Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence
Royal Canadian Air Force

Royal Canadian Air Force

June 13, 2012 15:42 ET

Media Advisory: Extraordinary Royal Canadian Air Force Wartime Commander Reinterred in Beechwood Military Cemetery

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 13, 2012) - Members of the media are invited to attend the reinterment of Air Marshal (A/M) Harold 'Gus' Edwards in the National Military Cemetery (NMC) section of Beechwood Cemetery in a solemn military ceremony at 3 p.m. on June 15th, in Ottawa.

Sixty years after A/M Edwards' funeral, this ceremony will recognize one of Canada's military heroes. A/M Edwards was a veteran of both World Wars and one of the founding fathers of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Being reinterred with comrades-in-arms is a fitting resting place for this extraordinary man who dedicated so much of his life and energy to Canada and its armed forces.

In attendance will be Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, Commander of the RCAF, A/M Edwards' daughter, Suzanne Edwards, and other distinguished guests.

A/M Edwards volunteered to serve in the First World War as a fighter pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service where he saw service on the front lines, shooting down one enemy aircraft before being shot down himself and captured. Upon his release from captivity at the war's end, he volunteered to fight in Russia as a member of the Royal Air Force (RAF). Between the wars he participated in aerial mapping of Manitoba and held command of RCAF Station Dartmouth. Courageous and compassionate, his rise from Group Captain (1939) to Air Marshal (1942) was meteoric. As the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RCAF Overseas, he pushed hard to keep Canadian air crews together - in accordance with the Canadian Government's policy on "Canadianization" of units - instead of being scattered throughout RAF units.

A/M Edwards, who died of natural causes on February 23, 1952, at the age of 59, was ineligible at the time for burial in the military section of the cemetery. The regulations at the time stated that only those on active service at the time of death could be buried in the military section. Today, all serving and honourably released members of the Canadian Forces, both Regular and Reserve Force, are eligible for interment in the NMC.

A/M Edwards will be inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame during a gala dinner in Montréal on June 14, 2012. He will be honoured for his outstanding contribution to the building of the Royal Canadian Air Force, nurturing it from its very most and uncertain beginnings, to its zenith as the fourth largest Allied air force at the end of the Second World War.

Note to editor / News director:

Media interested in covering the ceremony are asked to be in place at the gravesite in Section 103 of the NMC (near the main monument) at Beechwood Cemetery no later than 2:50 p.m. Vehicles must be left in the parking lot beside the Beechwood National Memorial Centre. For a map of Beechwood Cemetery visit:
http://beechwoodcemetery.com/images/stories/documents/Beechwood_Map.pdf

An opportunity for interviews with Lt.-Gen. Deschamps, Colonel Michaud (event organizer), and Ms. Edwards will be granted during the post-ceremony reception at the Memorial Centre. If interested in attending and conducting interviews, please contact Major Sonia Dumouchel Connock, Royal Canadian Air Force Public Affairs, at 613-995-6318, or via email at Sonia.Connock@forces.gc.ca

For more information about the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 14, 2012, please visit the CAHF website: http://www.cahf.ca/events/39th_induction_ceremony/index.php

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