161 Squadron Halifax V DK119 Sgt. Donald A. Crome
Date: 22/23rd July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 161 Squadron (motto: 'Liberate'). 3 Group
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Tempsford
Location: Saint-Sauvier, France
Pilot: Sgt. Donald A. Crome 1318539 RAFVR Evader
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Raymond Orville Hunter R/102359 RCAF Evader
Nav: Sgt. Stanley Francis Hathaway (3)1338742 RAFVR Age 20. PoW No: 43261 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Bmr: Sgt. David Gordon Patterson 1491419 RAFVR Evader
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert William Paulin 1321294 RAFVR Evader
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tass Joe Kanakos R/144074 RCAF Evader
Air/Gnr: P/O. Louis Max Lavallée J/18759 RCAF Age 23. Killed
Disp/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Arthur Allen 1320921 RAFVR PoW No: 261238 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg (Elbe)
Special prevention for Aircrew Remembered by Alain Godignon. Translation by Madeleine Roilette.
The account of that crash was already reported in the 1995 Grimoire, mostly based upon René Chambareau’s commemorative speech in 1998 at SaintSauvier. René Chambareau had collected evidence from numerous locals as well as from some safe members of the crew. Now deprived of witnesses and actors nearly all dead, the archives with records open to everybody’s access were quite useful. This article aims at shaping a synthesis of our knowledge of the event as much as pointing out the eventual contradictory statements.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The BBC radio broadcast on July 22nd 1943 delivered the secret personal code at midday which was confirmed in the evening: The king loves the shepherdess. The staff selected to receive the parachuted supplies was to be ready this night at SaintSauvier. Camille Rougeron, the assistant to the drop-zone chief said: (1) At only twelve p.m. the reception team makes for the Wrangel confirmed drop-zone, 1.2 miles from the village along the Saint Sauvier–Mesples road. Depending on the Action Network from R6 area (Clermont-Ferrand), it included the following members :
René Degrève alias "Claude", groundchief
Jean Gaulier alias "Sylvain"
Camille Rougeron alias "Clément"
Auguste Chaulier alias "Gust"
Henri Dubouchet alias "Riton"
Henry Cholin alias "Riri"
Emile Romaine alias "Mimile"
Francisco Saez alias "Franco"E. Martolini alias "Benito" [probably Ernesto Martolini from SaintMarien (2).
Men, vehicles, carts and horse awaited on the spot.
In England on the Tempsford Royal Air Force base of the 161st Squadron in Bedfordshire, the crew of Halifax DK119 made ready to carry out three-night operations.
At about 11:40 hrs the aircraft took off from its base. The two first operations TOMCOD 13 and PRINCESS were successful (a probable dispatch of leaflets). The third one called MISTRAL 3 concerned Saint-Sauvier and looked risky. The plane flew over the area twice without seeing any lights because the weather was extremely bad.
Saint-Sauvier on the ground: At about 03:00 hrs. the wind rises. Towards ten past 3 our attention is attracted by the roaring of some aircraft engines, we are sure it comes from a Halifax (4).
On the plane: on the third run-in, at a very low height, the signal lights were spotted.
On the drop-zone: We identify ourselves by the Morse Code thanks to an electric torch: number 7. The answer appears under a wing of the plane. We can see the chutes falling from the sky. The thunderstorm breaks out, there’s a flame, an engine stalls, and the plane flies above our heads a hundred feet high at the same level as the ground lighting and Code lamp. One wing hits the top of an oaktree and crashes down. "Claude", "Clément" and "Riton" look for the plane which must be 220 yards far from them.
The storm comes on worse than ever.
"Sylvain", "Gust", "Mimile" get busy clearing out the containers and supplies.
"Riri", "Franco", "Benito" attend to the container coverings.
Right: Louis Max Lavallée
We discover the aircraft: 11 yards from the plane, we find one man dead [L.M. Lavallée] then two others seriously injured [S.F. Hathaway and E.A. Allen] and a last one slightly wounded [D.G. Patterson].
Inside the craft, we can see three airmen: two of them are keeping destroying the dashboard, the other is unrolling a match. We snatch the roll out of his hands (a match to set fire to the Halifax). We come back to the severely wounded men and bring them under the wing of the plane, a shelter against the storm, then we protect them with their parachutes.
We fold the dead man in his parachute and leave him under the other wing.
The slightly injured airman is driven in "Riton"’s car which is waiting 330 yards from here.
We walk towards the three safe men [in fact four men]. All of us perforate the tanks.
Around 05:00 hrs, "Claude", "Sylvain" and the three airmen [R.O. Hunter, T.J. Kanakos and R.W. Paulin] leave the place to go towards Montluçon via Archignat, Huriel.
At about 05:45 hrs, accompanied by "Riton", we walk towards his car and leave for Montluçon, through Mesples, Chambérat, La Chapelaude, with the slighted wounded chap.
On crossing Chambérat, we meet a German escort composed of two dispatch riders, three small cars and lorries. They are driving towards SaintSauvier (yet, the Germans will be warned only after half past 6 by the French police and will arrive after the policemen ).
On our way, we learn the slightly injured man’s identity: David Patterson, 20 years old. This one lets us know the dead man is his flight captain named Lavallée. Patterson [with D. Crome] is driven to "Clément"’s home to be nursed. "Clément" brings him to Doctor Louis Contamine’s consultingroom and they come back to Championnet Street in Montluçon towards Patterson.
The three safe airmen are turned over by "Claude" [and D. Crome by "Riton"] to the Resistance member Lépine [Lucien Lépine from Domérat] who leads them to a farm at Ayatsur Sioule, near Menat bridge.
The fallen supplies are carried to a wood on the road leading from SaintSauvier to Treignat [Sugères Wood].
The container coverings are dropped (thrown) into La Romagère pool (5).
Above: The crashed Halifax DK119 – Photo from Pierrot Casiali – J.L. Duneaud’s family archives.
S.F. Hathaway suffers from breakings on his hips and legs and wounds on his head. E.A. Allen has got injured legs. Because they can’t be moved, the Resistance men agree to leave them on the spot to be taken in charge by the authorities. "Riri" gave them a glass of rum to buck them up.
