Battle of Britain – 401 Squadron’s legacy continues decades later

AB Justin Spinelo, Wing Imaging Officers from 4 Wing Cold Lake take a moment to remember the Canadian contributions and sacrifices during the Battle of Britain at the Cold Lake Cenotaph on Sunday Sept. 16, 2018.

Officers from 4 Wing Cold Lake take a moment to remember the Canadian contributions and sacrifices during the Battle of Britain at the Cold Lake Cenotaph on Sunday Sept. 16, 2018.
Photo by AB Justin Spinelo, Wing Imaging

Christopher King

A swift breeze and frigid rain set a dramatic mood at the Cold Lake cenotaph on Sunday morning. On Sept. 16, 2018, members of the Defence Team at 4 Wing Cold Lake, veterans from Cold Lake, cadets and civilians gathered for the annual Battle of Britain parade.

The parade marched with a band, and two flights from 401 Squadron, down 7 Ave and wheeled onto 10 Street, halting in front of the cenotaph.

As on-lookers awaited the arrival of the reviewing officer, Colonel Paul Doyle, commander 4 Wing, a few conversations broke out to keep spirits up and brave the cold.

After the reviewing party arrived, Col Doyle took the podium and thanked all the veterans present at the ceremony.

“We’re inspired by your strength and courage and forever grateful for what you have done for our country,” he said. “The legacy of peace, freedom, and democracy that you have served, are gifts that have been handed down to us who still serve in uniform.”

The Battle of Britain was fought in the skies above England, and united allies from across the world, and across the commonwealth nations to defend Great Britain from a potential invasion by the German forces.

Today, one of the fighter squadrons that earned battle honours at the Battle of Britain is 401 Squadron at CFB Cold Lake. The squadron started out as 1 Squadron in November 1918, and was disbanded and reactivated numerous times in the last century. Most recently, the squadron was reactivated in 2015.

During Col Doyle’s speech, he spoke of the contributions of Canadians during the battle, the sacrifices, and the victories.

“Since that time the RCAF has tried to uphold that history, and I think that we’re able to say that we have accomplished that over the many years that we have served Canada, and democracy,” he said. “Today as we commemorate this epic battle in World War Two, it’s a great honour for the RCAF to commemorate the service and sacrifice of brave Canadians who went before us, and also to those who serve to this day.”