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404th Fighter Group, 508th Fighter Squadron

<< Back to Periers Aviator Monument

Details:

In a park directly behind the Biblioteque Jeunesse, which forms the southwestern boundary of L'Espace Colonel Edward Hamilton/Place du General de Gaulle in the center of Periers.  Shortly after entering the park one encounters a monument to Colonel William H. McConahey, MD on the right.  The 404th Fighter Group monument lies under a group of trees a short walk further to the right and past the McConahey monument.   Monument Vertical pole about 5 meters high crowned with the engine and a propeller from one of two planes that crashed near Periers on 24 June 1944 .  The monument sits atop a flat stone base upon which is incorporated the US Army Air Corps insignia.  The monument commemorates P-47 pilots Benjamin F. Kitchens and Bert Espy Jr.  

Monument Text:

The plaque at the monument reads,


On June 24th, 1944, around noon, a patrol of four American P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighters, returning from a mission in the area of Avranches, flew over Periers.  The aircraft, recognizable by the black stripe on their tail fins, belonged to the 404th Fighter Group/508th Fighter Squadron based at Winkton in the south of England.  Two members of the formation, 1st Lt Benjamin F. Kitchens, pilot of P-47 D22 serial number 225872 (Registered 7J B), and 1st Lt Bert Espy Jr, pilot of P-47 D22 serial number 225747 (Registered 7J C), asked their flight leader for permission to leave the formation.  They had just spotted some German vehicles on the road below and wished to make a strafing pass on the target.  After the attack, the two pilots quickly tried to rejoin the group for the trip back to England.  But, during this rejoin attempt the propeller of Espy's plane cut into the tail section of Kitchen's aircraft.  The two planes crashed and both pilots were killed.  The Airmen were temporarily buried by the local population near the scene of their crash: one at a place named le Bethelin, the other one at La Bouviere.  Kitchen's aircraft was located and scrapped soon after the war.  However, almost twenty years later, Henri Levaufre aided by his son Christian, began a search to find the wreck of Espy's plane.  After a few more years, the remains of Espy's aircraft, including the engine, were located and extracted from their clay coating.  His engine is used as the base for this memorial.  All did not die as heroes, but all died for our freedom.  Let us not forget them.  
Ben Kitchens is buried in the American Brittany cemetery at Saint-James.  Bert Espy is buried in Longview, Texas, his home town.

Le 24 juin, vers midi, de retour d'une mission dans la region d'Avranches, une patrouille de quatre chasseurs americains P-47 "Thunderbolt" survole Periers.
Tous appartiennent au 404th Fighter Group/508th Fighter Squadron base a Winkton dans le sud de l'Angleterre, reconnaissable a sa bande noire sur la derive.
Quelques minutes plus tard, deux equipiers (le P-47 D22 numero de serie 225872 - Immatricule 7J B - pilote par le 1st Lt Benjamin F. Kitchens et le P-47 D22 numero de serie 225747 - Immatricule 7J C - pilote par le 1st Lt Bert Espy Jr) demandent l'autorisation a leur leader de quitter la formation.
Ils viennent de reperer quelques vehicules allemands sur la route en contrebas et souhaitent faire une passe de mitraillage sur l'objectif.  C'est en effectuant sa ressource pour rejoindre le groupe que l'helice de l'avion d'Espy va decouper l'arriere de celui de Kitchens.
Les deux avions s'ecrasent au sol.  Les pilotes tues sur le coup son provisoirement enterres par la population locale a proximite des lieux de crash : l'un au Bethelin, l'autre a la Bouviere.
Une vingtaine d'annees plus tard, Henri Levaufre aide de son fis Christian, entreprend des recherches pour retrouver l'epave de l'avion d'Espy (celle de Kitchens avait ete ferraillee apres-guerre).
C'est le moteur de son appareil, retire quelques annes plus tard de sa gangue d'argile, qui a servi de base a la construction de ce memorial.  
Tous ne sont pas morts en heroes mais tous sont morts pour notre liberte.  Ne les oublions pas.
Ben Kitchens est enterre au cimetiere americain de Saint-James, Bert Espy dans celui de Longview (Texas) d'ou il etait originaire. 


Commemorates:

People:

Bert Jr Espy

Benjamin F. Kitchens

Units:

508th Fighter Squadron, 404th Fighter Group

Wars:

WWII

Battles:

Normandy Invasion

Other images :