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A Book With a View!

To celebrate the launch of our new book “The Bright Squadrons”, which charts the true story of a young French airman on dangerous missions from RAF Elvington and the girl he met on arrival in Liverpool in January 1944, the first 150 hard back copies purchased from the Museum between 1st and 31st December 2014 will contain a unique voucher to allow free admission to the Yorkshire Air Museum for a special celebratory event to be held on Saturday 14th March 2015 including a “behind the scenes” view of the world renowned Halifax bomber, similar to those that operated out of Elvington. Holders of the first 50 vouchers to be randomly selected, will be privileged to free entry inside this famous aircraft – access normally costing £120 per person.

Copies of the hardback book containing the voucher will be available from Monday 1st December from the Museum Shop, priced at £18.99, or £25 to include postage in UK & Ireland. To order, please contact the Shop on 01904 608719 between 10:00am and 3:30pm or via the Office on 01904 608595 during office hours Monday to Friday or e-mail your enquiry to:

“The Bright Squadrons” is a fascinating account of a young, lively and intelligent couple in love during the turmoil of wartime Europe. French airman Francis Usai is on his way to join the unique, newly forming French Squadrons based at RAF Elvington, who on the day after his arrival in England in Liverpool, meets Barbara Rigby, an 18 year old French speaking student attending a reception in the city to welcome these nervous young men to England. They find each other interesting, and love quickly blossoms. The book has been compiled from the 2000 pieces of correspondence Francis wrote to Barbara and her diary notes and responses, which she has kept all her life, now forming a unique historical record. (Barbara (Harper-Nelson), now 87, lives in Perth, Western Australia.) “The Bright Squadrons” is the result of a collaboration between Barbara and French historian Geneviève Monneris, herself the daughter of an Elvington based airman, and it is hoped that Geneviève will be in attendance from France to sign copies of the book at this event. The book is the basis of “Cis & Barbiche” a play by Jenny Davis which is currently playing to packed houses across Australia and had its UK Premier at York Theatre Royal in July during the Tour de France which corresponded with Francis’ prophesy 70 exactly 70 years earlier:

“In seventy years, they will talk about Barbiche who saw England invaded by all those odd strangers who stole young girls’ hearts, and perhaps they will say it with a little regret in their heart.”

International award winning author Kate Atkinson (from York), who has visited the Museum to take a tour of the Halifax for research purposes, was very taken with this story, and after reading “The Bright Squadrons”, sent us this comment:

‘The Bright Squadrons’ is not only fascinating from a historical point of view but also from the immense amount of social and cultural information that it conveys. It’s a vibrant glimpse into the past - history as it was actually lived, moment by moment".

Ian Reed, Museum Director, comments: “A copy of this book will make an ideal Christmas gift, particularly coupled with this unique offer to visit the museum and get a close look at this famous aircraft which visitors come from all over the world to see. Some lucky ones will even get a chance to also be shown inside the Halifax, a rare experience indeed. The Bright Squadrons is one of those books that will make you both laugh and cry, providing an entertaining and thought provoking read.”

Editors notes:

Halifax tours are normally offered to the public on a limited basis charged at £120 per person, which makes this a high value, exclusive offer. The media call will feature Ian Reed, Museum Director and the Halifax bomber in the main Display hangar.

Issued by:
Ian Richardson Communications Manager
01904 608595 07896 902 895