Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

September 28, 2007 12:16 ET

Canadian Airmen Laid to Rest During Rededication Ceremony

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2007) - Remains of Canadian Second World War heroes, Flight Lieutenant Arnold Raymond Blynn; Flying Officer Harold Leonard Brown; Pilot Officer George Alfred Chapman; Flight Sergeant Arthur George William Liddell; and Flight Sergeant Charles Burton Wylie, will be buried during a rededication ceremony on October 4 at Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery in Poland.

Veterans Affairs Canada has arranged for family members of the five Canadian crew members to attend the burial and rededication ceremony. The family members will be joined by David Preston, Ambassador of Canada to Poland, as well as British and Polish civilian and military officials. The Department of National Defence will provide ceremonial support for the events, including three pallbearers, a bagpiper and a chaplain.

"I am pleased that we are able to ensure family members of these Canadian airmen are present at the rededication ceremony of their loved ones," said the Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs. "We remember these men, and we remember what they were fighting for-peace, freedom and the rule of law. We will never forget what they sacrificed so that we could live freely today."

"The airmen of Halifax Bomber JP276 served valiantly, and they represented Canadian values and traditions in the finest sense," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. "Today, these same values and traditions are carried on by our service men and women."

On August 4, 1944, the seven airmen of the Halifax Bomber JP276, all assigned to 148 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, were killed when their aircraft was shot down over Poland. In addition to the five Canadian crew members, two members of the Royal Air Force, Sergeants Kenneth James Ashmore and Frederick George Wenham, were also killed in the crash. The recovered remains were initially buried in one grave at a local cemetery near the crash site. In 1948, the grave was exhumed and the remains transferred to Rakowicki Cemetery, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Krakow, Poland.

In 2006, a team of Polish archaeologists and historians from the Warsaw Rising Museum began excavation of the site in an attempt to recover the plane's wreckage. Additional remains of the crew were recovered as a result. Using DNA from relatives of the crash victims, the Department of National Defence confirmed in August 2007 that the remains were those of the JP276 air crew. These remains will be interred in the crew's existing gravesite during a ceremony organized by the Canadian Department of National Defence in collaboration with the Royal Air Force.

For more information about the recovery and the rededication service, please visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca


BACKGROUNDER

Halifax Bomber JP276

At 8:00 p.m. on August 4, 1944, the crew of Halifax Bomber JP276 set out from an airbase in Brindisi, Italy. The plane was part of the Royal Air Force squadron tasked with delivering weapons, ammunition and other essentials to members of the Polish Home Army fighting enemy occupiers in the historic Warsaw Uprising. The target for the airdrop was a supply post near Warsaw. The plane was shot down sometime during the early morning hours of August 5 near Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland. All seven members of the crew were killed.

Among the aircraft's crew were five Canadians and two Britons:

Flight Lieutenant Arnold Raymond Blynn, RCAF

Flying Officer Harold Leonard Brown, RCAF

Pilot Officer George Alfred Chapman, RCAF

Flight Sergeant Arthur George William Liddell, RCAF

Flight Sergeant Charles Burton Wylie, RCAF

Sergeant Kenneth James Ashmore, RAF

Sergeant Frederick George Wenham, RAF

The bodies of the men, all members of 148 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, were initially buried locally in a single grave. In 1948 the remains were exhumed and transferred to a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery located within the Rakowicki Cemetery in Krakow, Poland.

Excavation of Halifax Bomber JP276

In 2006, a team of Polish archaeologists and historians from the Warsaw Rising Museum used ground-penetrating radar to locate the crashed Halifax Bomber JP276 on the outskirts of the city of Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland. Excavation efforts began in October 2006. During the excavation human remains that had not been recovered in 1944 were located, recovered and analysed by an anthropologist from the National Archaeological Museum in Poland.

Identification of the Remains

The Department of National Defence confirmed in August 2007 the linkage between family members of the airmen and the remains. This was done using mitochondrial DNA testing through Molecular World Inc., a genetic testing laboratory located in Thunder Bay, Ontario. These remains will be interred in the crew's existing grave at a Rededication Ceremony to be held on October 4, 2007 in Krakow, Poland.

