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A Landing Field Called ‘Gide’

On the night of 12/13 September 1943, No 161 (SD) Squadron carried out its first treble Lysander operation. Operating from RAF Tangmere, eight agents were taken into a field in France and eight were brought back. The pick-up pilots involved were Hugh Verity, Peter Vaughan-Fowler and James ‘Mac’ McCairns. The landing field, near the small village of Rivarennes in the Loire Valley, was code named ‘Gide’.

On the 15 September 2013, a ceremony was held to inaugurate a memorial to those involved in this important operation. Some 300 people gathered for the ceremony which was opened by Rivarennes’ Mayor who welcomed all those present including the seventeen family members of the pick-up pilots, including Chris McCairns who recently presented his father’s medals to Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, and the local Resistance Group ‘Rabelains’. She went on to recount the events of 1943 and in particular, the co-operation between the two nations and the heroic actions of all those involved.

The memorial, surrounded by the colours of various French regiments and topped by the Tricolour and Union Flag, was unveiled by the families of the RAF pilots and the French Resistance. The UK National Anthem and the Marseillaise were then played and a small group sang Le Chant des Partisans.

After the ceremony, guests were invited for ‘vin d’honneur’ at the Rivarennes Town Hall.

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