The Canadian Air Forces Memorial was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum by the His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester on 8th July 2011
The RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight provided a Tucano training aircraft fly-past in diamond formation and salute to The Duke of Gloucester to open the celebration. Music for the event was performed by the Band of the RAF College and the RAF’s volunteer choral society ‘The Spitfires’.
A parade of 48 servicemen escorted the Queens Colour for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
RAF Stations Leeming and Linton-on-Ouse, once home to Canadian Airmen during the Second World War, have set up a fundraising project to create a lasting national memorial to all Canadian Airmen and Women who fought with the allies during the Second World War, but also to remember and honour every Canadian Airman.
Red and white granite to identify the Canadian flag form the monolith, with information panels on all four sides in English and french.
The poem ‘High Flight’ by John Gillespie Magee Jnr and a brief history of Canadian Air Force history is also inscribed into the plaque.
A red stone maple leaf tops the monolith and is also featured below to mark the centre piece of a large granite Canadian Air Force roundel.
On the outer ring of the roundel are carved the names of each of the 13 Canadian Provinces and Territories. This was donated by LaFarge Canada. The general manager of LaFarge, Mr Jamie Kleven made the trip to the UK especially for the ceremony to see the finished monument.
The memorial is located at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance.
Michael Oliver, Chairman of Oliver Valves – a Knutsford-based manufacturer that builds valves used by the world’s biggest energy firms, generously agreed to personally underwrite the project.
Flight Lieutenant Alfie Hall of RAF Leeming, a Royal Air Force station in North Yorkshire which opened during the Second World War, said: “The Royal Canadian Air Force contributed more than 130,000 aircrew to the war effort – the fourth largest allied air force and more than 10,000 lost their lives.”
The Arboretum already contains memorials to the Royal Australian Air Force and the Norwegian Navy, but a monument to the Canadian airmen is conspicuous by its absence.
“Fundraising for projects like these can be a long-drawn-out process, but the generous offer we have received from Michael Oliver will allow us to quickly rectify the absence of a fitting memorial.”
Michael Oliver said: “It is very important that we remember the people who fought alongside Great Britain during the Second World War and a memorial to the Canadian Royal Air Force at the Arboretum is long overdue.”
Donations have come in large and small from both sides of the Atlantic, with one Canadian Province providing a substantial donation. Members of 426 ‘Thunderbird’ Squadron Canadian Air Force visited RAF Linton-on-Ouse this week, and will be visiting sites of historical interest around North Yorkshire.
The 426 Sqn Association has rallied to support the project and have also made a very significant donation to the fund. Flight Lieutenant Hall said: “The generosity of people supporting this project has been amazing; not only veterans and associations, but groups and members of the public who have no connection with the RAF or RCAF from the UK and Canada.
The donations from the Province of Saskatchewan and the 426 Squadron association have benefitted our project greatly, but we just need a little more to meet our target.”
National Memorial Arboretum
The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country. The Arboretum is part of The Royal British Legion family of charities.
Sited in the heart of the Nation, with 50,000 maturing trees and 160 memorials, it is a beautiful and lasting tribute to those who serve their country, die in conflict or have a special reason for being remembered.
Visitors from all walks of life number around 300,000 per year, including Service personnel, veterans, students of all ages, groups and individuals. Over 200 special events are held annually. The Act of Remembrance, including a Silence, is observed daily in the Millennium Chapel.
The Arboretum is home to the striking Armed Forces Memorial which commemorates those who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorism from the end of the Second World War to the current conflict in Afghanistan.
An £8 million redevelopment campaign has been launched to create a world-class Remembrance Centre worthy of those who give so much to our Country.