Monument at Yves-Gommezée

 

On April 16th, 1943, 327 aircraft took of from various airbases in the United Kingdom for a raid on the Skoda-factory in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. Before, during and after the raid 38 were lost, killing 199 crewmembers, 53 survived, but were taken prisoner, 12 escaped and 8 were injured after their aircraft crash landed in the UK.

 One of the aircraft that was lost during this raid was Avro Lancaster III ED800 assigned to RAF No 50 Squadron and based at RAF Skellingthorpe. After it was hit it crashed in the 'bois de la Rosette', near the town of Yves-Gomezée (Walcourt), in the neighbourhood of Florennes Air Base.  All seven crewmembers were killed; Sgt.John Bates, Sgt.John Duncan, Sgt.James Spiers, Sgt.David Smellia, Sgt.Albert Berry, Sgt. Hubert Barnes and Sgt.Cyril Payne.  A road close to the crashsite was renamed 'chemins du 7 sergents' (Road of the 7 Sergeants) in their memory.

 

In 2005 permission was granted to install a more prominent monument in the village of Yves-Gomezée and after the necessary paperwork, the tail of former Belgian Air Force F16A FA-44 was placed on the small roundabout on the 'rue des Orfevres' on March 29th, 2007. The tail was generously donated and restored by maintenance personnel from Florennes Air Base.

On April 14th, 2007 during an official ceremony in the presence of a delegation from Florennes Air Base and local dignitaries the monument was officially unveiled.

Text and pictures by

© Laurent Heyligen (June 2007)

Last updated 11/06/07 12:31   Daniel Brackx

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