Following special requests by the Yorkshire Air Museum, a stunning flypast over the heart of York by the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has been confirmed for Sunday 6th July. The famous WWll Lancaster bomber, accompanied by the Hurricane and Spitfire fighter escorts, will fly in a classic, awe inspiring formation.
The aircraft will make three complete passes over ‘Boulevard St. Leonard’s’, which is being created in St. Leonard’s Place, as part of the City’s Cultural Festival for the Tour de France Grand Départ.
The special flypast is in commemoration the 70th Anniversary of the arrival of 2,300 French airmen in York in 1944 who were uniquely based at RAF Elvington, now the Allied Air Forces Memorial & Yorkshire Air Museum.
The transformation of St. Leonard’s Place into a typical Parisian theme will be highly evocative, as the De Grey Rooms adjacent to York Theatre Royal was where the French Officers, and indeed those of other nations based in the area, would gather to meet their sweethearts and dance the night away to escape the thoughts of their next hazardous mission, before grabbing the nearest available bicycle and peddling back to base before the curfew fell.
The flypast is the grand finale to a week of events taking place in Boulevard St. Leonard’s, which will see the Museum’s Hawker Hurricane aircraft lifted spectacularly onto the roof of York Theatre Royal (Saturday 28th June) where it will overlook the peleton of the Grand Départ as it swoops through the city.
The ballroom of the De Grey Rooms will be the venue for La Grande Soirée Des Officiers Français, a 4 course celebrity VIP dinner with Champagne reception and fine wines courtesy of Jurade de St. Emillion, to the music of Paris based Jean-Jacques Delauney and his band, hosted by “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” winner Jan Leeming, taking place on the evening of Wednesday 2nd July. Supported by the City of York Council, proceeds are in support of Marie Curie Cancer Care, the official charity of the Yorkshire Grand Départ.
Other highlights are “Maintenant”, a conceptual sound art installation featuring 100 sounds of Paris and 100 sounds of York, within the Keregan Rooms at the Theatre Royal, from Monday 30th June until 6th July.
An emotive, but heart-warming and often funny new play, “Cis and Barbiche” based on the love affair between a young French airman and the girl he met on arrival in Liverpool on his way to joining the French squadrons at Elvington, is being premiered in York Theatre Royal, from the 3rd –5th July. Written by acclaimed Australian actress and Theatre Director, Jenny Davis, the play has been performed to packed audiences in Perth, requiring a second run of the performance to be staged, so promises to be something not to be missed.
Ian Reed, Museum Director, said, “This is a very special time for York and we are delighted to be doing our bit alongside many others, to help bring a week of spectacle and celebration during the Tour de France Grand Départ and especially to mark a historically significant anniversary of the formation of the only two French Squadron’s in Bomber Command at RAF Elvington. It will be a week to remember.”