Hordley Crew, Sérifontaine, North of Gisors, France

Lancaster ND567, EM-V, of 207 Squadron at RAF Spilsby was shot down on the night of 7th/8th July 1944 in an attack on St.Leu d'Esserent

George Baker, the Flight Engineer, evaded for a while but was then captured: the Navigator, Sgt WR 'Mac' Brown successfully evaded.

The pilot, F/O Hordley, and the four other members of the crew who were killed - Sgt F Booth, P/O H Burgess, Sgt A Holmes and Sgt G Cooper are buried in the National Cemetery, Marissel, Beauvais.

The aircraft crashed on the edge of woods near Sérifontaine, which is not far from another 207 memorial at Neaufles-St.-Martin

On 8th July 1995 George Baker, with AVM David Dick, President of 207 Squadron RAF Association, were among those laying wreaths at a ceremony to dedicate a new stone cross commemorating his crew.

This was erected by the local Commune to replace the original wooden cross.

The aircraft crashed in the woods behind the memorial.

A piece of the wreckage has been fixed in the plinth.
sources: Winton and Haslam

Google Maps - Sérifontaine

George Baker

In March 2013 Friend Member James Woods wrote: I have recently been given a badly damaged old photograph of my grandad, Sgt George Baker of the Hordley crew (ND567). He carried the photograph for years. As you can see it appears to have been taken on the outside of the wire of a prison camp, my guess is that it is probably Luckenwalde [where George, on the left, ended up after the long march from Bankau PoW camp: possibly this photo was taken after Luckenwalde was liberated by the Russians].

The Hordley family returns

On the weekend of 22/23 June 2013 the Hordley family took part in ceremonies arranged by the local authorities.

Peter Hordley, nephew of F/O Trevor Hordley, the pilot, writes: My uncle Trevor was one of three brothers who all served in the war, my father and his other brother both served in the army.

The family became aware of an annual commemoration held for the 'Hordley Crew' at the site of the crash. It is organised by the local commune of Serifontaine and normally held on the anniversary of the crash. The commune paid for the permanent memorial which was dedicated on 8 July 1995 and was attended by AVM David Dick and the last surviving member of the crew at that time [as shown above].

My sister and I attended the commemoration for the first time this year and on behalf of the family, as Trevor's only daughter Christine, who he never saw, is too unwell to travel. We have been sent a photograph by a representative of the community showing a picture taken last year, with a humbling degree of local representation and range of colours in attendance.

The commemoration in 2013

This year the Hordley Crew commemoration was held at 1100hrs on Sunday 23 June, part of a significant weekend commemoration which the community were concurrently holding a marking the liberation of Sérifontaine.

We had an emotional roller coaster of a weekend, visiting the National Military cemetery in Beauvais-Marissel on Saturday, with Trevor's grave alongside 30 other RAF crew who all died on 8th July 1944, presumably in the raid on St Leu d'Esserent. It was quite poignant to see how the British war dead, mostly RAF, buried in one double row in the centre of the cemetery, including about 8 SAS soldiers, were surrounded by a sea of French dead from WW1

Sunday was a really unforgettable experience for us. Jacques [Jacques Favier, a historian] had publicised Trevor's story and our impending attendance in the local newspapers as a part of the weekend Liberation commemorations in Sérifontaine.

We attended the memorial commemoration in the town centre at the cenotaph before journeying 3km out of town onto a plateau, where the plane had crashed in a nearby wood. As shown above the site is marked with a permanent memorial on the roadside adjacent to the wood and paid for by the community.

We were introduced to two gentlemen who, as teenagers living nearby, had heard the crash, both of whom are now in their 86th year. One lived in a farm several hundred metres from the crash site. He and his son bundled us into a 4x4 as soon as we arrived at the site and took us across three fields that had been especially mown on the edges to enable our passage. The father brought us down the heavily wooded slope to see the distinct groove in the landscape where the fuselage came to rest.

We returned hurriedly to the memorial site to find an estimated 200 official representatives and community citizens by the memorial. The band, which had paraded in the town along with a cavalcade of historic war vehicles and their uniformed occupants, had also come up in convoy, which subsequently fell into serried ranks for the ceremony. We were surprised to find that the President of the Conseil Genéral de L'Oise was also present with the Mayor.

With a full PA system on site, one of the mayoral representatives read out a double A4 page on the story of the raid that preceded the crash and also the background to our presence that day.

After the civic and military representatives had laid their flower wreaths, I presented the Association's letters to the Mayor with a brief statement in French, before laying the Association's wreath. My sister followed with the family wreath. Both the French and UK National Anthems followed before the proceedings were brought to a conclusion, but not before an unexpected event.

Jacques Favier, in English, said that they had a surprise for the family and produced a piece of the Lancaster wrapped in an RAF flag. The piece of aluminium had been in the possession of a local family for the past 70 years and having seen the article in the newspaper, they wanted to return it to the family and to Christine. That was quite unexpected, very touching, and I admit to feeling the tears falling as I received it on behalf of the family.

June 2013: at the site of the memorial dedicated in 1995, with the ‘surprise for the Hordley family’ (below)

Editor: I am grateful to Kevin Mapley for this information. Kevin provided the Hordley family with letters from the Association for the French organisers, and a wreath from the Association.

There are some good photos taken in 2009 of the Memorial on this website:

Sgt Fred Booth, Wireless Operator

David Booth is Fred Booth's nephew. He has provided this photo of his Uncle. He has visited his grave and plans to visit the crash site.

David had read that the aircraft was lost 'by the DCA of Gournay' but did not know what this meant. The Sérifontaine blog below appears to be a source. It says:

"Malgré ce qu'en pensait l'un des survivants (Georges Baker) il ne fut pas abattu par un avion allemand mais par la DCA de Gournay. André Velu, qui habitait alors Mainneville, vit depuis sa fenêtre le tir et le début de la chute de l'avion."

"In spite of what one of the survivors thought (George Baker) he was not shot down by a German plane but by the DCA of Gournay. André Velu, who was then living in Mainneville, saw the shooting  and the beginning of the crash of the plane from his window."

DCA is the acronym for Défense Contre Avions (Anti Aircraft Defence). Apparently to the NNW of Sérifonaine, in the area of Bézancourt and Gournay-en-Bray, the Germans had radar and where there is radar there is often Flak.
http://www.atlantikwall.info/radar/france/rf_.htm - search for Gournay

Sérifontaine Blog Hordley Crew Memorial page (in French)

page last updated 19 Dec 13: 18 Nov 17: 30 Dec 18