F/O Gordon McTavish Waddell  J24620
Part IV
Canadian Airman Returns 54 Years Later!

October 1998  Le Petit Journal de Sagy
“Gaillon/Seraincourt: L’avateur canadien revient 54 ans après!”
Canadian Airman Returns 54 Years Later!
 She found the Canadian aviator wounded in June 1944 at Gaillon-sur-Montcient. 53 years later, Colette falls into the arms of Gordon.  They hadn’t seen each other since.  Colette Camus was 14 years old at the time when at the turn of a road, she came upon the wounded Canadian navigator, who her parents hid. 

 On June 8, 1944, a Halifax III bomber was struck by flak from DCA over Magny-en-Vexin and the fire of a pursuing  German, crashed in a field at Gaillon-sur-Montcient.  The pane and equipment were useless and they ejected from the plane, hoping to be rescued by the local population.

 54 years later, Josselyne Pichon, passionate aviation historian, went in quest of the identity of the seven Canadian airmen, retracing their steps and events of the time.  “Le Courier” gave her his name on 21 May last year.

 On Saturday, Gordon Waddell, navigator of the Halifax, returned to Gaillon to be reunited with Colette Camus.  She was 14 years old at the time and he had not seen her since.  “It was me who found Gordon, one evening as I was returning from the garden” she recalls.  “He was on a wall between Jambville and Fremainville.  He had a broken foot.  I was most frightened above all that this was a German soldier.  I did up my coat and ran away to find my father.”

 “I think that I was also afraid of you” answered Gordon, who had spent part of the day hidden in the bushes.  He thought that he had been discovered by a boy, and for more than 50 years, until this reunion, he still believed it!

 “It is true that I looked like a boy!  I had the coat (haircut?) of a boy”, says Colette.  “At that time it was hard to tell.”

 Amidst the tears, they hugged one another in front of the mayor of Gaillon, Claude Durand, and many others in attendance.  Stories circulated, information was compared and research was shared.  Robert Balleux also remembers that his father had hid Canadian airmen.  He proposed taking Gordon to the site of the crash and then to a church in Jambville where the first placement was made.  Everyone went together.

Disguised as a Gardener
 “Gordon remained hidden in the house, then in the vicarage for nearly three weeks”, recalls Colette, who also remembers that her grandmother was forced to hide.  “She was being watched.  Someone had told the Germans that a Canadian parachutist was being sheltered by a lady who wore a blue dress and white sweater.” 

 She also remembers “Gordon getting into a cart, disguised as a gardener and wearing a big apron.  I still dream of that cart being pulled by a nice big horse.  He is gone, but don’t ask where.  They told me as little as possible.”

 A network operated under the noses of the Germans who occupied the chateau, close to the vicarage and in the neighbourhood of the Camus home.  Indeed, Gordon was placed in the care of the leader Henri Glogonsky, chief of the local maquis, who hid him.  He retrieved some equipment from the bomber and after many attempts, regained paris where he saw the liberation and arrival of the American troops.  He lives in the province of Manitoba today.

Canadian Airman Returns 54 Years Later!
 During the night of June 7, 8, 1944 a Halifax III LV 987 ZL “K” for King crashed over the area of the township of Gaillon-sur-Montcient.  Leaving from the Leeming Royal Air Force Base in Yorkshire (Great Britain), the crew’s mission was to bomb the Acheres Station as part of Bomber Command’s plan to destroy selected stations in the Paris region.

 The Halifax was flying over Magny-en-Vexin.  It wasn’t possible to avoid flak fired from enemy soldiers.  The seven crew members, six Canadian and oneEnglish, quickly prepared to leave the fire (burning plane) and parachuted over Vexen while the plane crashed in a field north of Gaillon-sur-Montcient, at the place called “Les Sablons” near the chalk pit.

 Fifty-four years later, the Canadian Gordon Waddell, 28 years of age at the time, returned to the site and remembered the episode.  Wounded in the ankle upon hitting the ground near Jambville, he hid himself in a thicket and made his presence known to Colette Camus, then aged 14 years, who was riding her bicycle.  The adolescent immediately warned her father, Pierre Camus, a maquis resistant from Jambville, who took Gordon to his home before going to the Priest Grenard’s home.  But the coming and going of Germans, who requisitioned the house opposite, made the situation dangerous.  Gordon was put in a new place, this time by the captain, Henri Glogonsky, commander of the maquis, who sheltered him in his home.  The Clerisseau family who owned the village café were taken into confidence in order to bring food to the aviator.

