Burn hold service and unveil new memorial to Canadian airmen

York Press: Officers from RCAF 431 Squadron Officers from RCAF 431 Squadron

THE heroic actions of Canadian airmen who flew Second World War missions from an airbase near Selby will be remembered with a special service this month.

The Royal Canadian Airforce’s 431 (Iroquois) Squadron was based in Burn from 1942, and flew 320 missions over German cities from the village airbase, losing 17 Wellington bombers and 85 crew members.

Seventy years on from the squadron’s formation, the village will come together to remember those lost, and the part they played in the Allied success with a commemorative event and the unveiling of a new memorial to 431 Squadron on the village green, adjacent to the existing memorial to RAF 578 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 these Canadian airmen and the contribution they made towards winning the war.

“We are grateful for help from many sources including The Society of Honorary Snowbirds, the Canadian High Commission, RAF Linton, Canadian Second World War historian and author Bill Heron, friends and family of 431 Squadron members, the Air Force Association of Canada and many more. Many thanks are also due to Hard York Quarries, Bradford, who very kindly donated the York stone for the new 431 memorial.”

Although the squadron still exists, it is now known as the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, nicknamed the Snowbirds, and carries out aerial displays similar to the RAF’s Red Arrows.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Maryse Carmichael, the first female pilot to fly with the Snowbirds Aerobatic Team, will travel over from Canada especially for the event, along with Squadron Chief Warrant Officer Alan Blakney.

A short service will be held at Burn Methodist Chapel from 2pm on Sunday, October 28, followed by a marchpast by RAF Cadets and the unveiling and dedication of the memorial.

There will also be an exhibition of photographs and other memorabilia from 431 Squadron at The Wheatsheaf pub, which will be selling Snowbirds beer, specially brewed for the occasion by the Brown Cow Brewery at nearby Barlow.

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