At La Brieux, when she heard the dreadful noise of the crash without knowing what had happened, Mrs Chekhir called Jeanine Bourmaud. Jeanine says (6): « We got up, dressed quickly and went out of the house. As wewere passing through the gate of the field, there was an armed man who told us «get back, you’ve got nothing to do here». So, we went back home and waited for him to disappear as well as the vehicles.
Left: shoulder insigna and badge from L.M. Lavallée’s chest.
After Jeanine’s evidence they will attain the crash spot at dawn, for the day was just rising: The hedge was flattened, we reached the place through the end of the field and discovered a tree rather highly headed down. There was an airman, here, dead, and two injured other people. One of them was soaked and bespattered with mud, he was young and fairhaired [Stan Hathaway]. Taking water from a pan, we washed his face and hands, and gave him some coffee. The wounded man gave us to understand in English that the plane had to be destroyed and burnt. But the petrol from the plane was flowing under him and we shook our heads to show him that was impossible, otherwise, he would die - burnt alive. We also took care of the other injured man but I can’t remember very well what he looked like Jeanine says.
Between a quarter to six and half past six a.m. Mr Chekir back from his guard on the railways hurried to inform the mayor Mr Dagois, who lived in Peumant, about the accident while the two ladies were still trying to care for the wounded airmen. The mayor phoned the Police towards half past six and the German and French authorities were warned without any loss of time (7).
Right: David Gordon Patterson - courtesy Keith Paulin
At about 07:00 hrs while the two ladies from La Brieux were busy with the wounded men, the policemen arrived and asked Dr Roguet from Treignat to tend them. On coming, this one administered both of them an injection of morphia. Then, the German authorities appeared soon after the Police, that is less than an hour later according to Jeanine Bourmaud, while Dr Roguet was still busy looking after the injured men which was not much to their taste. On their arrival, they made everybody understand the place had to be cleared out and they bolted the access to the site of the crash. The doctor pointed out that, according to the seriousness of their injuries, the men had to be driven to the hospital. On the Germans’ order, S.F. Hathaway and E.A. Allen were brought to the infirmary of the Richemont barracks in Montluçon, the occupation troops’ garrison.
Concerning their support, the police report describes it like this; After the policemen’s first aid, the two injured airmen were taken by the German authorities on their transferring to the military hospital in Montluçon »8 That may suggest the Germans looked after the wounded men when the Police were about to drive them to hospital in Montluçon! According to the policemen, the German soldiers went on guard of the plane instead of them towards half past ten a.m.
Later in the morning, the searches settled by about twenty noncommissioned officers and policemen from Montluçon led to a discovery in La Romagère pool; two cylindrical safes 5 feet high and 15 inches in diameter, seeming to have been loaded with weapons, ammunition, explosives and various other supplies (9). Those safes were empty containers that the Resistance men had not completely dipped into La Romagère pool. They were salvaged by the Germans thanks to the rubber dinghy from the English aircraft. Reckoning the pool could shelter some other warmaterial, it was emptied under the joint policemen and German soldiers’ watch.
With the help of policemen from Montluçon and Saint-Amand-Montrond (that means forty people) the German soldiers looked for evaded airmen (the police report says "parachuted") and weapons because one of the wounded chaps had mentioned the number of crew members. They arranged searches, patrolled the area, asked the inhabitants and rummaged over houses, particularly Mr Chekir’s several times.
Left: Tass Joe Kanakos courtesy Keith Paulin.
Near the pool, an inquisitive man holding a camera, Jean Dutheil, a student from the Clermont Ferrand University of Chemistry, whose parents were living in La Vierne, a hamlet nearby, was impressed to recover the other containers in the pool (10). In the afternoon, the water level had already lowered when Jean Dutheil was compelled to draw the containers out with a rop (11). La Romagère pool was emptied until the end of July 24th.
The record from the Allier Intelligence Officers’ Service12 also states very precisely about the crash. They appoint it near 20 past 3 a.m., the craft identification number is 57042 S.D.P.D. The plane tore the wires from an electric line four hundred and forty yards forward on the east of La Brieux. They precise; Then, because of a probable loss of speed, the pilot tried to land after he had rolled 440 yards in a cornfield but seeing a cluster of elmtrees in front, he likely tried to avoid it. The control must have proved unsuccessful. After a slew round, the plane came down and crashed.
The four engines were completely pulled away. Their cavities were registered DK119. The central cabin only is undamaged [the safe airmen’s place]. This cabin contained eight seats, those on the right being still protected with thick movable felt.
On the place, there was an Englishmarked receivingset, a "Warning" standard model with these particulars: R.3003.10.B/2 and the inside of which was fully burnt and spoilt [probably by the crew’s sabotage].
One member of the crew was found dead on the ground. On his shoulderstrap it was indicated Canada and on his chest, there were a wing and a wheel with the letters AG in the middle.
One of the nonused parachutes was among the scattered wreckage, folded inside a brownnetted fairing. It was numbered 9257, dated December 8th 1939 and wore the initials T.J. [perhaps Tass Joe Kanakos] and the words "King’s of Flying".
The German airmen officers who had come to the place had it cleared and forbade any other investigation... ». The Chief Constable from the Intelligence Service, prevented from searching, went and questionned the witnesses near La Brieux. His report also tells the containers were pulled out of the water by the Germans who used the rubber dinghy to bring them on to the edge of the pool : « four cylindrical tubes 27 inches long 14 inches in diameter, green and spotted with yellow, respectively numbered 4012 4015 – 4017 – 4018. One end of each tube was closed with an expanded waterproofed cloth with yellow eyeletholes. The other end was supplied with a grey rubber shockabsorber about 2 inches thick. Those tubes were some kinds of cases which could be tightclosed, with 3 loops fitted on springs.
Moreover, there were two cylindrical boxes 17 inches high, 14 inches in diameter of a darker green. They were registered VI_10580 and V_35146 and closed both ends with bungs seeming to work like shockabsorbers. All these tubes and boxes were empty.