Family Members

Veterans Affairs Canada has arranged for the following family members of the five Canadian crew members to attend the burial and rededication ceremony:



Flight Lieutenant Arnold Raymond Blynn
Nephew, Mr. Wayne Douglas Blynn
Niece, Ms. Cheryl Anne Blynn

Flying Officer Harold Leonard Brown
First Cousin, Mr. Donald LaVerne Kernick
First Cousin, Mr. Claire Douglas Wright

Pilot Officer George Alfred Chapman
Nephew, Mr. Jeffrey Chapman Jolly

Flight Sergeant Arthur George William Liddell
Niece, Ms. Julie Liddell

Flight Sergeant Charles Burton Wylie
Sister, Mrs. Eva Donalda Barriskill
Nephew, Mr. Charles Edward Wylie


For more information about the recovery and the rededication service, please visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca


BACKGROUNDER

Canadian Flight Crew of Halifax Bomber JP276


Flight Lieutenant Arnold Raymond Blynn (RCAF)

Blynn was born in Plympton, Nova Scotia, on April 24, 1918. He was the Pilot of Halifax Bomber JP276. Blynn died at the age of 26.

Blynn received the following recognitions: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. On April 22, 1947, he was posthumously awarded RCAF Operational Wings in recognition of gallant service in action against the enemy. On April 12, 1996, the Polish government posthumously awarded Blynn the Polish Home Cross Medal, the highest award for bravery in the struggle to liberate Poland.


Flying Officer Harold Leonard Brown (RCAF)

Brown was born in Huron County, Ontario, on December 3, 1923. He was the Wireless Operator of Halifax Bomber JP276. Brown died at the age of 20.

Brown received the following recognitions: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. On January 20, 1947, he was posthumously awarded RCAF Operational Wings in recognition of gallant service in action against the enemy. On April 12, 1996, the Polish government posthumously awarded Brown the Polish Home Cross Medal, the highest award for bravery in the struggle to liberate Poland.


Pilot Officer George Alfred Chapman (RCAF)

Chapman was born in Toronto, Ontario, on May 15, 1920. He was the Navigator of Halifax Bomber JP276. Chapman died at the age of 24.

Chapman received the following recognitions: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. On January 21, 1947, he was posthumously awarded RCAF Operational Wings in recognition of gallant service in action against the enemy. On April 12, 1996, the Polish government posthumously awarded Chapman the Polish Home Cross Medal, the highest award for bravery in the struggle to liberate Poland.


Flight Sergeant Arthur George William Liddell (RCAF)

Liddell was born in Montreal, Quebec on March 17, 1913. He was the Air Gunner of Halifax Bomber JP276. Liddell died at the age of 31.

He received the following recognitions: 1939-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, France and Germany Star, War Medal 1939-45 and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. In 1947, he was posthumously awarded RCAF Operational Wings in recognition of gallant service in action against the enemy. On April 12, 1996, the Polish government posthumously awarded Liddell the Polish Home Cross Medal, the highest award for bravery in the struggle to liberate Poland.


Flight Sergeant Charles Burton Wylie (RCAF)

Wylie was born in Hazenmore, Saskatchewan, on January 27, 1924. He was the Bomb Aimer of Halifax Bomber JP276. Wylie died at the age of 20.

Wylie received the following recognitions: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. On January 22, 1947, he was posthumously awarded RCAF Operational Wings in recognition of gallant service in action against the enemy. On April 12, 1996, the Polish government posthumously awarded Wylie the Polish Home Cross Medal, the highest award for bravery in the struggle to liberate Poland.

For more information about the recovery and the rededication service, please visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Veterans Affairs Canada
    Janice Summerby
    Media Relations Advisor
    613-992-7468
    or
    Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    Richard Roik
    Director of Communications
    613-996-4649
    or
    Department of National Defence
    Media Liaison Office
    613-996-2353
    613-996-2354