Departing Gransden Lodge Airport (70 km from London) at 22.52 on 9 August 1943, with 7 crew members (6 Canadians and 1 Scot), the Halifax joins an air armada of 457 aircraft.The HR 872-LQ-K belonged to N° 405 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) which was assigned to the 8th group of the Pathfinder Force, a target marking unit composed of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command elite.
After taking off from Gransden Lodge airfield (70 kms from London) at 22H52 on 9th August 1943 with a crew of seven (six Canadians and one Scot) the Halifax joins an airborne armada of 457 aircraft on a mission to bomb the German town of Mannheim. On 10th August, just before 01H00, flying towards the target, the aircraft is spotted by a Messerschmitt BF 110 of the German night fighter force based at Florennes.
The pilot of the German aircraft gives chase and aims at the fuel tanks situated between the wings of the bomber plane with its cargo of flare bombs destined to light up the enemy target. Seriously damaged, the bomber loses a wing and ends its fatal flight here: the plane explodes and there are no survivors.
A humble cross, placed here by the inhabitants of Awenne, has ever since stood watch over this spot which has been cleared by the forestry workers of the provincial Domain of Mirwart. At the initiative of the Commune of Saint-Hubert and its workers who cleared an access road, a memorial stone was inaugurated on 15th September 2012 in the presence of a delegation of 31 people, comprised of family members of the allied crew and a veteran of N° 405 Squadron with his family.
The British Ambassador, the representative of the Canadian Ambassador, members of the Canadian armed forces, delegations of N° 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron of the RCAF, representatives of the Royal British Legion, of the 2nd Tactical Wing of Florennes, of the Veterans Associations and of the Chasseurs Ardennais were also present at the ceremony together with an impressive crowd.
At the initiative of the families of the aircrew, a maple tree, emblem of Canada, and Scottish heather were planted here and will henceforth unite these men to their respective homelands.
The aircrew are buried in Florennes Communal Cemetery where their families were able to contemplate their graves.
Albert FRAIPONT. Traduction Jennifer JAMPOC.