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DAR, Friends of Marland’s Grand Home, and the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce to Host British Flyers Remembrance Ceremony
By Tourism Industry Partner
(Ponca City, OK) – To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the arrival of No. 6 British Flying Training School in Ponca City and to honor seven of their fallen cadets buried in Ponca City, Friends of Marland’s Grand Home, the Ponca City Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a British Flyers Remembrance ceremony Saturday, November 5th at 2:00 p.m. at the I.O.O.F. cemetery. The event is open to the public. During the ceremony, tribute will be paid to the seven Royal Air Force cadets who were killed in training accidents while attending Darr School of Aviation’s No. 6 British Flying Training School in Ponca City during 1941-1944. While they were present in Ponca City, No. 6 B F T S actively trained Royal Air Force and USAAF pilots. At No. 6 BFTS 1113 RAF pilots and 125 USAAF pilots are believed to have undergone training in the 33 months of its existence. Records are incomplete but the failure rate was about 30 percent.
The ceremony, held later the same day as the annual Veteran’s Day Parade, will provide the public with several opportunities to learn more about the RAF in Oklahoma. At 10:45 a.m. they will have the opportunity to watch the Veteran’s Day parade, in which a float will be dedicated to the RAF and American Army Air Force men who trained in Ponca City. Wing Commander Will Dole, MA BA RAF of Washington, D.C., and former cadet, Albert Sims of Enid, will ride the float as well as youth from First Presbyterian Church, who will portray both young RAF and USAAF cadets.
Later, during the 2:00 p.m. ceremony at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery, Wing Commander Dole of the RAF and Paula Denson, author of the Royal Air Force in Oklahoma, will give brief talks about No. 6 British Flying Training School. Douglas Conrady, a representative from “Bugles across America” will perform “Last Post” in honor of the cadets. As the names of the deceased flyers are read, flowers will be placed at each grave, compliments of the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce.
Following the ceremony, Friends of Marland’s Grand Home will host the premier showing of a selection of rare film clips of No. 6 BFTS. The 30 minute film will be shown at 3:30 at Marland’s Grand Home. At that time visitors may also view some special RAF memorabilia at provided by Mr. Paul Roales, a collector from Tulsa, Oklahoma and they will also have the opportunity to view the RAF display located on second floor.
Other special guests include Mayor Homer Nicholson, State Senator David Myers, Mr. Albert “Bert” Sims of Enid, Oklahoma, a former cadet at No. 6 British Flying Training School, Mr. Rich Cantillon of the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Sue Allen, Ponca City DAR regent and Mrs. Phyllis Wiles, a DAR member who is a lifelong friend of some of the cadets from Darr School of Aeronautics. Traveling from North Carolina will be the son of former Darr chief pilot air instructor Henry Jerger, who lost his life while testing a Harvard AT-6 near Arkansas City, Kansas. Two daughters of flight instructor Captain David J. Mitchell, Mrs. Donna
Flory of Riverside, California and Diane Owens, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, will also attend. The ceremony will include several representatives from various military organizations as well as the Wichita Caledonian Pipe and Drum Band who will perform a musical tribute to honor the British flyers.
Sue Allen, current Ponca City DAR regent states, “We plan to make this a special ceremony in order to pay tribute to these flyers and also honor the song lasting friendships the citizens of Ponca City have had with the training school. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the RAF’s arrival in Oklahoma. In the past, the No. 6 BFTS Association has held numerous reunions in the United Kingdom as well as in Ponca City. Holding this ceremony ensures that these flyers will continue to receive the recognition they deserve.”
Anyone wishing to learn more about the ceremony can contact the Paula Denson, 2nd vice-regent of the Ponca City Chapter of DAR. She also represents Friends of Marland’s Grand Home as their current president and can be reached at (580) 765-4105. More information about the ceremony is also available at the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce.