Newsletter Of The
Canadian Naval Aviators &
NEWS FROM THE READERS
Chris Maclaren faxed from Colehill, near Birmingham, England, looking for a current address for BILL ATKINSON, who lived in Abbotsford until recently. The Fleet Air Arm Association, SAMF, and I all still have the old address in Abbotsford, but we hear that Bill has moved farther inland in BC. Bill and Chris did their flying training together. If any reader knows Bill's address, please send it along, and I'll contact Chris.
Chris will be in Vancouver late in June. He sends along his best wishes to any old friends in Canada.
Admiral DOUG BOYLE has been fighting a valiant fight against mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer [I think] related to asbestos. When I heard from him via ROBBIE HUGHES in March, the Admiral was undergoing experimental treatments that seemed to be promising. In addition, he has been able to convince Veterans Affairs Canada [DVA] that mesothelioma 'is attributable to service in ships.' Through another reliable source I learned that DVA is becoming more lenient about accepting some physical problems that were not deemed service related. If any reader has been turned down in the past by DVA, this might be a good time to re-apply. Look in the blue pages under DVA for the address of your local Pensions Advocate, or contact the Canadian Legion for help.
Mike BRETT is a new reader, and a former Maritime Engineer [MARE] now living in Stirling, Ontario, north of Belleville. Mike was with JOHN CROFT, a former Naval [and CF] Communicator, attending the Stirling Theatre last summer. We sat almost together, and John and I recognized each other. [Ten months together in Staff College will do that.] Mike and John pass on their best to all their old friends from RCN days. Both addresses are in the annex.
DAVE BRIGHT continues to pursue a busy legal practice in the Halifax area, but he hasn't forgotten his navy roots as an ex-OM in BENNY OXHOLM's crew with LARRY O'BRIEN as co-pilot. Acting on a request to help locate BARRY TROY's next of kin [Barry was killed in a Banshee crash in 1958 - his father had been a new Brunswick judge], Dave pulled out all the stops via the legal communities until an address was found. When thanked for his help, Dave simply said, 'No thanks necessary. Barry was naval air, wasn't he?'
GLENN BROWN is on the move again, though this time he has restricted his move to within Kingston, Ontario; however, that could be some distance considering the recent amalgamations of communities in Ontario. See the annex for the new address, effective 11 May 2000. Glenn is semi-retired, being,
'affiliated with the Queen's [university] Centre for International Relations and Pearson International Peacekeeping Centre in Cornwallis [NS]. My title at both places is 'Senior Fellow' which, I think, is a nice way to describe and old guy with an unimpressive academic pedigree. I write a few papers and give a few lectures and it keeps me out of the house. I also ... travel back and forth to Europe fairly regularly. Indeed, I am leaving in [April 2000] for three weeks in Bosnia running a programme for Canadian academics sponsored by DND.
'Not too many naval aviators in Kingston ... We are close enough to Toronto to see the TODDS and WHITES (Orillia) often and we have JIM MACINTOSH in Trenton and KEITH STIRLING in Brockville.
'... our daughter is a prof at Southern Utah University.'
Retirement seems to be good for you, Glenn.
An article called 'Not exactly a taste of honey' [Toronto Star, 17 October, 1999, Gamester's Profiles, page A7] gave the secret recipe for Buckley's Mixture: 'a litre of pine-oil, a kilo of ambition, a pinch of capsicum, a dollop of menthol, a shot of blarney, a smidgen of camphor, and a streak of luck.' The article gave the history of FRANK BUCKLEY's family from their roots in Sydney, NS, to their invention of Buckley's Mixture just in time for the Great Flu Epidemic of 1919. After that they never looked back. Writer George Gamester mentioned many of the long-gone medicines that were around earlier in the twentieth century -- Chase's Extract, Woodbury's Compound, Dodd's Kidney pills, and Lydia Pinkham's pink pills. In his opinion, 'clever advertising and a unique product kept Frank Buckley smiling.'
Frank has been honoured for his extensive volunteer community work, such as 32 years with the Council on Drug Abuse, and last year was inducted into the Canadian Professional Sales Association Hall of Fame. Well done, Frank. [See also Lorne MacDonald's reference to Frank's experiences as a Hellcat pilot in the Fleet Air Arm.]
BOB BISSELL continues to 'Meander' around the world, but spent most of the last year in the Caribbean. Since Bob's travels were recounted extensively in the SAM letter, I'll say only that he continues to enjoy his seafaring ways, though he expects to take his boat back to European waters this year. Bob's boat Meander 2 was safely out of the water in Trinidad, and suffered no damage during last year's hurricane season. He left it there a little longer than usual so he could see in the New Year in South Africa.
Bob's Christmas card was quite striking: 'Winter Moonlight - HMS Victory' by Derek Shapiro. It helped support the King George's Fund for Sailors, the Seafarers' Charity, which supports the RN, the Merchant Navy, and the Fishing Fleet. The card is good enough to frame - and made from 'sustainable forests.'
