Posts Tagged ‘Yorkshire Air Museum’

New Museum & Memorial Director at Yorkshire Air Museum

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Barbare George

• The First Female Director of the Museum

• A new mission and initiative of the Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial

• To Honour, Educate and Inspire

At the beginning of June 2019, The Yorkshire Air Museum welcomed a new Director. Barbara George began her role as the Director of The Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial, as countries across Europe gathered to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings.

It was perhaps a poignant moment in time to be assuming the role, as the Museum moves forwards into a new era of development and exciting new initiatives, both locally, regionally and internationally.

Who Is Barbara George?

The First Female Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial.Barbara has worked for the Museum since 2014, assuming the role of Deputy Director in 2017.

She is a French national and also has Australian citizenship. Barbara has an MA in Applied Languages and Commerce and has lived and worked in the UK, France and Australia with extensive experience in the fields of management, marketing and communications, and a life-long interest in museums and history, volunteering until recently within the prestigious Collections Department of the York Minster.

Along with the Board of Trustees, Barbara is going to be launching a new Museum strategy this month.

This new Museum ethos is ‘To Honour, Educate and Inspire’.

Barbara comments, “Traditionally the role of museums used to be to collect and preserve objects and showcase them to the public. However, current visitors are now demanding a less static and more engaging and fulfilling experience. Our new strategy and ethos will place the visitor journey and learning at the heart of everything we do.”

“We want to empower people to take their own journeys of discovery at the Yorkshire Air Museum. We also want to make our collections and stories relevant to the diverse audiences who visit us.”

“One of the purposes of our strategy has been to rethink our mission as an organisation. We are satisfied that our new mission encompasses the values that our museum and memorial want to stand for. “

About The New Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Director.

Barbara completed a MA in Applied Languages and Commerce at Lille University, France. She is an accredited translator in English and French certified by the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs.

She worked in London in public relations and financial marketing prior to moving to Australia to join her husband, a FA-18 pilot in the RAAF. In Australia, she was Marketing Communications Manager for the largest recruitment services provider in the country prior to studying immigration law in 2003.

She created a consultancy firm advising people on Australian immigration policy matters and translation services. She joined the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship in 2010 where she was Assistant Director and worked on various policy portfolios as well as a Parliamentary Inquiry into Australian immigration detention centres.

Barbara moved back to the UK with her family following an RAAF posting for her husband within BAe Systems. She started work at the Yorkshire Air Museum at the end of 2014 as Museum Manager (Development). She was promoted to Deputy Museum Director in 2017. She’s also been an archiving volunteer within the Collections Department of the York Minster for the past 4 years.

Barbara has been instrumental at Yorkshire Air Museum in creating strategies to bring more families to the museum and develop its educational programme for schools, increasing the school visits to the museum by 300%. Barbara is French with an Australian citizenship and is a member of the Museums Association and the Association of Independent Museums.

“I am very excited about our upcoming summer events, particularly our celebration of 50 years since the moon landing on 21st July which will be so much fun, followed by our family day on 28th July and our new revamped Thunder Day on 18th August. In between, there will be an action-packed summer of activities at the museum and much work to be done on planning new exhibitions”

Yorkshire Air Museum Supports Royal Air Force in London RAF Centenary Celebration!

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Avro 504

Following on from the huge success in organising the “100 Years of Co-operation” with the Royal Air Force and French Air Force in Central Paris in late May, attended by the Chiefs of the Air Staff, (see image CAS and Dignitaries) the Yorkshire Air Museum was commissioned to display our newly refurbished example of a WWI Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c aircraft at the National RAF100 Ceremony in Horse Guards Parade, London, taking place between the 6th and 10th July.

Many hundreds of hours of painstaking work have been undertaken by our Aircraft Heritage Team to completely rebuild the B.E2c, which is now looking resplendent in the heart of London ready for public display, along with a host of other aircraft that the Royal Air Force have brought together for this prestigious occasion, culminating with the major flypast over the capital on the 10th July.

Ian Reed, Museum Director, comments: “As the acknowledged Allied Air Forces Memorial of Europe, the Yorkshire Air Museum has been pleased to fully support the Royal Air Force in not one, but two major international events in the capital cities of France and England within the last 3 months.”

