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Thread: Blenheim shot down on May 22th 1940

  1. #1
    Blenheimcrash Guest

    Default Blenheim shot down on May 22th 1940

    Hello, I’m new on RAF commands forum and I think it's very interresting. I'm living in France (Pas de Calais), in a very small town named Haucourt. Here, on May 22nd 1940, a Mk IV Blenheim belonging to 57th squadron RAF was shot down in a field (on the french maps : Embuschate Field near the crossroad of hope), during the Arras Battle. The three airmen crew were killed and buried at Haucourt Communal Cemetery. The graves are today maintained by the commonwealth war graves commission located at Beaurains.

    These three british soldiers are :


    SAUNDERS Roi Leonard, Pilot Officer, 24 years old

    PIRIE George Ross, Wireless operator and air gunner, 24 years old

    SIMMONS Samuel Frank, Observator, 27 years old


    With the town council, we are loocking for any informations or photography about this crash, about these airmen and about this plane. We are trying to create an exhibition to commerate their sacrifice, in May 2010 and we hope to find many members or descendants of their families and we will enjoy to invite them in our locality for this opportunity.


    If you have any informations, precisions or if can help us, please answer me on this post !
    best regards

  2. #2
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    hello,

    I'm French but will write in English so that every body will be able to understand.

    This crew was flying a twin-engine bomber, a Bristol Blenheim Mk IV, serial number L9184. They were part of No. 57 Squadron. They took off from Hawkinge (in Kent) for a reconnaissance flight. They crashed in à Haucourt, not far from (then) route nationale 39.
    Details from a book called "Bomber Command Losses, volume 1" by Bill Chorley.

    I have a note that they may have crashed near the "ferme de l’Espérance', near the Dury-Bapaume road, but I have no confirmation of that.

    As you are not familiar with aviation, Pilot Officer is a rank, equals to sous-lieutenant.

    Pilot was Pilot Officer Roi Leonard SAUNDERS, service number 70602. Aged 24. His parents were Frank and Beatrice Mary Saunders, from St Albans, Hertfordshire.
    Observer was Sergeant (sergent) Samuel Frank SIMMONS, service number 564409. Aged 27 ans. Son of Oliver William and Mary Mabel Isabel Simmons ; husband of Edna Mary Simmons, from Frinton-on-Sea, Essex.
    Wireless operator air gunner was Aircraftman first class (aviateur de première classe) George Rosse PIRIE, service number 626070. Aged 27. Son of John et Jean Pirie ; Husband of Doris Anderson Pirie, from Edinburg.
    details from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

    They are buried in a collective grave (even though each has a separate stone).

    I visited the cemetery many years ago, when I was working at Cambrai-Epinoy French air force base.

    Joss Leclercq (association Antiq'Air Flandre-Artois, which recently put up the "Tombés du ciel / fallen from the sky" exhibit in La Coupole Museum near St Omer)

  3. #3
    Blenheimcrash Guest

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    Thank you Joss.

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    hello again

    Back home I'm able to have a look in my files and books.

    Peter Cornwell's "The Battle of France then and now" give the following details, which I quote word for word :
    This crew was buried in a field grave adjacent to the crash site but reintererred together in the local cemetery in July 1942 along with the remain of Roi Saunders' dog which he had taken with him on his last flight. Diligent post-war research by No. 1 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit, involving two exhumations, finally resulted in all three being formally identified in May 1949".

    Graham Warner's "The Bristol Blenheim - a complete history" (2nd edition) give the same basic details, with a typo on the name of Haucourt (wrongly written as Harcourt) but gives the area of the reconnaissance as Arras.

    A check in the Squadron Operations Record Book should enable to give some more details, a microfilmed copy can be found in The National Archives, Kew, London. Reference is AIR 27/537, and AIR 27/541 for the appendice. It's not one I've checked so far, this crash not being in my "priorities".

    There may also be some informations in the Archives Départementales du Pas-de-Calais in Dainville. I've checked the Gendarmerie Archives in Paris for that area, but I didn't find anything about it.

    Do you have more precise details about this loss ?

    Joss

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    Blenheimcrash

    There is a B Simmons in Frinton-on -sea in ---
    http://www.bt.com. Click on residential then put in surname [Simmonds] & then location [Frinton -on -sea]

    May not be a relation but also could be -so you could try writing to this B Simmons ?

    There are 5 pages of Pirie in Edinburgh & surroundings so it must be a name local to the area !! I thought Pirie would be an unusual surname & thus easier to find relatives !
    There are also many Saunders in St Albans.

    Otherwise try a notice in local newspapers & local radio stations for Frinton -on -sea & St Albans [google should help find the newspapers & radio stations ]
    Edinburgh may be too large a town for a local newspaper.Radio stations may be willing to broadcast a search for relatives ?

    Let me know if you want help? storm04ATglobalnet.co.uk
    substitute @ for AT .

    Anne

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    Hello,

    Yesterday (22 May 2010) a ceremony was organised in Haucourt to commemorate the three R.A.F. airmen. Families of Roi Saunders and George Pirie were attending, as well as a Frenchman who had known Samuel Simmons back in 1940, when the Squadron was based in France.

    After wraths and poppies were laid on the graves in the cemetery, a memorial plaque was unveiled, by the "monuments aux morts".

    An historical display was on show in the small village display hall, open freely to the public until the 24th.

    Joss

    PS : We are still seeking the individual letter of L9184. Any clue ?

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    I am also researching this chap, he is mentioned on the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln. I have this interesting article from a book -

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...%20dog&f=false

    If anyone has a photograph of him with his dog??) that would be nice, we could perhaps add it to the IBCC data base.

    Thank you
    Kenneth Moore
    IBCC Tour Guide

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