How an Edmonton man from a prominent Jewish family came to be buried on a hilltop in Normandy, France after D-Day.

Berou-la-Mulotiere, Cemetery, France. (Photo courtesy of Alain Octavie)

Alan Rodd (Abram Rodnunsky) photo courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada, Virtual War Memorial.

Flight Sergeant Alan Rodd, 25, (born Abram Rodnunsky), was the son of Sam and Annie Rodnunsky, of Edmonton. He initially enlisted in Winnipeg with the Canadian army, but switched to the air force. He took flight training in Canada, then went overseas and was posted to the RAF base in Tuddenham, Suffolk, with the 90 Squadron RAF.

Just after D-Day, Rodd and his crew were among 432 Allied aircraft involved in a massive overnight bombing raid with Bomber Command, on June 10, 1944 from England. Rodd’s plane was relatively new: the British airforce took delivery of the Lancaster in May, 1944, and it had only 31 hours of flying time logged. The pilot, Lt. George Atherton Thatcher, was British, and there were two other Canadians on board: John Alfred Anderton, and John Carr Francis. The Lancaster Mark III was number NE149. The pilot took off at 11:13 p.m. on a mission to bomb the railway station and installations at Dreux, west of Paris, to prevent German reinforcements from reaching the D-Day beaches in Normandy.

According to records, Rodd and his crew flew across the English Channel towards France in good weather, with clear skies, and good visibility. The three-hour flight was uneventful, but the Germans were waiting for them. They had radar, and had seen the hundreds of Allied bombers approaching targets near Paris. It’s not known whether the Lancaster managed to drop any of its bombs, nor whether a German fighter plane hit them, or they were hit by ground Flak, but the Lancaster crashed in the village of Berou-la-Moulotiere. All seven crewmen were killed. A total of six Lancasters were lost that night over Dreux.

Rodd and his crewmen were buried together in the village cemetery. Rodd’s grave is the first one from the left.