French town honours city Spitfire hero

A FRENCH local authority is set to honour an Edinburgh-born Spitfire pilot 64 years after he was shot down – by naming a roundabout after him.

Russell Lyon was just 21 when his plane went down on July 27, 1944, in Brittany, north-west France.

His family had no idea of the final resting place of the former George Watson's pupil until last year when French aviation enthusiasts uncovered the wreckage in a field.

The story of the brave young pilot has attracted so much attention since that the local authority in Larmor-Plage, where his plane came down, has announced that it is to dedicate a roundabout in his memory. It said that the roundabout will be built 100 metres from the site of the crash, between the towns of Ploemeur and Kernevel.

Today, Mr Lyon's nephew, Richard Lyon, said that he was "thrilled" by the news.

The 59-year-old architect, who lives in Cambridge, said: "We found out early last week and I think it is excellent. I'm thrilled the French have taken such an interest. It's terrific news for us."

The Mayor for Larmor-Plage, Mr Victor Tonnerre, said that the memorial would ensure that Mr Lyon's death would never be forgotten.

He said: "We decided to name the roundabout after the pilot in memory of what happened and so we don't forget someone who dedicated his life to France."

Mr Tonnerre said that he expected the memorial would be well-received by the local community. He said: "A number of the people who live in this area are of a particular generation who know about the war, even if they were not actively involved, and so I think they will respect the dedication."

Ernest Russell Lyon was born in Colinton on December 19, 1922, and joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve soon after his 18th birthday. He was a flying instructor in the US and Canada during the early part of the war and in 1943 joined 234 Squadron, flying in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

He lost his life at the controls of his Spitfire when it was hit at 6000ft by German anti-aircraft fire. His plane was seen to dive out of control and crash in flames.

His final resting place was not discovered until April last year when French aviation enthusiasts found the wreckage. They used serial numbers to track down the pilot and, soon after, discovered an unmarked grave in Lorient.