Cause of the crash
The English (13) official answer is given in the report of the « Operations Record Books » of the 161 st Squadron : « Loss of control when flying low, possibly owing to engine failure ». The crash is described this way : « The flight was made at 10001500 feet. No defences were encountered and two missions were successfully completed. Approaching the third and last target, heavy cloud was encountered. The pilot throttled back and put the nose down to cross the release point at 300-400 feet. No flap was used and the load was released at in I.A.S. [Indicated Air Speed] of about 140.
Right: Donald A. Crome courtesy Keith Paulin.
The aircraft swung violently to the left immediately after the load was released. The pilot corrected the swing and then opened the trottles to the gate to gain speed and height. The aircraft immediately began to vibrate so violently that the Pilot was obliged to hold the throttle levers in place and was therefore unable to make any attempt to close the bomb doors. Suddenly the aircraft began to lose height and became very difficult to hold straight and level. It hit the ground in a cornfield, still with throttles fully open and bomb doors open, collided with a tree and was completely broken up. The place of the crash was Saint-Sauvier, 15 miles west of Montluçon.
The nose of the Halifax was badly broken in, the fuselage broke in two just after the rearspar and all the engines were thrown clear, the two starboard engines being seen some 1020 feet in front of the other wreckage. A considerable amount of petrol was scattered, but no fire ensued. The rear gunner is believed to have been thrown out of the turret at the crash and was killed [Louis Max Lavallée]. The navigator was badly wounded in the legs by broken metalwork [Stanley Francis Hathaway] and Sgt Allen was also injured about the legs. The Bomb Aimer [David Gordon Patterson], in the nose of the aircraft, appears to have been the only member of the crew prepared for the crash ; he covered his head with his arms and received only a cut on the head. The remaining four members of the crew were injured and, with the Bomb Aimer, were able to escape from the wreckage and to extricate their injured companions. Sgt Allen was unconscious when reached and was thought to have been overcome by petrol fumes. Both he and Sgt Hathaway appeared to be in a serious condition.
At the onset of the trouble, the crew were all intent on the performance of their mission and no good evidence is available to throw light on the defect which developed. The Pilot thinks it likely that the port outer engine, for which no boost indication had been available throughout the flight, must have cut. Observers on the ground saw a flash from a starboard engine, but it may well have occurred when the throttles were opened. It seems probable that one or more of the engines did lose power and that the aircraft was too close to the ground for the Pilot to diagnose the cause and apply a remedy ».
Nota Bene : To respect the crew’s memory and because the place where their aircraft fell must be protected from wild searches as much as possible, we willingly hid the very spot of the crash.
What has become of the airmen?
Louis Max Lavallée’s funeral
Louis Max Lavallée’s corpse was driven to the hospital mortuary in Montluçon. On the twentyfourth of July, at five p.m., the procession composed of German soldiers presenting arms, as well as a Swiss special representative and French policemen preserving order made way to the Eastern cemetery. Some indiscretions, spreaded around by the local Resistance, allowed the date and hour of funeral to be known, so that the procession was much crowded as soon as it left the hospital.
Above and below: Louis Max Lavallée’s funeral – Montluçon (Allier) July 24th 1943.
Kept aloof by the Police, these people noisily objected to their impossibility of following the coffin and leaving the numberless flowers they had brought; the wreath from the German authorities was the only one authorized. "La Marseillaise" could be heard from far, then on approaching the cemetery, many people who had come through byroads began to sing songs as the coffin was going by. Just after the German delegation had passed through the cemetery gates, these were closed to the crowd. During the Germans’ staying, people sang "La Marche Lorraine" but kept calm. As the delegation was leaving, there was a password : « Let’s turn our backs not to see them and keep quiet until they go ».
At this time a lady’s voice started singing "La Marseillaise" again and the crowd outburst of agreement without hostility. The senior German officer ordered his troop to stop and they fired a volley of shots into the air. The crowd, surprised, gave up talking and many people escaped. Irritated by the shots, the people began to sing again. After the German delegation had left the place, people took possession of the cemetery without any noise. A young lady pulled the German wreath with a swastika away from the grave. It was stamped and finally thrown over the cemetery wall14. A young orator started speaking and delivered the following speech: « Homage to our friend from the Royal Air Force fallen on our ground occupied by the enemy, for the world liberty; by paying homage to our allied friend, a Canadian airman that we consider as a Frenchman, we salute here all those who fight for freedom. He was only one of them and we only refer to one of them.
Alive yesterday, he took part in the war, our war, on our side... Now dead, we will remember him as the symbol of engagement, the genuine kind of soldier who knew he could sacrifice for a noble motive. He is and will remain unknown, but he will have cherished the highest ideal, the ideal of liberty. Signed : The young people from Montluçon on behalf of the whole French youth (15).
Left: Raymond O. Hunter courtesy Keith Paulin
On the day after the funeral, "Clément" the assistant to the chief of the droppingzone, displayed a cushion of flowers on the grave in the receiving team’s name. There was a tricoloured ribbon pinned on it with this motto: « His friends from France ». One of "Clément" ’s colleagues from the Police station of Montluçon wrote a report against the one who had left these flowers (16).
Louis Max Lavallée was twenty three years old and was probably promoted a Pilot Officer after death because the crew’s escape reports entitle him as a Flight Sergeant. He was the son of Francis Octave Lavallée and Léonie Alphonsine Duvernois from Vancouver (British Columbia) Canada. His mother Léonie Duvernois was born French at Verrières (Puy-de-Dôme) near SaintNectaire. She came to her son’s grave in Montluçon and to the commemorative stele which was erected in 1946 at Saint-Sauvier near the crashsite.
In 1952, Louis Max Lavallée’s corpse was disinterred from his grave in Montluçon and removed to the Commonwealth military Cemetery of Choloy-Menillot (Meurthe-et-Moselle) grave 3F15. In 2001 the inauguration of the Square Louis Max Lavallée at Saint-Sauvier gathered all those who wanted to respect and honour the Flight Officer Lavallée’s memory with his family, some veterans and authorities.