 Later when Gordon arrived at the “watercress house” (La Maison des Cressonniers) occupied by M. & Mme. Lebon, he was happily reunited with three other crew members of King: Dave Foster, the pilot, who spent the summer recuperating with Raoul Balleux; Martin Donnan, the rear gunner with Gilbert Drouard; and George Philliskirk, flight engineer stayed at the home of Marie-Therese Charriere, instructor at Seraincourt.  So, with Tom Farr, they hid five members of the crew of the Halifax until their return to Great Britain in September 1944; the two others did not have the same luck.  Mickey Ford was captured and was not freed from Stalag Banku- Kruelberg until May 1945, and Ed Carter-Edwards was betrayed to the Gestapo in Paris and deported to Buchenwald on the last train Aug. 15, 1944.  Today he is vice president of the International Committee of Buchenwald Dora.

 It is thanks to the research of area people in September 1997 that Josselyne Lejeune-Pichon, of Orgerus (Yvelines) was able to identify and contact Gordon Waddell, who has returned to the area Saturday September 26, 1998.

 After being welcomed at 9:30 by Claude Durand, mayor of Gaillon and several interested family members, Gordon, today age 82, was taken to the precise spot where the plane crashed 54 years ago.  From the wreckage, retrieved pieces were given to him, notably the tachometer disc (instrument which measures aircraft speed).  The elderly aviator surveyed the land which had been struck by the bombs before crashing.

 Then the group returned to the Cressoniere Inn in Rueil-Seraincourt where a dinner, gathering about thirty guests, for whom the mayors of Seraincourt and Condecourt had organized in honour of Gordon Waddell.  At the end of the meal, Jean Claude Triguenard, president of the Society of Veterans of Seraincourt, gave a talk retracing this event of local history.

1998  Acheres, still a busy railway centre.  Target for the night of June 7/8, 1944.
Three aircraft from 427 Squadron were detailed to bomb the rail yards that night.
The reconnaissance photos showed the “Y” in the tracks.
There were dozens of flat cars pulled up in the trees loaded with tanks, big guns, etc. headed for the front, 2 days after D-Day.

Pierre Camus and his wife Marthe after they had retired circa 1975.
Pierre was my first contact with the French Resistance.
He took me home with him and later that night
I was taken to the home of the village priest where I stayed until my leg healed u

F/O Gordon Waddell at the crash site 54 years later

Amiot Farm where "K" crashed
Sept. '98  Amiot farm where “K” fell night of June 7, 1944. 
Man in the field is the present owner, Amiot Sr., father of Pierre Amiot
Sept. 1998.  The power line I could see when I was in my chute. 
I came down to the left in the photo, probably a mile away. 
I could see the Seine River beyond the power line.
Sept. “98.  I hid out in this area June 8, 1944.  It was a hay field then. 
The road where I stopped Colette on her bicycle 
was in the hollow just to the left of the centre of the photo.
Sept. '98.  Pierre Amiot, grandson, gave me 
some pieces of the aircraft his grandfather had picked up in 1944.
Gordon and Colette
The road north of Jambville close to where I flagged down Colette on the night of June 8, 1944.

Sept. “98  The road into Jambville from the north (bottom of photo) where I walked with Pierre Camus the evening of June 8, 1944.
Le Cure’s (Priest’s) (Jean Grenard) house is on the left.  I was moved there later on during the night.
There were lots of Germans under the big trees on the right.
Good camouflage, they had a truck repair depot set up there.  The road was dirt then.
Sept. '98  Jambville, the Cure Jean Grenard’s house. 
“X” marks the room I hid out in.
Gordon, Edith Waddell and Colette Camus. 
Oct. 4, 1998

Sept. '98 at reception in Gordon’s honour.

L to R:  Lieu Tran-Than, Francoise Chateauneuf (Colette's daughter), Gordon Waddell,
Arnaud Chateauneuf (Colette’s grandson), Doug Waddell,
Ann Chateauneuf (Colette’s granddaughter), Roger Chateauneuf, Connie Waddell
Front Colette Camus, Edith Waddell

From the Wartime Journals of F/O Gordon Waddell
Collated and Adapted to WORD file format by son Duncan Waddell
Webpage Format and Supplementary Scans by Bill Hillman




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