ONE of the few remaining veterans of RAF Elvington's wartime French squadrons, Lucien Malia, has died aged 91.
The rear gunner flew 23 missions with 346 “Guyenne” Squadron, from Elvington, near York, the only base in Bomber Command to be operated by another nationality.
He was badly burned, scarring him for life, on his 23rd mission when his aircraft was shot down by Luftwaffe night fighters in March 1945 in what was known as Operation Gisela.
The German plane which tried to attack them clipped a tree and crashed into a farmhouse on the roadside at Elvington, becoming the last German aircraft of the war to crash on UK soil. All died, along with farmer Richard Moll, his wife and mother in the farmhouse.
A spokesman for the Allied Air Forces Memorial and Yorkshire Air Museum, which is flying the French flag as a mark of respect, said Lucien had been ill for the past two years, making him too frail to make his annual pilgrimage to Elvington to attend the Remembrance Sunday Services.
The spokesman said: “His last visit to York, however, was a very poignant one, as he and a number of his compatriots attended the unveiling of a unique memorial plaque to Elvington’s French Squadrons in York Minster on October 20, 2011.
“He was very touched and honoured that they were being remembered in this way.”
Ian Reed, director of the Allied Air Forces Memorial, said Lucien had been a “true and loyal friend” to it over the years and would be greatly missed by many.