low embankment, burst into flames and all four men were killed.
It was fortunate that Madame de Gaulle knew nothing of this
attempt to rescue her. Had she waited in Carantec, she might have
been captured, and the consequences of that would have been
extremely serious, to put it mildly. In the event, she found a car in
which she drove with her children to Brest. They were delayed,
because on the way the car broke down. Had it not, they would
have gone onboard a ship which later in the day was sunk in the
English Channel with the loss of almost all onboard. Instead, they
found room on the last boat to leave Brest before the Germans
to the important mission of trying to persuade the King of the Belgians not to give up
the armed struggle, and to bring him to England. The officer who replaced Colonel
Franck was my uncle and godfather, Captain Norman Hope. Employed before the war
by BP, he had lived in Saigon in French Indo-China, as it then was,so was a fluent
French speaker. The mission was considered extremely dangerous and required
volunteers, the Walrus crews drew lots to see who would go. Fl/Lt. John Bell and Sgt.
Charles Harris, both Australians drew the lots.
From the time of take off nothing was heard from the aircraft. The time of the return
of the aircraft depended on whether Captain Hope could find the family and also on
events on the Brittany coast. The Germans were expected to approach the vicinity by
15:00 hours on the 18th. On 19th June, a Motor Torpedo Boat 29, after embarking an
interpreter and a skiff, dispatched from England to the same locality, to arrive off the
main channel to Morlaix at 00:01 hours on 20th June. The Motor Torpedo Boat
returned on 20th June, reporting that the interpreter had landed, but found the village
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1. Ploudaniel, Department of Finistere, France
2. To rescue Charles Degaulle's wife and children from France in June 1940
and bring them to safety in England.
3. Their plane crashed and all four crew members died.
They were quickly buried in Ploudaniel Churchyard
right before the Germans captured the area.
|Answer to Quiz #349
April 29, 2012
|1. Where are these graves located?
2. What unusual and dangerous mission these men were on?
3. What happened to them?
|Forensic Genealogy dedicates this quiz
in honor of the Armed Forces of Australia and New Zealand.
Happy ANZAC Day - April 25, 2012.
|The idea for this quiz was submitted by Richard Wakeham.
|Congratulations to Our Winners
Donna Jolley Nicole Blank
Robert W. Austin Amber Goodpaster Tauscher
Eloise Hardman Peter Norton
Elizabeth S. Olsen Shirley Yurekewich
Debbie Sterbinsky Don Draper
Debbie Was Shirley Hamblin
Arthur Hartwell Sally Garrison
Gary Sterne Judy Kiss
Grace Hertz Judy Bradley
Fiona Brooker Deborah Lee Stweart
Richard Wakeham Bill Utterback
Margaret Waterman Jim Kiser
Judy Pfaff Claudio Trapote
Moshe Schaeffer Sharon Martin
Justin Campoli Margaret Paxton
Benjamin Hollister Carol Farrant
Daniel Jolley Janice M. Sellers
Robert E. McKenna
Quiz Poet Laureate
On 17 June 1940, the day her husband escaped to England,
Madame De Gaulle and her children were at Carantec on the north
coast of Brittany. They had taken refuge there with an aunt after
leaving the family home at Colombey Les Deux Eglises about a
month before. The Germans were advancing fast towards Western
France, and when General De Gaulle reached London, he asked that
urgent steps be taken to rescue his wife and family.
The decision was taken with Winston Churchill's agreement to send
a plane with an SOE intelligence officer who was fluent in French
to carry out this rescue. It had been intended that the mission
should be carried out by Colonel Louis Franck, but he was diverted
|Comments from Our Readers
This is the first time I've ever heard this story. It was extremely fascinating. As I was
searching for more information, a photo of the plane that was flown popped up. It
looked so top heavy - it seems to challenge the very laws of flight and physics. Great
quiz! Sally Garrison
I agree. Without that ending, it would have been an overall horrid story. As I read over
the information, I wondered how she must have felt when she learned of the effort to
save her and her children…that puts another layer onto the story. So many times we
think of our histories as only the “Who’s”, not the “Why’s” nor “Where’s” nor “How
Did That Affect Them”. It’s all so intertwined.
I enjoy that the quizzes make us delve into that human side of the story as well.
