George (Buzzy) Beurling was born in Montreal into a Christian fundamentalist family, and was inspired with a deep love for the Holy Land. During World War II he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was a decorated military hero for his accomplishments. After the war he decided to devote his next years to helping the new developing Israel Air Force. The Haganah sent him on a special secret mission to Rome in 1948, and he died tragically in a crash over Italy on May 20, 1948. Beurling's coffin was kept for three months in a warehouse in the Verano Monumental Cemetery, as nobody had claimed the body. Then his widow, Diana Whittall Gardner, had him buried in the Cimitero Acattolico behind the Cestia Pyramid, between the graves of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. In November 1950, two and half years after his death, Beurling's casket arrived at Haifa Airport. His coffin, draped with the blue and white Israeli flag, was laid in a nearby air force base, where an honour guard of young airmen mounted a silent watch. During the long funeral in the streets of Haifa, Israeli Air Force aircraft paid homage to Beurling. At last, he was re-interred in the military cemetery at the foot of Mount Carmel. The grave is marked, as are the others in Israel Defense Forces cemeteries, with only name, serial number and rank: for Beurling that of segen (lieutenant).
Beurling was the most successful Canadian fighter pilot and flying ace of the Second World War, recognised as "Canada's most famous hero of the Second World War", as "The Falcon of Malta" and the "Knight of Malta", having been credited with shooting down 27 Axis aircraft in just 14 days over the besieged Mediterranean island. Before the war ended his official total climbed to 31.