Village in United Kingdom showing support for Snowbirds

UK village mourns Snowbirds

A small village in the United Kingdom is joining Kamloops and the rest of Canada in expressing their sorrow and support for the Snowbirds after the fatal accident on May 17.

The village of Burn, population 400, is the original home of 431 Squadron — now 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds — dating back to the Second World War from 1942 to 1943.

All told, the squadron flew around 320 sorties from the Burn airfield, losing 17 Wellington Bombers and 85 crew members.

When 431 Squadron returned home, Burn, the City of Moose Jaw and CFB Moose Jaw maintained a close relationship. That culminated with then-Snowbirds commanding officer Lt. Col. Maryse Carmichael and CWO Alan Blakney travelling to the U.K. in 2012 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of 431 Squadron.

Residents of the Burn Parish Council were named 'honourary Snowbirds' during the event.

“It’s a great honour to be here in Burn to see our squadron commemorated like this,” Carmichael said at the time. “We really appreciate what the village has done to recognize the contribution made by our wartime colleagues and the great sacrifices they made in the eight months they served at Burn.

“Those early members of the squadron are not forgotten, but what Burn has done today has helped us remember how significant it was. We feel a real bond with the village where 431 Squadron was born all those years ago.”

That connection meant the accident — which saw a Snowbirds Tutor jet crash into a residential district in Kamloops, claiming the life of Capt. Jenn Casey and seriously injuring pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall – also hit the tiny village hard.

“The Parish Council and residents of Burn village, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and the Yorkshire Air Museum would like to extend their deepest sympathy and condolences following the sad loss of Captain Jennifer Casey of The Snowbirds Air Demonstration Squadron in the accident over Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, on Sunday 17 May,” the Burn Parish Council said on their website.

“We also extend our best wishes for a speedy and full recovery to Captain Richard MacDougall.”

The website included photos of flowers laid both at the 431 Squadron memorial as well as at the RCAF flag, which continues to fly at half-mast.

“Burn Parish Council and residents and Yorkshire Air Museum share the squadron’s loss and hopes that this message of support brings some comfort in these difficult times,” the website continued.

The full message of condolence, along with more on the community of Burn itself, is available online.

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