First UK Museum to be allowed to exhibit in France’s most prestigious location

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Avro 504

On behalf of the RAF and French Air Force (Armée de l’Air), the Yorkshire Air Museum has been commissioned to undertake an exhibition with full sized aircraft celebrating over 100 years of close co-operation between the two air forces at Les Invalides in the centre of Paris from 24th until 28th May 2018.

(The Royal Air Force was formed on the battlefields of the France during WWI, 100 years ago this year).

Les Invalides is the famous 17th century hospital, courtyard and cathedral built by Louis XIV, and home to the tomb of Napoleon and some of France’s top museums.

The Yorkshire Air Museum based at Elvington near York is also the European accredited Allied Air Forces Memorial and is situated on an original RAF Bomber Command base near York, which was the home of the only two French Heavy Bomber Squadrons of WW2 with over 2300 French airmen based there.

Particularly because of this unique French connection, the Museum has extensive experience in organising exhibitions and transporting historic aircraft both across France and Great Britain. It will be transporting a restored British biplane of the type which was first used in WW1 in 1912, an AVRO 504, to be displayed along with the Museum’s Anglo / French exhibition and a 1916 French SPAD VII fighter on loan from the Conservatoire d’Aquitaine in Bordeaux. They will create an evocative display reflecting the earliest days of British and French military cooperation in air defence.

Museum Director, Ian Reed ONM FRAeS, comments: “This will be the first time that a UK museum, indeed any Museum, has undertaken a display of this kind in perhaps the most prestigious location in France, where many occasions of State take place.

We are very privileged to be asked by the Royal Air Force and French Air Force to assist in bringing to fruition this unique celebration of over 100 years of co-operation between the two country’s air forces, especially in this year of RAF100

The ties which bind our two countries remain strong, even as ‘Brexit’ looms and I am sure will remain so into the future”.

Mr. Reed particularly praised the French authorities: “They have gone out of their way to be helpful and I am very grateful to them for their support to us, especially a foreign museum in one of the most renowned buildings in France.”

60th Anniversary of Yorkshire Built Blackburn Buccaneer to be Celebrated at Yorkshire Air Museum

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Buccaneer at Yorkshire Air Museum

Sunday 29th April

The Spring “Thunder Day” taking place at the Yorkshire Air Museum on Sunday 29th April will mark a very significant milestone of Yorkshire aviation history as it will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the first flight of the development prototype of the aircraft that was to become the Blackburn Buccaneer.

Spring “Thunder Day”
The Museum’s live example of the Buccaneer S.2 XN974 will be one of the highlights at the first “Thunder Day” of the 2018 season at the Yorkshire Air Museum on Sunday 29th April, perfectly timed to celebrate this 60th anniversary of the Blackburn Buccaneer. It will make a full engine power up during the course of the day, performing its control surface movements, wing folding, bomb bay door rotation and rear air brake activation, all under power. The mighty Spey engines were capable of producing 11000 lbs of thrust each, so this is an exciting, noisy display! We are also delighted to announce that Wing Commander David Herriott, Secretary of the Buccaneer Aircrew Association will be with us to give a presentation about the aircraft and its history, from the perspective of a navigator on the aircraft.

The other 6 live aircraft in the Museum’s collection will also be started up, including the Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a and diminutive Eastchurch Kitten WWI bi-planes, the 1945 WWII Douglas C-47 Dakota, the 1947 de Havilland Devon VIP transport, with both of these twin-props firing into life amongst plumes of smoke as they cough and splutter into life. Then, there will be the mighty Nimrod MR2 with its four Spey engines and finally the thunderous Handley Page Victor XL231 firing up her four Rolls Royce Conway power-plants that can produce 80 000 lbs thrust!!
All this will be carried out under the watchful eye of the Yorkshire Air Museum’s unique Volunteer Fire Team, who will also be conducting children’s activities and displaying their impressive fire appliances.

Blackburn Buccaneer – Historical Background
The military requirement was for a carrier based, low level strike and reconnaissance aircraft, capable of delivering conventional or nuclear weapons at very low level to counter the threat of the expanded Soviet Union naval capability with the huge Sverdlov–class cruisers. The aircraft was to be capable of approaching these warships below radar level at high speed, deploying weapons and quickly flying out of range.

