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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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432 Squadron Crest
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

Serial: MZ506

Code: QO:X

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

Burial details:

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

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.

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.

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).

RS 06.11.2020 - Addition of German flak claim information

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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