Wed 6 - Wed 13 May

Love in Times of War

Celebrating VE Day

Celebrating VE Day

 
Between 1944 and 1946, Francis Usai, a young French airman based at the RAF Elvington base, near York, wrote to Barbara Rigby, a student, who lived in Liverpool. She recorded their conversations every day in her diary and kept his letters. They tell of a Franco-British love story and make us see the war through the more intimate lens of the romance between two young people and their entourage.

The story also retraces the history of “la petite France”, the Elvington RAF base, where 2,500 French airmen were stationed in 1944-1945, and which is today the site of the Yorkshire Air Museum. It brings us closer to the days of the war, and to the destiny of those young airmen who knew, when they set off for their missions, that they might never return.
 

  • Read their correspondence in the book The French Squadrons (Amberley Publishing, 2016), or in French (Les bombardiers lourds français de la RAF, Editions Jourdan, 2016) by Barbara Harper-Nelson and Geneviève Monneris.
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  • Watch testimonials of Barbara Rigby (later B. Harper-Nelson) herself and her friend Pat Martin.
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  • Watch a documentary by G. Monneris on the French squadrons stationed at Elvington.
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  • Listen to Greyhound, an audio play on life on the 1940s home front, by Time & Again Theatre Company, in collaboration with the Yorkshire Air Museum.
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  • Go to the Imperial War Museum website to listen to Voices of War on 8 May and to learn more about VE Day.
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