Memorial ceremony held for Allied Bomber crew

26 October 2021

At 9am last Saturday, 23rd of October, the village of Illiers l’Evèque in the Eure department of France honoured the crew of the Halifax Bomber shot down there on the night of the 3rd June 1944.

In a very poignant ceremony, a plaque was unveiled on the town’s memorial to honour members of the bomber’s crew. There was then a ceremony at nearby St Andre’s graveyard where wreaths were laid by the Mayor of Illiers l’Evèque and the British, Canadian and American military attachés, commemorating the lives of the two members of the Halifax crew, as well as a British, an American and three Canadian servicemen buried there during World War 2.

Squadron Leader Stanley Booker MBE, awarded the Legion D'Honneur earlier this year had recorded a touching message to the attendees. Stanley is the only surviving member of the Halifax crew and was represented by members of his family and Barry Dickens, Chair of SSAFA’s Berkshire Branch who read out a message from Stanely’s daughter Pat Vinycomb.

As well as the military attachés, guests include members of the French Air Force from Évreux-Fauville Air Base, Mayors from the towns and villages in the local area as well as the local fire service, police, veterans and members of the public.

The day was organised by Jean Pierre Curato who lives in the local area: “My wife’s grandparents hid one of the gunners after the Halifax bomber crashed near our town in 1944; this inspired me to research and write a book, which led me to hear the incredible first-hand account from Squadron Leader Booker.

“It was only fitting that 75 years after the end of WW2 we held an event to commemorate the lives of those Allied servicemen who sacrificed so much. COVID has only slowed us down a little and I am honoured that so many can join together to mark these important moments in our town’s history.”

Barry Dickens, Branch Chairman of SSAFA Berkshire said: “It has been an absolute honour to represent SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity at this incredible event; remembering the Crew of the Halifax Bomber and those townspeople of Illiers l’Evèque who selflessly hid them.

“Squadron Leader Booker has told me his incredible story first-hand. In the very dark days of World War 2 these brave people are the reason we enjoy so many freedoms today.”

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