Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day and a Little Bit of England

At the beginning of World War II the Brits were running short of fuel, training aircraft, pilots, and airfields on which to train new pilots. They did have an abundance of lousy weather, which was not helpful for pilot training. Churchill asked Roosevelt if the United States could help by providing training fields, fuel and aircraft on which to train pilots. Roosevelt agreed and as a result six fields were established in the United States, called British Flying Training Schools(BFTS). BFTS No. 4 was built east of Mesa, Arizona and called Falcon Field, at the Brits request. The first cadets reported in September 1941. BTFS No. 4 operated until the end of the war in 1945. Some 2500 cadets went through flight training at Falcon Field. Of this number 23 were killed in training accidents and are buried in  a small section of the Mesa Cemetery. Six Americans also died during this time.

Every year a memorial ceremony is held at this site on the Sunday before Veteran's Day. We have attended several and always found them very moving Yesterday was no exception.

The photo below shows the area where the Brits are buried with the wreaths in place. This section is maintained extremely well.

This monument is at the south end of the section, next to the road. The names of the 23 cadets are on  a plaque on one side of the stone.

The Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band marched down the road before the start and took their place just east of the section, as shown below.

 There were several speakers but my favorite was the man shown below, a British cadet who attended BTFS No. 4.

There were several flyovers of vintage aircraft. The first photo below is of Stearman PT-17 biplanes in which the cadets at Falcon Field trained. The second photo is of  North American Aviation AT-6s, also used by cadets at Falcon Field. One of these groups flew over in the "missing man' formation.

I do not know what the aircraft are in the next two photos.

The first photo below is of a B-17  and the second photo shows a B-25. The Commemorative Air Force, based at Falcon Field is now the sponsor of this memorial event and supplied the aircraft, pilots and the flyovers.

 There were a number of wreaths placed during the memorial. The first photo below shows the wreath of Her Majesty's Government being placed by a Royal Navy Officer and a member of the British Consulate's office from Los Angeles, followed by a closeup of the wreath after placement.

The photo below shows the wreath of the Daughters of the British Empire, Arizona Chapter, being placed.

I am not sure to whom the wreath in the first photo below belongs. The wreath in the second photo is from Active Duty RAF Personnel, and is being placed by an RAF officer.

The laying of the wreaths was followed by a 21 gun salute by an American Legion squad, shown in the first photo below, and then by a bugler playing the British Tatoo(Last Post) followed by Taps, shown in the second photo below. I did okay until Taps; in a setting like this Taps always makes me teary eyed.

Following a benediction, the colors were retired, shown below.

We went back to the cemetery today and looked more closely at the inscriptions on the individual head stones. This one really got to me. Their only son killed and buried 5000+ miles from home.

We also visited my Father and Mother's graves, not far from this section in the same cemetery. Somehow it's fitting that as allies they should be buried nearby.


  1. The shot of the 4 planes with contrails is really great.

  2. Thank you for capturing this event so wonderfully! May I please have your permission to reuse the photo of our pipe band? Cheers, Kevin Conquest

  3. You may certainly have my permission.

  4. You may certainly have my permission.