ROGER [Gunner] and BEV CAMPBELL missed the CNAG Reunion in Victoria last October because they attended the 100th Anniversary of their former church in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. His brother BRUCE CAMPBELL, with wife DODEY, were there as hosts of the reunion. In Grand Forks, BC, near home in Christina Lake, Gunner met DON GORDON, a former RCAF flight instructor who had taught BOB McNISH, ROBBY WATT, and others. Don had also flown from Greenwood, NS, and could be known to other readers.
SHEILA DAVIS was a WREN Officer and one of the first women to qualify as an Air Traffic Controller in Canada. She is enjoying living in Victoria, though she still misses Calgary. Between the United Services Institute and the Naval Officers' Association of Vancouver Island, she sees lots of familiar faces. She is on the Executive of the Corps of Commissionaires, and attends the Aviators' 'up spirits' when she can. From the number of friends and relatives who went to the island to see her, I'd say she never lacks visitors. In one case when she was still in Alberta the visitors were NOT welcome - she suffered a break-in. We hope that everything is getting back to normal for you, Sheila.
TED DAVIS attended the funeral service for NIBS COGDEN in February.
'... along with JOHN BAILEY, PETER BERRY, ED BOTTERELL, representing his 103-year-old father HENRY, [an RNAS pilot in World War 1] FREDDY and ROSEMARY BRADLEY, JOHN CAMPSIE, DON and PAT COOPER, NORM DONALDSON'S son Rick, PHIL FOULDS, JOE and ANNE McBRIEN, DON and GWEN SHEPPARD, and HUGH WASHINGTON. 'Moving tributes to Nibs' life and his career in the service were given by his sister Joan and by Don Sheppard.
'Once again I signed on for a "reunion cruise" in the Caribbean, which was organized by DICK and MARGIE BARTLETT through Hill Travel in Victoria. Scheduled for March of this year, it was originally to be a ten-day cruise to the Panama Canal, but according to a reliable sources, it was cancelled because of a boycott. ... In any event, the itinerary was changed and we sailed from Tampa in the Niew Amsterdam, visiting San Juan, St. Thomas, Guadeloupe, Barbados, St. Lucia, Isla de Margarita, Bonaire, Aruba, Grand Cayman, and finally back to Tampa. Fourteen wonderful days at sea, being thoroughly pampered and enjoying every moment of it. This time with neither daughter nor grandsons along to cajole me into participating in shipboard fun and games. I hate being organized: I'm too old for that nonsense. However, I was not alone but accompanied by Edwina Hall, from Kent, whom I have known for many years, but whose introduction to colonials and their way of life had been sadly neglected until now.
'It was wonderful to renew old acquaintances again, many of whom had been on the previous cruise two years ago. Among the naval aviators were BOB and BETTI-JO BAIRD, DICK and MARGIE BARTLETT, Dick's sister and brother-in-law Joan and Buckey Graham, as well as his long-time POW colleague Joe Hill, SKINNY HAYES, HARRY DUBINSKY'S sister Sophie Lemko, JOHN and PEGGY LEY, DEKE and JOAN LOGAN, CLEM PETIT'S widow Joan, JOHN and DOROTHY SEARLE, DON and GLORIA TOPPING, KNOBBY and ALVINA WESTWOOD, and JACK WOLFENDEN's widow Marge. My apologies to anyone I might have missed.
'As I've done for the past 25 years, I keep busy driving as a volunteer for the local Red Cross, transporting the "frail elderly" and disabled to and from medical appointments. It keeps me occupied, off the street, and I find it a very rewarding [not in the monetary sense] occupation; there may be no pay, but at least the hours are flexible.
'Apart from the semi-annual "Toronto Gatherings" [FAA - ed.]
'I try to attend the monthly meetings at the Rose and Crown in Toronto where some of the old FAA types gather to reminisce and tell lies. Usually there are half a dozen of us: JOHN BLUETT, JOHN SAMPSIE, JOHN EVANS, PHIL FOULDS, HUGH WASHINGTON, and JOHN BAILEY, who organizes these get-togethers. Nibs was one of the regulars, and will be sorely missed.'
Recently DAVID DONALDSON was involved in a experiment to clean up the environment. The experiment involved a system to remove effluent from lakes using a process similar to that used in making snow for commercial ski hills. The process turns sewage into snow, killing bacteria by rapidly freezing them, and making a by-product called 'Snowfluent'. All this is the brain child of engineer Jeff White who lives in the Ottawa area. David's involvement was as outgoing president of the Upper Rideau Lake Community Association where some of the experimentation was done. He said that the organization was formed 'because of the growing unease about the way Westport [sewage] lagoon was being discharged through a creek into the lake.' The new process seems to be a cost-effective way of treating rural sewage that would often go into small lakes. [See the Toronto Star, 5 July 1999, page A1. 'Jeff White's Snow Job.']
