Hurricane returns to York

The Exhibition, running until Sunday, will celebrate the heroism and suffering in York during the Second World War ©Stefanie Zhang

During the Second World War York became one of the major targets for German bombers- with an estimated 9,500 buildings being destroyed by the Luftwaffe.

Most of this damage occurred in a single raid, aimed to totally decimate the city on the April 29, 1942, killing 93 civilians and injuring 203. In part of the infamous Baedeker Raid, around 40 German bombers crossed the channel, dropping nearly 90 tonnes of explosives on the city and destroying the station, Rowntree's Factory (which burned for several days due to the fire), the Clifton area and several streets near St Martin le Grand Church- which still keeps the ruins as a memorial today.

This caused chaos in the city, inflicting torment on the civilians below. However through the smoke and fire, one lone Frenchman- Yves Mahe ascended in his 253 Hurricane Hawker to meet the Luftwaffe head on. Through great personal courage, in what was regarded by many to be suicidal mission, Mahe managed to fight off the entire raid by himself- saving countless lives as the bombers were only allowed one run at the city before being scared off back across the channel.

The Aircraft division of the Free French (those who had joined the British to continue the fight against Nazism rather than surrender) were stationed in the city, causing former French President Jacques Chirac to famously remark that York is the spiritual home of the French Airforce. Hence why it is Frenchman who was responsible for saving the city.

Now for the first time in 70-years, the same Hawker Hurricane fighter is back in York- in St Sampson’s Square as part of an exhibition recalling the deadly air raid on York. The fighter is part of the exhibition detailing the damage suffered by York during the Baedeker Raid on April 29, 1942, and celebrating the personal heroism of Mahe.

The exhibition, which opens today will run until Sunday and was officially opened by The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor David Horton, and the city’s Sheriff Alan Deller. It is stewarded by the staff of the Yorkshire Air Museum who will be alongside the plane and other exhibits in WW2 dress to commemorate the heroism and suffering of Hitler's bombing campaigns in the city.

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