Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron, 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S., and Fred Davies, a veteran of the Second World War, gathered in Belgium on September 15 to remember the crew of a Halifax bomber that was shot down in 1943.
Mr. Davies, 89, was a member of 405 Squadron during the war.
They participated in the dedication of a memorial in Saint-Hubert, Belgium, honouring the crew of the bomber that was shot down over nearby Arwenne on August 10, 1943. They were joined by Canadian and Belgian dignitaries, as well as members of the local community who had spearheaded the memorial.
The Halifax, number HR 872 from 405 “Pathfinder” Squadron, based at Gransden Lodge, U.K., was taking part in a bombing run over Mannheim, Germany. It was shot down by a twin-engined Messerschmitt 110F-4, piloted by Luftwaffe Leutnant Norbert Pietrek.
The memorial was a local initiative to honour the sacrifices of the crew members who were killed; six were RCAF members while the seventh was a member of the Royal Air Force. During the dedication, the dignitaries planted a maple tree as well as some Scottish heather in honour of the RAF crewman, who was from Scotland.
Commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Adamson and squadron chief warrant officer, CWO Mario Roussel, represented the modern 405 Squadron. Brigadier-General Perry Matte, a former commanding officer of 405 Squadron who is serving in Belgium as the director strategic planning at NATO’S Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, also attended.
The downed Halifax crewmembers were:
Flight Lieutenant Kenneth MacGregor Gray, RCAF (pilot)
Flying Officer Allan John Middleton, RCAF (navigator)
Sergeant Henry King, RAF
Sergeant Douglas Allen Black, RCAF
Flight Sergeant James Henry Evans, RCAF
Flight Sergeant Charles William Pickering, RCAF
Flight Sergeant James Hanna RCAF
The crew are all buried in Florennes Communal Cemetery, located 22 kilometres southeast of Charleroi, Belgium.
Lest we forget.