Veteran Stories:
Stanley Lawrence

Air Force

  • The crew preparing for flight (L-R) : Sidney Thompson, John Dunne, Charles Nibet, William Wales, Stanley Lawrence, circa 1944.

  • Stanley Lawrence (3rd from left, back row) and R.A.F Air Crew No. 158 Bomber Squadron, circa 1944.

  • Last entry in Stanley Lawrence's Pilot's log book dated June 2, 1944, in which his plane was shot down over Emance, France and he was the only survivor. Stanley walked south for three days until he found refuge and later met up with the French Resistance.

  • Stanley Lawrence attending the unveiling ceremony in the village of Emance, France for the War Memorial dedicated to the air men who lost their lives in 158 Squadron, June 19 1988.

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"Our plane was shot down by a Focke Wolfe 190 on the night of June the 2nd and 3rd, 1944, on our eleventh trip."

Transcript

My name is Stan Lawrence. I was in the RCAF, but during crewing ended up with the RAF. Our crew completed ten missions starting on April 18, 1944. On one trip to Karlsruhe, our fuel tanks were damaged by flak and we were unable to make it back and landed at Larsen in Kent. Two nights later, we again spent the night in southern England due to the flak damage to the flight controls. On a trip to Acheres we lost an engine over the target but were able to make it back to base on three engines. Our plane was shot down by a Focke Wolfe 190 on the night of June the 2nd and 3rd, 1944, on our eleventh trip. The raid was at a very low level on the railway marshalling yards at Trappes. We were hit after bombing the target and before we could gain altitude. The plane made a large circle and crashed into a wooded area near the small town of Emance approximately 30 kilometres southwest of Trappes. The plane was on fire and Bill Chant, the pilot, gave the order to bail out immediately. On the order, I removed the escape hatch below my seat and bailed out. Bruce Black was ready to follow, so it is assumed that he was the only other one to get out. But due to the low level, his parachute did not have time to open. I walked about 80 kilometres before being picked up by the French Resistance forces who took me to a school in the town of Merevilliers, where I stayed with a schoolteacher's family for about two weeks. They then moved me to a camp for escapees in the Freteval Forest southwest of the City of Chateaudun. After about two and a half months the American 3rd Army liberated the area and the camp on August 13, 1944. Forty-three years after the crash a French organization named Ancient Wings found parts of our aircraft during their research into the location and restoration of old aircraft shot during the war. Parts identification and the Ministry of Defence records revealed the names of the crew. The village of Amanzi decided to honour the members of the crew who died in the crash by having their names inscribed on the war memorial monument in their town square. And I was asked to take part in the ceremony. My wife and I attended along with representatives of the RAF, the 158 Squadron, the Ancient Wings Association, the French Army, the British, Canadian and Australian Embassies and the Amanzi and surrounding area residents.
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