The Juno Beach Centre has published a seven-part serihttp://www.junobeach.org/six-men-on-a-nickel-sgt-john-gordon-hopper/es that tells the story of the Last Flight of the Whitley AD-701, researched and written by Shirley Stone. This is part five. Click here to read The Last Flight (part one), F/O David Goodwin (part two), Sgt. Wilfred Gordon Harris (part three), Sgt. John Gordon Hopper (part four), F/O Joseph Hong (part six) and F/O Charles Beverly Wyckoff (part seven).
JOSEPH GASTON JACQUES
WARRANT OFFICER – AIR GUNNER
R.C.A.F. – R/108393
Gaston, as he was known, was born in Knowlton, Quebec, on March 16, 1923. He was the 5th of 15 children born to Isidore and Estelle (née: Valade) Jacques. Isidore was a baker.
The family moved from Knowlton to Drummondville in 1934. Gaston’s mother died on October 25, 1937, two months short of her 43rd birthday.
There were eleven surviving children. Gaston was 14½ years of age at the time of his mother’s death. The older children helped Isidore care for the large family.
Gaston attended Public and High School in Drummondville and later was employed at the Celanese factory. When he signed his attestation papers for the 19th Field Company, R.C.E. (Reserve) on August 7, 1940, he was 18 years of age.
On June 20, 1941, he enlisted with the R.C.A.F., at which time he indicated his occupation was a “journalier” (day labourer). He was taken on service with the R.C.A.F. on June 27, 1941 at # 4 Manning Depot in Quebec and was to be trained as a wireless operator and an air gunner. He would later be promoted to Warrant Officer 1st Class (W/O 1).
He boarded the ship in Halifax on December 13, 1943. During this time, he moved through the ranks of AC2, LAC, Sergeant, Warrant Officer 2 to Warrant Officer 1.
On December 22 Gaston was attached to the 3 P.R.C. in Bournemouth, until February 8, 1943 when he was transferred to 6 (O) A.F.U. (Observer’s Air Familiarization Unit), where he remained until reporting to the 24 O.T.U. on March 21, 1944.
On May 22, 1944, Gaston was aboard Whitley AD701, on a mission to drop leaflets over the LeMans, France area when shot down by flak and crashed at La Potence, near Sées, Normandy. All aboard were killed. Gaston is buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Cintheaux, Coll. grave XXVII. G. 4-7. The Town of Sées, erected a memorial to the crew that was dedicated on May 8, 2005. Family and friends of Gaston attended the ceremonies.
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