During the Second World War, in the Battle of Britain, the German Air Force battled for air supremacy against the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force during the summer and autumn of 1940.
The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces to prevent a Nazi invasion. Germany failed to destroy Britain’s air defences which turned out to be a crucial turning point of the war.
Sunday September 16th at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, a commemoration in memory of that battle and those who paid the supreme price for freedom took place with attendance by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 Drum and Trumpet Band, the Royal Canadian Legion Colour Party, the Royal Canadian Army Cadets 2310, the 155 Borden Gray Air Cadet Squadron and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Royal Sovereign. They represented their groups proudly as they marched in formation to the memorial located in front of the airport.
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 Drum and Trumpet Band played renditions of God Save the Queen, O Canada, RAF March Pass and The Maple Leaf Forever.
Memorable speeches were given by the Legion MC Alan Fell followed by Rev. Phil Miller and Lt Col Clyde Healey. Phil Miller quoted from Winston Churchill’s speech, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
A flyover took place by pilots from the Sault College Air Force. Four planes flew in formation and later one turned away to the right signifying those men and women who were left behind in the Battle of Britain. From the Air Cadet Squadron, Flight Corporal Seymour read a poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr. RAF who died December 11, 1941 in the UK.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Various individuals solemnly placed wreaths before the memorial, stood back and then saluted. It was a very touching moment as each one took their turn. Spectators lined the parking lot and respectfully watched the ceremony. A couple of times the wind toppled some of the placed wreaths. Allan Fell remarked, “You can expect this in the fall. The leaves come tumbling down.“ When it happened again, he exclaimed, “That’s why they call it fall.” The eldest Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Legion member to place a wreath was Robert Wilson at 91 years young. I was told that he eagerly attends every Legion ceremony held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario including parades. I must say that is a wonderful tribute to his fallen comrades to attend these functions faithfully.
The event ended when J Dinsdale played The Last Post on his trumpet which I always find very moving. Then this part was read from the poem For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
At this point, everyone dispersed. I know members returned to the Legion for a supplied lunch and camaraderie.
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Carol Zarudenec Smith for local2 sault ste. marie
September 16th, 2012 at 6:05pm | Last Updated September 17th, 2012 at 11:18pm