ARCHIVED - Allied nations receive a Battle of Britain commemorative medal

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News Article / October 19, 2015

By Ruthanne Urquhart

In this 75th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, two Canadian Armed Forces officers have accepted commemorative medals presented by the United Kingdom's Royal Air Forces Association to nations that took part in the battle that altered the course of the Second World War.

Brigadier-General Matthew Overton, commander of the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff at Canada House in London, U.K., and Lieutenant-Colonel Tressa Home, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff assistant Air Force advisor at Canada House, received two medals, on behalf of Canada and Newfoundland1, in a ceremony at the Royal Air Force Club in London on September 8, 2015. Retired Air Commodore David Prowse, Royal Air Forces Association director of membership and operations, made the presentation.

“The effort and sacrifice of Canada and Canadians in both World Wars are remembered with deep appreciation and affection by Britons from all walks of life,” Brigadier-General Overton said. “The Battle of Britain was key in securing the defence of Great Britain and, ultimately, assuring for Canada and the Allies a solid base from which to launch the campaigns that led to victory in Western Europe and the end of the Second World War. It was a great privilege to represent the Canadians and Newfoundlanders who contributed to this important victory early in the war and receive this commemorative medallion representative of their sacrifices.”

The 16 nations receiving this medal are Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia), France, Jamaica, Newfoundland (now a province of Canada), New Zealand, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Poland, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), United Kingdom, and United States of America.

“It was an honour to receive the Battle of Britain commemorative medal from the Royal Air Forces Association on behalf of the whole of Canada,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Home. “Sixteen nations came together to defend democracy at this pivotal point in history, and our close ties with the United Kingdom continue to this day as evidenced by our collective policies, operations and goals. It is fitting that the medal recognizes aircrew, groundcrew, and support personnel as well as civilian employees and volunteers, as they all played an important role in achieving this victory. It is a fitting tribute to the more than 100 Canadians who took part in this battle and the 23 individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The medal pays tribute not only to the airmen but also to the groundcrew, and operational support, logistics, communications, engineering and medical crews from the 16 countries represented among the ranks of the RAF, and without whom victory may never have been possible. A public-release version of the medal is available free of charge to the first 250,000 households that apply to receive one.

“What makes this anniversary so poignant is that it is likely to be the last opportunity for the remaining veterans to commemorate alongside us,” said Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller, president of the Royal Air Forces Association. “It is right that we pay tribute to not only the countries that participated but also all the airmen, airwomen and supporting trades that played a vital role in this epic battle. The commemorative medal is a fitting tribute to all those past and present and provides an opportunity to honour these remarkable individuals. We are pleased to be able to share this medal and everything it represents with the public.”

The Royal Air Forces Association is the charity that supports the Royal Air Force family. The Association receives no government funding and depends entirely on the generosity of the general public.

1Newfoundland became a Dominion – a self-governing state of the British Empire – in 1907. In 1927, the British government ruled that the area known as modern-day Labrador was to be considered part of the Dominion of Newfoundland. That status carried through the Second World War and beyond, and so the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who served in any capacity through the Second World War did so as citizens of the Dominion of Newfoundland. It wasn’t until 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 1949, that Newfoundland became Canada’s tenth province. In 2001, a referendum officially changed the province’s name to Newfoundland and Labrador.

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