This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the creation of the majestic memorial at the small fishing port of Grand Camp Maisey in Northern France. The memorial commemorates the sacrifice of the two French Squadrons that flew from RAF Elvington in North Yorkshire, now the home of the Yorkshire Air Museum.
As in every year a team from the Museum travelled to Normandy to join the Groupes Lourds (heavy bomber group) Association for this year’s special anniversary. The location of this imposing memorial by the side of the sea on what is known today as Omaha Beach, commemorates the special role that the two French squadrons played early on D Day, in June 1944 as they attacked the German coastal defence targets along the French coastline, which culminated in an attack on the huge Maisey Gun Battery on the night before D Day as part of a total force of 1012 aircraft. You can read more about the events of D Day and the Elvington based squadrons here.
The Memorial at Grand Camp Maisey with the silhouette of a Halifax bomber cut out of the granite stone reflects its smaller, and older, “twin” memorial at Elvington Village, which is the only French Air Force memorial in Britain. The huge French memorial is even pointing towards Elvington and it was particularly moving for the Museum team to join the Groupes Lourds members in France and commemorate the establishment of the Memorial together. Every year the attendance grows and even a sons and daughters slowly replace the veterans themselves as time passes, it becomes more important than ever to take these opportunities to spend time with them and to keep their memories alive. We are very proud of the continuing friendship between the Museum, the City of York and our French “family”.