First World War plane ready for Battle of the Somme commemorations

Ian Reed the Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum, pictured with Avro 504 Biplane. Picture by Simon Hulme
Ian Reed the Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum, pictured with Avro 504 Biplane. Picture by Simon Hulme
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IT WAS the first time in history that a dedicated air campaign was mounted to support a military offensive.

Therefore it seems apt that Yorkshire Air Museum’s First World War AVRO 504 biplane makes its way to northern France to join commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

The Museum, near York, was chosen by the Government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to display the plane to represent the hundreds of pilots of the Royal Flying Corps who took part in the Battle - one of the bloodiest of the conflict, which left one million people dead or injured.

Yesterday, after weeks of repainting and refurbishment by the museum’s volunteers, the plane was prepared for being taken apart ready for packing and transportation. It will make its way by lorry via Hull Docks and the North Sea ferry, on through Belgium and into Picardy, Northern France, for the commemorations, which begin on July 1.

The delicate logistical exercise will be undertaken by eight Museum staff who will re-build the aircraft in France.

The director of Yorkshire Air Museum, Ian Reed said: “The Allied Air Forces Memorial and Yorkshire Air Museum is deeply honoured to have been invited to represent the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Services on the launch day of the Commemorations of the Battle of the Somme, in France – we owe a great debt to those young men of 1916.”

The Museum received £9,000 in Heritage Lottery funding for the project, which has also seen the creation of an exhibition to mark the 141 days of the Battle.