Posted on July 30, 2019
On 29 July 1944, the men of Lancaster JB701 took off from RAF Fiskerton, in Lincolnshire, bound for a bombing raid over northern Germany. They were shot down by an enemy fighter aircraft near Sens, 120km south of Paris. None survived the crash and they were buried together in the nearby cemetery of St Martin-sur-Oreuse.
Local children had, until now, cared for their final resting place.
Their aircraft was one of 12 from 49 Squadron who left RAF Fiskerton for the raid.
Bob Kirkpatrick was only 18 months old when he lost his father that day, 30-year-old air gunner Sergeant George Kirkpatrick. Now 76, Bob, his wife and two nieces travelled from Surrey to unveil the new memorial. “My father and many others gave their lives so that we could all be free,” he said. “For the past 75 years, this French village community has honoured my family by tending his grave, ensuring his sacrifice is remembered. This part of France, like many others, will remain connected to Britain by the blood in the soil.”
The seven crew members of Lancaster JB701 were Pilot Flight Lieutenant William Leonard Powell, Navigator Flying Officer Geoffrey Edward Franklin, Bomb Aimer Flying Officer Albert Stanley Cole, Wireless Operator Flight Sergeant Donald Carl Stephens, Flight Engineer Sergeant George Frederick West, Air Gunner Sergeant Thomas Moore and Air Gunner Sergeant George Edward Kirkpatrick.
More than 55,573 young men died whilst flying with Bomber Command during the Second World War.