My visit to Ploudaniel in Brittany 02/11/13
Their story has been documented briefly by another author some years ago but the event is still not widely known about. A more detailed account of their fateful mission written by me will feature as a short story in my next military book which will be published by Stand-Easy Publishing in May 2015.
The day I visited Ploudaniel coincided with 'All Souls Day' in France. I had arranged to meet with the Mayor of the region by corresponding with a fantastic member of the Royal British Legion, Mike (Jonesy) Jones. Mike escaped the rat race of the UK several years ago and now lives in Finistère, the western most region of France. The reason for my visit was twofold, firstly I wanted to lay a poppy wreath on the graves of the servicemen I have been researching for the past year, secondly I had information I wanted to exchange with interested parties in France.
The Mayor was present along with local representatives of the Préfet and Anciens Combattants the French equivalent of the British Legion. As you can see by their medals, worn with great pride in the photographs, several of these veterans had fought in World War Two. The villagers of Ploudaniel take very seriously the sacrifices made by the four Allied servicemen buried in their churchyard. The Allied servicemen are always included in the areas November 11th ceremonies. Everyone present was very friendly and amazingly hospitable. I cannot thank them enough for the kind reception they afforded me.
After the wreath laying we all convened in the Marie (Town Hall) along with members of the local press from the region. The Mayor passed me several never seen documents relating to the subject I am researching for my next book. Also present was Glidas Saouzanet who is an authority on all the crashed military aircraft in the Northern Brittany area and a veritable mine of information. He was very knowledgeable and new a lot about the story I am researching. Glidas is a great contact and very kindly acted as a translator throughout my visit.
I so look forward to writing this story and I hope to definitively tell what happened by piecing together eyewitness accounts, combined with official written material, some of which has only recently been released from the National Archives and other sources in the past few years.
I have deliberately not explained the essence of the story in this blog post. You will have to buy the book! It's a great story.
David J.B. Smith