Lost Over France: Malaysia’s Unsung Hero, Remembering the Talalla Brothers

I stumbled across this interesting article in New Sunday Times today on the Talalla brothers. It was about a documentary to be aired on History Channel today in conjunction with Malaysia Day. It tells the story of two pilot brothers — Henry and Cyril Talalla — who to this day were among the very few known Malaysians to fly for the Royal British Air force during World War II.

Excerpt from the article:

Henry, 24, a fighter pilot for the RAF since 1941, flew rocket-carrying Typhoons for the 182nd squadron, while his brother Cyril, flew the Spitfire for the 118th Squadron.

In July 1944, Henry took off with four British Typhoons to provide air support to the Allied ground troops fighting the Nazi defence line south of the city of Caen, northern France. Henry’s squadron was tasked with attacking a concentration of tanks at Fontenay Le Marmion and pin back the German defence formation south of Caen. This would allow the Americans to launch Operation Cobra, designed to breakout from the Nazi defence line in the west.

Henry’s was the third aircraft in a group of four Typhoon aircraft. During the 60-degree dive and after firing his rockets, Henry came under heavy anti-aircraft fire from Nazi ground support and disappeared from formation. Henry had been shot down and crashed 18km away from his target. Hearing the news, his brother Cyril flew alone over northern France in his mustang back into the battle zone. Desperately searching for his brother, he traced Henry’s flight path but found nothing.

Twenty one days after the crash, French farmer Louie Bree found a grave by the side of a wrecked aircraft, presumed to have been dug by the French resistance movement.

After the war in 1945, Henry’s father, with some information about the aircraft from the British Minister of Defence and the French local police, flew to France and tracked down Louie Bree’s farm which led him to Henry’s grave. Fifty years later, the British government exhumed Henry’s body and transferred it to the military cemetery in Banneville Le Campaigne.

Every year since then, the small village of Airan have paid tribute to this Malaysian hero in a ceremony. One member of the Talalla family will always be there.

The  stele of Henry Talalla, on the road named after him and linking Airan to Moult in France

The stele of Henry Talalla, on the road named after him and linking Airan to Moult in France

You can actually read more about Henry at the Victoria Institutions website.

The Documentary airs today on History Channel (Astro) at 9.00pm with repeats tomorrow (16th September) at 1am, 4am and 12pm

Can’t wait to watch this documentary. Here’s the trailer:

Kugan Kumar

V.Kugantharan is the founder of Joy With Music, where he teaches adults and kids the joys of playing the piano. He also runs a web design agency, 504 Studios. A father of a very "opinionated" four-year-old, he divides his time between his passions -- blogging, reading, music, design and books.

Comments (7) Write a comment

  1. Anyway, I received an e-mail from the producers of the show thanking me for this posting. It’s good to see how powerful social media is.

    Dear Mr. V.Kugantharan,

    On behalf of the producer 3Line Media Sdn. Bhd. I would like to forward our gratitude on publishing the article “Lost Over France”. It has been a very tough journey but we finally finish it. We would like to thank you to all Malaysian citizen like yourself on taking the initiative to publish the Lost Over France article. I hope you like it and will tell the story to your kids and grand kids. This is a Malaysian story for all Malaysian. It was an honor for us to produce the documentary and get feedback from the public. I am proud to be Malaysian and it is a wonderful story.

    Last but not least, thank you so very much for your article. I wish you well always and keep on writing.

    Best regards,


  2. Just saw one of the reruns. Great job Fitri and 3Line Media.

    This is a powerful story of braveness, courage and love. It is almost suicidal for the younger brother to fly solo into the hottest spot during WWII looking for his downed sibling.


  3. “Great Job 3Line Media Sdn Bhd and all crews…it is indeed a wounderful story…
    Glad everyone enjoyed the dinner last night”

    thank you so much Naveen and all the Talalla family member. It was a wonderful journey….no words to describe. Last but not least….Tq all for watching and supports.



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