Homage to Warrant Officer Donald Bertram KAIRTON
Ladies and Gentlemen,
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 Anthem
- Mr Derek Palmer, 19th RAF Squadron' s historian
- The 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 their son.
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 this place.
Time to go back in history.
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 objectives.
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 collaboration:
- 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 flight.
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 died.
Who are you Donald Bertram Kairton?
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 to 1935
- 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 watch).
For leisure you practice
- cricket ( can be played over a few days)
- tennis
- soccer
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 units.
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 TEU).
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 Douglas Bader.
The fighter plane "Mustang" on which you fly appears amongst this unit in January 1944.
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 Babinda.
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.