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SAINT-MARTIN-DE-BIENFAITE - LA CRESSONNIERE

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Last update
11/24/2014
10h30 pm

Enjoy your visit !




Right : Robert Blair

 



60th anniversary of D-Day 2004
RAF's Operations record book
On june the 5th 2005 Visit of two pilots from 257 squadron.
On may the 23th 2007 Passing on the Torch Middle Wallop.
On november 11th 2007. Robert Blair street

Robert R BLAIR

On the 6 July 1944, Robert Blair's fighter is hit. At first, he tries to bring the plane back to his home base but soon she is getting out of control. Robert Blair then decides, alas too late, to bail out. The parachute did not have enough time to open and fully deploy. The young pilot is killed when striking the ground.
The plane crashes down on fire, nearby, in a field called Le Buisson. This time, the germans on side-cars were the first to arrive. The German officers told the mayor of La Cressonnière, Jean Richet, to take care of the pilot's burial. Robert Blair's body is taken down to La Cressonnière church where a service for the dead is to be held the next morning, just enough time to make a coffin and dig a grave.

The tragic news goes through the village. La Cressonnière church is humble but big enough to shelter the whole of its parishioners. On the next morning the church is so full that some people have to stay out. All those who were able came from La Cressonnière and St Martin de Bienfaite. We are in summer and every one has brought flowers from one's garden.
What would have been in the German officer's mind, a mere formality, had become a patriotic show and a silent homage to this young man who has given his life for our liberty.
During the service, three German officers in a open car stopped on the road, from a short distance they silently look at the praying crowd and drive away without any other demonstration. If they needed to know towards whom the inhabitants' feelings went in this small village, they knew it by now.

After the war Robert's family came to La Cressonnière to pray at his grave. They chose not to have their son's mortal remains taken back home but to let him rest in this small green valley. On his tomb which La Cressonnière 's inhabitants take care of and place flowers, can be read these words :

Robert R BLAIR
1555577 Flight Sergeant
Royal Air Force
Mort le 6 Juillet 1944 à l’âge de 23 ans
(Killed on July the sixth aged twenty-three)

Loving son
so generous and true
our dearest possession
memories of you

Photo Coll. Mrs Polin
This photo of Robert Blair's grave would have been taken, clandestinely, the next day or two days later of the burial. We see the many small bouquets deposited by the inhabitants, the grave is literally covered with flowers. On the simple wooden cross, the small cross in foliage.


Saint-Martin-de-Bienfaite and La Cressonnière were liberated by Canadian soldiers on the twenty-third of August 1944.
Translated by Monique Dupuis and Guy Muller


Under : copy http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/roh/219.htm
 

City of Dundee
ROLL Of HONOUR
World War II - 1939 to 1945
Name: Robert Robb Blair
Age: 23
Address: 42 Dean Avenue
Next of Kin: Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Blair of Craigiebank, Dundee
Rank: Flight Sergeant
Number: 1555577  
Served With: 257 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Force: Air Force
Date of Death: 06/07/1944
Place of Death: with Allied Exp.Air Force
Historical Information: unknown
Cemetery/Memorial: La Cressonniere Churchyard, Calvados, France
Memorial Ref: 1938
Location Details: unspecified
Information Source: People's Journal 28/10/1944

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1944 - 2004 - 60th ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY - MEMORY

June 5. To mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day, within framework of the official ceremonies commemorative, a deleguation of the Army visited La Cressonnière to place on the tomb of Robert Blair the traditional Red Poppy wreath of British servicemen.
WO1 Joe Fairbairn, Ron Smith, Neil Galpin, Graham Scott.

