STA, 14 May 2019 - President Borut Pahor and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, marked the first Day of Slovenia-UK Friendship on Tuesday in Gornji Suhor, a village in south-eastern Slovenia, where a British bomber crashed in 1945. They laid wreaths at the memorial plaque commemorating the crew, five of whom were taken to safety by local Partisans.
In their addresses, both Pahor and Prince Edward underlined the importance of friendship between their countries in the past and in the future.
Pahor expressed satisfaction that the first Slovenia-UK Friendship Day is marked in the presence of a member of the royal family after having discussed the initiative with Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year.
Today HRH Earl of Wessex @RoyalFamily & Slovenian President @BorutPahor marked the first #SloUKFriendshipDay.— UK in Slovenia (@UKinSlovenia) May 14, 2019
We chose Gornji Suhor because of its historic significance - a perfect example of #commitment & #courage undergirding the friendship between ??&?? pic.twitter.com/ibrxmNF1EU
This year will be the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, Pahor noted, adding that the two nations had been allies since then thanks to brave people. He hopes that the Slovenia-UK Friendship Day would become "a famous tradition".
Prince Edward thanked Pahor for choosing this location to mark the Slovenia-UK Friendship Day to "commemorate these airmen but also the families that supported them when the air plane crashed here".
"Today is an important day. A day to remember what connects us, both in the past and the present and more importantly in the future."
Predsednik Pahor in Njegova kraljeva visokost princ Edward grof Wesseški v Gornjem Suhorju obeležila prvi "Dan slovensko-britanskega prijateljstva". pic.twitter.com/poyx9Knwkz— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) May 14, 2019
The B-24 Liberator bomber and its nine-member crew were a part of the allied attack on the transport infrastructure in Graz, Austria, on 31 March 1945, before crashing in Gornji Suhor.
The plane was hit by the German forces, suffering the fatal blow to the fuel tank somewhere over Celje. As the plane turned into a flying torch, only enough time was left for five crew members to parachute themselves before the plane crashed.
Of the five who managed to jump from the plane, one was seriously injured and was taken to a Partisan hospital, where he later died. The other four were taken to safety by the local Partisans and were flown back to their base two days later.
The five casualties received a Catholic funeral in Vojna Vas, a village whose name, interestingly, literally translates to war village.