More on (George "Buzz") Beurling.
Ironically, Beurling's due came not from Canadians, but because of the distinguished patronage of an American woman, Countess Vivian Crespi, of New York and Vevey, Switzerland. Countess Crespi donated at year's end a bronze bust of Beurling to the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa.
Christopher Terry, director-general of the museum, said the imposing bust was a valuable addition to the museum's holdings. Richard Beurling, the ace's youngest brother, spoke lovingly of his famous brother, portraying him as painted by the press of the 1940s.
The Canadian air force brass despised the maverick pilot, denying him all honours from Canada. Beurling's decorations - the Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Distinguished Flying Medal and Bar - were all awarded by the Royal Air Force.
Countess Crespi and Beurling were intimate friends after Beurling left the RCAF where he had transferred from the RAF. "I was appalled that Canada never recognized this incredible flyer and courageous patriot," said Countess Crespi when asked to explain her generous donation.
The bust, by New York sculptor Alexandra E. Whitney, has been placed in front of the museum's restored Spitfire, the kind of plane Beurling flew to fame over Europe and in the skies about Malta.
Beurling was killed in 1948 in a mysterious plane crash in Rome, Italy, on his way to Palestine to fly with the newly independent state of Israel. He was just 26 years-old.