Thank you so much! Eloise Hardman
I like any puzzle that teaches me something new. I also like to read about WWII so this
week's puzzle was fascinating. This was a new one for me. I hadn't run across it
before in my reading. Yes it was easy but the real life story made up for it. I also
appreciate any military themed quizzes and have immense pride in our veterans. I was
up in Canada this week and visited the military cemetery where my father is buried. He
was part of the invasion of Normandy on D-Day and also part of a unit that attempted
to capture a German U-Boat. I visited my 91 year old uncle who was part of the
liberation of Holland. The men who lost their lives attempting to rescue DeGaulle's
family were part of an amazing generation of folks. Shirley Hamblin
I don’t recall ever hearing about Madame DeGaulle’s situation either. I think she should
have purchased a lottery ticket** on June 18, 1940. One doesn’t usually have that
much good luck all in one day.
** I know. There was no lottery.
The quiz wasn’t too easy. I almost gave up. Then I was ready to guess the flight
crew was buried in England. But a little perseverance paid off. Carol Farrant
A Google search for "Captain Hope" "intelligence corps" led to several pages on the
subject. Another fascinating story. Thanks Colleen. Robert W. Austin
I finally located the Aircrew Remembrance Society site, apparently the source of your
photo, and that just says "Ploudaniel churchyard," so I'm still in the dark about the
name of the church. I ran across the St. Yves reference on Flickr, but I only find a St.
Yves church in another hamlet down the road. I really should take better notes as I do
these searches, but I get excited and I flit, driven by drafts and breezes of success or
failure and the whimsy of each new idea. Systematic, schmystematic, says I.
Another of the endless poignant stories of war at the level of the individual: the bravery,
the tragedy. Peter Norton
N.B. Another of the endless interesting quizzes at the level of genius - the ingenuity,
the cleverness. - Q. Gen.
It was touching to read that the villagers cared for the original grave markers and
surroundings even though they were in an occupied area. Don Draper
A very interesting tale about the crash of the plane Walrus on 18 June 1940! I
wondered what happened to Mme DeGaulle and her daughter so I did some hunting.
Looks like their guardian angels were working triple overtime!!!!!! Grace Hertz
Started at the Aircrew Remembrance Society (nice site), had a brief sojourn to the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Fiona Brooker
The biggest clue was the 'Air Crew Remembrance Society' in the lower left hand
corner. Then, I searched on N. E. Hope at that site and got the whole story. I could
also see C.W. Harris, so that with the picture confirmed I had found the right
information. Judy Pfaff
N.B. Yes I realized that, so I blocked the logo and reposted the quiz. Just shows the
benefit of surfing in early and often. - Q. Gen.
That was an easy one!! Benjamin Hollister
This was my first! Long time fan of your book but I just found the website. I just
finished the BU course and I'm looking for more forensics! I don't think we've been in
touch before. I am active, locally, and with APG & NGS. We may have crossed paths
at a conference. I enjoyed the quiz! Elizabeth Olsen
I thought...when reading about Mme DeGaulle, how with all the planning gone awry
she and her children still ended up being safe. I don't know what it says about making
too many plans, but I think sometimes you can try a little too hard and not get the
results you want for sure. Nicole Blank
|How Debby Solved the Puzzle
|How I found my answers:
Started with the Commonwealth War graves website:
http://www.cwgc.org/ and did a search for the man listed on the
grave on the left side of the picture "N. Hope". There were two
results but since the epitaph read Captain N. E. Hope - I picked
Captain Norman Edward Hope.
HOPE, NORMAN EDWARD
Rank: Captain Service No: 141140 Date of Death: 18/06/1940
Regiment/Service: Intelligence Corps Grave Reference Grave 1.
Cemetery PLOUDANIEL CHURCHYARD
Country: France Locality: Finistere
Then I Googled "Ploudaniel Churchyard" and got a lot of hits that
made reference to RAAF Squadron No. 10 and WWII and the
mission to evacuate the de Gaulle family. This was the first hit:
|Ploudaniel is a village and commune about 13
miles (21 kilometres) north-east of Brest, on
the Landerneau-Lesneven road. Ploudaniel is
on a branch railway line from Brest, but
services are not frequent and the most
convenient way of reaching the village is by
taxi from Brest. The churchyard is on the
western side of the Landerneau-Lesneven
road, which runs through the village. On the
eastern side of the churchyard, south of the
war memorial, are the graves of one soldier
and one airman belonging to the forces of the
United Kingdom and two airmen of the Royal
Australian Air Force.
Fl/Lt. John Napier Bell. Ploudaniel Churchyard, Brittany,France. Grave 4.
Son of John Henry and Eva Annie Bell Farina, South Australia.
Cpl. Bernard Felix Nowell. Ploudaniel Churchyard, Brittany, France. Grave 3.
