6th November, 1942
Short Stirling Mk I (R9185 code HA-Y)
Lanrodec, "Hameau de Lambarquet " (22)
(contributor : Commonwealth War Graves Commission - CWGC)
Crew (218 SQN, RAF) :
- Sergeant Pilot GALBRAITH M.D. HYDE, RNZAF (Camp POW 344, n° 27495 - escaped)
- Flight Sgt (Nav./Bomber) CUMMING, ALISTER GODFREY, aged 20, RCAF Plot H. Row A. Grave 12. ST. BRIEUC WESTERN COMMUNAL CEMETERY
- Sergeant (Air Bomber) KEHL, EDWARD CARL, RCAF, Plot H. Row A. Grave 11. ST. BRIEUC WESTERN COMMUNAL CEMETERY
- Sergeant (Air Gnr.) ASHMEAD BARTLETT, RAF (Camp POW L1, n° 867 - P.O.W.)
- Sergeant (W.Op) SHERIDAN. J.J.C., RCAF (Camp POW L6, n° 907 - P.O.W.)
- Sergeant (Air Gnr.) SPRIGGS D.L., RAF Volunteer Reserve, (Camp POW L6, n° 906 - P.O.W.)
- Sergeant HARRISON E E., RAF Volunteer Reserve, (Camp POW L6, n° 884 - P.O.W.)
LANRODEC. Côtes d'Armor. Friday 6th November, 1942. 11 pm. Fall of a bomber STIRLING. Serial number IR9185. Code HA-Y.
This 218 Squadron British bomber from the Royal Air Force took off from Base Downham Market in Norfolk, East of England to drop 4 acoustic mines in the Gironde estuary. These submarine mine drop-off missions called "Gardening" took place at night.
Flying over the Bay of Saint Brieuc, it was hit by German shells fired from a trawler, fitted with anti-aircraft artillery Flak. The heavy four-engine 27 tons bomber crashed into fire on the Lande at Bony at a place called '' Le Run '', near the village of "Lambarquet en Lanrodec". The distraught aircraft, in fire, tore off the top of pine trees before hitting violently the ground and digging a long furrow, which resulted in its destruction in several parts, and involved the death of two airmen, Sergeant Cuming Alister Godfrey , 20 years, Canadian, who was the navigator of this crew and Sergeant Kehl Edward Carl, 21-year-old Canadian, who was the bomber.
Mister Camille Colzer de Plouvara.
On Friday, November 6, 1942, at about 11 pm, an English bomber had fallen at a place called "Le Run en Lanrodec". We had not heard any noise but a glow of fire had been seen by some people in the neighborhood. My mother and I, at the beginning of the war, came to join my maternal grandparents to live with them on their farm in the village of "Sainte Marguerite en Lanrodec", a small village surrounding an 18th century chapel in a quiet country. My father was held prisoner in Germany. On the morning of November 7, 1942, at around 8 am, I was in the yard with my grandfather, Monsieur Mordelet, and I was about to go to school on foot. I was 10 years old. Footsteps caught our attention. We saw a young man coming towards us. He was dressed in an old jacket and wore a worn beret. My grandfather, who had done the 1st world war, noticed right away that his pants and his shoes had nothing to do with the rest of his clothing. He looked very tired. Arriving close to me, he said in french with an accent "little boy, go to school". My grandfather asked him "German ?". "No" he replied, "England !". The man simulated the fall of his aircraft with a large, wide gesture, explaining the best he could, that he was flying this aircraft that had just crashed not far from here (about 4 kilometers). My grandfather immediately took care of him and took him to the house where my grandmother gave him a good meal. Then I left for school with the order of telling nothing about it to anyone, because hosting an Allied airman made us run high risks if we were discovered, knowing that the Germans were looking for him.
