Second World War RCAF airman remembered in Lithuania

News Article / November 6, 2014

By Joanna Calder with files from Holly Bridges

On November 1, 2014, at a cemetery in Macikai, Lithuania, members of the Canadian Air Task Force-Lithuania honoured Warrant Officer Class 1 Keith Oliver Perry, a Royal Canadian Air Force airman who died as a prisoner of war on August 23, 1943.

“On this 71st anniversary of Warrant Officer Class 1 Perry's death, we are reminded of the tragedies of war in an imperfect world,” said Captain Henry Hoy, who was the chaplain for the Air Task Force when the ceremony took place. “Warrant Perry is lost but never forgotten. May he rest in peace.”

On a webpage dedicated to the memory of the young airman, Chief Warrant Officer Alain Roy, the Air Task Force chief warrant officer, wrote that he, members of the Canadian Embassy, the commander of the Air Task Force, and members of the Air Task Force went to the cemetery to pay their respects. “We shall never forget,” he wrote.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Perry was from Vancouver, British Columbia, the son of Roy Alfred and Alma Florence (nee Scott) Perry. He enlisted on January 9, 1941, and served with 405 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. He was 22 when he died at Stalag Luft VI, a prisoner of war camp where British and Canadian air force non-commissioned officers, as well as Americans, were interned, in Heydekrug, East Prussia. Heydekrug, now known as Šilutė and part of Lithuania, is about five kilometres west of Macikai.  

Warrant Officer Class 1 Perry, who probably died of disease, was buried in Macikai. However, the cemetery fell into disrepair, and it became impossible to identify his final resting place. Eventually, as an airman with no known grave, his name was inscribed on the Runneymede Memorial near London, England.

In June 2007, however, a monument in his memory was raised at the cemetery.

“For this, we thank all those who have helped make this commemoration possible,” said Brian Herman, who was the chargé d’affaires of the Canadian Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, when the monument was dedicated, “particularly the Lithuanian Armed Forces and Lithuanian Navy, the Ministry of National Defence, members of the Canadian Forces, the Air Force of France and the NATO Baltic Air policing Mission and the Lithuanian Canadian Community, its members and supporters.”


 

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