Seventy-six years ago Canada lost 23 pilots in the Battle of Britain. Today 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron remembered those that fought, and those that fell.
“The squadron and the Air Force is in rich in history, and to reflect on that as often as you can, and especially at the time of the Battle of Britain, allows us to understand how we define ourselves and not lose the sacrifices that have been made in the past for freedom,” Lt. Colonel Trevor Reller said.
About 410 people participated in a traditional parade including an inspection of the troops by Honorary Colonel J’Lyn Nye, a speech, a blessing, and a fly-past.
In 1940 Adolf Hitler was determined to invade Great Britain. The German Luftwaffe planned to take Britain’s ports, airfields, radar stations, and cities to gain control of the English Channel and landing zones on British soil. Canada provided over 100 pilots and an estimated 300 ground crew.
“It’s very much a significant Air Force event,” Teller said. “Air Force Units across Canada, and across the Commonwealth, will be reflecting on the Battle of Britain this month.”
For the first time the helicopter squadron invited local Air Cadet members to participate in the ceremony.
“I think bringing the Air Cadets in is a great opportunity for these young men and women to be exposed to what an Air Force squadron looks like today and, at the same time, a quick look at the history that is really formative of the Air Forces of the western world,” said Teller.
Three hundred cadets participated in Sunday’s event.
The anniversary was marked in a statement by The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence and the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans’ Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. (kb)