Attending the York Minster commemoration
Memorial in honour of French aviators during World War II. © Kippa Matthews 2011
York, 20 October 2011
Ambassador Bernard Emié went to York on 20 October to attend the inauguration of the French Air Force memorial at York Minster. The memorial plaque is the first French war memorial to be placed in an English cathedral.
Thousands attended the event. Among the guests were a few dozen veterans, Gerald Howarth, Minister for International Security Strategy at the MoD, the chiefs of staff of the French and British air forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton and General Jean-Paul Palomeros, as well as Air Marshal Paul Fouilland, French Strategic Air Forces Commander.
The ceremony opened with a military parade and flypast. A mixed detachment of a French Rafale fighter and a British Typhoon set the pace, with a squadron of RAF Tucanos and French Xingus in pursuit. A Lancaster bomber, of the type used by the French Heavy Bomber groups during the Second World War, closed the ceremony.
20 October is a particularly symbolic date. It was on 20 October 1945 that the last of the French airmen left York to return to liberated France.
Ambassador Emié, speaking to the press and others in attendance, paid tribute to these airmen, and to the city of York for welcoming these men.
Later in the day, a working meeting between the two chiefs of staff and Gerald Howarth provided an opportunity to reflect on the excellent cooperation between our two air forces in Libya.
The Ambassador was accompanied on this trip by the French Honorary Consul in Leeds, Mr. Jeremy Burton.