Through the generous members of the HHAS a commemorative ceremony was held yesterday on 4 May 2022 in a field a few miles south of Red Deer Regional Airport. The occasion was to commemorate the two fallen airmen P/O David Merry and his pupil LAC George Conway who perished when their Airspeed Oxford aircraft crashed on this location in the early hours of 5 May 1944.
This tragic event has both a past and present connection to the project as in 1944 Cyril Devaux participated in the search for the missing aircraft and today in 2022 the Devaux and Merry families are connected by marriage – something that we only discovered while researching the event.
The ceremony conducted is the culmination of a several months long effort – seeing the video today and realizing what the HHAS actually put together is simply staggering.
Early on while researching the event I came across Mr Bill Mackay in a Facebook group. As he lives in the area he provided some very valuable information in locating the possible crash site and even voluntarily ventured out to the potential location and surveyed the area. His association with the HHAS also nourished the seed planted of honouring Merry and Conway on this day.
Initially my idea for honoring the fallen was more of a roadside commemoration of observing a moment of silence. Mr Mackay and the HHAS had another idea that testifies to the lengths they are willing to go in the effort of honoring their local heritage and those who perished defending the freedom we so easily take for granted today.
Successfully establishing contact with the current owner of the field where crash occurred it turns out that Mr Dirk Appel is of Dutch origin having immigrated to Canada. With no hesitation he agreed to grant us permission to hold the ceremony on his land referring to his deep respect for those that helped liberate is home country. As the 4th of May was nearing he also made sure that the field was in good condition and accessible for those who attended – given that this time of the year crops are to be sowed this concession is not lost upon us.
The ceremony was also honored by a 4-ship fly-over conducted by a local flying club. The formation flown in the video is the “Missing man” formation which is – to me – the greatest aerial salute that can be given to a fallen airman. I will hands down admit that I’m close to tears seeing the one aircraft split off from the formation honoring the two fallen as a representation of their departure.
There is so much more to say – but for now I will digest and simply say thank you to everyone involved – thank you for the incredible generosity shown.