- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Officer Green
- Location of story:
- Lisieux Frnace
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 July 2005
I was able to visit the grave of your son-in-law Fluing Officer Leslie Frederick Green, last week. It was with deep emotion and sympathy that i knelt by the grave, for a moment filling your place by his side.
I am writing you as a mother. I myself have lost my only son Louis, who fell in action with the Free French Forces in Syria, on the 15th June 1944, at 19. He is lying in a military cemetery at Damas. It is so far and I know nothing about his tomb. This is why dear madam, I fully understand your sorrow, and will do for you all that I wish could be done for me.
Your son-in-law lies in a friendly country, in a place where the people have been fervently pro-English all through the war and Flying officer Green and his 4 comrades have been picked and laid in their cofins by compassionate French people.
I beg now to send my deep sympathy and admiration for this hero of the RAF, he was fighting for his own country and our liberation, He is entitled to our gratitude. Be proud of him, dear madam and may the sympathy his death has raised in us and the pious care with which he will tend his grave bring some relief to your great sorrow.
So here are the facts that happened.
IN the night of June 12-13 1944 at 2am just over the village of Fontaine-la-Louvet, a bomber was chased by a German Fighter of the Focke-Wulf type and hit by the same, it burst and the members of the crew were violently hurled down to the ground. The cock-pit and the right wing of the craft crashed in a meadow while the left wing and the remainder fo the plane fell in the neighbourhood.
An old woman, Madame Soretm came out of her house and discovered under an apple tree the lifeless body of Flying Officer Green, lying full length, He was dead but seemed intact. She went for a blanket and laid it on the body, for, as she told me "the english, they are our friends" then she ran out and fetched the mayor of the village, M Ferrier.
In the meantime a French gendarme of Thiberville Brigade arrived on the spot with M Francois Lejuif, of the French Red Cross. These 4 people looked for the other airmen before the Germans came and found them all dead. One was lying near a gate - a Canadian named Everest - another had fallen in a garden, the third remained in the cockpit and the fourth was founf a little way off.
Gently and piously they lifted the body of Officer Green and were struck by the youthful appearance of the dead man. The face was serene and very handsome, quite intact; the legs and hands bore no traces of wounds, but alas his chest had been broken death must have been instant.
They took from him his personal belongings - photos, cigarette case and took him to a small shed; then they brought his 4 mates by his side.
From this time good old Madame Soret never left them. 5 coffins were ordered to be made at Thiberville (a market town near by) meanwhile the French gendarme and Francois Lejuif took away the papers and belongings from each and made them into small different parcels. He then handed these precious momentoes to a Canadian officer whose mission was to locate the graves of the British soldiers who had fallen in that region.
They were laid in their coffins that very evening and buried in Fontaine churchyard. close by the church.
The grave is being well kept; it's a plot of ground well raked and adorned with artificial flowers. I myself laid a on it a bunch of mauve daises.
A wreath of beads is laid on the the cross with a tricolour ribbon. On the left arm of the cross is nailed a piece of tricolour ribbon with the Larraine Cross - no doubt a token of gratitiude from a frenchman or women.
I was anxious to go on the very spot where the fateful accident happened so as to you particulars as accurate as possible. I rode up those wild paths on my bicycle with Francois Lejuif , who happens to be one of my friends. I have seen the apple tree, the remains of the craft and I have thought of you.....I have gathered a bunch of little flowers under the apple tree and near the plane to send them to you. I have also taken a piece of a branch broken by your son in law in his fall, as well as two paltes and bits of aluminium from the plane to forward then to you. We have taken 2 photo's of the craft of the apple tree and grave. I will send them on as soon as they are ready.
I enclose a map of the country so that you may locate the small village of Fontaine-le-Louvet where lies the boy for the loss of whom you are in mourning.
The little church overlooks the valleysurrounded with woods and meadows; it is a quiet spot where only the brook and the birds can be heard.
As soon as the travelling becomes possible again, we hope, dear madam, we shall be able to make your acquaintance, and i shall be very happy to welcome you to my home.
On of the purposes of our "France-Great Britain Association" is the help the British families in finding out the graves of the soldiers killed in our land. I can assure you we do our best towards it. If you ever come here we shall all be glad to welcome you and accompany you in your sorrowful pilgrimage.
In case you should wish to ahve a bunch of flowers or plant laid on the grave of your son-in-law, I am, dear madam, quite at your disposal.
I realise how this letter will revive your sorrow, dear madam, forgive me. I am so sorry to cause you a new pain by recalling these memories. Have courage!
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