888 (Komox) Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association hosted a special event Thursday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Stocky Edwards of Comox — a Second World War fighter pilot who was knighted by the French government for his actions during D-Day and the Battle of France — was among the honored guests who were piped into the hall.
“On this day, 75 years ago, began the monumental action that would liberate continents and raise the boot of oppression from millions of terrorized citizens,” said Col. Mike Atkins, 19 Wing Commander. “Seventy five years ago, women and men, some of whom are with us today, embarked on an epic invasion force. They boarded the ships, the air transports and the gliders to set about the deadly business of combat. Our brave troops fought their way ashore at Juno Beach. That day, often called the Longest Day, defined Canadian Forces as they pushed off the beach to establish the beachhead that was essential to the success of Operation Overlord.”
Atkins spoke with pride about the actions of two units from 19 Wing: 442 Squadron that flew Spitfires on D-Day, and 407 Squadron that flew Wellington bombers. On D-Day, 407 launched two of its aircraft from its base in England. Only one came home safely.
“All of the Allied participants fought with distinction, and eventually achieved their objectives, but the casualty list reflects the ferocity of the battle,” said Ted Gibbon, a director and past-president at 888 Wing. “Every unit that participated has its own story of D-Day — what went right, what went wrong. But the most significant story is that the Allies prevailed, and a year later the war was over.”