Son of Lawrence and Gertrude Nowell; husband of Susan Ann Nowell Bognor Regis,
Sgt. Charles William Harris. Ploudaniel Churchyard, Brittany, France. Grave 2.
Son of William Charles and Denah Christina Harris; husband of Joyce Florence Evelyn
Harris Croydon, New South Wales, Australia.
Cptn. Norman Edward Hope. Ploudaniel Churchyard, Brittany, France. Grave 1.
No further details
No. 10 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force was the only Australian squadron to serve
continuously for the duration of the Second World War in Europe. It was a coastal
command squadron mainly operating Sunderland's from Pembroke and Plymouth, with
6 U-Boat kills in WW2, it also operated a number of other amphibians including the
Catalina's and Walrus's. They arrived at Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire on 3rd
September 1939 and trained under R.A.A.F. Command. On 10th october 1940 they
were placed under Coastal Command Control, for European War Operations. Then to
Mount Batten, Plymouth, Devon on 1st April 1940.
of the crew were the first Australian Air force casualties of the war.
Kevin Baff had the perseverance of experise of the true researcher,
and in the late 1970's and early 1980's, he was gradually piecing the
story together. What happened was this.
On 17 June, Norman travelled with his orders to a Coastal
Command base near Plymouth, and was directed to a Supermarine
Walrus, an amphibious aircraft with a crew of three, Flt Lieut John
Bell and Sgt Charles Harris both of the 10th Squadron RAAF, and
Cpl Bernard Nowell, RAF. The purpose of the flight was so secret
that no one at the base knew where the aircraft was going. Norman's briefing was to
the crew only.
On 17 June, Norman travelled with his orders to a Coastal Command base near
Plymouth, and was directed to a Supermarine Walrus, an amphibious aircraft with a
crew of three, Flt Lieut John Bell and Sgt Charles Harris both of the 10th Squadron
RAAF, and Cpl Bernard Nowell, RAF. The purpose of the flight was so secret that no
one at the base knew where the aircraft was going. Norman's briefing was to the crew
The aircraft was fully armed ready to keep defensive watch at all times. They took off
at about 0300 on 18 June with the intention of reaching Carantec at first light.
They crossed the Breton coast about 20km west of Carantec, and it is believed they
were fired on by the Germans or possibly the French. Having been hit,the pilot was
attempting to land in a field close to Ploudaniel, about 18km inland, when the plane hit a
already occupied by the Germans.
It is public knowledge that Madame De
Gaulle and her children escaped by boat
from Brest on 18 June. The following day,
the Germans completed their conquest of
Brittany. For 40 years, we did not know
what had happened to those on board the
My father noted laconically in his private
war diary, '17 June. Norman Hope flew
over to France on a special mission and no further news was received about him.'
Some time later, Norman's wristwatch and some other personal effects were brought
out of France by an escaping Frenchman. In February 1941, my father noted, 'Marjorie
heard from the War Office that Norman must now be presumed to have been killed in
France on 17(sic) June 1940.' Marjorie was Norman's wife and my aunt. She never
referred to him in the hearing of my brother, my cousin or me, but when she died in
1982, there were instructions that the notice of her death should include the words,
'widow of Norman Hope, Chevalier du Legion d'Honneur.' And she had the medal. In
the way things turn out, it was too late to find out anything from my aunt. But we
needed to find out something about Norman's final hours from somebody.
Thanks to a small number of important personal contacts, including Colonel Franck,
my cousin was put in touch with Flt Lieut Kevin Baff, the historian of No 10 Squadron,
Royal Australian Air Force. He had been particularly interested in the flight because two
In the field near Ploudaniel, a number of people gathered at the site of the crash, and the
bodies of my uncle and the crew members were carefully retrieved from the burnt out
aircraft, and buried in the town cemetery. All this with the Wehrmacht almost upon
After the war, the War Graves Commission put headstones on the graves, and the
townspeople continue to remember these four casualties of war on All Souls' Day (2
November) and other times of remembrance.
My cousin, brother and I are certain my aunst never visited the grave. We assume she
must have received information from the War Graves Commission that her husband
was buried in Ploudaniel. All that is symptom of a family mystery we are unlikely to
unravel. However, in 2003, we were able after long preparations, to visit the grave, and
get as close as we could to the site of the crash: Kevin Baff had established from
contacts in the area that the field layout had been substantially altered. It was deeply
moving to be there, and we said prayers of remembrance for Norman and the crew of
|Élisabeth de Gaulle,|
wife de Boissieu
|1 January 1928|
|6 February 1948 (of|