The injured airmen.
Stanley Francis Hathaway and Edward Arthur Allen, seriously injured were led from the crash spot to the infirmary of the Richemont Barracks, which were the German troops’ garrison, and were finally driven to Clermont Ferrand Hospital (Puy-de-Dôme) by the Luftwaffe. We ignore who drove them to the Richemont Barracks, wether policemen or German soldiers.
Above left: L.M. Lavallée’s memorial at SaintSauvier (Allier) – A. Godignon’s photograph Right: L.M. Lavallée’s grave in CholoyMenilhot – M. Auburtin’s photograph
Edward Arthur Allen
According to written documents, E.A. Allen was thought to have deceased in a French hospital for long. Such a piece of news was to be found in the escape reports (17) of the four safe airmen when they went back to England. After his staying in Clermont-Ferrand hospital until August 1st 1943, E.A. Allen went to another hospital in Paris where he remained until October 27th 1943. From October 28th 1943 to November 2nd 1943, he was questioned in the "Dulag Luft" camp (an acronym of Durchganslager of the Luftwaffe), at Oberursel near Frankfurt in Germany. This was a transit camp for airmen prisoners and the main collecting point of information to be gathered when questioning the allied prisoners of war. Then he was transferred to Stalag IVB in Mühlberg (Germany) on November 4th 1943. That camp was released by the Russian Army on April 23rd 1945 (18). Edward Arthur Allen was born on November 3rd 1921 at Morden in Surrey county South of London. He married Cissie M. Beeching (or Buching) in 1941 and Florence M. Gaster in 1951, both times in the Wandsworth district (London (19).
Stanley Francis Hathaway
When he felt better, he was transported from Clermont-Ferrand by train on a stretcher as far as a hospital in Obermasfeld (Germany), then to a camp for Prisoners of war. S.F. Hathaway was kept prisoner at Heydekrug (nowadays Siluté in Lithuania), then at Thorn (now called Torun) in Poland and finally at Fallingbostel (Germany) in Stalag 357. In April 1945, facing the advanced post of the Allied Forces, the Germans asked the prisoners to walk southwards. With two other prisoners, "Stan" took advantage of a road bend to escape. They succeeded to avoid the guard dogs patrolling around.
Left: Sgt. Stanley Francis Hathaway Courtesy BBC Peopleswar
After a week or so, hiding in forests in broad daylight and moving at night, they reached a place close to the British army’s fighting area and were finally picked up by the 7th Hussars near the Weser River. S.F. Hathaway returned to England by the end of April 1945 in time to celebrate his birthday on May 20. Stanley Hathaway came to Saint-Sauvier and mourned on L.M. Lavallée’s stele in 1994, one year after the fiftieth birthday of the crash was commemorated and he came back in 2005 after the Square Louis Max Lavallée was inaugurated. So, in 1994, a memorial service took place at Saint-Sauvier. Old Mrs Bourmaud was living here. She told René Chambareau that her daughter had taken care of the wounded airmen. Jeanine Bourmaud entered into a phone conversation with René Chambareau who translated it to Stanley Hathaway. The latter, wanting to make sure on Jeanine’s sincerity, asked her: « Which of my legs was injured by the wreckage of the plane? ». Jeanine answered: « Your left one on level of your thigh ». Stan approved and felt very glad to have met somebody who had attended him. He promised to send her a letter. In October 1994, Jeanine received a pathetic mail in French. Stanley thanked Jeanine above all, but the inhabitants of Saint-Sauvier were also much concerned.
Above: E.A. Allen’s and S.F. Hathaway’s routes
David Gordon Patterson
D.G. Patterson’s escape report (21) full of information and details has the best of being written on August 25th 1943 when he returned to England, that is one month after the crash. Writing about this crash, he mentioned; Flight Sergeant Lavallée was killed and Sgts. Hathaway and Allen were badly injured. I hurt my left arm and head.
The aircraft was very badly damaged. We got Hathaway out of it, but he was in too great agony to be moved more than a few yards, and because of his proximity to the aircraft we could not set it on fire.
Right: David Gordon Patterson - courtesy Keith Paulin
Sgt. Crome and I decided immediately to try to get help for Sgt's. Hathaway and Allen. After crossing a field, we met two Frenchmen (René Degrève and Camille Rougeron) (22). I can speak a little French, and I asked them where we were, and whether they could help us. They were most helpful and said they would arrange to bring a car to the spot in a very short time. In due course, this car arrived and left some of our helpers with Hathaway, Allen and the dead body of Lavallée, the remainder of us entered it and were driven to Montluçon. Here the car stopped and Crome took me into a house indicated to him by a helper [Camille Rougeron’s home Championnet Street to Montluçon]. Then, he got back into the car, and I saw no more of him, nor of any of the other members of the crew, though I later heard that Crome, Paulin, Kanakos and Hunter were hiding in safe hands in another district.
I was put to bed, and a doctor was brought attend to me. Later I was moved elsewhere.
From this point, my subsequent journey was arranged for me. As a witness, C. Rougeron did not mention Crome’s coming to his home. Even if the cars drove different ways to Montluçon, two possibilities can be considered:
If D. Crome was in "Claude" ’s car the vehicles were to meet at C. Rougeron’s home
If D. Crome was in "Riton" ’s car with Patterson and C. Rougeron, he was driven to Lepine’s house at Domérat to join the three other airmen from the other vehicle. This last supposition looks the most probable.
D.G. Patterson stayed at "Clément" ’s home where he was attended and daily looked after by Doctor Contamine. Here is what he says about his staying at Mr and Mrs Rougeron’s: « The house to which I was taken in Montluçon (G.S.G.S. [Geographical Section General Staff] 2738, France, 1:250 000 Sheet 22) on the morning of 23 July 43 was occupied by Mr and Mrs Rougeron. I do not know the address. Mr Rougeron was about 30 and his wife about 25. Both seemed to be members of some organisation. He had arms, some food and some parachute material at home.
Telegram from Robert Oaulin. 18th November 1943 - Document by Keith Paulin
Left: Robert W. Paulin courtesy Keith Paulin.
