Up top from down under

WO Clarrie Jones and the Halifax Crew The Halifax Monument Nice house - beautifully painted shutters The two Peters , Sandra and Catherine The Mairie at Siracourt Canadian Farms in France The Bunker Entrance Must be cold here in France
Click on the thumbnails for a larger picture Johnny making sure we all get wet French strawberries and cream Peter and Catherine with me Johnny hogging the limelight
 

An RAAF Crew remembered

28 May 2005

The Halifax Memorial

Its a bit of a long story, but when Sandra and Peter bought their house at Magnicourt sur Canche in 2004 they happened to remark that en route from Frevent they passed a small monument that looked as though it might be of interest to me.

Not wishing to let a chance pass me by, the first time I visited the new house I took the route out past the monument which is just before Houvin-Heuvigneul.

It is in fact a Second World Memorial to an Australian Halifax Crew who were shot down whilst on a bombing mission on 22 June 1944. The memorial was raised by the Souvenir Français in May 1989.

All of the crew were killed and are buried at Terlincthun Cemetery which was the place that set me off on my First World War histories. I photographed their graves and added them to the Cemetery page on my website and thought no more about it.

At the beginning of May I received a letter from Murray Jones in Australia, the 82 year old brother of WO Clarence Jones who was one of the ill fated crew. He passed on the information that Clarrie had joined the RAAF on 31 January 1942 and left for England a year later attached to 466 Squadron. Murray had been in the Australian Navy and managed to meet up with his brother in England during 1943.

On the day that they were shot down they had just carried out a bombing raid on a V1 Buzz Bomb launch site at Siracourt - which is not far from here.

I mentioned this to Sandra and Peter who had mentioned before that Siracourt had been rebuilt by Canadians after the war in their own style, with great overhanging roofs ready for lots of snow that we don't really get.

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The V1 Bunker at Siracourt

They also said that the bunker still existed and Peter took me out to show me the location. It was built by female Soviet POWs and is enormous. It also just sits there in a field surrounded by a houses. Too big to be moved.

 
WO Clarrie Jones

WO Clarrie Jones RAAF

The next twist in the story came when a few days later I received letters from John Stephenson who is Clarrie's son-in-law, and his son Peter who was about to make a trip over to France to visit the site.

John talked about his mother Nora having just had her ninetieth birthday and had been interested to see photos of the monument which she had visited in 1999. The next question was how to get Peter and his wife Catherine to the site.

The easiest way was for them to meet up with us and let us do the driving. Which is what we did. Now living in Darwin, Peter and Catherine didn't exactly find French distances intimidating but life is easier when somebody else knows where they are going.

It was quite a warm day for us but it was soon noticed that it was the locals wearing shorts and the folks from down under wearing trousers (and by the evening hats and scarves!)

Peter and Catherine were impressed with the visit to Siracourt as none of the family had been there before. I had found out from the Internet that it was their grandfather's bomber that was the only one brought down on what had been a daylight mission. The bunker was eventually put out of action by the use of the massive Tallboy bombs.

By the time we got back to Rapechy Johnny had the barbecue alight but found himself pushed aside by professionals. He spent the next half hour playing water pistols soaking his girlfriend Vanessa in the process (me as well come to think of it).

Peter had chance to sample a few Belgian beers which he appeared to find to his liking. We located a gite not far from here which turned out to be an excellent establishment and this allowed us to have a relaxing evening prior to them returning to Paris for the long journey back to Darwin.

 
The Halifax Crew

The Crew, left to right:
Sgt Jerry Brown: mid upper gunner; Sgt Ted Ashworth RAF: Flight engineer; WO Clarrie Jones: Bomb-aimer;
Flying officer W Cliso: Pilot; WO T Harrison: Navigator; WO H Sedgwick: Wireless Operator;
FO N Bowman: Rear gunner

 

See also

Introducing the V-1

Terlincthun Cemetery