Newsletter Of The
Canadian Naval Aviators &
CNAG REUNION 1999
The 1999 reunion was held in the Empress Hotel on the Victoria waterfront on a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. Banshee chapter did a fine job with their arrangements, and the hotel couldn't have been more helpful. Attendance was good, though possibly a little less than might have been expected in an area where there are so many retirees. Representation from Venturites was limited because they had had almost 385 for their quintenniel reunion in Victoria just a month before.
The CNAG member of the Year award went to DENNIS SHAW from Atlantic Chapter. JIM TATEISHE of Calgary was the guest speaker, recounting his experience in Shearwater, especially in VX 10, and later teaching in colleges in Alberta. Jim resides in Calgary. Chaplain BILL HOWIE was in attendance for the Sunday morning service. Bill is now affiliated with the University of Victoria, and looked very fit and youthful.
**The following two articles were published previously in somewhat different forms in CNAG's 'Across the flight deck' and in the SAMF Newsletter.
REMEMBRANCE SERVICE FOR LCDR WATSON AND LT ELTON
On 22 August, 1999, on a fine Sunday afternoon, the Tracker [Toronto] Chapter of the Canadian Naval Air Group [CNAG] held a remembrance service for the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Lieutenant Charles "Chuck" Elton and Lieutenant-Commander Clifford "Clunk" Watson, who had died while practising for the first Canadian International Air Show, fifty years earlier.
Four of the remaining pilots from the 1949 Seafire Exhibition Flight attended: JOE MACBRIEN, BILL MUNRO, DOC SCHELLINCK, and PAT WHITBY. Two other members of the flight, ED MYERS and MIKE WASTENEYS, sent their regrets, as did TED DAVIS and ALISTAIR GILLESPIE. Both Ted and Alistair were overseas when the ceremony took place. BOB CAMPBELL of Tracker Chapter, a technician with the Flight, was the driving force behind the ceremony, with much help from BILL MUNRO. Other naval airmen who came were pilots BOB FALLS, NOEL COGDON, and DON SHEPPARD; and four members of the Watson family representing three generations attended. Many of the guests were accompanied by their spouses, most of whom had known the deceased. BEATRICE "TRIX" GEARY, who still is in touch with Clunk's widow, Joan, in England came to remember old friends. Trix is the widow of pilot Monk Geary. And a dozen members of Tracker Chapter led by President GEORGE WEST paid their respects.
GEORGE WEST and ED JANUSAS of CNAG wore their RCN uniforms, and other CNAG members and guests wore their decorations. Since the group contained veterans of World War 2 and the Korean War as well as the cold war, the decorations were many and varied. Among the pilots were a naval ace, a former Chief of Defence Staff, a former Commander of the Canadian Flotilla, and one of a very small number of Canadians to fly fighter ops in Korea.
Tracker Chapter members TED CRUDDAS and BOB CAMPBELL spoke briefly at the Elton and Watson grave sites. George West and Bill Munro laid flowers on Chuck Elton's grave. Clunk Watson's daughter, Wendy Warrillow, who was only two years old at the time of the accident, came over from England with her own son, John. She, along with Joe MacBrien, laid flowers at Clunk's grave. Bob Campbell spoke of Cliff Watson's confidence and love of life, and Patrick Watson remembered the same qualities in his brother. Grandson John Warrillow was clearly moved by the tributes to the grandfather he never knew.
Tracker Chapter's service of remembrance was brief and simple, honouring the memories of two of the pioneers of Canada's short-lived but distinguished naval aviation branch. That branch lives on in the memories of those who served in it, in their families, and in those men and women who serve in Canadian Maritime Aviation.
ROBERT HAMPTON GRAY VC HONOURED AT CF COLLEGE CEREMONY
On Remembrance Day, 1999, the Canadian Forces College in Toronto honoured Canada's Victoria Cross winners, including Lieutenant (RCNVR) Robert Hampton Gray, at a ceremony at the college. Two Naval Airmen, TED CRUDDAS and JOHN EDEN attended the ceremony, and John was commended for a Canadian naval VC memorial that he had made for a now-closed part of the college several years earlier.
Students and staff of the college, their families, local dignitaries, neighbours of the college, cadets and school children attended a Remembrance Day ceremony on the college grounds prior to the unveiling of the plaque. Later the adults gathered in the Armour Heights Officers' Mess for a dedication ceremony attended by family members of some of the medal winners, including 'Hammy' Gray's niece and grandniece. The large plaque [almost two metres in length and about 125 cm high] had been commissioned by the associate members of the mess, many veterans of the Second World War, who had collected the names and stories of all those Canadians who had been awarded the cross. Associate mess member Lloyd Atkinson told how Queen Victoria had pressed the British military establishment to establish a decoration in her name. This decoration was to be unlike others of the time in that it would be available to anyone in the armed forces regardless of rank or birth. Her Majesty was involved in all aspects of the development of the decoration, including giving it her name, and selecting the inscription - 'For Valour'.