First Flight
The tender for the Ministry of Supply specification M.148T was won by the design (Project B.103) by Blackburn’s Barry P Laight and became the last true Blackburn designed and built aircraft from the historic Brough factory near Hull, East Yorkshire. The development project (NA.39) was fully codenamed Blackburn Advanced Naval Aircraft, which resulted in the nickname of the “Banana Jet”, something unwittingly reinforced by the unusual contours of the design, implementing for the first time the principle of Boundary Layer Control, to disperse slow moving air over the wing surfaces to enhance stability and reduce stall speed for effective low altitude operation.

The first flight of Project B.103 took place at the Royal Aeronautical Establishment test centre, Bedford, at 12:57pm on 30th April 1958. According to test pilot Derek Whitehead, the flight went “exactly as planned”, with the aircraft in its duck-egg blue/grey and white “anti-flash” underbelly markings weaving gently as the pilot tested the controls whilst holding the aircraft at very low level, then rising easily away. The success of this first flight was a matter of great pride for Blackburn, especially the Chairman at the time, Eric Turner, who described it as “a wonderful achievement in getting the N.A.39 prototype in the air by the target date.” It was actually the first time that a very tight target date for a large and complicated military aircraft had been met, a result of superb teamwork at every level. Early Blackburn Buccaneer S.1 production models went into service with the Fleet Air Arm on 17th July 1962. However, they suffered from a lack of power from the original de Havilland Gyron Junior engines, resulting in some tragic accidents under more severe testing and operation. This was solved when the superior new Rolls Royce Spey engines were fitted, producing 40% more thrust for the following S.2 and other variants. By this time, Blackburn Aircraft Company had merged with Hawker Siddeley, so S.2 and later variants were known as Hawker Siddeley (Blackburn) Buccaneers.

Blackburn Buccaneer S.2
The first production Buccaneer S.2 was XN974, now to be seen at the Yorkshire Air Museum. XN974 is certainly no ordinary Buccaneer. It first flew on 5th June 1964, from Holme-on-Spalding Moor, East Yorkshire, and then went to the Royal Aircraft Experimental test facility in Bedford and then to HMS Eagle for sea trials, including work on HMS Hermes and HMS Ark Royal. In 1965 in went to the USA for hot weather testing and, on its return flight, on 10th October, became a record breaker by becoming the first Fleet Air Arm aircraft to fly the transatlantic route non-stop and un-refuelled from the Canadian Air Force base at Goose Bay, Newfoundland to RNAS Lossiemouth, achieving the distance of 1950 miles in 4hours 16 minutes. It became a prime avionics and system development test bed between 1967 and 1982, and, during the ”Gulf War” (Desert Storm), it took part in the RAF activities designated “Operation Granby”, flying high altitude re-fuelling trial sorties with Tornado GR1 aircraft, lasting up to 3 hours in flight. It was flown into retirement here at Elvington on 19th August 1991, wearing RAF camouflage markings, and has remarkably been kept in live, ground operational condition since then. It has now been restored into its original Fleet Air Arm colours, and makes a very striking looking aircraft.

Fulfilling its design brief, the Buccaneer has been described as the most stable low-level strike aircraft ever built. It served with the Fleet Air Arm until 1978, when the Sea Harrier was introduced. The RAF acquired the type in 1969, after the cancellation of the proposed British Aircraft Company TSR2 project, then taking the Fleet Air Arm Buccaneers. The RAF fleet was gradually reduced to 60 aircraft, with the scaling down of the Cold War, coming out of service on 31st March 1994 to be replaced by the new PANAVIA Tornado as production of this type escalated.

However, the Buccaneers saw service alongside the Tornado GR1’s during the first Gulf War during 1991, crucially providing laser target designation for the Tornado’s which they lacked at that time.

