: 432 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF East Moor, Yorkshire
Location: Moncé-en-Belin, France
Pilot: Flt.Sgt. Stephen Kuleski R149293 RCAF Age 25. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Edward Derek Horton 1851892 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: Fg.Off. Walter Henry Matthews J25198 RCAF Age 28. Killed
Air Bmr: Flt.Sgt. Bruce Stanley Richmond 426915 RAAF Age 23. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: WO2. Joseph Eugene Gerard Desmarais R117632 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Eric Patrick Boutilier R183247 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Michael Wiwsianski R210463 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Wallace Watson Crum R98697 RCAF Age 21. Killed
It hoped to place a memorial to this crew in May 2020 at the cemetery, relatives are invited to contact us for further information.
REASON FOR LOSS:
112 aircraft taking part to bomb the railway facilities at le Mans in France. The crews were over the target at between 7,000 and 9,000 feet, releasing 826,000 lbs. of high explosives. According to reports, bombing was accurate and severe damage was caused.
Halifax MZ506 took off from RAF East Moor in at 00:10 hrs and shot down by anti-aircrft fire - all the crew were killed .
MZ506 was hit by 6/gem Flak Abt 596 and 2 & 4/lei Flak Abt 955. Crashed 3km South of le Mans airfield at 02:40. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 3 - Theo Boiten)
A local French Lady Marie Fortier was taking shelter at the time during the bombardment with her daughter and son. The Halifax crash landed nearby and German troops arrived to remove the bodies and take them to Le Mans Cemetery. Crowds surrounded the truck and and the remains were covered in flowers. From that day she remembered the members of this crew and in fact built a memorial to them. She managed to write to newspaper in Canada to inform them that the French remember what Canada did for them.
432 Squadron Halifax III MZ506 QO-X Crew photograph:
Left to Right: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Fg.Off Matthews, Flt.Sgt Kuleski
The town continues to this day to maintain that memorial and to honour these eight boys. Marie Fortier even managed to send ashes from the crash site in a small wooden box to the family of Plt.Off. Michael Wiwsianski, This was later buried with his mother after she passed away.
Three images of whom it is believed to be Marie Fortier taken by a 10 year old Andy Marshall in 1987, then a chorister in the Lincoln Cathedral Choir, on a tour to Le Mans, which is twinned with the city of Lincoln. (Courtesy Andy Marshall)
Above: Initial Grave markers
Plt.Off. Stephen Kuleski. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Coll. grave 38-42. Born on the 14th June 1918, Hillcrest, British Columbia. Son of William and Pearl Kuleski, of Michel, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Rest In Peace, Dear Son". Promoted to Plt.Off. with Service No. J87624 on the 21st May 1944
Mount Kuleski in the Kootenay Land District, British Columbia was named afterP/O Stephen Kuleski in 1964
Sgt. Edward Derek Horton. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Coll. grave 38-42. Son of Edward and Edith Horton, of Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire. Grave inscription reads: "May We Be Worthy Of Their Sacrifice" In Memory's Garden, Dear, You Will Never Fade".
Fg.Off. Walter Henry Matthews Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Coll. grave 38-42. Born 13th March 1916, Greenwood, British Columbia. Son of L. L. Matthews and Mary Matthews, of Hedley, British Columbia, Canada.
Flt.Sgt. Bruce Stanley Richmond. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Grave 33. Born on the 23rd July 1920 at Rockhampton, the son of John and Constance Marie Richmond, of Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "He Gave His Life For His Country. "Thy Will Be Done".
Plt.Off. Joseph Eugene Gerard Desmarais. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Grave 34. Born 19th September 1918, Herbert, Montreal. Son to Armand and Louisa Desmarais of Montreal, Canada. His mother predeceased him in 1932. He was on attachment from 419 Squadron. Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off. with Service No. J88152.
Plt.Off. Eric Patrick Boutilier. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Grave 29. Born 17th March 1922, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Son of M. Chisholm Boutilier and Maude Boutilier, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Beloved Son Of Maud And Chisholm Boutilier, Halifax, N.S. Gone, Never Forgotten. Mum, Dad". Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off. with Service No. J88414.
Plt.Off. Michael Wiwsianski. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Grave 43. Born 25th August 1924 in Kruzburg, Manitoba. The son of John and Tienie 'Wish' of Mulvihill, Manitoba, Canada. The Town Council of Moncé-en-Belin named a street after Michael in 1978. In addition Wiwsianski Lake southwest of Caribou Lake, Manitoba, Canada was named after him in 1974. Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off. with Service No. J90949.
Wiwsianski Lake in Manitoba was named after P/O Michael Wiwsianski in 1974
Plt.Off. Wallace Watson Crum. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Coll. grave 38-42. Born 24th January 1923 Ponce Coupe, British Columbia. Son of Roy and Lena Crum, of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Our Hero, Calm, Free, Unafraid Went Forth To Meet His God. God Grant We May Meet Again". Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off. with Service No. J90054.
Mount Crum in the Peace River Land District, British Columbia was named afterP/O Wallace Crum in 1961
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown (Mar 2019). Thanks to Kevin Turner for highlighting the incorrect aircraft serial number (Dec 2019). New images added by Aircrew Remembered (May 2020). Thanks to John Jones for the German Flak claim information (Nov 2020).