In the early hours of 29th June 1944, Canadian crew P/O A G ‘Gerry’ Vautour and navigator W/O W M ‘Wally’ Mitchell of 409 Squadron RCAF were returning from a patrol of the Normandy beachhead and were on long finals for landing on RAF Hunsdon’s main runway. The weather was extremely difficult that night and the flight of four Mosquito nightfighters were reporting in their height in the circuit. P/O Vautour was advised to lose height and did so to the instructions given from Hunsdon’s flying control tower, as their Mosquito sank further into the gloom of low cloud and drizzle the aircraft struck a heavy power cable at Little Hallingbury in Essex, four and a half miles from the airfield.
The aircraft made contact with the ground and became airborne again for two hundred yards until it collided with an haystack where it lost one of its engines. It bounced again and struck another smaller power line, again regaining a little height for a further two hundred yards before striking the ground this time with devastating consequences. Both Vautour and Mitchell died in the final impact.
On Sunday the 30th June 2019 a memorial plaque marking the site was unveiled by Gerry’s nephew and niece John Vautour and Lise Booth, who flew over from Canada. It was also attended by 1239 (Broxbourne & Hoddesdon) Squadron Air Training Corps, North Weald RAFA, members of the HAMG and Little Hallingbury Historical Society, along with members of the local community.
Qu Studios made a film of the event which can be seen here – https://youtu.be/fGWZtJxwm3I
*P/O Vautour was posthumously promoted to Flying Officer*