The plaque hangs in the main hall of the Mess. Made entirely of wood, the plaque bears 56 maple leaves, one for each Canadian-born holder of the decoration, including two Newfoundlanders who were born before Newfoundland joined Canada. Each maple leaf is inscribed with the name of a holder of the decoration, and with a distinct colour to show the service of the individual - maroon, navy blue, or light blue. Each maple leaf touches one or more of its neighbours, symbolizing the bond of valour that Victoria Cross winners share. All the crosses surround a large version of the cross. A book complements the plaque, containing pictures of the winners and descriptions of their gallant acts; it will rest on a stand set directly below the plaque. Also listed in the book are 38 other Victoria Cross winners who had earned their decoration while serving Canada, but were not Canadian born.
John Eden, Ted Cruddas, and Colonel DEBORAH DAVIS [Director of Strategic Studies at the College] also visited the Brodeur Auditorium in the college to view the plaque that John had presented earlier to another Toronto Mess that is now closed. His plaque had then been transferred to the college, and placed in the Brodeur auditorium, which is used mainly by the naval students of the college. The auditorium was named for Admiral V.G. 'Scotty' Brodeur, a pre-WW2 and WW2 officer whose son Nigel also became a flag officer. The plaque shows pictures of Canada's four naval VC winners, from Nova Scotian William Hall, the navy's first VC winner and the first winner from an African heritage, to British Columbia's Robert Hampton Gray, Canada's most recent winner. John noted that this plaque was made from oak from Bonaventure's quarterdeck.
The new plaque is a fine tribute to Canada's Victoria Cross winners. The Armour Heights Mess, which is the main regular force officers' mess in Toronto since the closure of the Downsview site, is a fine place for the plaque. There it can be a reminder to the scores of students who pass through the college each year that Canada's military heritage is strong; and the many foreign students who attend the college, and the dignitaries who visit it, will understand that Canadians are still proud of their accomplishments in peace and war over the last century and a half.
MARITIME AVIATION/SHEARWATER AND OTHER NAVAL OR AVIATION NEWS
SHEARWATER. There has been no settlement of the continuing use of Shearwater, since the company set up to dispose of it seems to have done little. Certain functions of the former base are now being closed down. For example, the Warrior newspaper has closed down. And Ted Keiser says that the Wardroom Officers' Mess is completely run down. JOHN CODY is very much involved in the future of the former base, whether it becomes an industrial park, or even a Maritime version of Washington's Smithsonian Institute, as suggested by BILL FARRELL in an article in the Halifax press this spring.
'While large parts of CFB Shearwater on and off the airfield have been transferred to the civilian control and ownership of the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Shearwater Aviation Museum, its inventory and its assets, remain unaffected. There is no change in its status and none is forecast. All the old hands are therefore asked to continue their strong supports for the museum,' says BILL GILLESPIE, SAM[F]'s new president.
CFB TORONTO (DOWNSVIEW)/TORONTO AEROSPACE MUSEUM. The Toronto Aerospace Museum opened in May, 2000, at 65 Carl Hill Drive, the main road running through the former RCAF Downsview/CFB Toronto site. It is adjacent to the buildings in which many of our Trackers were built, and near the site where the Avro Arrow was built and flew. The museum is on part of the former base set aside for mixed use. It has in its collection Trackers, the Lancaster that until recently stood on the Toronto lakeshore, a Tiger Moth, part of the Nimrod that crashed at the Canadian International Airshow during the Canadian National Exhibition, and a growing collection of artifacts. A full-scale model of the Arrow is being built. Occasionally an ornithopter from the University of Toronto rests there. Several of the volunteers are former members of the RCN or RCN(R), including GEORGE WEST, GEORGE HOTHAM and FRED ROL. The museum is also the site of many of CNAG Tracker's monthly meetings.
CANADIAN PEACEKEEPING SERVICE MEDAL [CPSM]. Canada will soon be issuing a new medal for people who served in the Canadian forces in peacekeeping or observer missions. This medal will be in addition to any already received from the United Nations, and will be available to retirees.
FLYING TRAINING IN THE CF. Flying training for pilots in still in transition. CFB Moose Jaw is reducing its military staff to fewer than 500, and turning over primary flying training to a civilian consortium that won the training contract. New jet trainers will replace the Tutors. Bombardier is one of the participants in the consortium. Portage is still being operated for the basic flying training.
The location, indeed the existence of the Snow Birds, who have been based in Moose Jaw for years, is uncertain; but the Snow Birds' lobby is strong, and public interest in them remains high. [They are being asked to return to the Shearwater Air Show in 2000.] How long the Tutor can last is another question. On History TV recently, Tutors were shown doing an air show in 1967!
Cold Lake was chosen as a NATO training base for fighter pilots, though major air forces such as the USAF and RAF probably will continue to use their own facilities. Test Pilot/Engineer training will still be carried out in either the USA or UK. Navigators' training is being conducted in Winnipeg, as are the Aerospace Systems Courses. Flight engineers still train in Trenton. The Electronic Sensor Operators are trained in Greenwood, with conversion to Sea Kings being done in Shearwater.
