Sergeant P.A.Turner

Patrick Anthony Turner was born on October 14th, 1922 in the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Rhyl.  He was the son of Thomas Turner (licensed victualler of the Foryd Harbour Hotel) and Norah, nee Phillips.  He died on February 24th, 1944 when the plane, in which he was flying his first operational sortie, was shot down over the village of Marly, Moselle, France.  He is remembered on our War Memorial here in Rhyl and also in Towyn and Abergele.

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Part of the War Memorial at the Garden of Remembrance, Rhyl.

A historian from Marly has written to Rhyl History Club to ask whether anyone has any information about Sgt. Turner.  He would particularly like a photograph of him.

TURNER Patrick Anthony, Sergeant Mid-upper gunner, 1661472, Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve (100 Sqdn.) and four of his fellow crew members are buried in Marly, and are not forgotten.

“The grave that fate has given them here in Marly has not been and will never be abandoned”

(Jean Thiriot, 1946)

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The graves of the five airmen in Marly Cemetery: Bomb Aimer 1233182 Flt/Sgt John Carter GRINDROD, Rear Gunner 1351107 Sgt Maurice Herbert MESSENGER, Wireless Operator 1294908 Sgt Joseph Henry SULLIVAN,  Mid-upper gunner, 1661472 Sgt. Patrick Anthony TURNER, Pilot 133632 F/O Vernon Llewelyn Bowen JONES.

The village of Marly came very close to being destroyed on the evening of February 24th, 1944.  Early warning sirens woke the villagers at about 9.20pm, they heard aircraft engines getting closer and closer.  At the same time anti-aircraft spotlights searched the sky and German anti-aircraft guns were heard.  Then a red light illuminated the sky and a burning plane, losing altitude quickly, was headed straight for the village.

turnerA tremendous explosion rocked the village – the burning plane, Lancaster JB604 HW-S, had just exploded near the mill located on the banks of the River Seille.  There were seven crew on the Lancaster Bomber that night, the bodies of five airmen were found lying near to the site of the crash.  Two airmen had managed to parachute to safety before the explosion but were taken as prisoners of war.  The explosion caused great damage to the village of Marly.  The occupying Germans surpressed the funeral service of the airmen and rushed their burial.  They were buried in haste in the early hours of February 26th, 1944 with no blessing or military honours.  Two years later, on February 24th 1946 , Mr Jean Thiriot, the president and general secretary of the local section of the escapees and resistance movement for Moselle, organised a commemorative ceremony to honour the five heroic allied airmen killed in action. In front of a deeply moved and contemplative crowd Mr Thiriot read his poem by way of a eulogy to the five airmen:

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Glory be to our fallen Liberators

The right honourable Member of Parliament
The right honourable local councillor
The right honourable commander of the military delegation
The right honourable chairmen and women of the other delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of everybody gathered here today at the cemetery
I wish to take a moment to meditate by this graveside all covered in flowers
and draped in flags.
On this anniversary, it is with heartfelt emotion that I also want to remind

all those here present of the death of these 5 airmen who will forever be
considered as those who helped bring us our freedom.
It is these 5 heroes struck down in their prime 2 years ago that I wish to
honour today.
A merciless twist of fate has meant that they are now buried here in our tiny
cemetery in Marly far from the parents who previously hoped for nothing
more than the safe return of their sons from the war, far from a loving wife
and children grieving their lost ones who want nothing more than to grieve
their loss at a grave in their local cemeteries.

It is to them that I express the gratitude of every inhabitant of Marly
and all of France.

And to you their parents from across the channel who are mourning their deaths can today stop worrying about their fate.
They will forever have our heartfelt gratitude for is it not through their
actions and ultimate sacrifice that the hated nazis and cruel oppressors
were banished from Moselle. For were they not the forerunners of the final
liberation of our beloved Lorraine.
Each time they passed overhead, betrayed by the air-raid sirens and the
humming of their 4 engines, so difficult to make out so high were they
flying, that our fervor towards them remains undiminished even today.
Each time we come to the cemetery and lay flowers on the grave we will
shed our tears and shed tears for you their parents as well.
The grave that fate has given them here in Marly has not been and will
never be abandoned.
As for you, thee magnificent heroes, rest in peace forever
Admirable soldiers from the British Isles
At the foot of this cross in your final resting place
Your destiny will never be forgotten just as our gratitude
will never cease, for it is thanks to you and your sacrifice that
Marly has been restored to France and
France has returned to Marly.

Jean THIRIOT, February 24th, 1946

Below are recent photographs from Marly, showing that seventy years on, the allied airmen are still remembered and honoured.  The five airmen rest in peace in the old village cemetery in Marly where their graves are well cared for and adorned with flowers all year round.

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Marly’s historian, who has been researching this for fifteen years, has details and photographs of Sgt. Turner’s crew members, but none of Sgt. Turner – can you help?  If so, comment below or alternatively e-mail Rhyl History Club at rhylhistoryclub@gmail.com

see also:

http://www.aircrewremembered.com/raf1944/jones.html

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