433 Squadron W. H. Cook Crew - Their story, Page 5

Home Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 6a Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Fin de Mission Guestbook Contact us

Local vet remembers lost comrades
By Heather McCrae
The Scugog Standard

A piece of Canadian history has been preserved and now stands on a lonely mountainside in the Alsace region of France. On Sunday, May 7, a two-ton stone was erected at the exact spot where a Halifax bomber crashed on Dec. 2, 1944. It’s there to commemorate the crew of seven that were brought down by German anti-aircraft fire. Of the seven on board, only one survived. That lone survivor is Port Perry resident,
Lorne Mallory, 81, and he was there to remember.

He was a guest of honour at the unveiling of the stone. The ceremony was arranged by a historical aviation group, and the mayor of Willer-sur-Thur. With over 200 people in attendance, including Commander Claude Gauthier, Assistant Defense Attaché of the Canadian Embassy in Paris,
Mr. Mallory said he was treated as if he was a hero, "like I had
won the war myself."
Mr. Mallory was an air gunner with the RCAF 433 Squadron in 1944 when the Halifax bomber he was in crashed into a fireball."We were on a bombing mission, and set out to destroy a factory in Hagen that made
batteries for U-boats," Mr. Mallory said. Soon after his Halifax bomber was hit, two engines lost their power, "and eventually we lost altitude and crashed into the side of a mountain in the Alsace region, near the little
town of Willer-sur-Thur," Mr. Mallory said.

The plane crashed in a ball of fire, and the Port Perry resident, then 20-years-old, is amazed that he was the only survivor.
“The rest of the crew were all young, like myself, but I was the only survivor. I’ll never forget it. When I regained consciousness, my electric flying suit was on fire,” he said. “I managed to beat out the flames but not before suffering severe burns to my face and hands.”
For several hours the young air gunner wandered about aimlessly, and in pain, until a Maquis (French underground) farmer found him and hid him in his farmhouse, under the veranda. It was a very scary moment when two German soldiers came by and began asking the farmer and his wife about the young gunner’s disappearance. Shortly after, a Maquis agent came by with a suit of civilian clothes for the gunner to change into. Together they walked into town."I had a scarf wrapped about my head to conceal my burned face and a peaked hat. The distance was five miles and every step was agony. I had had no sleep and my burns felt like they were on fire," Mr. Mallory said.
Once, in town, he was hidden again in another home, in the potato bin.
He said he owes his life to a French nun who sneaked quietly into the house to treat his burns morning and night. Anxious moments came again when German soldiers stormed through this house, too. But relief came many hours later when the French army entered the community, calling
out that the town had been liberated.
At the ceremony it was an emotional moment when Mr. Mallory met the farmer, M. Laborie, who is now 98 years old."Monsieur Laborie was my saviour. It was great to see him and thank him, because the last time I saw him I was right out of it."
Mr. Mallory received a commemorative plaque and a ton of memories.
"I’m glad I was able to attend. I thought it would be interesting. I had never been back and was curious to see what the crash site looked like now." He said he has no regrets.
"We all knew what we were up against, and did the best of our ability."


Home Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 6a Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Fin de Mission Guestbook Contact us

433 Squadron Cook Crew - Their story Page 5