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Burn welcomes Canadian air chief as war heroes are honoured
6:32pm Sunday 28th October 2012 in News
Lt Col Marysce Carmichael, commanding officer 431 Squadron, and Chief Warrant Officer Allan Blakley unveil the memorial stone
THE commanding officer of a Canadian air force squadron has flown 4,000 miles to attend a special event in a tiny North Yorkshire village.
Lieutenant Colonel Maryse Carmichael today unveiled a new memorial stone in Burn, near Selby, to commemorate the founding of her 431 Squadron at the village’s World War Two airfield exactly 70 years ago.
The Royal Canadian Air Force 431 (Iroquois) Squadron, served at Burn between 1942 and 1943, flying about 320 sorties and losing 17 of their Wellington bombers and 85 crew. Now known as the Snowbirds, the squadron is the Canadian equivalent of Britain’s Red Arrows.
Burn Parish Council decided to recognise the sacrifice and contribution made by the Canadian war heroes with a commemoration stone and memorial service on the small village green. Lt Col Carmichael and her Chief Warrant Officer, Alan Blakney, travelled from their airbase in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to attend.
At the ceremony were almost 40 VIP guests, including Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Brigadier Nigel Wood, representatives of the Royal Air Force, Royal Air Forces Association, Air Training Corps, 578 Squadron - which also flew out of Burn during World War Two - the Yorkshire Air Museum and the Fraternity of Old Selebians. An exhibition of photographs and other memorabilia from 431 Squadron was displayed in the village pub, The Wheatsheaf.
Lt Col Carmichael – the first woman pilot to fly with the Snowbirds – said: “It’s a great honour to be here in Burn to see our squadron commemorated like this.
"We really appreciate what the village has done to recognise the contribution made by our wartime colleagues and the great sacrifices they made in the eight months they served at Burn. Those early members of the squadron are not forgotten, but what Burn has done today has helped us remember how significant it was. We feel a real bond with the village where 431 Squadron was born all those years ago.”
She also presented a plaque giving Burn the rare honour of membership of the Society of Honorary Snowbirds, and a framed montage depicting 431 Squadron.
Parish council chairman Chris Phillipson said: “In all these years, 431 Squadron has never been adequately recognised, and we thought it appropriate on the 70th anniversary to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by those Canadian airmen and the contribution they made towards winning the war.
“We are honoured the commanding officer of the Snowbirds and Warrant Officer Blakney travelled all this way to take part in this event and that so many VIPs turned out for our commemoration ceremony.”