This Memorial is on the village Green, alongside the A19 which skirts the West side of Burn airfield. Made of grey granite with black enamel filled badge and lettering, it was commissioned by the 578 Burn Association and unveiled by Wing Commander A Trevenen James OBE, the last Station Commander of 578 Squadron, on Saturday 11 May 1991 and dedicated by Vicar of Brayton, the Rev. David Reynolds in the presence of a large gathering of 578 Squadron veterans, their families, friends and residents of Burn and surrounding districts.
The inscription reads
FOR ALL WHO SERVED
ROYAL AIR FORCE
1944 – 1945
At the end of 1943, mid point in the phase of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command activity known as the ‘Battle of Berlin’ it was decided that No.4 Group, whose headquarters were at Heslington Hall near York, should be expanded and strengthened by the creation of a new squadron, to operate from Burn. A large area of farmland was commandeered and the village which lies three miles south of Selby in North Yorkshire, was rudely disturbed when huge earth moving equipment arrived to commence airfield construction.
Designated 578 Squadron and equipped with Halifax B MkIII heavy bombers, the task of recruiting, training and implementing orders designed to weaken the enemy, was entrusted to Wing Commander D S S Wilkerson DSO.,DFC. The Squadron became fully operational on 20 January 1944 when he led an attack on Berlin.
During the following fourteen months of operation 578 Squadron flew 2,722 sorties against numerous and strongly defended targets. 219 aircrew members, all volunteers, of which 186 were from the United Kingdom, 21 from Canada, 9 from Australia, 2 from New Zealand and 1 from Poland, were killed and many others suffered wounds. 79 were taken prisoners of war, 13 evaded capture. 45 aircraft were destroyed on active service.
These men, together with nearly two thousand other airmen and airwomen were housed at various billets around the village and off duty, mingled freely with the local population, finding welcome hospitality into homes, pubs and churches in Burn, Selby and elsewhere. Villagers shared the same sadness when aircraft and crews failed to return from operations. The Squadron responded by inviting villagers to social events taking place on the airfield. Thus a mutual respect was built up and lasting friendships created, many of which remain firmly intact seventy years on.
Every year in May a commemoration service is held in Burn Chapel, the home of other 578 Squadron memorials, to honour the memory of the 219 aircrew who flew out of Burn airfield, never to return and, increasingly, the veteran airmen and airwomen who have since passed on. A poppy wreath is placed on this Memorial and again on Remembrance Sunday in November.
DETAIL : DESIGN AND IMPLIMENTATION : ERIC BOWDEN DFC SECRETARY OF THE 578 BURN ASSOCIATION
MEMORIAL MADE FROM GREY GRANITE WITH INCISED ENAMEL-FILLED 578 BADGE AND LETTERING
SITE PROVIDED AND MAINTAINED BY THE BURN COMMUNITY