Thunder Day Admission:
Admission: £12 Adults; £10 Concession; £5 Child (5-15) or £30 Family (2A+3Ch).
Gates Open at 10:00am until 17:00pm.
Propeller aircraft will be run during the morning and then again in the afternoon from 13:15pm. Buccaneer XN974 will conduct its run at 14:30pm

Allied Air Forces Memorial Day 2018 Announced

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Allied Air Forces Memorial Day at Yorkshire Air Museum

The date has been set for the Yorkshire Air Museum’s prestigious “Allied Air Forces Memorial Day” and 2018’s ceremony will take place on Sunday 2nd September. This international event sees attendance of Air Force and Defence Attachés and diplomats from many allied nations, in addition to senior RAF personnel and Civic dignitaries, and is indeed an important, well-established military occasion for the region. This year is particularly significant, as it forms part of the national Royal Air Force Centenary celebrations, marking the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the RAF and WRAF, and of course the Armistice and the end of World War One.

As always, the participation of veterans and members of numerous Service organisations, such as the Royal Air Force Association, Royal British Legion and Royal Observer Corps is welcome and many of those who have taken part in previous years have already been contacted to attend and take part in the occasion, with responses already being received.

Ian Reed ONM FRAeS, Museum Director, comments: “The participation of veterans, serving personnel and Air Training Corps Cadets, marching proudly with their Association / Branch and Squadron Standards, including National Standards, creates a colourful and truly spectacular occasion for all to appreciate. The Parade, impressively led by the Yorkshire Military Marching Band & Corps of Drums, progresses through the Museum to the Memorial hangar, where, against the stunning background provided by the unique WWII Halifax bomber, “Friday the 13th”, a poignant Drumhead commemoration Service is held, after the Standards have been Marched in and assembled. It is an opportunity to reflect on the service and sacrifice of so many in defence of the nation and freedom from oppression.”

Following the Service, the Parade re-forms for the traditional ‘Sunset’ Ceremony, with the lowering of the RAF Ensign and dipping of Standards, culminating with the March Off and Salute, taken by Senior personnel attending.

It is an occasion not to be missed, and we anticipate that the 2018 Allied Air Forces Memorial Day will be bigger than ever and supported by an historic aircraft flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, adding to the spectacle.

Any Service organisations wishing to take part are welcome to contact the museum to register their interest, and should contact Ian Richardson, Communications Manager on 01904 608595 or e-mail:

Rolling Thunder at Yorkshire Air Museum- Sunday 27th August

Friday, August 25th, 2017


This coming Sunday, in a grand end to the summer holiday, Elvington Airfield will reverberate to the sound of the Yorkshire Air Museum’s mighty jets as we stage another, eagerly anticipated “Rolling Thunder” Day, after a two year break. Fresh from a winter deep overhaul and repaint, the Yorkshire built Blackburn (Hawker Siddeley) Buccaneer XN974 will provide a striking spectacle in its fabulous and original Fleet Air Arm markings and will be the first time the aircraft has been seen on Elvington’s runway in this colour scheme since the aircraft’s development in 1964. XN974 was the prototype for the Naval carrier based variant of the superb Buccaneer low-level strike aircraft, and the aircraft set a record in 1965 by becoming the first Fleet Air Arm aircraft to make the transatlantic route from Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada to RNAS Lossiemouth, Scotland, non stop without refuelling. (See image: A56E5458).

The ‘Cold War’ jets:
Nimrod MR2 XV250, the ‘Mighty Hunter’, as this ‘high tech’ intelligence gathering, surveillance and submarine tracking aircraft was known as, will give full vent to her four Rolls Royce Spey engines to roar off down the runway, as her dedicated team pay tribute to all those who spent many hours of duty aboard these impressive hunter aircraft. XV250 is indeed maintained as a ‘living’ Memorial to the 14 crew of Nimrod XV230, who lost their lives in the tragic accident in Afghanistan in 2006.

Then it will be the turn of the awesome Handley Page Victor XL231 (See image: 7DAFB494). Famously known as “Lusty Lindy”, this aircraft started out as part of Britain’s airborne nuclear deterrent in the late 1950’s, later converting to the Tanker role for air to air refuelling, where it saw action in the Falklands War in the Ascension Island theatre and then in the first Gulf War, in “Desert Storm”, where it was given it’s distinctive name! It is the best example of only two surviving ground operational Victor’s in the world, so is always a huge draw for enthusiasts when the rare chance comes to hear her four mighty Rolls Royce Conway engines set the ground shaking as this still futuristic looking aircraft sets off at high speed down the 10 000ft runway.

