It is time to bring back the
memory of a young pilot, Warrant Officer Donald Bertram Kairton, who came from a
far away place, a long way from his parents, to sacrifice his life for the ideal
of defending Liberty, democracy and human dignity.
First, we have to thank the
Mayor and his Municipal Council for their warm and cordial welcome, and for
their spontaneity in the preparation of today's ceremony. Lets not forget the
work done in the past by the elected members and the inhabitants of the town of
the Gué de la Chaîne (the organisation of the funeral, the pilot's burial place,
remembrance ceremony on the 50th anniversary…)
We must not forget the numerous actors who helped in the chain
of events to give homage to the pilot:
- Mme Karen Papacek, Australian
citizen, painter in the nearby town of la Perrière.
- Mr Ron Creevey,
her uncle, resident of Australia.
- Mr Rudolf von Berkum, Australian
citizen, who supplied us with the music of the Australian National
- Mr Derek Palmer, 19th RAF Squadron' s historian
Australian military authorities
- Mme Leblond
In the organisation of this ceremony, our association, the
Association Normande du Souvenir Aérien 1939-1945, works above all for the duty
to the memory, and has only played a catalytic role.
We are now going to get
acquainted with Warrant Officer Donald Bertram Kairton whose life was taken in
the town of the Gué de la Chaîne on the 14th June 1944 at 0630 a.m.
Donald Bertram Kairton is an
exceptional man, particularly attaching, whose earthly life was short-lived and
does not reflect the intense and exuberance already deployed.
What a journey!
His parents can be proud of
You are probably noticing
that I am talking about Warrant Officer Donald Bertram Kairton in the present
tense, although this young man lost his carnal presence on 14th June 1944, his
spirit stays, and he is amongst us and rest a few hundred metres from here in
Time to go back in
We are the 14th June 1944,
eight days after D-Day, the day where the allied forces debarked in Normandy.
The fragile bridgehead of the allied is established. The German staff
headquarters tries to send reinforcement in the area with a maximum of troops,
materials and supply. A difficult task in day time as the allied has control of
the sky. From the sky all movements on the ground, road, rail, river and
maritime is quickly noticed with adapted militaries means.
Let's not forget the important
role of the Resistance who supplied the allied with details on the Germans
It is early, dawn and
daybreak. It is 5.20 am in England, planes from the RAF 19th squadron take off
from the Huntington airport 10 kms west of Winchester for a new recognition
mission, bombing, strafing. These planes are North American P51 "Mustang",
marvellous plane produced by two modern technologies, fruit of
- on one side, the American aeronautic industry, who conceived
the plane in the brief delay of 117 days,
- on the other side, the British aeronautic industry, with
their prestigious Rolls Royce Merlin's engine.
One of these "Mustang" is
piloted by Warrant Officer Donald Bertram Kairton for whom it will be the last
On the road axis
Bellême-Mamers, German convoys are heading for the Normandy front and it is when
attacking one of these convoys that Warrant Officer Donald Bertram Kairton's
plane is hit. The plane crashed at the locality of Rocé, near the town of the
Gué de la Chaîne, and following the crash Warrant Officer Donald Bertram Kairton
Who are you Donald Bertram
You are born a British citizen to Wilfrid and Evelyn Kairton,
your parents, in Newcastle (New South Wales, Australia) on 23 August 1921. With
them, you then reside in two different towns in Queensland (Babinda, XXXXX). You
do your secondary studies in Queensland:
- at Babinda High School from 1933
- then Cairns High School in 1936
and Hornburgh College, Charters Towers, in 1937
You get your diploma of secondary studies in November 1937 with
a mention in French and shorthand.
Following this, you exercise the profession of Human
Resources secretary, in the Babinda's sawmill section, followed by the
profession of journalist at The Cairns Post (at the time, when you engage
yourself in the RAAF, the staff and direction of the newspaper offer you a
For leisure you practice
- cricket ( can be played over
a few days)
You are a musician, a drummer
in your father's orchestra "orchestre de danse Kairton".
You enrol in the midst of
the 51st Australian battalion from February 1939 to October 1941. It is on 8 the
November 1941 that you engage yourself in the RAAF, in Brisbane (Queensland).
You are then 20 years old and single. Your physical characteristics noted on
your engagement day are height 1.80 m, weight 82 kgs, blue eyes, light brown
hair and a scar on the chin.
You embark to fight overseas
on the 23rd June 1942 and disembark in Canada on the 9th August 1942. You are
going to be 21 years of age and you integrate the RCAF's training
From the harbour of Halifax
(Canada) you embark towards the United Kingdom on 28th December 1942 and
disembark on British ground the 8th January 1943 where you are affected to
different training units belonging to the RAAF (17th AFU, 57th OTU, 2nd
You integrate the 19th RAF
Squadron on the 5th February 1944; you are 22 years of age.
This fighter squadron, created during the First World War, is
already famous as they fought against Baron Von Richthofen and his red
tri-plane. This squadron was the first of the RAF to be equipped with the famous
fighter Spitfire on 4th August 1938 and saw in its ranks fight the famous
plane "Mustang" on which you fly appears amongst this unit in January
On 5th June 1944, the 19th
Squadron is integrated in the 2nd TAF (British equivalent to the 9th American
Airforce) in the role of tactical support to the debarked forces.
You have the reputation of
being "a fine pilot" which means "un excellent pilote".
On 4th June 1044 you are
promoted Warrant Officer.
Whilst on mission on the
14th June 1944, courage and pugnacity animates you and incite you, as indicated
in the report of your fighting comrades, to fly too low and you are mortally
hit. You would have been 23 years of age in a few days.
Your receive the War medal
1939-1945 and your name is engraved on the monument to the dead in the town of
Thank you Warrant Officer
Donald Bertram Kairton, you are amongst us for always. The town of the Gué de la
Chaîne and France does not forget you.
Thank you to your parents our
thoughts go towards them.
Thank you to our allies who
permitted us to get out of a badly engaged confrontation.
Speech of Alain Bergeron, 12
Septembre 2004, Gué de la Chaîne.