French ambassador unveils memorial to wartime hero, pilot Yves Mahe

Memorial to French airman who helped save York

Children from St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School at the memorial to Free French RAF pilot Yves Mahe, with air attache Col Nicolas Chambaz

French ambassador Bernard Emie with the plaque which was unveiled to honour Yves Mahe

French Air Attache Col. Nicolas Chambaz infront of the plaque with children from St Wilfrid's school who suggested the memorial after seeing the Yorkshire Air Museum's Hurricane in St Sampson's Square and learning about the York Blitz.

Ambassador Emie unveilling the plaque with children from St Wilfrid's school who suggested the memorial after seeing the Yorkshire Air Museum's Hurricane in St Sampson's Square

Ambassador Emie looking at the Yorkshire Air Museum's Hurricane in St Sampson's Square.

French Air Attache Col. Nicolas Chambaz looking at the Yorkshire Air Museum's Hurricane in St Sampson's Square.

First published in News
Last updated
York Press: Photograph of the Author by

A LASTING memorial to an almost forgotten hero of York's wartime past was unveiled in a special ceremony in the city yesterday.

The actions of pilot Yves Mahe during the bombing raid on the city made such an impression on the people of York in 1942 that the French tricolour was flown over the city, and now the young airman has been permanently memorialised in a city centre church.

Mahe is the Free French RAF pilot credited with saving York from the notorious "Baedecker" bombing raid of April 1942 when he shot down one of the 40 German bombers attacking York.

Yesterday, after a campaign led by children of St Wilfrid's RC Primary School, the French ambassador travelled to York to unveil a memorial to the airman.

His Excellency Bernard Emié and Air Attaché Col Nicolas Chambaz took part in a special ceremony at St Martin le Grand church in Coney Street, and spoke of French gratitude that Mahe's actions were being commemorated in York.

M Emie called Mahe the "stuff of legends", and added:

"I am very pleased that the initiative for this plaque was taken on not by veterans or historians, but by children. I am very grateful for that initiative, and for the support of the authorities."

He also praised Yorkshire Air Museum director Ian Reed for his work to see the memorial become a reality, and said it was pleasing to see stories of the French- British alliance passed down through the generations.

Children from St Wilfrid's were also invited to see their campaign, which started when they learnt about Mahe's story at an exhibition to mark the 70th anniversary of the raid, come to fruition.

Ten year old Angus Crossan said: "It's really good to be here, because without Yves Mahe York would have been half blown up. He risked his life for a town that was not even his hometown."

The pupils started their campaign thinking it would not come to anything, he added, and were thrilled to see their idea taken up by the French ambassador, the York Civic Trust, the air museum and the city council.

"It makes us feel really important," he added.

Comments (3)

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2:07pm Sat 3 May 14

The Junkyard Angel says...

Great man and well recognised at last ! . My grandmother was working in Rowntree factory on the night of the raid and said the York skyline was red from the bombs. Glad they missed Rowntree as she was doing war work, fuses for bombs etc I think ?
Great man and well recognised at last ! . My grandmother was working in Rowntree factory on the night of the raid and said the York skyline was red from the bombs. Glad they missed Rowntree as she was doing war work, fuses for bombs etc I think ? The Junkyard Angel
  • Score: 9

11:34am Sun 4 May 14

Grumpy Old Man says...

I note that nowhere in your story do you mention where he attacked the German plane. Suggest you check where the attack took place and then you might think about changing the claim that he 'saved York'.PS: who 'credited' him with saving York? And with the raid taking place at night hiding plane markings and censorship in place, how did the citizens of York know it was a Free French pilot until much later? I don't doubt the bravery of this pilot but the whole 1942 raid has just turned into a fairy tale. I understand the Press repeating the same old mish-mash of a tale over and over again - it's the easiest way for a cash-strapped former newspaper - but I expected better from Ian Reed, who I know is in possession of the facts.
I note that nowhere in your story do you mention where he attacked the German plane. Suggest you check where the attack took place and then you might think about changing the claim that he 'saved York'.PS: who 'credited' him with saving York? And with the raid taking place at night hiding plane markings and censorship in place, how did the citizens of York know it was a Free French pilot until much later? I don't doubt the bravery of this pilot but the whole 1942 raid has just turned into a fairy tale. I understand the Press repeating the same old mish-mash of a tale over and over again - it's the easiest way for a cash-strapped former newspaper - but I expected better from Ian Reed, who I know is in possession of the facts. Grumpy Old Man
  • Score: 0

5:29pm Sun 4 May 14

terry_nyorks says...

Please Monsieur "G..O..M..". Its good to have some sensible news celebrating our history, and especially when young historians come up with something!
Please Monsieur "G..O..M..". Its good to have some sensible news celebrating our history, and especially when young historians come up with something! terry_nyorks
  • Score: 5

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