Vimy flight tour stops in Davidson

Pilot Larry Ricker lands a replica Neiuport II biplane at the Davidson airport on Wednesday.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — Outside the Davidson town hall, the town cenotaph lists 35 names of World War One casualties — all men who lost their lives fighting on Canada’s behalf.

“That’s 35 too many,” said Allan Snowie, one of three pilots visiting Davidson last week. “We don’t want that to ever happen again.”

Snowie said his generation represents the last living link with the men and women who fought in that war. As such, they have an important task — to keep the memories of their sacrifice alive.

“What we’re striving to do is to pass their stories on to our grandchildren,” he said.

Davidson was one of the official stops for “Birth of a Nation,” a cross-country tour featuring replicas of the planes used in the historic Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Three biplanes — replicas of the Nieuport II model flown by Canadians at Vimy — landed at the Davidson airport on Wednesday.

Those planes, along with two specially-built Sopwith Pup replicas, were also part of the 100th anniversary ceremony held in France on April 9 of this year.

The five aircraft performed a commemorative flight over the Canadian National Vimy Memorial during the ceremony, before a crowd of 25,000 people.

After landing in Davidson, the planes were on display at Terry Dieno’s hangar, with upwards of 300 people attending a meet and greet and enjoying coffee and doughnuts.

Later, the pilots and the rest of the crew were the guests of honour for a dinner at the town hall, served by the ladies of Davidson United Church and attended by roughly 100 people.

Mary Jane Morrison served as emcee for the event, representing Branch 51 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Legion branch president Gordon McRae had been working since last fall to arrange a stop for the tour in Davidson, but the visit was only confirmed a few weeks in advance.

“Terry (Dieno) and I worried about that,” he recalled. “For a while there we thought we weren’t going to get them.”

Presentations were made by both McRae and Larry Sinnett, the latter representing the Saskatchewan committee of the Air Cadet League.

Both presented donations to Snowie, on behalf of the Legion and the Air Cadet League, in support of the flight tour.

McRae also presented a Saskatchewan flag, signed by Premier Brad Wall and the other provincial MLAs, as well as members of the Royal Canadian Legion Saskatchewan Command, the branches in Davidson, Loreburn-Elbow and Moose Jaw, and the directors of the Air Cadets League provincial committee.

For the full story, please see the Aug. 21 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

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