SAINT-MARTIN-DE-BIENFAITE - LA CRESSONNIERE
A village in Normandy
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.
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.
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)
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
1944 - 2004 - 60th ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY - MEMORY
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.
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
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
For more details, consult the site History of the RAF:
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.
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.
Photo. From left
to right :
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
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.
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 -
The Rev'd G.A. Wood and J.C. Janvier in conversation in the Museum of Army Flying
ON NOVEMBER 11th 2007 - INAUGURATION OF ROBERT BLAIR STREET
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
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.