Barry NEEDHAM in front of his plane
         Barry Needham is one survivor of the 412th fighter squadron of the RCAF, he was hit by flak on 7th July 1944 above Bons-Tassilly in the Calvados region, and he has waited for 62 years to rediscover his SPITFIRE MK9. Today June 19th 2006, thanks to the research of the Association Normande du Souvenir Aerien 39/45 Orne-Maine that is now done, and with the help of eye-witnesses we have succeeded in finding the wreckage of the plane in the presence of Mr Needham and his family.
         In the morning, a surprise awaited Mr Needham, thanks to a member of ANSA, Mr Rainfroy from Falaise who took him for a flight over the scene of the crash in one of the Falaise club's aeroplanes. Our veteran, who had not touched a "joy-stick" since 1946 took over the controls and showed that even at 86 years old, he could still fly an aeroplane, much to the surprise of the club pilot.
        In the afternoon we started the excavations, and it was with great emotion that he saw the first pieces of his plane appearing; two machine guns of 303 cal and a 20 mm canon. After that a succession of parts emerged of greater or lesser importance including the engine. From the moment we saw the serial number marked on a big piece of aluminium we knew that we had discovered his Spitfire after a 62 years gap, and you can imagine the joy for Mr Needham and his family.
        Now he can return to Canada with his mind at rest.
Barry NEEDHAM with an ANSA member and one of his 20 mm canon of his plane
Mr Elie Lemarchand, eyewitness, recalls.
July 7th 1944.
At about 1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon, an aircraft circles around Bons-Tassilly. The anti-aircraft-guns start shooting, and we go outside to see what is happening. The aircraft is hit and is falling in flames. The pilot bails out, but falls through the flames and as a result he is badly burnt about the face and body.
The pilot comes down in a little wood on the other side of the road, behind the lavoir (public washing place).
The aircraft crashes not far from there, in the marsh, between the road from Caen to Falaise and the river Laizon (nowadays the dual carriageway passes nearby, and it is very near the water filtration plant at Bons-Tassilly.
The pilot takes off his harness in the copse behind the "lavoir". At the same time Mr Guy Oriot who saw him, makes his way towards him and possibly signals to him to hide in the wood behind the 'lavoir'... but... Germans arrive in a car from their base at Potigny and see Mr Oriot going towards the pilot, both are arrested. So the story begins, Mr Oriot is undoubtedly suspected of wanting to help the pilot escape. Of course the pilot is captured, but what about Mr Oriot? The germans think he might be from the resistance and trying to hide the pilot. So, they are both taken to chateau's farm at Bons-Tassilly, which is where the Colonel commanding the anti-aircraft battery, which shot down the plane is staying.
The Germans who arrive at the farm with the two men are from the SS. Some tough talking between the Wermacht and the SS follows. In the end it is the SS who get to take both Mr Oriot and the pilot to their headquarters at Beaumais. I think that for Mr Oriot it is very serious and that it will be very hard for him to get out... it might cost him his life (the SS do not mess about)
The chateau owner, who is lodging the colonel, thinks he must try and resolve the matter. He goes to the colonel's office and tries to convince him that Mr Oriot has nothing to do with the affair. It takes most of the afternoon, and a lot of coffee laced with calvados, before eventually the colonel takes up the phone to call Beaumais, but I don't know what he could say to convince the SS that Mr Oriot has nothing to do with the affair.
(The following was told to me by Mr Oriot himself)
After being mistreated for a while, Mr Oriot is finally released in the evening. Obviously by now he had had enough, and he took the shortest way back from Beaumais to Bons-Tassilly. But then a few kilometers further on, he was picked up again by the SS car... His blood ran cold and he thought, "this time my number is up !... but no! They had come to apologise for mistreating him, and offered to take him back to Bons-Tassilly, which they did.
The next day,Mr Oriot's parents went to the owner of the chateau to thank him for his intervention with the German colonel, and to give him something to say thank you.
The plane, I don't know if it was a Spitfire, was it taken away then by the company which recovers wreckages...?
Mr Oriot has been dead for a number of years now, and so has the owner of the chateau along with many members of his family. The only surviving members are the grandchildren who were 3,4,5 and 7 years old at the time, so probably would not remember much of the affair. So... few witnesses. Me, if I remember it, it's because I was hidden, avoiding the S.T.O (the German system for making young Frenchmen work for them) and I was working in the farm of the Bons-Tassilly chateau. I was 21 and it didn't do to get too close to the SS or these others. But, I well remember the Canadian pilot with the burns to his face and hands; is that him?
Of course, the area south west of Falaise is a large area. An aircraft trying to locate its target and at the same time trying to avoid anti aircraft guns may not know to the exact kilometer he is...
I would also like to add for this little account, that Mr H....,the chateau's owner, was quite friendly with the D.C.A colonel. The colonel had been there since the start of the landings, and it was through him, every morning that Mr H got news of the military operations on the Normandy coast. Sometimes, it pays to be familiar with the enemy (but not to collaborate with them) especially when it helps to save someone's life.
The account of this story took most of the afternoon, and it is quite true, as it is said in the article in the 'Falaise news', Mr Barry Needham (the pilot) and Mr Oriot's mother and father came to plead with the colonel on behalf of Mr Oriot. But with them not speaking German and the colonel speaking no French, that it was Mr H...(who was Belgian) who acted as interpreter.
Of course Mr Barry Needham did not know what the young man was doing with him in the German car. He was wounded, burnt in the face, wrists and ankles and shocked, hiding in the woods and perhaps not seeing too clearly. Perhaps he did not even see Mr Oriot. It would be natural for him to ask himself who the young man was. I think MR Oriot was 21 at the time
I think that one part of the reply is set out in this story.
Elie Lemarchand (14170 Epaney)

This account enabled Mr Barry Needham, coming back all the way from Saskatchewan (in the middle of Canada) to re-discover the remains of his aeroplane. On 16th June 2006, they unearthed the engine of a spitfire, one canon, two machineguns, a rear wheel (which Mr Needham took home with him) and various parts, which allowed the formal identification of Mr Needham's plane. 

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