Picking Up the Pieces

Early that evening I was taken out to the field. My guide had been worried that the field would still be full of crops and there would be nothing for me to see. Whether he had requested the farmer now using the land to cut a swath or not I do not know but when the vehicle stopped and we got out there was only one cleared section, the section where the plane had crashed. It was as though a message had been spoken to the above and the Red Sea had parted; in this case it was a field of corn.

 We walked over the clipped plants looking for tell tale signs of the crash. My guide was concerned we may not be able to find remnants of the plane without the ground being tilled over. For a good twenty years the ground was lighter and nothing grew in the spot where the plane had dug into the fertile earth. With the passing of much time the earth had healed itself and once again was producing sustenance for the living. We walked around looking for bits and pieces that might be parts of the plane. I had no luck in finding anything. My guide’s son however was eager to help and with sharp young eyes dug up various bits and pieces that were very much likely to be the remaining vestiges of the Lancaster. It was a though the earth was expelling her story and in doing so sealing the wounds that had once left her barren.

I was in the end given a number of pieces most of which were small but indicative of a Lancaster. There were pieces of perspex bubbled from heat and melted and twisted bits of aluminium mettle along with an unheated piece which looked as though it might be a joiner plate with rivets. These small pieces were an amazement to me to be found so long after the crash. It was as though the boys refused to give up sending a message to those willing to seek. We are here, we existed, do not forget us.

Standing there with the sun setting over the field and the village I realised the boys could not have crashed in a better place. There they died between the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains in beautiful farm land with the church seen in the distance. The crash site clearly remained in the memory of my guide’s family generation after generation. What more could a relative ask for when it came to providing a final resting place for their loved one? Here they were surrounded in beauty, respected, loved and remembered.  ©

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2 comments on “Picking Up the Pieces

  1. Ken says:

    You saw where they were, where they ceased to physically exist and where, by your post, they will not be forgotten.

    • ljr3 says:

      The physical is but a form. Although the world has moved on from WWII and much time has passed, over 67 years in the case of this crew, they have not been forgotten. As long as the crew families and people like my guide’s family continue to keep our boys alive by telling and sharing the crew’s story, they will never be forgotten. In fact, despite their few years of life they are remembered if only in name and spirit by more people now than ever before because we tell their story. They are remembered in Canada, America, England, Australia and France in one way or another. Not even the Earth herself has forgotten the crew. It has been our joint goal, our mission to keep them alive in more than name. Their time will come. Their spirit is forever our life. Their gift to us was freedom. My gift to them is remembrance.

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