January 16, 2020

French Village Remembers Canadians


It was on July 26 in 1944 that an RCAF Halifax bomber, returning from a bombing run over Stuttgart, Germany, crashed in the woods near Thorey-en-Plaine, a small French village in the countryside about 13 kilometres southwest of Dijon. Of the six Canadians and one Brit on board, all perished but for one of the Canadians.

Fast forward 75 years and the village council has approached the City of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, wishing to be twinned with it, citing the fact that one of the victims, Gunner James Reginald Giles, was from Prince Albert.

“This sad event, therefore, links both our villages together,” the Village wrote in an email that was sent to the Prince Albert’s city council. “We, the people of Thorey-en-Plaine, will always remember the soldiers who died that day.”

The Village has already honoured the memory of the six victims, holding a ceremony on the 70th anniversary of the crash in 2014. Four years later, another ceremony was held to unveil a monument at the scene of the crash. The lone survivor of the incident, Flight Officer G.R. Ellis, survived by bailing out and parachuting to the ground. He was taken prisoner by the German occupiers of France at the time and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

The citizens of Thorey-en-Plaine recovered the bodies of the victims and they were buried in the cemetery of a nearby village. “The graves of your Canadian heroes are also well looked after,” the Villagers said in their email.

Photo credits: LBP/Chantal Malatesta, Le Village de Thorey-en-Plaine