LINTON CREW HONOURED IN FRANCE SEVENTY- FIVE YEARS LATER
The anniversary of the Halifax W1018 Mk II of 78 Squadron from Linton on Ouse brought down on 23 October 1942 over Montcony in Burgundy has been remembered for many years in this small village. The four Merlin engine bomber crashed close to the main road and the crew of eight were all buried in the churchyard close to a fourteenth century chateau. Also a small obelisk and photograph by the road honours the sacrifice of six British airmen and two Canadians. Two of this crew were just past 30 years and the rest barely 20 years old. Under a maple tree, symbol of the local Resistance, a bench, Yorkshire rose bush and plaque provided by Linton Parish Council are to be found near where the village school and war memorial stand.
This year two surviving veterans, one with the Legion d’Honneur attended together with MP, Euro-MP, Sous Prefect and local Mayors (principal politicians) while RAF veterans, led by a group from Switzerland and Lyon, provided the standard bearers. Flags representing the local Resistance groups were also there in large numbers. Wreaths were laid at three locations and the brass band from the nearby town of Louhans performed the Last Post and marching music. British Legion Crosses were laid on the graves by Jan, myself, and other English friends from the area.
The Linton planes were part of a large 122 plane raid that night heading for Genoa in Italy to prevent supplies reaching Rommel for his defence at the battle of El Alamein in North Africa. Chaz Bowyer in “Bomber Barons” estimates that at this time the chances of surviving a 30 mission ‘tour’ was one in three! On this ‘ice-cream’ mission over the Alps, Guy Gibson VC and Ron Middleton VC and were more lucky than W1018 on this same raid but the latter was killed on his return from Italy just over a month later on his 28th trip. Dam Buster Gibson flew 177 ‘ops’ but died over Holland as late as 19 September 1944.
Jan was entrusted with four brass items to bring back from Montcony for authentication as fuel injector parts from one of the RR Merlin engines. Elvington Air Museum has the only Handley Page Halifax Mark III reconstructed with Pegasus engines in this country and, possibly, these could go towards a Halifax Mark II.
Lest we forget: it will soon be 11th November!
Bruce Spaven -Easingwold
From an article submitted to the Easingwold Advertiser and printed in 4.11.17 edition. Posted with permission.