IN MEMORy by Pierre Vandervelden
The visit to Commonwealth graves in Communal Cemeteries & Churchyards in Belgium & France
THURE Communal Cemetery (Vienne France)
|L. to R.: L. E. Christy - R. Smellie - D. W. Best - E. L. Colley - A. A. Davey - L. A. Hall - W. J. King - A. H. Morfey - D. V. Muir - A. W. Pope - A. W. Taylor - W. F. Slater - A. S. Chapman|
|Photo Courtesy Isabelle & Guillaume van der Wende|
|Sgt Archibald William Taylor 10/08/1944
for his grandson Nick Taylor and family
|Sgt David Vallance Muir 10/08/1944
for his great grandson Derek Gibson
|P/O Elmo Foster Christy 10/08/1944
for his brother Vernon Judson Christy Sr, niece Carla Milton, nephew Vernon Elmo Christy Jr and family
Part of the crew of the Avro LAncaster ME866 PG-W
Crashed on 10/08/1944 after collision with the Lancaster LM435
|front: F/O H. J. Cleland (evaded) - Sgt Bradley
- F/Sgt R. Smellie
back: Sgt E. L. Colley - P/O E. F. Christy - Sgt A. W. Taylor - F/Sgt A. W. Pope
Mission Aug. 09/44. Bombing Run to Chatellerault France.
By a survivor of the crash
And Compiled by Vernon Elmo Christy
|On the night of the 9/10th August. 1944, I was
navigator of a Lancaster Aircraft 0f 619 Squadron of Bomber Command, captained
by Flying Officer L.D. Hall, detailed to attack the petroleum tanks at Chatellerault
in Northern France.
We arrived in the target area a few minutes after H. Hour, and found that the Pathfinder Force had not yet commenced marking the target as no flares or Target Indicators were visible. The Captain of the aircraft decided to orbit left hand as per our instructions, and we continued orbiting until the Target Indicators went down.
Immediately the Target Indicators were laid, the Captain announced that he was turning on to commence his bombing run, and no sooner had he announced this fact, than there was a terrific crashing and rending, we received the order “Stand by to abandon aircraft.” This was immediately followed by “Abandon aircraft.” I clipped on my parachute pack and made my way forward to the front escape hatch, and in passing the pilot observed that he was being assisted in putting on his parachute by the Flight Engineer, who had already put his pack in position. On arrival at the front escape hatch, I found that it had been removed, and the Bombardier had already gone. I had great difficulty in getting out of the aircraft, as it appeared to be spinning, and was assisted out of the aircraft by being pushed from the rear by some other member of the crew, whom I thought would probably be the Flight Engineer.
I landed in a cornfield, but as I had only managed to clip on the left side of the parachute pack, I had landed heavily with the right side of my body hanging down, and sustained fractures of my right ankle and leg. I crawled to the side of the field and hid my parachute, harness and a Mae West, and tried to decide what to do and make up my mind as to what had happened. I knew that I had landed not far from the aircraft, as I could see it burning a few hundred yards away, and bombs were dropping nearby, the crew probably thinking one of the tanks had gone up. I made up my mind that we had been severely damaged by flak on the port side, and that the port engines had been put out of commission, as all lights had gone out, and all radio equipment had failed.
I decided that I had better get out of the area as quickly as possible, and started to crawl away from the direction of the crashed aircraft. I soon found it was practically impossible to make reasonable progress, and decided to seek help. I waited for approximately an hour and then began to crawl towards a farmhouse which was close by. On arriving there, I found a man and told him I was a British Flyer, and asked him to help me. He immediately called several other people, and they carried me to the farmhouse. There, I gave them instructions to put a splint on my leg.
The farmer told me that two aircrafts had collided and that both had crashed only a very short distance from the farmhouse. He stated that one was about 590 yards away and the other about 300, and that the one which was farther away had been on fire.
I thought this explanation feasible, as I do not believe there was any anti-aircraft fire nearer than Poitiers, and I found I was 10 Kilometres north of the target.
The farmer told me that I could go to sleep safely, as they would look after me, and remove me to a French Hospital in the morning. I remonstrated and told them that as the aircraft were so close the Germans would come along very soon to see them. However, he assured me, I would be all right and then left me.
