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The Last Flight of Lancaster ‘Dark Victor’

Jan Cheneys Commissioned Painting

The Last Flight of Lancaster ‘Dark Victor’

This ceremony was attended by our President Gordon Rayfield and shows the painting commissioned by Jan Cheney.

Dark Victors Last Moments

On the 5th August 1944, 15 Lancaster bombers of No. 617 Squadron of the Royal Air force, supported by 2 Mosquitos, attacked the U-boat pens at Brest. They scored 6 direct hits with Tallboys (a 5.4 tonne bomb) that penetrated the concrete roofs. One Lancaster called ‘Dark Victor’, was piloted by Flt Lt Don Cheney of the RCAF. The aircraft was quickly hit at least 8 times by radar directed flak. Navigator Welch and Wireless Operator Poole were badly wounded. The Lancaster’s starboard wing was on fire and the aircraft became increasingly difficult to control but Cheney fought hard to evacuate his crew safely. Sadly Poole, Welch and Wait perished but the others Rosher, Curtis, and Porter were eventually returned safely to England. Cheney was rescued by Douarnenez fishermen who kept him safe until he also could be returned to England. He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his brave attempts to save his crew. 

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Exactly 70 years later the City of Douarnenez honoured our dead with a moving ceremony attended by about 200 people including French military. Attending relatives laid floral tributes on the graves and poppy wreaths from No. 617 Squadron Association and the Royal British Legion were also laid. At the following vin d’honneur Mrs Jan Cheney, daughter of Don Cheney, presented a painting she commissioned of the final moments of ‘Dark Victor’ to the Mayor and citizens of Douarnenez as a token of gratitude.

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Don Cheney was unable to attend the commemoration owing to age and ill health but he did get a first-hand report from his daughter Jan after she returned to Canada. However, this gallant airman died 3 weeks later on 26 August 2014.IMG 2910

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