top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

Wreath-laying is final act in hunt for crash site

A wreath-laying ceremony in a wood near Sedan in the Ardennes has marked the end of a nine-year search by a couple to piece together the story of a British airman shot down in 1940.

Mike and Jill Simmons were trying to find out about Mrs Simmon’s uncle, Alfred Wilson, who was 21 when his Bristol Blenheim was shot down trying to stop a German armoured column advancing into France.

They were helped by Elizabeth Jefferies, the mother of Mrs Simmons and sister of Alf, as he was known, who is now 91. She was in her teens when he died.

After visiting the Records Office at Kew Gardens, where all the armed flight records are kept, they were able to find out the number of the plane; type IV, serial L8742 and code YH.

They were able to match it to pieces of aircraft that had been found in woods near Sedan by members of the Blenheim Society in 2006.

Aircraftman 1st Class AG Wilson joined 21 Squadron, RAF because of his love of aircraft and radio electronics.

As a young boy, he spent many hours sketching at Staple­ford aerodrome in Essex where British aviation pioneer Amy Johnson used to fly.

Nicknamed ‘Tug,’ he was wireless operator and air gunner on the Blenheim that took off from Norfolk on May 14 with pilot Robert Gilmore and observer Thomas Pearce.

Blenheims were used extensively early in the war and took part in the Battle of Sedan, where the RAF suffered heavy losses trying to prevent German armoured columns crossing the River Meuse into France from Belgium.

Alf’s Blenheim was shot down outside Sedan by a German fighter. All were killed. After tracking down the crash site, Mrs Simmons and her mother were given a wreath with 21 Squadron markings from the RAF Assoc­iation and they erected it in the wood.

Mr Simmons played a bagpipe lament and said: “It was atmospheric. We were deep in the woods, not a soul about.

“There is a great sense of satisfaction to have completed the story.

“We didn’t know the man but it is important to remember those who died for us in the war.”

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now