About 6:30 am, the farmer entered followed by some German soldiers, and I was immediately searched, and one of the Officers commenced to ask me some questions in French , which I pretended I could not understand. They wanted to know how many men were in the crew, and if I knew of there whereabouts.
Shortly afterwards the farmer looked in and said there were the remains of seven bodies in the two aircrafts. Four in one and three in the other. He started to describe the four bodies which were in the aircraft nearest the farm, and which had not caught fire. From his description, I gathered that they were the Pilot, Flight Engineer, Wireless Operator, and Rear Gunner (this would be my Uncle Elmo Christy) of my crew, and as I knew the Mid Upper Gunner, and myself were the only survivors of our crew. He also stated that the three bodies in the other aircraft were burned and could not be recognized.
Later that day the Germans, whom I knew to be members of the S.S. Grenadier Division resting after a spell in Normandy, brought in intelligence photographs of other airmen whom they stated they had taken prisoner, and among them were my Bombardier, and my Mid Upper Gunner, buy I could not recognize the others.
I laid at the farmhouse until nearly mid-day, and was removed to a Military Hospital south of Chatellerault. I was there six days, and while there was told that there were seven survivors from the two aircrafts, also that the remains of the other were being buried in Chatellerault. I was treated very well by the S.S. Doctor, but was not questioned, and on the sixth day was removed to the Hospital Beaujon in Paris, being taken there by car. I was there under German care for another short period, and then when they were scrambling to evacuate Paris, I managed with the assistance of the F.F.I. to get out of the Hospital and was under their care until the entry of the American Forces into the town. When I was removed to an American Field Hospital, and after spells with various American Army Ambulance Units I was returned to this Country.
|Some of the crew and groundsmen of ME866, Archibald Taylor is standing far left|
|The crash site|
|The farmhouse where the lone survivor stayed|
|Photos Courtesy Nick Taylor|
BEST DEREK WILFRED
United Kingdom Flying Officer (Pilot) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 50 Sqdn. Age: 21 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 175398
CHAPMAN ARTHUR STANLEY
United Kingdom Sergeant (Flt. Engr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 50 Sqdn. Age: 26 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1434611
CHRISTY ELMO FOSTER
Canadian Pilot Officer (Air Gnr.) Royal Canadian Air Force 619 (R.A.F.) Sqdn Age: 20 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: J/89086
COLLEY EDWARD LESLIE
United Kingdom Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 619 Sqdn. Age: 30 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1103799
DAVEY ALBERT ARTHUR
United Kingdom Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 50 Sqdn. Age: 19 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 3025201
HALL LAWRENCE AMBROSE
United Kingdom Flying Officer (Pilot) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 619 Sqdn. Age: 22 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 161613
KING WILLIAM JOSEPH
United Kingdom Flight Sergeant (Air Bomber) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 50 Sqdn. Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1316912
MORFEY AINSLIE HENRY
United Kingdom Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Royal Air Force 50 Sqdn. Age: 25 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 541709
MUIR DAVID VALLANCE
United Kingdom Sergeant (W. Op. /Air Gnr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 50 Sqdn. Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1670588
POPE ALBERT WILLIAM
United Kingdom Flight Sergeant (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 619 Sqdn. Age: 20 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1399489
SLATTER WILLIAM FREDERICK
United Kingdom Sergeant (Nav.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 50 Sqdn. Age: 22 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1806234
United Kingdom Flight Sergeant (Air Bomber) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 619 Sqdn. Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1670782
TAYLOR ARCHIBALD WILLIAM
United Kingdom Sergeant (Flt. Engr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 619 Sqdn. Age: 23 Date of Death: 10/08/1944 Service No: 1868950
IF You have a casualty picture, please send me a copy, I'll be glad to show it on this page.
IF You want a king size copy of this picture (300/900 ko - 2592/1944 pixels) please e-mail me.
IF You want picture of a particular grave, in this cemetery, please e-mail me.
Casualties informations come usualy from Commonwealth War Graves Commission, see links for more informations
Inmemories.com © Pierre Vandervelden - Belgium