French town remembers WWII airmen 70 years on

8th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ten airmen from Britain's Royal Air Force were honoured in a ceremony Sunday in the French town where their bombers went down during action in World War II.

Relatives of the RAF servicemen attended the service in the Loire region south of Nantes, site of the crashes on February 4 and May 8, 1941.

Their Canadian and English descendants wore red carnations during the ceremony, watched by around 100 people beneath a cloudy sky, while one was dressed in military uniform.

The tribute, marked by the unveiling of a commemorative stone near the town hall, is the culmination of three years' research in France, Britain and Canada to trace the airmen's relatives.

The project was led by local resident Jean Pineau, whose family kept a chain with the initials "WWH" and the inscription "Love from Olive" and a woman's watch pendant recovered from the site of the crash on May 8.

The possessions were returned to relatives of Wray William Heywood on Sunday, 70 years on. Their finder died in October last year.

More than 25 people, including seven Canadians, visited Nantes over the weekend to view the crash sites and the graves of the airmen buried at a local cemetery.

The ceremony came as many European countries marked Victory in Europe Day (VE Day), which commemorates when Allied forces accepted Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945.

© 2011 AFP

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