Leur mission était de parachuter des provisions à la résistance à Coux, à 20 kilomètres de l’impact, provoquant la mort des 7 membres d’équipage (4 Anglais, 2 Australiens, 1 Canadien) qui venaient, leur parachutage réussi, d’apporter leur contribution à l’édifice de la victoire qui, inexorablement, semblait alors se dessiner.
Les sept membres d'équipage sont inhumés au cimetière militaire de Mazargues à 6 kilomètres au sud-ouest de Marseilles.
Chaque année à 11h le 16 février, une cérémonie du souvenir se déroule à la mémoire des sept aviateurs alliés au monument aux morts de Grun-Bordas (carte). Les noms de ces sept hommes figurent sur le monument de la commune sur une plaque commémorative inaugurée le 10 novembre 1996.
P/O Kevin Alphonsus ROBINSON 416641 RAAF pilote,
Sgt Ronald STUBBINGS 1577611 navigateur,
Sgt Reginald Alfred WILLIAMS 649053 mécanicien,
Sgt Gerrard CAINE 1525642 bombardier,
Sgt Arnold WHIMPENNEY 2216127 mitrailleur,
P/O James Alexander JACKSON 127619 mitrailleur,
F/S Henry Edward LAMBOURNE 421428 RAAF radio.
Discours de John Reid, partie d'un délégué britanniauqe de la Royal Air Force qui a assistait a la cérémonie le 16 février 2014 :
|2014 : commémoration du 16 février 1944|
All seven of the crew lost their lives. Mistaken by Germans troops as American airmen they were buried at the American Military Cemetery at Mazargues near Marseilles.
Each year on the 16th February they are remembered by locals, family members and a delegation from the RAF association based in the South West of France. The commemoration takes place at 11 am at the Monument aux Morts situated near the church at Grun-Bordas. In 1996 a plaque was added to the monument in their memory.
The seven members of the allied crew who lost their lives during the mission :
RAAF 416614 PO Robinson, K A Captain (Pilot) (From Porte Pirie, South Australia)
RAF Sgt R A Williams, (Flight Engineer) (From Tottenham, England))
RAF Sgt R Stubbings, (Navigator) (From Yorkshire, England))
RAF Sgt G Caine, (Air Bomber) (From Barrow in Lancashire, England)
RAAF 421428 Flt Sgt H E Lambourne, (Wireless Air Gunner) (From New South Wales, Australia)
RAF PO Jackson, J A (Mid Upper Gunner) (From Canada)
RAF Sgt A Whimpenney, (Rear Gunner) (From Manchester, England)
|Equipage du Stirling EF271 / Crew of Stirling EF271|
Arnold Whimpenney Reginald Williams James Alexander Jackson Henry Lambourne
Ronald Stubbings Kevin Robinson Gerrard Caine
Below is a translation of the poignant speech made by John Reid, member of the South West France Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association who took part in the commemoration on the 16th February 2014 :
Mr Reid would be happy to receive any further information on Sgt Gerrard Caine. His e-mail address is : email@example.com
|Grave stones of the crew at the cemetery at Mazargues near Marseilles|
|Photo : P. Truchassout|
|Photo : P. Truchassout|
Monday 16th February was the 71st anniversary of the loss of RAF Stirling EF271 with all her
crew near the village of Grun-Bordas in the Dordogne department in SW France.
The aircraft had left RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk the previous evening, and had dropped
supplies to resistance fighters further south, and it is probable that it was shot down by a
German night fighter.
The crew were actually buried by the Germans in a cemetery in Marseille, as they believed
them to be Americans. However a plaque added to the memorial to the war dead of Grun-
Bordas is a testament to the high regard the local French people have for these men who gave
their lives supporting them.
The crew were:
RAAF 416614 PO Robinson, K A Captain (Pilot)
RAF Sgt R A Williams, (Flight Engineer)
RAF Sgt R Stubbings, (Navigator)
RAF Sgt G Caine, (Air Bomber)
RAAF 421428 Flt Sgt H E Lambourne, (Wireless Air Gunner)
RAF PO Jackson, J A (Mid Upper Gunner)
RAF Sgt A Whimpenney, (Rear Gunner)
Their ages varied from 28 to 20 years old.
Each year a ceremony is held to honour these young men. This is led by local French
veterans, and this year the local SW France branch of the Royal Air Forces Association was
invited to attend. Two wreaths were laid, one on behalf of the Association by Pamela Curtis-
Jones, the other on behalf of the RAF and the Defence Attaché in Paris by David Clifton.
John Reid, also from the Association had attended the ceremony last year, and discovered
that Sgt Caine was from his home town of Barrow in Furness. An article in the Barrow
newspaper put him in contact with Sgt Caine’s sister and nephew, and he was able to read out
a message from them thanking the villagers for their dedication and the remembrance
Bouquets were also laid at the memorial by a French school girl and the French veterans
association. There were brief speeches; national anthems and the haunting resistance anthem
When everyone gathered for the “vin d’honneur” in the village hall an elderly lady was
introduced who is 91 and she and her husband aged 94 actually witnessed the aircraft crash in
Pilot Officer Robinson, the pilot, was from Port Pirie in Australia, and the son of John and Annie Robinson. I believe that some of his relatives have already been to the village and seen the memorial. If these or any other relatives would like more information please contact me via RAF Association Sud-Ouest Branch (lien).
It was an honour to attend this ceremony, as it is with the many other similar
commemorations that the French have all over France.
Further reading / A lire également :
Temoignage : Fernand Sabouret se souvient de la chute de l'avion allié (lien/link)