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Boston Globe, The (MA) - June 7, 1984


Today, June 7, would have been his 40th anniversary of landing on Omaha Beach in France.

Yesterday, on the 40th anniversary of the Allies' D-Day, Stanley L. Canner, 64, of Hyde Park, World War II fighter pilot and reconnaissance specialist, died at his home after a long illness.

He was born in Boston and graduated from Winthrop High School, Class of 1937. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was sent to Selma, Ala., where he earned his pilot's wings and graduated as a first lieutenant.

After Selma, Mr. Canner was sent to the 13th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Stuttgart, Ark., and continued his training there for 15 months, and later was transferred to bases in Mississippi and Reading, Pa., while he continued his training in reconnaissance.

He was shipped on Jan. 16, 1944 to England where he flew missions in a P- 51 Mustang.

On D-Day Plus One, June 7, 1944, he landed on Omaha Beach, crossing the English Channel in the hold of a Liberty Ship to take up his duties as a ground spotter for Air Corps. After a few weeks he was transferred back to duty as P-51 pilot and flew missions from a base in France.

It was on his 10th mission, on July 14, 1944, when Mr. Canner, then 24, was shot down over Normandy. He bailed out of his burning plane with a shrapnel wound in his head and found refuge with the French underground where he remained in hiding and safety until France was liberated a few weeks later.

In 1981, Mr. Canner arranged a reunion with two other servicemen who were shot down a few days after he had chuted to safety and who lived with him in the French farmhouse.

One of the men was Alfred Sutkowski of Portland, Conn., a 19-year-old tailgunner on a B-26 bomber, shot down 10 days after Mr. Canner. Sutkowski parachuted with shrapnel lodged in his thigh.

The third man was an Australian fighter pilot, Russell Leith, who was flying a Spitfire over Normandy when his plane, too, was hit. He landed the plane on its belly in the middle of a field and he crawled out of it unharmed.

The three were hid by members of the French underground movement in a farmhouse in the village of Cernay. The rescued fliers lived together in the home of a French Resistance couple, Jean and Renee Renault, before they were liberated by the Canadian Allied Forces. Mr. Canner was driven to the farmhouse in a charcoal-burner truck, Sutkowski in a horse-drawn cart and Leith walked 30 miles and bicycled the rest of the way.

While in Boston, the three posed for a picture in front of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Thirty-seven years earlier, they posed for a picture in front of their freedom house in France. Mr. Sutkowski was quoted in a Globe story on the reunion: "The last time we posed for a picture together we were looking over our shoulders for Germans."

While living with the Resistance, Mr. Canner and Leith helped out with the farm work. Renee sold cream for butter and Mr. Canner helped milked the cows and separate the cream. "Every night that I helped her, I got a fresh glass of cream by my plate, even though cream was worth money to her," Mr. Canner said in the interview.

If German soldiers were spotted, the men were hidden in an attic. If the two men were too far from the house, they would crouch in a vegetable patch.

Sutkowski spent most of his time in an upstairs bedroom recuperating from his wound.

The Renaults made a habit of calling Mr. Canner "Raphael." Leith was known as a "Andre" and Sutkoswki, who knew the least French, pretended to be a deaf


In 1980, Sutkowski, Mr. Canner and their wives went to Normandy to see Robert Martin, then 78, who was also part of the Resistance forces. The Renault couple had died, "but everything else looked the same," said Sutkowski.

Leith, then 59, semiretired and living in Australia, went to France the next month to visit.

All three men said the worst part of their ordeal was their frustration in not being able to inform their families that they were alive.

Asked if he had been afraid, Mr. Canner paused for a moment and said quietly: "At that age, nothing scares you."

Mr. Canner was discharged from the service at Fort Devens on Oct. 19, 1945, with the rank of 1st lieutenant and held a Purple Heart.

He returned to Winthrop and worked for a short while in a hardware store until he founded his own business, the Central Paint and Supply Co., Inc., at 1205 River st., Hyde Park. He retired in 1981.

He had also lived in Dorchester and Natick before settling in Hyde Park.

He leaves his wife, Roberta (Isaacson); three sons, Barry S., Neil P., and Paul M., all of Hyde Park; a sister, Edna Goldsmith of Brighton; and a brother, Edwin, of Marblehead. Another son, Ross G., died in 1981. A sister, Rosland Wise of Florida, died in 1983.

Services will be conducted at 11 tomorrow morning in Levine Chapel, 470 Harvard st., Brookline. Burial will be in Sharon Memorial Cemetery.

Boston Globe, The (MA)
Date: June 7, 1984
Edition: N
Page: ?????
Record Number: 8307080375





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