This pilot was Sergeant Galbraith Hyde, 218 Squadron Royal New Zeland Air Force, 24 years old. After having eaten his meal, my grandmother prepared him a good bed where he slept several hours. In the meantime, my grandfather was looking for a set of clothes that could fit him so that he would not be recognized. In the evening he had dinner with us. After trying his new clothes, he returned to his bed, after thanking us and said he wanted to be woken around 5 am to leave and try to join his comrades who had also had to hide in the area. He showed us his escape kit containing French money, a compass, and a beautiful silk card where we could see a map of France. In the morning, he was ready to go early. After warm thanks, he prepared to leave. He looked like a roadmender. My grandfather gave him a small musette which belonged to my father in which there were some provisions and good bread made by my grandmother (she supplied the neighboring resistance with bread for several months). He went across the fields. We never saw him again.
In 1994, I decided to write him through the New Zealand Embassy in Paris. At first I received his address. I had a letter written in English. My letter arrived on August 18, 1994 in Taupo, New Zealand, where he resided. His son Timoty had been at his bedside for a few days because he was at the worst. The latter read him my letter. He smiled but did not say anything. He died the next day. His son answered me in the months that followed and in his letter I discovered all the difficulties that the Sergeant had to face after he left home. He traveled a long journey through the north of France. He found goods in the farms, ate apples in the orchards. He often slept in the open on cold nights. He first arrived in Rennes, stole a bike and then went back to Paris where he thought he would find help. It was not the case. He then decided to take the direction of Belgium with the idea of ??joining Holland, thinking he could find the help of a resistance network that would make him reach England. He was housed and treated in a farm in Montdidier (Picardy, north of Paris) because he had a strong flu. But then on December 31, 1942, after spending several days with this couple of farmers, the Germans came to arrest him and his two hosts after a denunciation. The farmers died in deportation. Sergeant Hyde underwent a strong interrogation at the Gestapo of Amiens. Threatened, hit several times, he did not say anything. On February 2, 1943 he was sent to Frankfurt where officers of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) subjected him to a new interrogation but once again he said nothing. He was then sent to a prison camp at Stalag Luft VIII B, and then to Camp 344 where he was chained for 6 months.
Mr Cozler near the window of the room where Sergeant Hyde slept He shows the place where the English bomber crashed
Photos © ABSA 39/45
With other airmen, he decided to escape. For this reason, the small group was incorporated into a working commando on the airfield of Gleiwitz in south eastern Germany. They decided to steal an aircraft to fly to Sweden, a neutral country. Lt. James MacLeod, a Canadian Spitfire pilot, decided in the evening of April 23, 1943, to take command of a Junker 33, a single-engine twin-seater, which could accommodate the small group. Unfortunately he made a mistake and opened the quick release valve of the fuel tank thus annihilating the project of escape. The four airmen were ^catched and placed under arrest for 15 days before their trial. They were tried and sentenced to 6 months of SS military prison. Tried again in April 1944 for this attempted theft of an aircraft, they were sentenced to an additional 2 years of prison. They were sent to Lamsdorf. During their stay in Lamsdorf in Silesia (Stalag VIII B), they attempted again to escape by cutting the barbed wire, but only one of them was able to reach Switzerland where he pleaded the cause of his comrades to the Red Cross. Catched again, Sergeant Hyde was locked up in Graudenz Prison on the Vistula, also known as the Fortress of Slow Death. The next day the Germans organized a collective escape for all the prisoners because the allied threat tightened quickly on them. Sergeant Hyde in a text said : "we had walked for 750 miles across Germany, in terrible conditions, we slept in the snow. As only food, pig potatoes, raw rutabagas, raw cabbages and finally ... nothing good. I was exhausted and hungry. Our group was released by the Americans on April 11, 1945. We were quickly sent back to England where I was staying in a hotel in Brighton where the staff did not know what to do to please us. I was repatriated to New Zealand a month later. I was 27 years old".
Jean Michel MARTIN. Daniel DAHIOT. March 28, 2012
Special thanks to Mister Camille COZLER and to Michel PIETO.
This ship, similar to the one that shot the Stirling, was certainly part of a harbor defense flotilla (Hafenschutzflotille) made up of German or French armed trawlers and motor fishing boats.
Alister Godfrey CUMING and Edouard Carl KEHL rest in peace, close together, in St Brieuc's cemetery with about sixty fellow countrymen.
- Sergeant Pilot GALBRAITH M.D. HYDE
- Flight Sgt CUMMING, ALISTER GODFREY
Photos © Maureen Young
Section prepared by Nico