Our vintage propeller aircraft will also see action with the two WWI bi-planes conducting static engine runs on the Museum site in the morning. Our WWII Douglas C-47 Dakota and 1947 De Havilland Devon twin props will also conduct taxi runs on the airfield for a full day of ‘kerosene infused’ action!!

Ian Reed, Museum Director, comments: “Famous for being the venue for motorsport driving days, numerous world record attempts and other high speed feats of daring, this vast runway, formerly part of the WWII RAF Bomber Command base of RAF Elvington, is the perfect place to ’exercise’ these high performance aircraft in front of an adoring audience and we are thrilled at this opportunity and extend our thanks to Elvington Parks for their cooperation in staging this event.”

Admission is £12 Adults, £10 Concession, £5 Child and £30 Family. Gates open at 10:00am.

Women’s Services Memorial day at Yorkshire Air Museum

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Yorkshire Air Museum Women's Services Memorial

The Centenary of women serving within the Armed Forces will be marked during the poignant Women’s Services Memorial Day taking place here at the Allied Air Forces Memorial & Yorkshire Air Museum this coming Sunday 13th August.

It was on 7th July 1917 when the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp was formed, introducing women into the Army for the first time, although it was a largely clerical unit. This was followed in November 1917 by the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service and the birth of the ‘Wrens’, as the service is affectionately known as.

“This annual Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony exists to pay tribute and fully recognise the role that women have played in the defence of the nation from the First World War to the present day, where they now take on frontline duties, shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts on the ground, at sea and in the air. In fact, it is a tribute to the diversity and inclusiveness of all forms of our service community that gender, sexual orientation and ethnic background is no barrier to serving in the defence of the nation.” – Ian Reed ONM FRAeS Museum Director

The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight have once again shown their support for the ceremony, with the allocation of a flypast by the legendary Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, which will set off proceedings in the early afternoon in quite spectacular style as the spine-tingling roar of Merlin engines fills the Elvington sky. As the aircraft disappear in the distance, the Parade will set off to march through the centre of the Museum to our unique and inspiring Women’s Memorial Garden, where a Wreath Laying Ceremony will take place.

Following this, the Parade will reform and march back, where, we are delighted to announce, the Salute will be taken by the Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Hon. Mrs Susan Cunliffe-Lister.

“It is especially fitting that Susan has been able to join us for the occasion, as it will see the Laying Up of the Branch Standards of Keyingham and Stamford Bridge Royal British Legion Women’s Section, making this the last time that these Standards will be presented and Paraded. This is always a sad occasion, as these flags are symbols of service and friendship, carried and marched with pride and honour. Our Station Chaplain, the Revd. Charles “Taff” Morgan MBE will accept the Standards into our care for perpetuity, where they will join many others of various Service organisations already at rest in our Chapel.” – Ian Richardson, Communications Manager.

The Parade will be led by musicians from the Yorkshire Military Band & Corps of Drums, creating a rousing and colourful spectacle for all participants and visitors to enjoy.

Gates Open at 10:00am and normal Museum Admission applies: £10 Adults; £8 Concessions and £5 Children (5-15. Family admission £26 (2A + 3Ch.)

French Mirage IV Strategic Nuclear Bomber Gifted by France to Britain

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Dassault Mirage

On Monday 27th March, the Director of the Allied Air Forces Memorial & Yorkshire Air Museum, Ian Reed ONM FRAeS, was at Châteaudun Airbase on the outskirts of Paris, to sign the contact and see off the departure of the convoy of 4 transporters on an epic 850km journey bringing the iconic Mirage IV BR (No. 45) strategic nuclear bomber gifted by the French Government to its new home at Elvington in Yorkshire.

This unique Anglo/French Project occurs just as British Prime Minister Theresa May begins the formal BREXIT process, an irony not lost on our colleagues both sides of the Channel (La Manche).

Sally Greenaway, Head of Visit York, said: “This unique gift recognises the historic links and friendship between France and Britain and we’re thrilled the Mirage IV will be making its home at the Yorkshire Air Museum. As the only example in the world of this aircraft type on display outside of France, this adds yet another unique offer for our 6.9 million visitors to York and is sure to create lots of interest not just in the UK but also overseas”.

