The Yorkshire Air Museum (YAM) has announced the launch of “Elvington 44/45 – The Fight for Liberty”, a site-wide exhibition that spans one of the most momentous 12 months in modern history. Over the last two years the YAM had had exhibitions on the Falklands Air War (2022) and the Cold War (2023). These lasted across the summer but this time the museum is continuing into the next, up to the anniversary of VE Day.

[Image via Yorkshire Air Museum]

The exhibition starts in May, looking at the arrival of two RAF Bomber Command squadrons (346 and 347 Squadrons) at RAF Elvington which were run entirely by French personnel. They came to the UK from North Africa once the allies had driven the German forces back there and served with the RAF. Elvington was the only RAF airbase in the UK run entirely by non-British personnel. The French tricolor was raised at Elvington on May 16th, 1944 and the first operational sortie, by 346 Sqn, was on June 5th and struck the Maisy Battery in Normandy. The presence of these units led to RAF Elvington becoming known as “La petite France”. This new display is on show in the museum’s Bomber Command building.

Another part of the exhibition tells the story of the different roles Handley Page Halifax bombers from RAF Elvington played around D-Day, from striking targets in northern France to towing gliders into the battlezone (in particular the large Hamilcar gliders that only the Halifax was capable of towing). These display boards are new and have been built into an original bomb trolley, to stand beneath the museum’s Halifax Mk.III LV907 Friday the 13th. In the museum’s Astra Cinema there will be more newsreel material plus a video telling the story of the Maisy Battery Raid and a new animation on the origins of Friday the 13th getting its name.

The many and varied roles played by Halifaxes flying out of Elvington will be commemorated by displays underneath the museum’s example Friday The 13th. [Photo via Yorkshire Air Museum]

Douglas C-47 Skytrains, known as Dakotas in RAF service, are an icon of D-Day through their role of dropping British and American paratroopers behind the beach landings. Similar to the Halifax display, “The Dakota and D-Day” tells the story of the role of the workhorse of D-Day. The YAM’s “Dak” has been repainted with D-Day invasion stripes to mark the anniversary and will be outside our hangar for the summer in her new trim.

“Gliders and Airborne Forces” will showcase the part played by airborne troops, based around the museum’s reconstructed WACO glider, archive newsreel footage playing and exhibits including an original British Army glider pilot jacket.

For more information on “Elvington 44/45 – The Fight for Liberty” and the new displays visit the Yorkshire Air Museum’s website.