Wellington HF601 - Le Conquet

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Message par Invité le Lun 12 Mai 2008 - 20:37

Please forgive me for writing in English. Do feel free to give responses en francais.

Part of the investigations regarding an identity claim of a RAF aviator buried as unknown in Cherbourg, is the following:

On 6/7/1943 Wellington HF601 crashed in the Atlantic very close to the shore off Le Conquet. A memorial was erected close to the site, and you have pictures of that memorial on the website.

Four of the five man crew are buried in Le Conquet Cemetery. One, the Wing Commander, in an individual grave, the other three in a mutual grave, but with 3 headstones. The 5th crew member, P/O. Frank Darbyshire, is missing.

As Le Conquet Cemetery had space for four graves, burial in a mutual grave indicates that the three could not be identified individually. This is curious, possible but not common for a crash at sea.

Do you have information about what happened there and then? I assume that the bodies did not wash ashore but were salvaged from the wreck by local people. Did the wreck burn, even if it was in the water, or was the impact so violent that the three bodies were disfigured beyond identification?

Reason for asking is that this may shed light on the fate of the missing crew member. I need to find out if his body may have washed ashore somewhere.

Kind regards,

Rob Philips

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Message par pjegousse le Mar 13 Mai 2008 - 18:51

Hello Rob,

You will find story of the crash on following link http://gerald.perchoc.free.fr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=2

Sorry, but it's in French. If you need translation or any help, feel free to ask.

Basically, the aircraft was hit by Flak at 01h30 on July 6th. She crashed in the sea (fuselage and landing gear parts were found close to the beach)
4 bodies were washed ashore (1 on the rocks and 3 on sand beach). The fifth body (Darbshyre) was never found !

I will inform a friend of us who's talking care of that area of Brittany.

Philippe
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Message par Invité le Mer 14 Mai 2008 - 7:36

Thanks, Philippe, first class! Shall translate for the friends in England, who also wish to know about this matter.

The eyewitness reports shed light on the joint grave situation:
- 4 bodies washed ashore, intact, no apparent wounds, dressed in their flying gear.
- Later that day, the bodies were stripped of most of their clothing. It is assumed that this was done by the Germans.

Hence the bodies were not identified, as the means of identification had disappeared. The bodies were buried in four separate graves.

After the war, the MR&ES probably could not identify three of the bodies, and declared the three graves to be a mutual grave. This is a special situation, in which a 3 man mutual grave actually holds 3 intact bodies in three separate grave positions, bodies that were not identified individually. Such an identification could possibly be made today, using DNA technology, but the Ministry of Defence in England no longer allows forensic exhumations, and does not allow the use of DNA technology in these cases.

One thing remains curious. The Germans saw to a decent burial, which included rifle shots fired in salute. The theft of the men's clothes is in contrast to that. I speculate that the clothes were not robbed by the Germans. If the Germans wanted RAF uniforms for whtever reason, they could have taken the clothes discretely, at the cemetery or at the undertaker's place.

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default Re: Wellington HF601 - Le Conquet

Message par gildas le Mar 14 Oct 2008 - 17:04

Hello Rob,



Reading back an old post, I saw I didn’t notice what you wrote about Lochrist graves. I’m sorry if I don’t understand what you mean by mutual, even if the french word is close to be similar, but there was four separated graves in 2000. (can enclose pictures if needed)

So, where did you see, or read, about one grave separated from the others. I still may try to ask if it was like this in the past.



Kind regards

Gildas

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Message par Invité le Mer 15 Oct 2008 - 7:34

Thanks, Gildas. The source is the CWGC, that mentions 3 of the four graves as a mutual or joint grave. There are three separate headstones for this mutual grave, but "mutual" means here that the names on the headstones may not match the bodies buried beneath the stones.

Regards,

Rob

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default Re: Wellington HF601 - Le Conquet

Message par gildas le Mer 22 Oct 2008 - 10:46

Thanks Rob
One thing strange, as it is not a crash on the ground, but in the sea. What often helps to identify the bodies, at least when thjey are found as soon and close to the coast.

Kind regards
Gildas

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