MARSH DEMPSTER paid a visit to Toronto last autumn to visit his parents' grave, and to see old friends from his Transport Canada days. He summers in PEI with his daughter, and winters on his boat, 'BONN VOYAGE 1', in the Caribbean. He has found that boating can be tiring, especially when on long voyages. Last year when he crewed with the owner of a boat that they returned to Northern Europe from the Caribbean, he spent 23 straight days at sea on one leg, and twelve on another. Trips like that can be a young man's game. Nevertheless, 'Swamp' has just returned from the Caribbean on his boat as this is being written. His 'ham' call sign is VEOMBD/CFF 9679. He hopes to attend the CNAG Reunion in Ottawa in
In the spring of 2000 Marsh had an experience that may be unique: While at sea, he received a MAYDAY - be e-mail! A sailing friend had had an engine failure off the north coast of South America, and called Marsh for help. Marsh was too far away, but alerted the proper SAR authorities, who came to the other boat's rescue. They were not aware that the MAYDAY had been sent.
KEN ELIASON's latest letter stated that 1999 had been a good year for the Eliasons. 'We're all healthy and employed.' They also have their own free family 'doctor', in that daughter Pam is a qualified nurse practitioner. But does she make house calls? They enjoyed the Venture Reunion last September. About this 'grey haired motley crew' Ken wonders, 'I'm not sure there are enough handicapped parking spaces and wheel-chair accessible ships to 'handle us all' at the next Venture Reunion, scheduled for 2004. I wonder who will be/has become the first Venturite to reach the magic age of senior citizenship, 65. Any one brave enough to admit it?
LAURIE and MARG FARRINGTON celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in January, 2000. They received about 170 messages of all types - cards, letters, e-mails, telephone calls, etc - thanks to a campaign started by their son, Mike. Old friends from the FAA, Venture, NOAC, and the Staff College and Staff School contacted him from all over the world. The Farringtons were overwhelmed by the response, which was a complete surprise to them.
Laurie attends the annual Naval Air get-together at the Bytown mess in Ottawa. The most recent  list of attendees is impressive: fifty names.
HAL FEARON attended the CNAG Reunion in Victoria, travelling from his home in Edmonton. He also attended the executive committee of CNAG.
DENNIS FOLEY and I exchange faxes from time to time, and I apologize to Dennis for any occasions on which I awakened him in the middle of the night. Let's see, New Zealand is 17 [or is it seven ?] hours different from Toronto. Don't worry, Dennis, you always figured it right when sending. Dennis is remembered fondly by BOB CAMPBELL, a member of CNAG Tracker (Toronto) who served in the RCN as an air electrician in the early years of naval aviation. Bob's choice of trades was a little unusual, since he was already a steam engineer, and steam-driven electrics were rare - I think.
Dennis keeps in touch regularly with DARKY LOWE, and has recently joined both the Fleet Air Arm Aircrew Association in Canada, and CNAG. Concerning JOHN McDERMOTT's comments on flying the USS Enterprise [LTA version], Dennis, too had a few hours at the controls of a blimp, flying with ZP-3 from Lakehurst.
'You make a move and have a coffee before the beast responds. ... A few months ago I had a chance to fly a Tiger Moth again - it was fun. Went to Fiji last year and flew from Nandi to Matamanoa Island and return, about twenty minutes each way in a French Squirrel. I think they call it a squirrel because it's twitchy in a hover.' Dennis still is playing a guitar, but says that progress is slow.
HARRY FROST wrote from London passing on his E-mail address [see annex], and mentioned that he preferred 'receiving a "word" file attached to any email'. Harry said,
'Faye and I have been enjoying the UK for the last year and a half. Went to the airshow in Yeovilton last summer [1998 ed.]. First for the RN in 3 years. Aircraft from all over Europe - even "Ruskies". A Fury and a Seafire did some 'formation stuff. I probably flew the firefly #204 at RNAS Eglinton. I did an OFS there in the fall of 1950.' RED CHANDLER please take note.
FRED FREWER and I spoke at length when I was in Ottawa at Christmas. His son Fred is a navy Captain; another son, Matt, is a well-known actor who recently guest-starred as a serial killer in Da Vinci's Inquest, a new Canadian show. Fred mentioned a letter from FRASER FRASER-HARRIS, who had recently had his obituary returned from the Fleet Air Arm Association for updating, something the FAA does every few years. Fraser's comments about his life were, 'When you leave out the sex, it was really quite boring!'
I received letters from two Australians this year. FRED GOODFELLOW wrote that he,
'had flown Banshee 126464 on 23 September 1955 at NAS Oceana on my first [of two] famil flights. The A/C was in its USN dark blue colours. [Subsequently accepted and flew/ferried three of the 1st 12 Banshees with Jake Birks.] My last flight in a Banshee was 126454 on 24 Aug 1959 - "20 minute test flight". 126464 does not appear in my log book again... Side number sounds like VF 871.' GLENN COOK or BOB MURRAY to note for their project.