Sea King Crew Commanders' qualifications, now available to pilots and navigators both, are now being assisted by a Crew Commanders' Course.
SEA KING REPLACEMENT. According to an interview with the Vice Chief of Defence Staff in Maple Leaf magazine, the first priority for the new capital spending announced in the 2000 federal budget is the Sea King replacement. Next in priority are upgrades for the Hornet and the Aurora.
FLEET AIR ARM. The FAA has graduated its first woman Pilot, and has several more undergoing training. They were preceded by a small number of women Observers. All these aircrew are liable to serve in combat situations.
PENSIONS AND BENEFITS - FSNA. The long-awaited dental plan for armed forces, RCMP, and federal public service pensioners has been delayed until 2001 or later, according to a statement sent to pensioners in March this year. The good news is that the plan will be available to pensioners who live outside Canada, and that the Federal Superannuates National Association [FSNA] is now involved in the dental and medical pension plans, as well as in the investment decisions on behalf of the existing armed forces, RCMP, and public service pensions. We have two strong FSNA representatives in REX GUY and AL McLELLAN. Many of us remember Rex as a former naval Captain; Al was a Maritime Aviator, a CF/RCAF navigator who retired as a Brigadier General. FSNA, as always, is working hard for us, and deserves our support. KNOBBY WESTWOOD, PETER DRAGE, and KEN BROWN are among the many retired readers involved in the organization. If you are interested in joining the organization, you can reach it at:
FSNA NATIONAL OFFICE
1052 ST LAURENT BLVD
OTTAWA ON K1K 3B4 CANADA
TEL: 613 745-2559 FAX 745-5457
E-MAIL ADDRESSES. Many readers now have e-mail or similar addresses, and SAM now has a central '
Page' with a list of many of our e-mail addresses. It serves as an internet directory for anyone who wants to be added to it. SAM's homepage is:
Once on the home page, your can look up THE NAVAL AIR E-MAIL DIRECTORY, which will give you e-mail and regular mail addresses.
CNAG too has a home page, which can be accessed from the SAM website or direct at
www.ncf.ca.cnag . Many chapters post their minutes there.
CONGRATULATIONS. To PAT RYAN for being awarded both the 1999 Admiral's Medal, and the Maritime Commanders' Commendation for his efforts in producing the 'Seasoned Sailors' videotapes - to FRANK BUCKLEY on being inducted into the Canadian Professional Sales Association Hall of Fame [see the article earlier in this letter] - to NANCY GARAPICK, daughter of NICK GARAPICK [a former Observer and later a Halifax business executive], for being selected as Nova Scotia's top female athlete of the past 100 years. Nancy was an Olympic medal winner and world record holder in swimming. [Colleen Jones, a CBC newscaster who would be familiar to many readers, placed second for her curling successes] And to BILL GILLESPIE on his election as President of SAMF.
PERSONAL THANKS. My thanks to RADM Bill Landymore for helping me struggle through my watchkeeping training in Bonnie. His sense of humour while commanding Bonnie eased the strain. For example, after a brief stay in port, Bonaventure sailed, and while I was on the afternoon watch Captain Landymore ordered me to 'alter course to 180.' I responded immediately - by changing the engine revolutions to 180! - which I immediately corrected. The Captain shook his head and said, 'We were only in port two days, Cruddas. Did you forget everything?' But his smile indicated that he understood. Thanks, Captain.
(Aviation references are from "Words on the Wing" by Tom Langeste.)
1. E-Building. The Lord Elgin Hotel. [When the three services occupied various temporary buildings in Ottawa, including those named A, B, and C Buildings, a noted watering hole was the bar at the Lord Elgin Hotel nearby, nicknamed E-Building.]
2. EXCREMENTUM VINCIT CEREBELLUM. 'Mock' Latin for BS baffles brains. According to author Tom Langeste, it was used in WW2 by all three services.
3. Exploder. The Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor, often called 'the bugsmasher', which was used for training and utility work in both the RCAF and RCN.
4. Dogsbody. A person who does menial tasks. A drudge. In the RN, it was the term for dried peas boiled in a cloth. [Source - The Toronto Star, 'You Asked Us', 19 April 2000.]
QUESTIONS FOR 2000 (Answers are in the Annex.)
1. What naval aviator was trained as a Commando?
2. What naval aviator later became a submariner?
3. HMS "Tern" is also known as RNAS ...
4. What naval aviator was born in a town that now contains a large statue of Flinnigan Flonnigan?
5. What naval pilot was awarded the DFC as an RCAF navigator?
6. TREK question - What young Canadian actress from Scarborough [Toronto] had a continuing starring role in a Star Trek Series?
The deadline for the next newsletter is 1 May 2001. The letter will be mailed early in June, 2001.
Thanks to TOM COPELAND, DEBORAH DAVIS, and BILL JOHNSON for their help in producing this letter. Any errors or omissions are mine alone.
For the many readers and family members who have suffered from illnesses, accidents, or family losses in the past year, may the next year bring good health and happiness. Live long and prosper.