HONORS FOR A LOST PILOT, PART 4.
................."That was the last anybody saw or heard of him (Flt/Sgt Thursby) for 41 years when he was discovered still in his aeroplane buried under 23 feet of mud in the marsh near the village of St. Marguerite-de-Viette.
Members of the former French Resistance knew of his plight and indignant that nothing was done about it decided to press for action. They enlisted the aid of the Bayeux Museum in excavating the marshes and the plane and pilot were found.
The French Government gave him a full military burial in 1985, then 60 years after he died in 2004 they again honoured him with the commemoration of a new plaque in his name at Mittois Calvados. 198 Squadron was not solely UK personnel but was more multicultural with Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Free French amongst the compliment. One such pilot was an Australian, P/O Donald William Mason. He died on the 18th June 1944, or went "missing", and was not found for 49 years, buried in a field near Boulon, France.
The peoples of this northern district of France in this year of D-Day remembrance have yet again shown their gratitude to these young men who gave their lives to liberate them. Both Reg and Don are buried very close to each other in the St. Charles De Percy War Cemetery.................."
(Ron Thursby's four part family history for the WFHG finishes with the line, "Is Reg a relative of mine?, this is still a fuzzy area in time, maybe, maybe not.!" Whatever the answer thanks to Ron's researches a courageous young man has deservedly been remembered.)
When Flt/Sgt Reginald Thursby RAFVR failed to return from operations in the Falaise Gap area on the 9th of August 1944 nothing more was heard until forty one years later when his remains were found near the Normandy village of St Marquerite-de-Viette.
Below, copied from an original RAF document, is Sqn/Ldr Ezanno's 1944 report on the loss of Flt/Sgt Thursby.
10th August 1944
CIRCUMSTANTIAL REPORT - 1321893 F/Sgt THURSBY, R. A.
Reported Missing on 9th August 1944.
I have the honour to refer to 123 Wing Headquarters signal T.201 dated 9th August 1944 and to submit the following circumstantial report on the above named airman reported missing from operations.
- Eight Typhoons 1B of 198 Squadron, led by S/Ldr Y. P. E. H. Ezanno, C de G, took off from B7 A.L.G., Martragny, France at 1815 hours on 9th August, 1944 on an ARMED RECCE south of FALAISE, F/Sgt Thursby was flying in Green Section made up of four aircraft, led by F/Lt Sweeting D.F.C. and F/Sgt Thursby was flying as Green 4.
- At about 1830 hours this section attacked gun positions at FOURCHES and afterwards made an attack on the BOIS DE FEUILLET in which movement of troops and tanks had been suspected. After this attack Green 4 (F/Sgt Thursby.) called up on the R/T to say that he had been hit by flak and was on fire, but that he would try to put the fire out, and make for our lines. The last time he was seen he was climbing with a slight stream of smoke pouring from his aircraft.
- He asked for a homing and two minutes later informed Operations on the R/T that he was going to bale out. It is uncertain whether he landed in our own lines or the enemy lines. Nothing further has been heard of F/Sgt Thursby and he has been reported "Missing".
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
Squadron Leader, Commanding,
No: 198 Squadron, RAF.
The following is taken from one of the Whyalla Family History Group's Newsletters for 2004 and is used by kind permission of Ron Thursby, Australia.