The other letter from Australia was from the GEALES, BOB and KIT. Bob continues to work a short week - one day - in the RAN FAA museum in Nowra, NSW. Kit helps out there on Air Days. Daughter Sheelagh is still nursing in the Middle East. Peter has returned from a tour with the USN and is in 817 Sea King Squadron as Deputy AEO. Nick has a Marine Engineering works in Hawksberry River, just north of Sydney, Australia. Many of the family members joined Kit and Bob in North Nowra to celebrate the 2000 New Year.
ROBBIE and DIANA HUGHES stayed in Canada a little longer last year while Robbie worked hard at completing a project to have all his rural area marked for 911 emergency telephone service. To do so he had to locate dozens of properties, some on quite rudimentary roads, in the Bob's Lake area north of Kingston. Once he had everything identified, he assigned numbers to the properties, and even set the markers in place, often digging the post holes. This summer should see the end of the project, though Robbie has a lot of work ahead of him finding the last 'strays', and installing street signs where none have existed. [Some day, Robbie, you should talk to PETER BERRY about digging post holes. Peter almost lost his arm when an unfriendly mechanical digger grabbed his wrist watch and then his arm.]
Robbie is also very involved in community affairs in Texas during the months when he winters there. He sends the following short snappers about Texas weather.
'You know you're in Texas when you notice your radiator is overheating before you've started the car - you no longer associate bridges with water - sunscreen with less than 25 SPF is called hand cream - or you see two trees fighting over a dog!'
BOB and SANDRA JACKSON have remained in BC after Bob retired from teaching after 29 years.
'We have no plans to leave Castelgar, as just about everything we want to do, except visit our grandchildren, is available in the region. I have been involved with the community health council for several years, and am now the chair, which is something close to a full-time job.' Bob also attended the Venture reunion last year.
BILL JOHNSON, a former naval weather man, belongs to CNAG Tracker, and has a good collection of naval books in his library. One called 'Aircraft Carriers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies' by Commander David Robbs [Stackpool Books, Mechanicsburg PA, 1996] mentioned that HMS Warrior, after her return from the RCN to the RN, was fitted with a flexible rubber flight deck as a trial, and actually conducted landings with that deck. The idea was to have one such carrier in any fleet to recover aircraft with damaged undercarriages, etc. The trial was unsuccessful. I'd welcome hearing from anyone who knows anything more about those trials.
The same book mentioned that HMCS 'Magnificent's' entry into Gotenburg set a local record: the longest ship ever to enter Gotenburg at that time.
Bill mentioned an unusual going-ashore dress for someone in the navy. He had the occasion to be stationed briefly with the RAAF in Fiji while waiting for his ship, HMCS Ontario, to return from sea. The rig for men 'going ashore' from the RAAF base was shirt, tie, and sarong!
TED KIESER was a little late heading south this winter, having had a hip replaced in November, 1999. When he found that GORD EDWARDS would be in Nova Scotia that Christmas, Ted arranged,
'a gathering of "living artifacts" at the museum for lunch ... A fine time was had by all, lots of salty dips exchanged. They came out of the woodwork. RED CHANDLER, JEFF COWIE, JAKE BIRKS, WALLY SLOAN, BOB COCKS, CHUCK COFFEN, RAY CREERY, COLIN CURLEIGH, ERIC EDGAR, BILL FARRELL, BILL GILLESPIE, ANDY ANDERSON, MIKE McCALL, BOB TIMBRELL, PETER DRAGE, LES BROWN, ROLLIE WEST, RAY DOUCETTE, GERRY McMILLEN, DOUG PEACOCK, HARRY PORTER, LES ROSENTHAL, WHITEY WILLIAMSON, FRANK WILLIS, ALF HOLMES, JOHN CODY, ERIC NEILSON, JIM STEGEN, GEORGE MERKLEY, and PETER DUMBRILLE.'
TED has been very involved with SAM Foundation, including replacing editor BILL FARRELL for one Newsletter, and arranging the printing of Al Snowie's 'Bonnie' reprint.
Admiral BILL LANDYMORE has remarried recently: his first wife had died a few years ago. And he has moved from his farm to an apartment in Halifax. I heard that the Captain of the aircraft on which the Landymores flew at the start of their honeymoon acknowledged their wedding over the intercom, and provided them with champagne.
JOHN LEHMANN continues to improve his running after a recent bout with thyroid cancer. He won his age division in the Barbados International Marathon, as well as gaining a silver in the 10 K - on the same day! He also participated in the Las Vegas Marathon, and qualified for the 2000 Boston Marathon. For all practical purposes, John is now clear of cancer. His son, another John Lehmann, is a staff photographer with the National Post, and formerly a freelancer for the Canadian Press. Young John was the inaugural Canadian Press Photographer of the Year for a portfolio of news, sports, and feature photographs. 'Our John' was justifiably proud.