July 6. For the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the villagers decided to hold a service of commemoration and were keen to have members of Robert's family come over to see him being honoured.
Contact was made with Robert's brother, Thomas Blair, who live in Broughty Ferry. On July 6, Thomas travelled to Normandy for the ceremony along with his son, Robert Robb Blair, in memory of his uncle, daughter-in-law Lorraine and grand-daughter Alison.
Photo : Thomas Blair deposit flowers. Left to right : Alison, Robert, Philippe Pottier mayor of La Cressonnière and Lorraine.
During the reception in the tiny Town hall of La Cressonnière, Thomas Blair presented an inscribed civic quaich, given by the Lord Provost of Dundee John Leford, to the people of La Cressonnière, to thank them for their years of devotion to the war hero from Dundee.
Thomas then spoke with eyewitnesses to the drama and was taken to see the fields into which his brother was shot down in his Hawker Typhoon plane.
To finish, the Blair family were the guests in the personal residence of Mr and Mrs Pottier, for a meal of friendship.

It is hoped that the Blair family find in this page the sincere recognition of the inhabitants of Saint-Martin-de-Bienfaite La Cressonnière.

 PS. This meeting was made possible thanks to the work and especially in the large heart of Mr Jean-Claude Janvier. Although not speaking the language of Skakespeare, it managed to climb the montains and to cross all the borders. Many tanks to Walter Happy, ex RAF serviceman, who acted as interpreter.

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R.A.F.'s OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK.

Robert Blair was allocated to the 257th squadron of the RAF. This unity flew from this time on Typhoon. Squadron code used " FM ".
At the left the badge of the squadron. 257 Squadron's mott means "Death or Glory".
The represented animal is Chinthe, animal at the middle-lion, the middle-dragon, belonging to the Burmese mythology. We meet him in statue, keeping the entrance of temples.

For more details, consult the site History of the RAF: http://rafweb.org/sqn256-260.htm


257'S PILOTS TWO DAYS BEFORE THE D-DAY


 


The RAF's documents were friendly communicated with to us by the Blair family after they visited Normandy in July, 2004.

According to the Operations Record Book, Bob Blair's squadron took off at 4:20 p.m. from its base in Hurn, Hampshire. The squadron was back its base at 6:10 p.m. and Bob Blair was missing.

6.7.1944 The W.C. Flying once more led the Wing on a low level job to prang a bridge over the RIVER RISLE S. of BEAUMONT LE ROGER. Two hits were observed on the track at one end of the bridge and a crater still unrepaired remained from a previous attack at the other end thus cutting line at both ends. Hits were also observed on the supporting arches.
An armed recce led by S.L.Arhens brought very little joy, indeed it brought one of our most popular pilots to grief. F.S. Bob Blair flying as the C.O's N°2 followed his N°1 down to bomb some suspected M.T. on a road. They both bombed but F.S. Blair must have dived too low and the blest and rubble from his own or the C.O's 8 bomb damaged his aircraft and started a glycol leak. There was no flack from M.T. as they were subsequently discovered to have already been pranged. F.S. Blair was ordered to try and make the beachead. He replied that ha would do so. The N°4 in the section was ordered to accompany him but a few minutes later Bob called up in a calm sure voice that his engine was on fire and that he was baling out. His aircraft crashed and blew up. The N°4, F.S. Marriott, reported that the flew low over the crash and saw Bob lying still, on his face, with very little of his white parachute visible. It is believed that the parachute did not have time to open fully due to lack of height.
F.L. Smith led an Armed Recce late tonight in the area of the RIVER SEINE. Bad weather and agreat deal of lightning hindered the operation and the squadron returned to base.
FTR : Failed to return. M.T. : Military Trucks.

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VISIT OF TWO PILOTS FROM 257 SQUADRON ON JUNE THE 5TH 2005.

Jerry Eaton DFC and Briand Spragg DFC, respectively 83 and 82 years old, F/S Robert Blair's companions at 257 squadron came to pray on the grave of their brother in arms, fallen on July, 1944.
Accompanied by seven other veterans all ex-pilots of the RAF, they came to Normandy for the souvenir.
- " I can still see his face. We always went out by eight or twelve. We were a gang of friends." says Jerry Eaton in his excellent French.
This visit in La Cressonnière initiated by the Association for the memory of the wings of the victory in Normandie (ASAVN) was the end of a two days' trip in the course of which the veterans, all former Typhoon pilots (Tiffies colloquially), their families and friends, participated in various ceremonies in Normandy.

