NEWSLETTER OF THE CANADIAN NAVAL AVIATORS AND ASSOCIATES
Toronto Ontario Canada
We are well settled into our current digs, and have no expectations of leaving Toronto in the foreseeable future; however, we find that some readers have not noted our latest address or ‘edress’: the latter being a different way of saying ‘email address.’ It is still:
E. Cruddas and D.L. Davis
Apt 1804 - 10 Kenneth Avenue
Toronto, ON, M2N 6K6, CANADA
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org .
In the past year we have stayed a little closer to home, and have crossed no oceans. We did go west to the Canadian Naval Air Group [CNAG] reunion in Victoria, with a side visit to Alberta, where we have friends from naval and air force days, as well as relatives. In fact, we made two trips to Alberta, including one in April and May 2006, where we attended the wedding of a former Canadian Forces officer and her partner. This wedding was one of the first same-sex weddings to be performed in a church in Alberta. Other trips included a January visit to Cuba to a resort recommended by Rollie West, who went there this winter for the fifth time. The resort is part of the Spanish ‘Breezes’ chain, and is located in Varedaro, near Havana. We had never been to Cuba because of the restriction that the Canadian government had placed on visits by service personnel.
Cuba is quite different from most Caribbean islands, though it is the largest of them. It is relatively poor because of the US embargo, but it has excellent modern medical services, a very low infant mortality rate, and a literacy rate equivalent or better than many more-developed countries. On the other hand, many goods are in very short supply, including non-prescription drugs. While there, we met a couple from St Catharines, Ontario, who, under the sponsorship of a service club and a group of doctors, deliver much-needed non-prescription medicines where they are needed. The couple had brought into Cuba country a suitcase full of medications.
Many thanks to those who expressed sympathy with my arthritic hands. Special thanks to Dan Ogle and Bud Jardine for their recommendations on treatment. Dan’s comments on using WD 40 along with cod liver oil were a surprise, but they were confirmed by an article from one of the arthritis societies. I gather that the external lubricant is similar in action to a liniment. With respect to Bud Jardine’s recommendation on chinese balls, they were very easy to find in a Toronto, given the number of Chinese neighbourhoods in the city. Chinese is our third largest linguistic group. And to answer an offer of some salty dips, I’d be glad to hear more from you, Bud.
All in all, it was nice to realize how many readers were interested in my welfare. In any event, the arthritis is well under control now, so I SHOULD be able to continue for several more years, with a bit of help from my friends.
News From the Readers
Hank and Darleen Bannister celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary last fall, with Iona Ogden Larsen attending. They had also seen Ian ‘Goose’ and Jean McLennan. Hank said that Goose looked ‘... okay but doesn’t converse like the old days.’ Ian had a stroke several years back, and may not have fully recovered.
Several former friends of Peter Berry attended his memorial service, which was held in Grace Church on the Hill, one of the five ‘churches on the hill’ in the Forest Hill area of Toronto. Ted Davis, Lew Langstaff, Ray Creery and I were at the church, and Spike Hennessy was at the reception in Rosedale later. The ceremony was in the Church of England tradition, and the family had prepared a visual presentation with many photos showing Peter and his family over the years. The most striking picture, which was on display during the entire service, was one of Peter as Lieutenant Commander when an ADC in the 1950's. It was an excellent portrait of the young, handsome Peter. There was also a short write-up in the Fleet Air Arm magazine, since Peter had trained as an Observer with the RN, and later attended the RN Staff College.
James Bond, wrote to mention that he had never quite reached 007's rank until he was Captain of HMCS Sackville from 1991-94 while it was a museum. There have been several mentions in earlier newsletters about the existence of St James Bond United Church in Toronto. It is, alas, no more, having been razed for a condominium.
