THE French Ambassador is to visit York this week to honour the heroic free French pilot who saved York from the Luftwaffe 72 years ago.
The ambassador, Bernard Emie, will be in the city on Friday, May 2, to unveil a plaque commemorating Yves Mahé, whose actions saved York from catastrophic damage during the infamous Baedeker raids of April 29, 1942.
The plaque will be unveiled at St Martin le Grand Church on Coney Street - itself damaged by the bombing raid, and the ambassador will then visit the the Allied Air Forces Memorial at Yorkshire Air Museum to mark the 70th Anniversary of the formation of Elvington’s French Squadrons of RAF Bomber Command.
Museum director Ian Reed said: "We are delighted to be receiving the French Ambassador at Elvington, home to the two famous French Squadrons of Bomber Command, after he officially unveils the City’s tribute to another French airman, Yves Mahé, the fighter pilot who saved York during the Baedeker Raid of 1942. This will ensure that York’s enduring connection to France will never be forgotten and we were delighted to support the pupils of St. Wilfred’s school in their quest for this tribute."
The plaque tribute to Yves Mahé was prompted by a petition presented to the Lord Mayor of York by pupils of St. Wilfrid’s Primary School, York, in April last year, and pupils from St Wilfrid's will be at the ceremony on Friday.
The schoolchildren had become interested in the almost forgotten York hero Mahé when the Yorkshire Air Museum first brought its Hawker Hurricane aircraft into York city centre in April 2012, to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Baedeker Raid. They presented a petition to then Lord Mayor Coun Keith Hyman asking for proper recognition for Mahé in the city, and after lobbying to the York Civic Trust permission for a civic plaque in his honour was given.
In March, Mr Reed was himself honoured by the French government when he was given the prestigious title of Officier in the Ordre National Du Merite, in recognition of his years of hard work to see the memory of Elvington's French airmen preserved and commemorated.