Here I was put to bed and a doctor was brought to attend to me. Later, I was given some civilian clothes but I retained my R.A.F. issue boots. I remained here until the night of 26 July, when my hosts had reason to expect a police search. Mr Rougeron therefore destroyed a number of his illegal possessions, hid others, and removed me to the house of a friend living at 16 Avenue des Etourneaux, not far from his own. I don’t know the name of this friend, but he was a man between 30 and 40, and owned a shop stocked with general merchandis. This friend is Mr Maurice Germain and D.G. Patterson stayed at his home for a few days. Maurice Germain was working for the Resistance and usually held a small pistol on him (23). The situation was awkward at the Germans’ ; the children were forbidden to get into their parents’ room, the one where the airman was living, they owned a grocery at their home and three other lodgers were also living in the large house. Patterson went out through the garden at the back of the house, then crossed the Saint-Paul cemetery contiguous to the ground. Patterson goes on like this: « On 27 July, my new helper took me to a doctor who Xrayed my left arm. The next day, 28 July, I was told that I was going to join the remainder of my crew. At about 14:30 hrs Rougeron and a man called "Claude" [René Degrève] met me. "Claude" was aged about 40 and could not speak English. He appeared to be a local chief of some organisation. We walked to a rendezvous in the town and were picked up by a car which took us to a Mr Aimé Chicois’s house in Argenty [Allier]. This man aged between 20 and 30, was a tailor and a keen amateur wireless enthusiast. Here my helpers heard that the hiding place of the rest of my crew was under surveillance by police and that in consequence, they had to move elsewhere. My helpers, therefore left me in the charge of Mr Chicois (24).
While here I was given some more civilian clothes and was photographed. My helpers first made me out an indentitycard with my own R.A.F. photo upon it [there was such a snap in every airman’s escape case]. They were not very satisfied with this and later gave me another card bearing a print of the photograph which they had taken locally... ». It was Mrs Chicois, a town hall secretary, who realised a false identity card for him and gave him some civilian clothes. The doctor from Montluçon always came to attend him at night. D.G. Patterson pursued his reeducation by walking through Argenty, holding Mr and Mrs Chicois’s arms (25). « On the 5 Aug"Claude" told me that he would take me away the next day. On 6 Aug he came back with a car, accompanied by a young man who could speak English and had lived at some time or another in Clacton-on-Sea [England]. That afternoon, "Claude" and this man took me with them in the car and called at a number of houses. They told me that they were trying to check up on the quantities of illegal arms and ammunition held by various persons in the neighbourhood. They were apparently somewhat concerned because the supplies they had amassed of these things were becoming mysteriously depleted. Finally, we returned to a house in Montluçon where I had a meal.
That night, my helpers took me to the railway station. At 15 O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit] (Harwell) in May/June 42, I had been instructed that if I attempted evasion in France I should always carry my uniform with me. I therefore carried mine in a parcel. On our way to the station, we were stopped by French police who were apparently looking for traffic in black market goods. My parcel undoubtedly attracted attention, but fortunately they did not insist upon opening it.
A little after midnight, 6/7 Aug 43, we caught a train, and after changing at another station, arrived at Clermont-Ferrand at 0730 hrs 7 Aug. My helpers took me to a chalet on the outskirts of the town. I can’t remember my host’s name but I stayed here chiefly alone, though a woman named Josette looked after me. My helpers told me that I might meet the remainder of my crew here and also that they were believed to be safe in the hands of another organisation near Clermont-Ferrand. They added that this organisation would not reveal the precise location of their hiding place. I was likewise told that efforts would be made to take me back to England by air.
Above: Augustine and Aimé Chicois courtesy Jean Chicois.
On 9 Aug, at very short notice, one of my helpers took me to Clermont-Ferrand where he introduced me to another young Frenchman. With this man I caught a train at 1700 hrs to Lyon, where we arrived at 2230 hrs. On our way out of the station, the French police gave all the travellers from our train a small ticket valid for one hour. This may have been a permit to enable them to walk to their destination after the curfew hour. No one was required to show his identity card in order to obtain this ticket.
My helper took me to his flat, in a large building. Here he had a revolver and ammunition.
I remained here until 12 Aug 43. On this day, at 1900 hrs, my helper took me to a prearranged rendezvous, where I met a young Frenchman named Raymond, who spoke very little English Later, we were joined by a man known in England as Yves Roland but in France as "François". This man, aged between 20 and 30, had arrived in France from the UK as recently as 25 July 43. He appeared to be a prominent member of the organisation taking care of me. "François" and Raymond then took me to a house in the centre of Lyon, where I met three young French girls who appeared to be doing clerical work for "François". Next day, on 13 Aug, I was taken to a flat occupied by a woman aged about 50, who may have been a nurse. She could not speak English, and I don’t know her name or address. On 20 Aug "François" visited me and told me that I might be leaving by air on 21 Aug. On 21 Aug, he did not return but he came back on the night of 22 Aug, and took me by car to another rendezvous in Lyon. Here we picked up a Frenchman who spoke excellent English. We then motored a distance which I believe to be at least 60 miles and arrived at a place in the country about 2300 hrs. On our way a number of members of the organisation joined us, bringing with them another car and a motor lorry.
After waiting for a time, the plane which was expected from England duly arrived but it could not land because of ground mist. My helpers therefore decided to leave me nearby, in the hope that a similar plane might return the next night.
Above: D.G. Patterson’s escape route
They took me to a small country inn where I spent the night and the next day, 23 Aug. While here, I was visited by some local people who could speak English but whom I don’t believe to know anything about the activities of the organisation.
At 21:00 hrs the next day, 23 Aug, I met my helpers’ car at a prearranged rendezvous and was taken to the appointed landing place for the expected aircraft. The other car and lorry which I had seen the previous night were also in attendance. At about 03:00 hrs on 24 August an aircraft piloted by W/Cdr Hodges of my own Squadron landed without incident and took seven members of the organisation and myself abroad. It was not until we were airborne that W/Cdr Hodges learned my true identity. We arrived at Tempsford without incident later that morning ».
