Parachutists and a bridge to pay tribute to Allan Cashion


By Aurélie Hébert
It’s a date that has been awaited for quite some time. On Saturday, the town and veterans, led by their president Guy Pesier, will pay a moving salute to Royal Canadian Air Force Flying Officer Allan Cashion, who died trying to liberate the town in July 1944. A remarkable ceremony will bring to a close years of searching in France and Canada, culminating in a tribute that will highlight the sacrifice that the young aviator made while trying to free the town of Charleval from its occupiers.

Forever inscribed in Charleval stone

Now that a relative has been found to give consent—namely his distant cousin Peter Harrison who was located after an article appeared in the columns of [The Suburban], a Canadian weekly newspaper—a plaque will be affixed to the bridge entering Charleval, mere meters from where the young Canadian airman was found dead by Charlevalais after his parachute caught fire, following his ejection from his aircraft, which was being pursued by a German plane.

Local veterans have been looking forward to this afternoon event, led by their president Guy Pesier, who has for years been trying to organize a worthy tribute to a fighter whose name will forevermore be associated with the liberation of Charleval.

Come in period costume

This Saturday, the public is invited to visit the town hall square, to ride in a convoy of troop carriers, accompanied by two period jeeps.

The organizers hope that the public and guests will don vintage clothes to help recreate the atmosphere of the 1940-45 era.

The plaque will be unveiled after a parachute drop by a dozen black-clad athletes who will be wearing the badge of Allan Cashion’s squadron.

Testimonials and recollections

After the official speeches, a round table will let direct and indirect eyewitnesses give their account of what transpired by sharing their recollections of World War II.

It will be followed by a vin d’honneur to mark the opening of an exhibition at the tourist office, involving members of the Association Normande du Souvenir Aérien. Until September 15, members the public will be able to view remnants of Allan Cashion’s aircraft, in the presence of two actors dressed in period costumes, and view documents, some of which date back to the original conflict. Children will also have an opportunity to create their own paratrooper during an educational workshop.

Saturday afternoon, Charleval will relive its past and pay tribute to an airman, without whom the town would not have had much of a future.

• Organizers are looking for volunteers to help with this special afternoon. All willing participants will be welcome.

The program

– 4:15    Town hall square rally with the veterans convoy will move towards the bridge. The intersection of highways 321 and 149 will be closed to traffic.

– 4:30    Jump by a dozen paratroopers and the unveiling of the plaque dedicating the bridge.

– 4:45    Church bells will ring, followed by a return to the Charleval tourist office.

– 5:00    The town hall siren will sound for a few seconds, followed by official remarks.

– 5:15     Roundtable meeting with eyewitnesses to the World War II drama.

– 6:30    Reception and opening of the exhibition on Allan Cashion.

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