Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lost Without a Trace: Eugene Edward Chouiniere 1923-1942 and Allen, Parklyn, Vandervoort, Guichard and too many more



The Chouiniere family of Waterford, NY is a  large family.  Officially the Chouinieres are "distant extended family" to the families written about on this blog....through marriage...Etta Wills, Arthur St Hilaire, his cousin Lea St Hilaire, her mother Rosalie Chouiniere.  However, I feel it is important to share the story of Eugene Chouiniere because there isn't enough information in Cohoes and in the internet community about him and the missions he and others flew.  Maybe because he flew for the Brits and Canadians, we here in New York seem to be less aware of their sacrifice.


Eugene Edward Chouiniere
in Cohoes, NY

Eugene Chouniere with Lea St Hilaire
Uncle, Niece, and Childhood Playmates


On the night of November 25th, 1942 five men of the Royal Canadian Air Force went missing on a mission flying over Europe.  The five men were:


Alfred Joseph Parklyn, Pilot Officer, J/16080 from New Jersey, pilot


William John Vandervoort, Warrant Officer Class II, R/74630 RCAF from British Columbia, bomb aimer


James McGregor Allen, Flight Sergeant, R/93188 from Toronto, Ontario, wireless operator


James Louis Guichard, Warrant Officer Class II, R/83204 from Detroit, Michigan,


and finally
Eugene Edward Chouiniere from Cohoes and Waterford



The plane was an Avro Lancaster ... a heavy bomber made by Avro, a British aircraft manufacturer

Avro Lancaster Bomber
"A heavy bomber"






I do not know how Americans Parklyn and Allen came to serve in the Canadian forces, but I do know the story of Eugene Chouiniere because Lea St Hilaire told it to me.   Eugene was from Northside in Waterford; he was quite young when both his parents died.  According to Lea, he was eight years old when he came to live with his older sister, Rosalie's family in Cohoes.  Despite Gene being her uncle, he and Lea were the same age and played together, fished together and hunted rabbits - together. The household spoke French and English. Lea's grandfather had a farm in the area of Cohoes that is still called "The Orchard" section of town. Gene's sister, Rosalie St Hilaire neé  Chouiniere became his surrogate mother, Alfred St Hilaire his foster father.

Then when he was still 17 years old, Gene wanted to join the US army and went to the recruiter.  He was told he was too young and should finish his high schooling and then join. Gene couldn't wait so he jumped on a train from Cohoes to somewhere in Québec where he easily enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
He didn't tell anyone where he was going when he left Cohoes.  When he returned, Lea and the family were stunned to learn he joined up in Canada!

Eugene Chouiniere was nineteen years old when he, the pilot and crew aboard the Lancaster  went missing without a trace over Haselunne, Germany. 



Presumed missing, causalities of the great war, never found, there were no bodies to place in a national cemetery or sacred ground.  However, they were memorialized in a special place at Runnymeade, England: Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede Those of 207 Squadron who have No Known Grave, WWII.

Silhouette of Lancaster Bomber

5 comments:

  1. Please go to http://photos2.walmart.com/walmart/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=5144772002/a=6465153_6465153/otsc=SHR/otsi=SALBlink/COBRAND_NAME=walmart/ to see photos from the Air Forces Memorial in Runnymeade England with Eugene Chouiniere's name on one of the panels.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Gene for the link. Your photos are beautiful and moving. Has Lea, Eugene's niece, seen your photos. When did you visit Runnymeade?


    Here's the link again:

    http://photos.walmart.com/walmart/shareethumbnailshare/AlbumID=5144772002/p=86851307309174161/l=6990452002/g=6465153/albumcount=1/pns/walmart/share/p=86851307309174161/l=6990452002/g=6465153/cobrandOid=1011/otsc=SHR/otsi=SALBlink/action=http_xfc_xff_xffphotos.walmart.com_xffwalmart_xffurlnotdefined

    ReplyDelete
  3. I visited Runnymeade in January 2011. My grandfather is Ephraim Chouiniere, elder brother of Eugene. I do not know if my father, Charles Chouiniere, has shared the link with my cousin Lea.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lancaster serial # R5695 was allocated to the 207 Squadron RAF on 29 Sept 1942 and participated in the following operations: Le Creusot 17 Oct 1942- Daylight; Genoa 7/8 Nov 1942; Hamburg 9/10 Nov 1942; Genoa 13/14 Nov 1942; Turin 20/21 Nov 1942; Haselunne Airfield 25 Nov 1942. Eugene Chouiniere was listed in the crew as the tail gunner.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gene,
    Please contact me at

    FrancoAmericanGravy@gmail.com

    I would like to share some more information

    Thanks FA Gravy

    ReplyDelete