It was from the "Marguerite" airfield of Feillens (Ain), within the "Trojan Horse" operation that D.G. Patterson was exfiltered to England on a Hudson craft on the twentyfourth of August 194326.
A few days later, the resistance members of Saint-Sauvier heard the personal coded message from the BBC: « Pat safely arrived. Thanks to all ». By sending these settled words, D.G. Patterson let people know he was back in England.
Promoted a Flight Sergeant, D.G. Patterson, still in the 161st Squadron, flew in Halifax LL248, on the fifth of August, 1944 for a "Bob 166" operation to drop arms and liaison officers on the Honolulu dropping zone (Marne). The craft arrived above Courdemanges, Huiron and Glannes (Marne) South West of Vitryle François. Probably shot by a German fighter, the craft took fire, exploded aloft and lost height to come and crash down on Glannes parish (Marne). Seven bodies were extracted from the craft skeleton, D.G. Patterson being one of them.
Above left: Collective grave of the crew LL248 at Glannes (Marne). Right: Epitaph on the gravestone - courtesy I. and G. Van der Wende
Right: Lucien Lépine
The corpses of six allied airmen and two French passengers were buried in the local churchyard of Huiron into a collective grave. A memorial was erected in Glannes parish close to the crash site (27). Flight Sergeant David Gordon Patterson, born on the eighth of February 1922, died aged 22 on the fifth of August 1944. He was James and Mary Patterson’s son from StocktononTees in the county of Durham (England). He is buried in the collective grave number 81 in the churchyard of Huiron (Marne). Here is the epitaph in his memory: Although his grave is far away, our thoughts are with him night and day.
Lucien Lépine alias "Barbouillé" was entrusted to look after them. This one, though he was a garage keeper living in Domérat (Allier) had come back during Summer in 1942 close to the place he had grown up as a child and had gathered a team to receive parachuted loads at AyatsurSioule (PuydeDôme), more exactly in the hamlet of Les Bougets (28). The airmen kept staying here for two or three days at Mr and Mrs Alexis Berthon’s at Les Bougets. Marinette, the elder daughter was thirteen and she quite remembers their temporary presence : « Our parents did not want us to see them, they feared the children’s chatterings, I peeped at them through the keyhole. At midday, mummy sent them their meal through the cellar leaf of the "fournial" where they were retired. In the evening, they took their supper with the family. She helped them with soup, potatopie with cream and some plumtart. They used to raise two of their fingers to mean they would like another part (29).
Led by "Lieutenant Robert" (the teacher Jean Robert Lindron), the joiner Gervais Fournier and Frans Hendricks "François le Belge" they were sent to a further and safer place in a house belonging to the Resistance, still at Ayat but much more remote at La Côte de l’Âne. On the 22nd of August or so, at Gelles (PuydeDôme) they met H. Dereniuk, the airman from Halifax LK913 which crashed in Tronçais forest near Le Brethon (Allier) after the bombing raid of Montluçon Dunlop factory on September 15th and 16th 1943. During the third week of September, they were supervised by the resistance group of Marius Pireyre alias "Duranton" who made them move to a deserted house in the hamlet Chez Recusse about two miles far from Giat (PuydeDôme), with eleven Frenchmen who refused the Compulsory Labour Service. After about a week, there came Flight Lieutenant Ed Mason, Sergeant Charles Heyworth, Warrent Officer J.M. Nelmes, three other members of the crew from Halifax LK913 fell in Tronçais forest31. A fourth member of this crew, Flight Lieutenant John Murray Forman joined the group on October 8th 1943.
On October, 12th, Sergeant D. Crome left to survey, in his pilot’s quality, an eventual airdrop field near Toulouse. Two days later, he wasn’t back when the airmen R.O. Hunter, T.J. Kanakos and R.W. Paulin were driven to Clermont-Ferrand with C. Heyworth and J.M. Forman because they were in bad health. A lady, Mrs "Marianne", probably Henriette Antoine that is Mermet’s wife, and a man thought to be her husband, accompanied the five airmen on the train and led them to Angoulême (Charente) via Vichy, Gannat, Montluçon, Limoges (Haute Vienne). When they crossed the demarcation line there was an identity control on the train carried out by a German officer and a soldier. The officer questioned J.M. Forman about his card printed in 1942 which declared him deaf and dumb, like all his other colleagues. "Marianne" spoke to the German officer who left them going on their travel32, though he wasn’t convinced, and they arrived at the station in Angoulême at last.
Above: Les Bougets – AyatsurSioule (PuydeDôme) (30)
At the railwaystation of Angoulême, Jean LapeyreMensignac was responsible to welcome the group when the slow morning train arrived from Limoges. In front of the door of the refreshmentroom, he had a searching look at the passenger’s arrival, holding the newspaper Signal and one glove in his left hand, the two accessories they had agreed on. A lady approached and asked : « Where is the Town Hall Square ? ». Such was the password. He answered : « There is no square with this name ». The group was complete and did not escape notice ; the airmen’s garb was anything but incongruous. The group was to pass through the railwaystation for they had tickets and Jean LapeyreMensignac without a ticket had to walk out of the refreshmentroom. All of them would meet outside. As he was walking through the customers’ tables in the refreshmentroom, Jean LapeyreMensignac turned round and realised he was followed by the group. Too late ! Therefore, they took the forbidden way out and got outside of the station. Charles Franc alias "Le Pointu" was to be here with a car since ten o’clock a.m.