 Photo. From left to right :

Briand Spragg and Jerry Eaton talk to the Bienfaitois Jean-Claude Janvier who represented the Blair family. After the war Briand and Jerry chose to stay in the RAF where they made their career and finished both with the rank of Wing Commander.

 

  After the unveiling of a plate affixed on the war memorial of La Cressonnière, the speeches by Bertrand Goucovitch of the ASAVN and Jean Claude Janvier representing the Blair family, there was the traditional one minute of silence. The speeches were repeated in English language by Malcom Gill.

  In front of Robert's grave, a prayer with response was said by Reverend George Wood. [A Typhoon ex-pilot of 263 squadron, shot down aboard a twin-engines Whirlwind on September 1943, in Morlaix area. He then joined England one month later aboard a rowboat with the help of the "Résistance", taking with him a signboard "Feldgendarmerie" ! Which he later gave to the Pégasus bridge Museum of Ouistreham.]

The two pilots went all by themselves to see the field in which Robert's plane crashed, we could see deep feeling on their faces.
About fifty peopole where present at these ceremonies.

A "vin d'honneur" was then offered by the village council of Saint-Martin-de-Bienfaite and served in the city hall closed this day. An exhibition of documents decorated the room. A landing gear leg of Robert's Typhoon found last year in a place called "Le buisson" was also displayed.
Jerry Eaton, was very much the man in demand, because he speaks good French, and he didn't stop telling stories to captivate his audience.
Our English hosts and friends declared themselves happy and moved by these signs of gratitude to these heroes of the RAF.
Translated by Monique Dupuis and Guy Muller



December 2006 - Broughty Ferry - Dundee Tom Blair passed away suddenly but peacefully on Wed 27th december 2006. A celebration of his life took place Wed 3rd Jan 2007.

ON MAI THE 23th 2007 - MIDDLE WALLOP - ENGLAND
We shall be remembering with gratitude the slendid work of Mr & Mrs J-C Janvier, were invited by the "Typhoon Entente Cordiale Fund" for a special French-English meeting "Typhoon" on 23rd May, 2007, to the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop, England.


The Rev'd G.A. Wood and J.C. Janvier in conversation in the Museum of Army Flying

Program :
Starting at 9am for coffee.
The day begins with a church service at approximately 10 am, by Reverend G Wood will be assisted by Fr. Yves Delouche.
Afterwards we shall hear three short (?) talks, followed by luncheron, and then we shall make presentations to our guests.
A flying display will close the day.


ON NOVEMBER 11th 2007 - INAUGURATION OF ROBERT BLAIR STREET


Cemetery of La Cressonnière.
Flags bow to the soldiers died for France.
The providence wanted that the graves of 27-year-old André Ruffray, killed on the Somme in June, 1940, and by the Scottish pilot 23-year-old Robert Blair, of R.A.F., shoot down in July, 1944, are side by side.

 

 

 

 
A street of La Cressonnière bed carries its name attached to that of "André Ruffray & Robert Blair".
André Ruffray was a French soldier killed on June 8th, 1940 in the Somme.
They died while fighting against the Nazism.

 

 


June 6th, 2012 - VILLERS-BOCAGE (in Normandy)
As every year by June 6th, the ASAVN and the Veterans Tiffies, regrettably less and less numerous every year, gather in front of the memorial dedicated to 151 pilots of Typhoon died in the fight in Normandy in 1944.
Robert Blair's name appears in the date there of July 6th, 1944.

See The website of ASAVN


November, 2014
Jerry Eaton died at the beginning of November in his house of Dorset 92 aged.
He was the last surviving pilot of the RAF 257th squadron.
The Mayor and the City Council of Bienfaite sent an official message of condolences to Jerry's family.
Modest hero, of a phlegm "so British", Jerry was French-speaking and francophile.

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