Tens of thousands followed the journey on social media, whilst others lined the route through England as the transporter carried it’s load up the M25, M3, M25, M1, A1(M), A64 and finally the B1228 to Elvington.

This is the culmination of 12 years of negotiation and is already being followed by tens of thousands of supporters across the world by social media, TV and Press. There is a dedicated website for up to date media information with pictures, background history and supporters:

The French Airman who Fell out of the Sky on Christmas Eve 1944

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Leroy Elvington

As the “Big Day” approaches, it is perhaps worth bearing in mind that 70 years ago those involved in World War II did not stop for Christmas. However, for one French airman, flying from RAF Elvington with one of the two unique French Squadrons of RAF Bomber Command, Christmas Spirit was to turn into a miracle – of sorts.

24 year old André Guédez, with 6 other crew-mates of their Halifax bomber “L for Love”, was looking forward to going on well-earned evening leave to celebrate Christmas Eve in York with their girl-friends, when suddenly – “All Leave Cancelled” was announced.

Somewhat disheartened and unable to tell their girl friends that they could no longer meet, they began preparations for an urgent mission over Germany to try to help support the Allied defence against the surprise German attacks, known later as “The Battle of the Bulge”.

They took off from Elvington at 11:31am on Christmas Eve 1944 in their huge, lumbering, Halifax 4-engined bomber, MZ489 L8-L, “L for Love”, with other members of 347 “Tunisie” French squadron aircraft, with André in the mid-upper gunner position. After almost 4 hours flying in the freezing, foggy conditions they were above Essen Mülheim, location of the huge Krupps armaments factory. Almost immediately “L for Love” was hit by anti aircraft fire in the notoriously highly defended Ruhr Valley, known as “Happy Valley” by the airmen. Probably the most heavily defended area ever created.

As André recalls:

“The Ruhr sky was, at that time, the most explosive place in the world. The Germans had more than 30,000 anti aircraft batteries around their factories and towns. It was the industrial heart of the 3rd Reich, even though it was tottering at that time. On each incursion, especially at night, we were floodlit like in a parade, with continuous fire from anti-aircraft guns. We knew one in two aircraft might not come back, and until that day, I had been lucky”.

André remembers that the first shell hit the inner port engine. “It was quickly on fire, but we still had three engines. The second shell cut the aircraft controls. This time, it was lost.”

No parachute – nearly!

“The pilot and the co-pilot gave us the order to jump. I then disconnected the heating of my suit and my oxygen mask. At 6000m high, the temperature was –50 degrees C and the oxygen is very rare. In a few minutes I knew I would be unconscious.”

In his signature gesture of bravado, André had thrown his parachute into a corner. He discovered with horror a huge hole in the fuselage and initially thought his precious parachute has been blown away. But he found it, and had just enough time to fasten the parachute before he began to lose consciousness – just at the same moment as another explosion rocked the aircraft with a direct hit on another engine.

“I was scared, paralysed by the cold and the lack of oxygen. The Flight Engineer who was behind me pushed me out of the hatch into the open air. I must have opened my parachute instinctively, because the next second I was unconscious and don’t remember anything!

He thus fell the 18,000 feet to earth amidst all the screaming engines, guns firing and explosions and remembers nothing until he woke up sometime later. He was lying on desk in an office with an injured face and back. The first thing he noticed was that those around him were speaking German, so André knew he was a prisoner. But somehow he had survived.

“Opening my eyes, I saw kids with noses pasted to a window looking at me. An old German soldier, a poor guy who had been called-up, was looking after me.”

André’s first thoughts were for his English girlfriend waiting for him in York and how he could let her know he wouldn’t be able to meet her in town that night: “We really were in clover at the station (RAF Elvington), cherished and pampered, and I said to myself the dream was over and there would be no Christmas that night by the fireplace.”

This was not a good time to be a captured airman. “At that time the Germans were furious against the Allied airmen. The terrible bombings in Dresden, which caused the death of 45,000 people, were considered war crimes”.