Now, he wasn’t! They separated in two parts not to attract attention: the lady with the first group and Jean LapeyreMensignac with the other one. Towards half past eleven a.m. Jean Lapeyre Mensignac met two friends "Le Parrain" (René Chabasse) and "Le Pasteur" (Guy Berger) and asked them to provide a car. It is Henri Lagarde from Javerlhac who drove the men fifteen miles far from Angoulême to Charles Franc’s house at Ronfleville in Malaville parish (Charente) inside a light motorlorry, a closed conveyance for the airmen crowded at the back. They didn’t have any free pass but possessed two revolvers. They arrived at Charles Franc’s near two o’clock p.m. having met him halfway; he hadn’t found a car earlier. Two days later, D. Crome reappeared after his expedition. He arrived in time, two Lysander aircraft were forecasted during the propitious lunar period to exfiltrate the airmen on the twentieth and twenty first nights of October, on the "Serin" ground, South of Vibrac ("Water Pistol" operation). The bad visibility in the receiving zone compelled the aircraft to give up, they had to renew the operation on the next November full moon. That wasn’t a good piece of news for Charles Heyworth who had caught a serious lung infection.
The airmen killed their time playing cards, washing and ... breaking plates and dishes. They cheered up by swallowing much Pineau. It was on the "Albatros" ground on the parish of Angeac-Charente (Charente) that the operation was decided for the November moon. Charles Heyworth was very ill. "Le Pointu" and Jean Lapeyre Mensignac took him to Dr Bonnaud’s at Segonzac for him to have an X.Ray. A pleurisy was diagnosed. The London BBC made a new announcement on the tenth and then sent a personal message on the twelfth: « The seabird will take wing tonight » but the operation did not take place. Finally, the message was broadcasted again on the fourteenth. The airmen Forman, Hunter, Crome, Paulin, Kanakos, with Léon Nautin alias "Clo", alias "Sol", alias "Avocat" were driven on the 15th night to the landing ground in two cars. Heyworth was driven apart because he was ill33. The first Lysander aircraft, piloted by Flying Officer J.M. Mac Bride, took off from England at twentyfive past nine p.m.. It landed at half past one a.m., laid two passengers nd some parcels, embarked four people,"Clo" and three airmen, then left the ground again at twenty-five to two a.m.. Following some technical problems, the second Lysander aircraft left at only ten past ten p.m., piloted by Flying Officer J.R.G. Bathgate. It landed at twenty three past one a.m., laid two passengers and several parcels. It took off again at twenty-eight past one with three passengers34, Charles Heyworth being one of them (35).
Landed from the two Lysander planes, the passengers mentioned above were :
Colonel Claude Bonnier alias "Hypothénuse", a famous Resistance member, a mission leader of the London BCRA, named to serve as the Regional Military Representative in Zone B South West.
Capitaine Jacques Nancy alias "Sape", alias "Frégate", alias "Lavigne", chief saboteur responsible in Zone B.
Above:Courtesey Frenche Resistance
André Desgranges alias "Maréchal".
André Charlot alias "André Roche", alias "Diacre"(36).
When the Lysander aircraft arrived at the RAF base of Tangmere in West Sussex (England) it was five o’clock a.m. Charles Heyworth was brought to the hospital, but it was too late, he died on November 25th 1943, aged twenty six. Charles Heyworth’s ashes are kept in Brighton Borough Crematorium (Woodvale) second panel (37). Promoted a Pilot Officer, Charles Heyworth, Royal Canadian Air Force n° 157454 from the 428th Squadron, was the son of Peter Charles Heyworth and Margaret Elizabeth Heyworth from Saint-Anneson Sea (Lancashire) and Vera Elsie Heyworth’s husband from Saint-Anneson Sea (38). He was a flight engineer on Halifax LK913 which crashed at La Bouteille, in Tronçais forest parish of Le Brethon, (Allier) on September 15th 1943.
Above: Allied airmen retreated with the "Duranton" Resistance members, near Giat (PuydeDôme) – front row, kneeling down, from left to right : R.W. Paulin, J. Nelmes, R.O. Hunter – Back row, standing up : D. Crome, Ed Mason, T.J. Kanakos, Ch. Heyworth. courtesy Robert Body.
What about the other airmen?
Raymond Orville Hunter
He was promoted a Warrant Flying Officer on February 10th 1944 and assigned to the 424th Squadron.
On October 9th 1944, his Halifax MZ802 named "Gerty" belonged to the 209 bombers from n°6 Group sent to shell Bochum (Germany). Among all these aircrafts, three were shot down, "Gerty" was one of them. The pilot W/ C G.A. Roy and five of the six other members of the crew survived and were captured (39). The sixth member, dead, was Raymond Orville Hunter. He was buried in the military cemetary of Rheinberg (Nordrhein Westfalen, Germany) grave 2H25 (40).
Flight Officer Raymond Orville
Hunter, an engineer belonging to the Royal Canadian Air Force n°C/85347 in the 424th Squadron, born on April 29th 1920 was the son of Harvey Llewellyn and Sue Muriel Hunter from Hazenmore in Saskatchewan (Canada). When enlisted on May 20th 1941, he was a farmer. He married Nora Ward Shields in Durham county (United Kingdom) on December 4th 1943. A son was born in April 1945 (41).
Tass Joe Kanakos
He was born on January 16th 1920 and worked as a lorry driver when he was engaged in the Royal Canadian Air Force on November 19th 1941. He lived in Toronto (Canada). Tass Joe Kanakos was discharged in Toronto in September, 1945. Later, he set up his own auto parts business, married Vivian Pavlis on February 5th 1948, had two sons and six grandchildren (42). He came and mourned on L.M. Lavallée’smemorial in 1995 at Saint-Sauvier and also revisited the hiding places where he had lived at AyatsurSioule.
Robert William Paulin
Robert W. Paulin, born on April 28th 1922 was a workman when he entered the Royal Air Force in October 1941. He lived in Bucklebury Slade, Bucks in England. When he came back in November 1943, Robert William Paulin didn’t take part in any other mission and was assigned to various tasks of formation for wireless operators. He married on July 28th 1945 Norah Isobell called Betty whom he met when she was the friend of his sister Joan at the Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory in Reading, just before the beginning of war. Two children were born: Christine and Keith. Robert died on January 9th 2003, aged eighty (43).
Born on May 7th 1922, he was a salesman before he was enlisted in the R.A.F. in May 1941. He lived in Sands, High Wycombe (England). He was promoted a Flight Officer, then he received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) when he belonged to the 514th Squadron number 45014744.
