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Thread: 1940 rescue of Charles de Gaulle family by the RAF

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    Default 1940 rescue of Charles de Gaulle family by the RAF

    Years ago, I remember being told a story about Madame de Gaulle and children being rescued in 1940 by a flying boat or maybe a Lysander off the French coast by the RAF. I seem to remember that at the last moment, the plan went disastrously wrong. That's all I can remember. Can someone tell me more details please?

    Norman
    Last edited by namrondooh; 8th November 2011 at 16:58.

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    Google tells:

    books.google.com/books?isbn=0714653160

    http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/10_RAAF_squadron.html

    Type: Walrus
    Serial number: L2312 (from No. 15 group Communication Flight)
    Operation: Evacuation De Gaulle family
    Lost: 18/06/1940
    Flight Lieutenant John N. Bell, RAAF 162, [RAAF 10 Sqdn.], age 24, 18/06/1940, Ploudaniel Churchyard, (near Brest) F
    Sergeant Charles W. Harris, RAAF 1730, [RAAF 10 Sqdn.], age 31, 18/06/1940, Ploudaniel Churchyard, F
    Captain Norman E. Hope, Intelligence Corps 141140, Legion d' Honneur, age unknown, 18/06/1940, Ploudaniel Churchyard, F
    Corporal (W.E. Mech.) Bernard F. Nowell, RAF 565931, 810 Sqdn., age 25, 18/06/1940, Ploudaniel Churchyard, F
    Left Mount Batten at 02.00 hrs.

    http://www.absa39-45.com/Pertes%20Bretagne/Finistere/Walrus%20L2312/walrus_l2312.html

    http://www.aircrewremembrancesociety.com/raf1939/2/belljohn.html
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Hi Norman

    It's covered briefly in Blue on Blue.

    Cheers
    Brian

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    Thanks Dennis, I had no idea what to search with as it was pretty sparse what I remembered. Thank you for what you have kindly provided.
    Norman

    Thanks for the lead Brian
    Norman

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    With the help of Dennis's kind leads, I have found the following information:

    Evacuation De Gaulle family, 18 June 1940
    On 17 June 1940, the day her husband escaped to England, Madame De Gaulle and her children were at Carantec on the north coast of Brittany. They had taken refuge there with an aunt after leaving the family home at Colombey Les Deux Eglises about a month before. The Germans were advancing fast towards Western France, and when General De Gaulle reached London, he asked that urgent steps be taken to rescue his wife and family. The decision was taken with Winston Churchill's agreement to send a plane with an SOE intelligence officer who was fluent in French to carry out this rescue. On 17 June, Captain Norman Hope travelled with his orders to RAF Mount Batten, a Coastal Command base near Plymouth, and was directed to a Supermarine Walrus, an amphibious aircraft with a crew of three, Flt Lt John Napier Bell, RAAF, Sgt Charles Harris, RAAF and Cpl Bernard Nowell, RAF. The purpose of the flight was so secret that no one at the base knew where the aircraft was going. Norman's briefing was to his crew only. They took off at 0300 hrs on 18 June 1940 with the intention of reaching Carantec at dawn. They crossed the Breton coast about 20km west of Carantec, and it is believed they were fired on by the Germans or possibly the French. Having been hit,the pilot was attempting to land in a field close to Ploudaniel, about 18km inland, when the plane hit a low embankment, turned over and burst into flames killing the crew. Madame de Gaulle knew nothing of this attempt to rescue her and with her children, was eventually found room on the last boat to leave Brest before the Germans arrived.
    (source BBC 'Peoples War' WW2)

    As no further advice received regarding Walrus No. L2312 which left Mountbatten for North Brittany on 18th June, 1940 at 0300 hrs, the personnel have officially been posted as "missing".
    (source No. 10 Sqdn, ORB 20 June 1940, page 71)

    BELL, John Napier, Flight Lieutenant 162 10 Sqn age 24 RAAF Grave 4. PLOUDANIEL CHURCHYARD
    HARRIS, Charles William, Sergeant 1730 10 Sqn age 31 RAAF Grave 2. PLOUDANIEL CHURCHYARD
    NOWELL, Bernard Felix Corporal 565931 810 Sqn age 25 RAF Grave 3. PLOUDANIEL CHURCHYARD
    HOPE, Norman, Edward, Captain 141140 Intelligence Corps, Grave 1. PLOUDANIEL CHURCHYARD
    (source CWGC)
    Last edited by namrondooh; 8th November 2011 at 22:21.

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    Default 1940 rescue of Charles de Gaulle family by the RAF

    Hello,
    If I recall corectly the wife,and family which included a daughter who was an invalid and her nurse had actualy arrived by ship in a UK port before the aircraft had even taken off on its rescue flight.
    Alex

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    Fairly simple Norman, google for

    de gaulle family 1940 raf rescue
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Thanks, You may talk o' gin an' beer...................you're a 'wiser' man then me Gunga-Din!
    Last edited by namrondooh; 9th November 2011 at 17:57.

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