They threw him into a civilian prison on the night of 24th December and later he found his Flight Engineer, Sgt. François Duran, who had survived as well. “We were happy to see each other again. The day after, we were sent to an interrogation centre. We had a really hard time when a Wehrmacht Officer, threatened us”. As France was “German Occupied territory”, French airmen & soldiers fighting with the Allies were considered as traitors, and André learnt afterwards that they were the only two survivors out of the seven man crew of Elvington’s Halifax ‘L for Love’. The others were shot as they parachuted to Earth or killed when the aircraft crashed in the outskirts of Düsseldorf at Wersten im Brücherbach.

Prisoner in Germany.

André spent four and a half months as a prisoner in Germany and during that time André remembers being marched through the devastated German towns and cities.

“We were eventually sent to a camp near Munich. Hitler had the crazy idea of setting up a prison of war camp in the Bavarian Alps. The Americans released us on 29th April 1945.”

Amazingly, André and François also survived one of the Great Marches, as the Nazi’s moved prisoners of war away from the Russian front in the winter of early 1945. For 67 years, André and François Duran telephoned each other every 24th December to remember the close friends they had lost that tragic night. Francois died in 2012.

After the war André continued in the French Air Force eventually becoming a Colonel. His youngest daughter Genevieve Monneris and his grandson Thomas Lesgoirres made several documentaries about the French Squadrons at Elvington, and in particular, a documentary about André’s wartime experiences won the prestigious IWM London Film Festival in 2012. Her book “The French Squadrons” was released in 2016.

Ian Reed, Director of the Allied Air Forces Memorial & Yorkshire Air Museum which is based on the former airfield, commented: “As each year passes, there are fewer and fewer veterans of the famous French Squadrons, and indeed all those of RAF Bomber Command, left with us. It is an honour to know him today and we are thankful that André Guédez is still going strong as we remember his incredible story, and give our thanks that because of people like him, Europe has seen the longest period of peace in modern history. We must never forget”

Remember! Remember the 5th of November

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Halifax Yorkshire Air Museum

The date of the 4th / 5th November 1944 is indeed remembered here at the Allied Air Forces Memorial, as it was the night of another heavy RAF Bomber Command raid on the German steel producing city of Bochum, which was of high importance to the Nazi war machine. It was the 150th time the city had been visited by Bomber Command.

On this night, Bomber Command launched a raid of 749 aircraft from Nos. 1, 4,6 and 8 Groups, comprising of 384 Halifax bombers, 336 Lancaster’s and 29 Mosquito fighter / bombers upon the city. RAF Elvington, part of 4 Group, put up 25 aircraft from the two French Squadrons of 346 “Guyenne” and 347 “Tunisie”. For Guyenne Squadron, the night was to be particularly horrific, as, bringing up the final wave of the attack in the early hours of 5th November, their 16 Halifax bombers were the most vulnerable to attack by enemy fighters. Consequently, they lost 5 aircraft, each with seven aircrew aboard, amounting to 35 men, no, friends, on this fateful night. Of these, 11 were taken as Prisoner of War after bailing out, one successfully evaded capture but the rest lost their lives. Interestingly, there was also a ‘passenger’ on board the aircraft of Commander Robert Baron (on his 26th and last operation), this being Lt. Col. N. Dagan from the Free French Air Force HQ in Whitehall, who also lost his life. He was undertaking an assessment operation of a typical mission and the hazards encountered by aircrew.

It was the longest of nights for base Commander Puget, as he paced the floor of Elvington’s Control Tower, which still exists today, until it was clear that these aircraft were not coming home. It was the worst night of losses that the French were to endure during their service with Bomber Command.

The Allied Air Forces Memorial & Yorkshire Air Museum will be represented at the annual Mass commemorating this fateful mission, which takes place at the cathedral of Les Invalides, the Military Museum in the heart of Paris on 4th November. Ian Reed, Museum Director, will make the journey to join members of Groupes Lourds, the French veterans association for the ceremony.

Ian Reed commented: “The memory of this raid is one of the factors that makes the following annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the French Memorial, Elvington, so important and poignant, and draws a significant contingent from France every year, gathering with the hundreds of villagers, Yorkshire Air Museum Members and military personnel from various nations who come to pay their respects to the fallen of all nations.”

The Service takes place at 11:00am on Sunday 13th November, at the French Memorial, York Road, Elvington, with a later Service at the Station Chapel at the Yorkshire Air Museum at 13:30pm, which all our visitors are welcome to attend.