After the end of war, the English authorities considered it was their duty to list all the helpers on their theatre of operations reckoning with the names quoted in escape reports. They wanted to give them a proof of their gratitude and wished to indemnify the families touched by the death or deportation of a relative who had helped the airmen. Concerning the crash at Saint-Sauvier, a number of helpers are named on site here (visited in 2022) which refers to the news from the British archives available here. Mr and Mrs Camille Rougeron, Aimé Chicois, Marius Pireyre.
Let us honour these men and women who worked to promote another idea of France at the risk of their lives.
Shall we end this paper by translating this magnificent and so grateful letter written in French to Jeanine Bourmaud by Stan Hathaway on October 14th 1994 to thank her :
My dear Mrs Bourmeau.
That was a long time ago and for such a short period that we were together in July, 1943, but I have never forgotten it as well as the kindness and good welcome I was given. I was wondering how to tell these friends my gratitude when last Sunday with my wife Ket we heard a badly fitted song at church which may prove my thankfulness to all of them and to all the inhabitants of Saint-Sauvier. I will meet you all again one day, soon. Great thanks to René Chambareau who gathered us for the second time.
Shall we end this paper by translating this magnificent and so grateful letter written in French to Jeanine Bourmaud by Stan Hathaway on October 14th 1994 to thank her :
The church hymn:
When I needed a friend,
You were here.When I was very thirsty,
You were here.
I was cold, I was drenched,
I was muddy, You were here.
When I needed a shelter,
You were here.
When I needed a doctor,
You were here.
I need knowing where you go travelling,
I will be here.
Faith, language and name
Are not important.
I will be here.
God bless you.
Your Stan Hathaway.
Let us also have a thought for René Chambareau who did so much for the knowledge of that crash and took part in the organisation of some memorial ceremonies at Saint-Sauvier.
Right: René Chambareau
P/O. Louis Max Lavallée. Choloy War Cemetery. Grave 3.F.15. Son of Francis Octave (died 08th December 1955, age 60) and of Leonie/Ninette (née Duvernois - died in 1972, age 76) Lavallée of East 61st Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Epitaph: 'Fils Bien-Aime De F.O. Et Leonie Lavallee, Vancouver, Canada. R.I.P.'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Alain Godignon. Translation by Madeleine Roilette, thanks also to Ralph Snape for correction of RCAF brevet.
Other sources as quoted below:
(1) A letter as an evidence from Camille Rougeron to René Chambareau on July 31st 1985.
(2) Prefatory note : the details between brackets [ ] along the actors’ accounts have been added by the writer of article.
(3) BBC Poples War
(4) Camille Rougeron’s letter quoted above.
(5) Camille Rougeron’s letter quoted above.
(6) Oral evidence from Jeanine Bourmaud who was fifteen at the time and was under the Chekir couple’s responsibility.
(7) Report n°37/4 on July 23 rd 1943 from Sergeant Major Salmanad, provisional chief of Montluçon policemen « Allier Departement » Archives996W German occupation.
(8) Police report quoted above.
(9) Police report quoted above.
(10) AFMD Allier – Mémorial GenWeb
(11) Jean Chauchet’s evidence – Chambérat (Allier).
(12) Report n°4791, dated 23/07/1943, written by the chief of Allier Intelligence Officers’ Service, Allier Departement » Archives996W German occupation.
(13) The National Archives Kew TNA Air 27/1068
(14) From Allier Departement » Archives, 778W12.1 – German occupation – Relations with the German authorities: Report from the Police Chief of the General Intelligence Service sent to the Prefet of Allier on July 24th 1943. A crowd of about 4000 people is mentioned.
(15) © Historical Defense Service, GR 28P 2 144
(16) Written evidence from Camille Rougeron alias "Clément" on March 3rd 1993.
(17) Escape Reports: The National Archives Kew WO 208/3316/1572, 1573, 1574, 1575
(18) Allen’s personal form on web site Forces War Record
(19) Website here:
(20 )From Stephen Hathaway
(21) Escape report : The National Archives Kew WO 208/3314/1368
(22) Warning: the informations between brackets [ ] in the actors’ accounts have been added by the author.
(23) Evidence from his daughter Odette Durin born Germain, eleven years at the time, and Dr Billaud’s goddaughter.
(24) Aimé Chicois was the chief of the team in charge of receiving the parachuted loads on TeilletArgenty (Allier). He had a laboratory to print photographs.
(25) Julien Anciaux’s evidence in the book « Et les Bourbonnais se levèrent » from André Sérézat, page 223.
(26) Website here from Pierre Tillet
(27) France crashes account of the crash this website Stele on here
(28) The resistance group of AyatsurSioule was officially created on December 27th 1942. Hugues Chabassiere’s evidence, Amicale of ancient members and friends of Resistance Zone 13.
(29) Account of Mrs Marinette Bonnet born Berthon at AyatsurSioule. The "fournial" was the place with the oven to bake bread in, the straw baskets to rise the dough and a few bundles of firewood to heat the oven.
(30) The Berthons’ farm on the left and the "fournial" on the right with its small cellar window down the ground to send meals to the airmen – Photo from A Godignon.
(31) France crashes RAF Evaders from Oliver CluttonBrock pages 239 to 241
(32) RAF Evaders » from Oliver CluttonBrock pages 239 to 241. Escape Report: The National Archives Kew WO 208/3316/1571
(33) RAF Evaders from Oliver CluttonBrock and Nous les terroristes from Marc Leproux.
(34) Reports of missions of the Lysander aircraft pilots J.M. Mac Bride and J.R.G. Bathgate.
(35) According to some different sources, Ch. Heyworth could have been brought into the Lysander on a stretcher (book : « RAF Evaders ») or he could have gone up the small aircraft ladder after an injection given by Pierre Barrère (book : « Nous les terroristes)
(36) from Pierre Tillet
(37) RAF Evaders » from O.Clutton Brocke. CWGC
(39) Galopin Gerty
(41) RAF Commands Forum
(42) This website - (visited in 2018).
(43) From Keith Paulin http://www.militarian.com/threads/louismaxlavall...
(44) RAF Commands Forum