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Canada’s Greatest World War 2 Air Ace Also Hailed as Hero in Israel

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Canada’s Greatest World War 2 Air Ace Also Hailed as Hero in Israel – Nelson Wyatt 
(Daily Alert)

Flight Lt. George (Buzz) Beurling, Canada’s deadliest air ace in the Second World War, earned the nickname “the Falcon of Malta” after his eagle eyes and quick trigger finger sent a record number of attacking German and Italian pilots spinning to the ground in flames. Hailed in Canada for racking up 31 aerial dogfight kills, he’s also a hero in Israel after signing up to fight in that country’s 1948 War of Independence. 

    In 1948 he was sought out by the Arabs, who offered him large amounts of money to train their pilots, but he turned them down because his sympathies lay with Israel, though he was not Jewish. The Israelis were reluctant to take him on, however, because he had been approached by the Arabs. 

    Former RCAF ace Sydney Shulemson, who was locating planes and recruiting pilots for the fledgling Israeli Air Force at the time, said that Beurling quoted Bible passages when he asked him why he wanted to fly for the emerging state. He replied he believed the Jewish people were supposed to go back to Israel. “He wanted to be part of it,” Shulemson said. 

    George Beurling was finally accepted and was to teach tactics to Israeli recruits. One of his first duties was to ferry a new aircraft to Israel from Italy. The plane burst into flames shortly after getting airborne on May 20, 1948. The Canadian government asked his family if they wanted to return him to Canada at their expense. They opted to go with a heartfelt offer from Israel saying it would be their honor to inter the pilot in their country because he was an “inspiration.” He was laid to rest in Haifa and is still honored by the Israeli military decades after his death. (Canadian Press)

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  • Published: 10 years ago on November 15, 2013
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  • Last Modified: November 15, 2013 @ 9:36 am
  • Filed Under: International, Israel

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