Sofia Echo

Bulgaria

Memorial to South African World War 2 airmen unveiled in Sofia

Author: Clive Leviev-Sawyer Date: Wed, Jun 22 2011 3430 Views
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Seven South African Air Force fliers who died in June 1944 after being shot down during a bombing mission, and who are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves section of Sofia Cemetery, now have a plaque commemorating them at the South African embassy.

The plaque was unveiled at a June 22 2011 ceremony presided over by ambassador Sheila Camerer, with a dedication ceremony conducted by Anglican chaplain Reverend Patrick Irwin and, in attendance, David Haggie, a nephew of one of the SAAF men and who paid for the placing of the memorial.

The airmen, in two Liberators, were shot down by the Luftwaffe and the aircraft crashed on Bulgarian soil.

Those who died were Major JA Mouton, Lieutenant HH Bunce, Lt DJS Haggie, Lt D Lindley, Lt RG Southey and Warrant Officers class 2 WS Barrett and DT Flynn.

Speaking at the ceremony - where guests included ambassadors and senior diplomats from Allied embassies and representatives of Bulgaria's Defence Ministry - David Haggie said that for years it had not been easy to get information about the circumstances that led to the fallen air crew being buried in Sofia Cemetery.

His aunt had visited in the 1980s and this was his first visit to Bulgaria. Haggie described as a "very wonderful moment" the opportunity to visit the gravesite in Sofia.

He paid tribute to the War Graves Commission and to Bulgaria for the well-kept state of the cemetery, and to Camerer for bringing about the event.

Though he had arrived in Sofia only the previous day, "I feel Bulgarian already," Haggie said, saying that the empathy of the Bulgarian people was very heartwarming.

Noting the forthcoming 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and South Africa, Camerer paid tribute to the cordial bilateral relations and increasingly strengthened ties.

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