John is in the process of selling one home and buying another in the Toronto area, so mail to him might be delayed; but he can be contacted via the CF College, address in the annex.
I met IONA LARSEN in Victoria in October. Norm Ogden, who died in 1963, was her first husband. She and I hadn't seen each other in about forty years. She was with DARLENE BANNISTER, and each looked about half her calendar years. That BC air does wonders. Iona had sent some of Norm's naval air photo slides to SAM for vetting.
ERNIE LOURME'S son is following in his father's footsteps. He is a Sea King pilot in Shearwater.
PHYL LOWE usually attends MIKE and SHEILA PAGE's ex-Shearwater bash [formerly hosted by the STORRS] in July on Vancouver Island; however, this year she had to dance in two extra tap performances in Coquitlam. She also missed the reunion hosted by CNAG Banshee, having attended a soccer tournament instead. No, she doesn't combine soccer with tap dancing. Phyl's granddaughter was the footballer, with Phyl an ardent fan, attending games in which any of her three grandchildren play. That occupies her from September to March, and summer is taken up by work as a volunteer gardener in her seniors' complex. Deb and I hope to see you in Ottawa at CNAG 2000, Phyl.
RODGER McEACHERN wrote from Sudbury, where he lives in retirement. He sent along an obituary of ANGUS FUDGE, said to be a naval fighter pilot in 1950-55. Rodger and others to whom I have spoken believe that the obituary was in error, and that Angus was naval air, but not aircrew. Rodger is enjoying retirement, though with some chronic health problems; and he hopes to get to Toronto for a visit sometime. Rodger mentioned that he was one of the airmen who was airborne during Exercise Mariner when the fog rolled in. An article on the incident was in the Spring 2000 issue of the SAM Foundation newsletter, and was covered thoroughly in Stu Soward's book 'Hands to flying Stations' Volume 1. Rodger was the Observer's Mate in the Macnab/Johnson crew listed on page 262. Stu
noted that he had been given the wrong name when he was writing his book.
LORNE and JUDY McDONALD came east to Ontario for a while last summer. They attended a wedding in Burlington, spending the night with BILL and SUSAN NASH. They described Bill's B & B as,
'fantastic! The last time I saw Bill serving with such elegance was at a mess dinner at Shearwater when he changed jackets with one of the stewards and helped serve the head table - without them even being aware of it.'
Lorne also met Frank Buckley at the wedding, where Frank was a friend of the bride.
'He was a real gentleman and I was fascinated by his reminiscences about his time in Hellcats.
'I remember a time I was flying in a HO4S-3 ... on another boring dipping exercise. My flying mate kept reaching out the window and covering the pitot tube. I assumed he was just checking to see if I was paying attention. So I thought,
"two can play that game" and as we entered the next dip, I turned on the pitot tube heat. As we climbed away, I was waiting for the sudden drop in airspeed - it happened along with some choice words ... A neat round hole had been burnt out of his flying glove ... Apologies to my flying companion of that day.'
If my memory serves me well, Lorne, Bill Nash acted as steward at another mess dinner, this one in Bonnie. The Tracker detachment on board held a mess dinner, and some HS 50 officers, including Bill [and probably at his suggestion] served dinner. Bill's idea was that the diners would be so apprehensive about what the 'stewards' were up to that they wouldn't enjoy their meals. Apparently after about the third glass of wine most of them didn't
While vacationing in Florida last winter, we visited a former RCN Wren officer, JENNIE-ANN [BRANUM] BOSTICK, and her husband JOHN BOSTICK, a former USN CPO with 15 years in submarines. From a submariner's perspective, John remembered the RCN as being the most tenacious attackers he'd ever met. 'Once they found you, the 'Canadians were almost impossible to shake.' In passing, John remarked that his longest patrol included 89 days submerged! Normal patrols were 59 days submerged; however, their relief sub had broken down.
CARL MILLS is researching the involvement of Canadian aviators in Korea. Among those are at least two naval aviators, JOE McBRIEN and PAT RYAN. Pat's role was mainly on the ground. Joe flew a tour of operations with the USN, and was among more than twenty fighter pilots who flew there, many with the US or British air forces. Carl is also doing some research on the Burgess-Dunne aircraft that Sam Hughes [a relative of readers Robbie, Bill, and Jack Hughes] bought for Canada at the beginning of World War 1. I for one look forward to reading Carl's next opus. Perhaps it could be required reading in schools. [See Al Snowie's remarks later in this letter.]
STAN MITCHELL has left Perth for 'Beautiful British Columbia', where he sees many old friends on Thursdays at the Britannia Legion: DICKEY BARTLETT, DEKE LOGAN, DARKY LOWE, BOB GIBBONS, STRETCH ARNOLD, BILL BLACK and others.
