Photos courtesy of Sally Sorel, 2014, and here is her report:
I'm sending you a few photos taken this past weekend, so you can see the new plaque (no errors this time!). The plaque looks really nice, even if Belfonds couldn't afford marble. The content of the plaque is unchanged but the ordering of the paragraphs is more logical and flows better.
About 150 people attended the ceremony, and all weekend a steady stream of people visited the exhibit concerning the crash, and the resistance movement in Belfonds at the time of the crash.
Michelle Hammon (captain, US army), great-niece of navigator Francis Hackley (who died in the crash) and her husband David (Warrant Officer 5, US army) were present, guests at our home for the 3 days they were here. Wonderful people!
Michelle was able to meet an eye-witness, Raymond Brillart, who burst into tears when he saw Michelle. He was 13 at the time of the crash when, taking the sheep to pasture, he saw the plane crash and a burning body and flaming parachute (Francis Hackley) literally drop almost at his feet. He was so scared he lost his "sabot" (wooden shoe) running home. He told Michelle and David that he keeps an American flag and a photo of Francis Hackley in his living room ... which set MICHELLE, in turn, crying.
The group photo shows Michelle and David Hammon at the exhibit, with myself, and Mr and Mrs. Collin. Denise Collin was the primary instigator behind the documentary exhibit. Her father was head of the resistance movement in the area. Her father, mother, brother and older sister were all arrested and deported; only her sister survived the death camps; she was present at the ceremony - see names "Paysant" on the memorial plaque.
Denise, 14 at the time of the crash, was "spared" by the local Gestapo.
Last but maybe not least: all the testimony, artifacts, anecdotes, citations, etc., collected for the exhibit are stored in the regional archives in Alençon, France, and available to the public (10 miles from Belfonds).