Just as a contingent from the Groupes Lourds French veterans association are attending the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday Services here at Elvington, the Museum and Memorial will be represented at an annual commemoration service held at Les Invildes, Paris, today 6th November.
Museum Director Ian Reed and his PA Sandrine Bauchet, who comes from the Nimes area of south east France, are joining Groupes Lourds and representatives of the French Air Force for the ceremony to remember the 35 airmen from RAF Elvington’s French 346 “Guyenne” Squadron who lost their lives in 5 Halifax bombers shot down on the night of 4th/5th November 1944 on a raid on Bochum, the steel producing city located deep in the heart of the Ruhr industrial area, known cynically by allied aircrews as ‘Happy Valley’.
In all, 27 aircraft from Elvington were on this raid, with “Guyenne” Squadron in the final wave, the position most vulnerable to attacking enemy fighters, so little wonder the price was so heavy. This was Commandant Puget’s longest night of his command at Elvington, and it is known that he did not rest from the moment the aircraft departed until it was clear that the 35 men, friends, were not coming back.
It is thus fitting that the Museum should be represented in the heart of Paris at this poignant ceremony to pay homage to those that gave their lives on that fateful night.
Les Invildes is the premier French Military Museum and contains the tomb of Napoleon I within the impressive dome.