Flying Officer Donald John Shapter
October 19, 1919 - July 14, 1944
Service number: J/35505
Operation: Armed Recce
Force: Military Aviation
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 403 Squadron. (RCAF)
Type: Spitfire IX
Base: RAF Bazenville, Normandy
The 4 Spitfires, including Donald John Shapter's, took part in an armed reconnaissance patrol when theyattacked a column of 30 armored vehicles and flag units passing through the village of Saint Lambert. They attacked and destroyed part of the unit. They turned to launch the second attack when a Flak half-track gun, concealed next to a house, fired point-blank at F/ o Shapter's low-flying Spitfire. He then tried to climb and look for a place to crash, but hit the top of a nearby hill and was killed.
The villagers extracted his corpses, held a funeral and buried him in the courtyard surrounding the small parish church of St-Lambert.
Even today, local villagers care for his grave and it is still adorned with flowers.
He is known as "our Canadian", his grave has become a symbol. And one citizen, a man namedAndré Louis-Auguste, built a flying replica of the Spitfire, painted it in the same colors and flew it for many years after the war. As a ten-year-old boy, he had seen Shapter shot down and was there with other villagers when they removed the wreckage parts from the Spitfire. Mr. Louis-Auguste had incorporated the plane's parts inside his replica, like a living memory.
The tragedy of F / O. Shapter's death is that his wife gave birth to a baby girl just a week before - a father who never saw his daughter and a daughter who never saw her father.
F / O. Shapter lost his older brother earlier on August 5 and 6, 1942. W/O William J.A. Shapter R / 78148 RCAF was flying as an observer with 207 Squadron in a Lancaster I R5761 EM-T during a bombing operation at Essen. The aircraft was shot down by an ace of the 1./NJG1 night fighter piloted by Oblt. Kurt Loos at Appeltern at 02:26. The pilot of the Lancaster Fl / Lt. Gerald Ings and the entire crew of 7 were killed.