Listen to track sample

ALY COOK

SASSENAY

from the HORSESHOE RODEO HOTEL album.

DD136 – ALY COOK – SASSENAY

 

On August 15 1943, RNZAF Flight Lieutenant Royston Taylor, from Hastings New Zealand and RAAF Airman Warrant Officer John Henry DUGAN from Hamilton NSW Australia, took off in a Lancaster bomber on a mission to Milan. The flight crew of eight including airmen from England, Canada, Australia & New Zealand crashed in a field near Sassenay, France, after being attacked by a night fighter. The people of the small village were certain the crew sacrificed themselves, turning the plane up on its wing, costing their own lives to avoid crashing in the village. Also, one of the villagers,19 year old Gabriel Badet died when he was electrocuted by fallen wires, whilst running to rescue the men from the burning plane. So every year, on August 15th, the villagers hold a memorial service for Airman.

Recording artist Aly Cook was the first New Zealander to visit the grave of the men whilst on tour to Europe in 2011, Aly became aware of almost forgotten story after attending a media press conference related to the nearby festival she was performing at.

In 1985 a monument was erected at the site of the crash and all the air force representatives came to acknowledge the people of Sassenay and honor the men. New Zealand had declined to attend, as this was the same time the French Naval Agents had bombed the Greenpeace vessel The Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour. French/New Zealand relations were strained at this time. The people of Sassenay asked Aly if she could change that after 26 years and have the RNZAF and New Zealand Government recognise the monument.