BILL MOFFAT attended the CNAG Reunion last fall. He was on his way to visit his son in San Diego, California, where, as a member of the CF, the younger Moffat was teaching US naval aviators how to fly F-18s. Like father like son.
'Spike' MORRIS claims that he MIGHT have been the first RCN pilot, citing a graduation date of 14 July 1944. [Any earlier RCN dates?] He may also have a further distinction: the first naval aviator whose DAUGHTER has reached the rank of Commander. Cdr BARBARA MORRIS, who served in HMCS 'Carleton', was also involved in the federal government's Y2K project team in Ottawa. When we met late in December, she was just about to start round-the-clock watchkeeping. Her prediction for the Y2K bug was - 'no problem.' Barbara is also People's Warden at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Ottawa.
Deborah, too, was on standby for any emergency on January 1st. They issued her all the winter combat gear, which occupied almost an entire room in our small apartment.
Last October she and I travelled north from Victoria to visit GABE McARTHUR in a nursing home in Qualicum Beach. Gabe had been suffering from ALS for several years, and was then completely bed-ridden and very weak. At that time, he had just enough strength in one hand to control his bed; however, he was alert, his mind was fine, and he could talk clearly if softly. We discussed many things, mostly to do with naval aviation, and I showed him the more than 200 pictures that I have of naval airmen and their families, most taken over the past five years. Gabe thought that some of you looked older! ALS is not a forgiving ailment, so Gabe did not live much longer. He died in the spring, having had the best of care in a great facility, and many visits from loving friends and family.
Although I did not see GIBBO during the reunion, BILL MUNRO did, and said that his condition was relatively stable. [Bill was also instrumental in CNAG Tracker Chapter's memorial service for CHUCK ELTON and KLUNK WATSON, covered later in this letter. The service was initiated by BOB CAMPBELL of the chapter.]
I have an older sister who suffers from another motor neuron ailment, Parkinsons. When I've visited her or Gabe or Gibbo, I've been reminded of why I contribute monthly to the Parkinson's and ALS foundations. A local sponsor of ALS research is Shoppers' Drug Mart, selling a Blue Jay's baseball calendar and donating the proceeds. Two of their calendars are are on their way from me to friends in New Zealand, where the baseball season has just ended.
MIKE McCALL responded to RED CHANDLER's interest in Firefly 204, remarking that,
'different aircraft with different serial numbers could, in the course of their careers have the same side numbers, depending on which squadron they were allocated to, or whether they'd been pranged and taken out of service... . They might come back with a different side number... My comments are based on an event that happened at RNAS Eglinton... John Broadhurst, an RN pilot ... had occasion to ditch [a Firefly] off Rathlin Island. John and his crew got out and he duly described what had happened that caused him to ditch. A diving team was sent out [the water was only 10 - 15 fathoms in that area] but came back shaking their heads in disbelief at what they had found. Not only was Broadhurst's story not borne out by the evidence but the aircraft seemed to have nearly fallen apart in the few days since it sank.
'More diving yielded the answer. John's airplane was on the sea bottom only a hundred yards or so from another [Firefly] which had gone in a few years earlier, also with the same side number.'
Mike helped solve the mystery of CHOPS VIGER, mentioned in last year's newsletter as having been referred to in the NS press as a former naval pilot. 'In 1952 ... he was a killick ... His application for RCAF aircrew came through then, and when I went to Staff College in 1968, there was Chops.'
Later Chops ran two Canadian Tire stores in NS, before turning to raising hemp, which was the subject of the article in the press. So Chops had indeed been navy, and indeed been a pilot; but was NOT a naval pilot.
JIM STEGEN, ROLLIE WEST, and DAVE WILLIAMS confirmed that information. Jim noted that the name Chops is a short form for Chopin. 'Chops is a real comedian, a nice guy, and a thoroughly good member of the community.' Rollie joined the RCN with Chops in 1950; and he remembers Chops as a Medical Assistant, as does Dave. Dave met Chops and his wife later when they were living in a motel in Trenton, probably on their way to Europe. Dave agreed to baby-sit for them one night,
'... so he could take his wife to a movie just to get her out of the motel for a short time. I was happy to do so. It was a bitter cold night, and when I arrived I found them not at all well with bad headaches, and not wanting to go out. I visited for a moment and was about to leave, when the light went on for all of us. They were being overcome by natural gas that was going full bore just to heat the place. We sorted it all out, but they never did get out to that movie.'
JACK McGEE read with interest the story about the loss of the USS Thresher, having been re-tasked from a crew trainer to assist in the search for her. He was flying with HARRY HOLLYWOOD then. Later, while with VS-27 in Norfolk, he flew on the search for the USS Scorpion. His search areas were distant from the actual location of the submarines. 'In both cases, we had the best of intentions, but were far from the scene.'
