The Lancaster (EA_J) crashed on land owned by M. Marcel Dassault. Near to the crashsite, on the Allée de Pommiers there is now a memorial designed by Monsieur Bone. It measures 1600mm x 1400mm and is made of stone. It has a plaque with an inscription and a model of a Lancaster.
Nearby there is a tree planted by the Buchanan family and a separate plaque (see below).
Ceremonies are held twice a year and are always well attended. The graves are kept in excellent condition (see Coignieres Cemetery).
25/26 July, 1944; STUTTGART: This was the second in a series of three heavy raids on Stuttgart in five nights. The force, consisting of 550 Lancasters and Halifaxes included 14 aircraft from Fiskerton.
The following article in a French newspaper some fifty years later sheds some light on the fate of F/O Walter Buchanan and his crew:
A VILLAGE IN FRANCE
'Over fifty years ago, on 26th July 1944, a 49 Squadron Lancaster bomber was returning from a raid on Stuttgart and, according to eye-witnesses, appeared to try to make an emergency landing. The aircraft crashed into a wood near the village of Coignieres in northern France, killing all seven of the crew. The mayor at the time gathered together a seach party and went to the crash site with the aim of retrieving the bodies, and thus preventing the Germans from having access to them. Despite warnings from the Germans that the bodies should be buried where they fell, they were brought back to the village.The mayor, M Godot, requisitioned seven coffins and a burial service took place, conducted by
the village priest. A large crowd attended, including many from other villages.
Word had got around, despite the fact that the Germans were in occupation. A memorial was erected and the Tricolour flown, again in defiance of German regulations. Immediately after the funeral the Germans called at the mayor's house to demand the location of the crash site. Inside the house were the dignitaries from local villages who had taken part in the funeral ceremony. Whilst the mayor was trying to convince the Germans that nothing unusual was going on, and indicating very approximately the area of the crash on a map, his daughter secretly left the house to remove as many of the wreaths and flags as possible from the graves and the memorial. Fortunately the Germans did not leave by the town square, otherwise they could have seen the remains of the decorations. The villagers took great risks in retrieving the bodies and burying them with honour, and had they been found out would have suffered the consequences.
Lancaster PB250 (EA-J)
F/O W.J.F. Buchanan Pilot (Killed)
Sgt A. Ashby F/E (Killed)
F/S P.M. Kitto NAV (Killed)
Sgt G.W. Picker W/OP (Killed)
Sgt C.J. Crane A/G (Killed)
F/S E. Shackleton B/A (Killed)
Sgt E. Greenwood A/G (Killed)
Crew on their 9th operation