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Continuing links

Although all formal links between the Royal Air Force and St Omer ceased after the Armistice there has been a continuing relationship, notably between the town and those flying squadrons with strong ties to the site. Both No 9 and 16 Squadron celebrate St Omer as their birthplace while 41 Squadron proudly incorporates the double-armed cross of St Omer in its badge. As all these squadrons approach their 90th anniversaries, it is to be hoped that these links can be renewed and strengthened.

There is, of course, an enduring connection. Close to the location of the chateau that housed HQ RFC is the Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It contains 2364 British, 156 Australian, 148 Canadian, 52 New Zealand, 24 South African, 12 British West Indies, 5 Indian, 2 Guernsey, 1 Newfoundland, 64 Chinese, 180 German and five unknown burials. More than 100 personnel from the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force are interred here – the largest group to be found on the Western Front. It is to their memory that this article is dedicated. It is also fitting that the largest and most important British airfield on the Western Front should be the site for the British Air Services Memorial and a permanent record to those early aviation pioneers whose efforts and sacrifice enabled the creation of the world’s first independent air arm and laid the foundation for the air power we now take for granted.

Donations

Each year since its unveiling in 2004, Cross & Cockade International pay the Commonwealth War Graves Commission a four figure sum to maintain the British Air Services Memorial at St Omer. A small donation from you will help to keep it 'fit for heroes'

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