Jack is President of St. Clair College, which has one of the best computer faculties in Ontario. Speaking of computers, the Japanese believe that English error-messages are too abrupt and rude; so they have devised ones that are much more polite. Some are even in haiku. For example,
'A file that big?
It might be useful.
But now it is gone.'
My personal favourite [as an MSDOS user] is,
'Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.'
Last year, DON NEILLY, an expert wood-carver, presented to SAM the product of a winter's work on his part, a 30-inch-wide [79 cm] pair of intricately carved wooden Pilots' wings. On the back Don carved, '... a tribute to all naval aviators ...', the message intended to convey a tribute not just to pilots but to Observers and OMs as well. Don extends a challenge to other wood carvers to produce a set of Observers and OMs wings to match. No doubt the museum would welcome any wings that were represented at Shearwater or Dartmouth, be they USN, RCAF, CF or others.
ALEX 'Nick' NICHOLS wrote from Fall River NS, near the Halifax International Airport, and possibly now in the city of Halifax: Nova Scotia has led Canada in amalgamating small communities into
bigger ones. Nick said that Nova Scotia was so warm last winter that there was no need to go south. But he did travel to the South Mountain of the Annapolis Valley to visit BUD and PHYL JARDINE, and to watch 'the bald eagles waiting for their lunch of dead chickens ... It was very satisfying to see them in action.' Nick also complained that his 'brain cells were continu[ing] to die at an alarming rate.' [Someone else said the same thing, but I can't remember who it was or what he said. Or was it a she? Another seniors' moment.]
BILL RIKELY has become interested in computer flight simulation. He writes,
'The rate of technological advancement ... is quite amazing. As an example, with the new software you can set up a very realistic version of the Spitfire IX [Seafire] against the scenery background of the Maritimes. When you place this aircraft, with its unique sound and handling characteristics, on the runways of Shearwater, it's like going back in time fifty years.'
Bill's letter was stamped with one of the 1999 'air forces' stamps showing the Burgess-Dunne, which CARL MILLS is researching. The only RCN aircraft I've seen in the series was the Sea King.
I contact HAL PICKERING occasionally in my role of secretary of CNAG Tracker. Although Hal lives off the beaten path in Cochrane, Ontario, he occasionally gets south for various reasons. We hope to see you in Ottawa at Reunion 2000, Hal.
ROSS RIDDELL was mentioned on page one. He lives in retirement in Schroon Lake, NY, but travels almost every summer to the UK where he is interested in canals and canal boats. He keeps up an active correspondence with former JAOBTC 7 classmates such as myself, TOM COPELAND, ROGER MacEACHERN, and MEL BABCOOKE, and recently had a letter published in the SAM newsletter. As an 'oatmeal savage', he has a bumper on his pickup truck that shows Scottish stickers from around the Scottish-speaking world, plus a white ensign. Ross is a true gentleman: an environmentalist, foster parent, and all-round helpful guy. He is now on the internet at 'email@example.com'.
FRED ROL, ex VC920, continues working on the squadron's history. As part of his work, he has made some USNR contacts. One contact, Stanley Outlaw, has a NAS Grosse Ile [Michigan] web site, where 'all are invited to share and learn about the history of the unsinkable aircraft carrier.' Stan said that several RCN pilots trained in NAS GROSSE ILE sometime not long after WW2, and he'd love to hear from any of them, or from anyone else who served there. Although the NAS Grosse Ile has been closed since the sixties, interest in the station is still high. If you are interested, you can reach Stan at:
Stan Outlaw, PO Box 5391, Wilmington NC 28403 USA;
toll free voice mail  215-3559 ext 2779;
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; personal web site -
NAS Grosse Ile site - http://www.onelist.com/subscribe.cgi.nasgi
SAM ROW was in BC last fall to visit his son in Sideney-by-the Sea, and to attend the Victoria reunion. Unfortunately, he had a heart attack shortly after he arrived, and couldn't make the reunion. We spent a pleasant few hours with him at his son's home, a short drive north of Victoria not far from Pat Bay. Sam had recovered well enough to take the long flight home to England, a challenge for even a healthy person. He had fond memories of his exchange tour in Shearwater: He was a Canadian-born RN officer, a Commissioned Armourer, serving there in the late 1950's. He tried valiantly to teach some of the young bucks to be gentlemen. I'm sure that we were not always as appreciative of his good example as we should have been.
AL SNOWIE is progressing with his book on naval air aces in WW1. He originally thought of them as 'Our Naval Aviator Forebearers', based on a phrase ROD BAYS used in a 1997 SAM Newsletter. Al has recently changed his drink-of-choice to rum and ginger from 'dark and dirty' - after meeting the gentleman who Al thinks of as our 'grandfather', HENRY BOTTERELL, who was still imbibing that potion last year at 102. Al asks, 'Is this the fountain of youth?' In reply to a question from Al on Admiral Kingsmill, the RCN's first flag officer, Henry referred Al to his older sister, who had been one of Kingsmill's secretaries. Al gave thanks to Robbie Hughes' book Canada's Naval Aviators. Because of it,
'... a couple of hundred RNAS names have come to light. In other research, I've learned that out of 130 Commonwealth naval aces in that first global conflict, 43 were Canadians - one third! [A total of 936 Canadians flew with the RNAS - over 100 died.]
'It is my strong belief that our leading naval ace, Nanaimo's Raymond Collishaw, RNAS, who rose to become Air Vice Marshal during the Second World War, was the greatest military airman of the twentieth century. But this is a country that does not teach her own history or recognize her own heroes.
'My tentative title is "Collie and Company" and I seek any and all information that you guys may have about our other "grandfathers". Through letters, news clippings, and family memories, I hope to be more the editor than the writer, thus allowing their own words to speak. All help will be greatly appreciated, and all photographs and materials will be returned.'
Al has already heard from some readers, including Robbie Hughes and DON CUMMINGS, whose uncle was in the RNAS. Al gave some further preliminary findings of his research in an article that he wrote for the spring SAM newsletter. Al can be reached at:
909 MARINE DR, #103
BELLINGHAM, WA 98223 USA
TEL:  734-7259 FAX  756-1663
Al has also allowed the printing of 1,000 copies of 'Bonnie' for SAM Foundation, which could make a good profit on them. How about buying a copy for your local public or school library? You might even get a tax credit.
'JAV' STEVENSON is one of the intrepid fund-raisers for SAMF. 'We're still hard at work on the fund-raising for the museum. It's slow going at times, but not due to lack of effort.' Jav listed the many projects that they were working on, from auctions to wall tiles, and everything in between. Keep up the good work, Jav. [And readers, too!]
JOHN VERRONEAU, who edits Venture's 'Signal!' magazine, reported that 385 Venturites attended the 1999 reunion in Victoria. As mentioned earlier, the next one is planned for 2004, with Victoria the favoured site. John is a Victoria resident, and enjoys the west coast life style.
GENE WEBER, an Instructor Officer in both Shearwater and Bonnie, lives in Ottawa. He has kept up his naval connections through curling at the Navy Curling Club regularly since 1968, plus his membership in both the NOAC, and CNAG. He has a story about BILL FARRELL.
'In 1955, while serving in [HMCS] Cornwallis with the ever-smiling Bill Farrell, and being fairly poor, as so many of us were in those days, it was noticed that I had a very "tatty" wallet. The ever-observant Farrell offered to give me one of his castoffs. As most will recall, he seldom used a wallet, and the one proffered, and which I still have, was in remarkably good condition. It contained a note, "Eugene, slightly shopworn [buying too many rounds] but serviceable. You owe me 1 beer. Farrell". At our next meeting, I duly and promptly set a beer before Bill. At this point, he produced the receipt, ... "Received. One  beer. 18.2.56. R.E. Quirt." It will bring back memories of Quonset Point, for some who will recall the many spurious signatures some Canadians were wont to use on the poor bar staff at that USN Air Station.' For penance, Gene planned to send the wallet with both notes to SAMF. Included would be a contribution to their funds.
As a teacher, Gene would be interesting in hearing that the Spanish Armed Forces have recently reduced the IQ requirement for enlisting in the army to 70 from 90. The Spanish feel that this is all that is required for many jobs; moreover, there is a shortage of better-qualified applicants.
Rollie West attended the 75th Anniversary mess dinner in Shearwater.
'To keep the light blue honest, there was a good contingent of ex-dark blue naval aviators on hand; BILL MOFFAT, CHUCK COFFEN, ERIC EDGAR, DICK PEPPER, JON MAIN, JOHN CODY, LARRY McWHA, and BILL GILLESPIE. A good night was had by all, and LARRY ASHLEY'S after-dinner speech was most informative and short.'
DAVE WILLIAMS saw JAKE BIRKS when Jake visited BC. KNOBBY WESTWOOD gathered some former VU 32 mates for a nice lunch. They included STU SOWARD, BILL PARK, JOHN TRURAN, GERRY McGREEVY, HANK BANNISTER, and DEKE LOGAN. Later BILL PARK, GEORGE PLAWSKI, JOE SOSNKOWSKI, and BILL NASH 'came to Pender [Island] to play golf during Bill's [Park] annual spring cruise on his great yacht.'
Deb and I visited the YANS family while in Victoria. PIERRE was away in Halifax, arriving only the day we left, just in time to take JUDY from the hospital, where she had undergone scheduled surgery. Talk about the 'just in time' system!
Pierre is an opera buff, as well as being an accomplished choral singer himself. This spring at a concert in Ottawa we renewed acquaintances with two other singers that Pierre would know: CAROLE and NICK STOSS. Nick was an RCAF fighter pilot post-war, and served in both the CF Staff School and Staff College as a major and lieutenant-colonel. Retired from the forces, he lives in Ottawa and remains in the aviation field with the federal