Al Brown wrote from Saanichton BC, where he is retired. He sympathized with my arthritis problems since he now has problems in his wrists and hands. He also mentioned that he had been a cabin-mate of Bill Farrell in HMCS Magnificent, and a life long friend of the late Dennis Foley, even trying to help him get his Canadian citizenship renewed. [As I recall, Dennis was born in the UK, lived in Canada as a British Subject, then moved to the USA where he took up US citizenship. While living in Canada, he had never had to take up Canadian citizenship, but once he left Canada, he found that he had to apply as an immigrant, even though he had spend most of his life in Canada.]
Glenn Cook wrote early this year before leaving home in Ottawa for the warmer climate of Scottsdale, Arizona, where he renewed his acquaintances with an old classmate who has retired there after a long career in medicine, including some time as a specialist for the US President. Glenn now has grandchildren in university, and may have one entering Canada’s Royal Military College in the near future. Glenn’s son-in-law, Joe Hinke, is a CF pilot, former Wing Commander of Shearwater, and now a Brigadier General in NDHQ.
Glenn’s Murphy Rebel light aircraft, which he built himself, still works well, and has about 300 hours on its airframe. It’s currently in a hangar in Smith Falls, Ontario, but Glenn had considered fitting it with floats and keeping it at his cottage on a lake near there. However, the chances of damage from a sudden storm were too high, so the aircraft will remain in Smith Falls. Contemplating his age, he mentioned that he had flown 12 of the aircraft that are now museum pieces there. That will climb when the museum eventually gets a Sea King, an aircraft that he first flew with the USN in 1962! Bob Murray and Glenn meet often at the Aviation Museum in Ottawa.
Don Crowe sent this along some time ago. I apologize to Don for the delay in publishing it.
‘I have written about managing to secure a wooden drone prop from the maintenance school on Eastern Passage, NAMS. I was on a Sikorsky pilots’ course to familiarize us with the Horse [HO4S3]. In one of the offices there was a wooden drone prop leaning in a corner, and I asked a Petty Officer there how I could go about getting one for an ornament. He said that I could have one for a bottle of rum, which I promptly purchased and delivered. I still have the prop.
‘At the time there were a lot of complete Seafires parked in the compound behind the school. And one by one they were being used for firefighting practice. These aircraft were complete in every sense of the word, engines, propellers, instruments, I think even radios. The tires were still inflated. The fire fighters would pour used oil on them and set fire to them to practise firefighting, a worthy cause, but at what a price! I later thought that, at the time, rather than secure a wooden drone prop for a bottle, for a case of rum I might have been able to land myself an intact Seafire. What I would have done with it or more to the point what I could have afforded to have done to it was moot. The fact is that one of these Seafires was “spirited” off the compound and when I last saw it was under restoration at a hangar in Sault Ste Marie under the auspices of the “Canadian Warplane Heritage Foundation.”
‘It was my understanding that it was local school children who had managed to drag one off the compound and hide it. According to Leo [Pettipas], who was a student in Bedford at the time. I’d like to thank him for the story.’
Don also recommended a book called ‘Pegasus Bridge’, about a British raid on a bridge in the Caen area just before Normandy. I do not have the publishing details, but the author was Stephen Ambrose. Don noted that one of the main characters, a glider pilot, had moved to Canada after WW2, and had a farm in the Fraser Valley.
‘I decided to see if I could find him, and found him in the phone book living ten minutes away in Ladner. I called the number, and when a gent answered I said that I had just read the book, and was looking for the pilot. The gent replied, “You’ve just found him.”’
Don was hoping to see him soon.
Twenty-first Century saluting drill. The scenario is that a major and a sergeant are walking toward each other in a public area while each takes an urgent cell phone call from his or her superior. How do they handle the salute as they pass each other? [I don’t know the correct answer.]
Bill Davey is still spending his Christmas holidays in Bermuda. During the autumn they go to ‘the other island’ Prince Edward Island, to visit relatives and friends there. They also spent a two week-winter holiday in Cuba, but felt that ten days would have been enough. Unfortunately, connexions from Nova Scotia seem to be weekly, so his options are limited. Bill still does seasonal work with income taxes in the spring.
Bill mentioned that a wrist watch that he had bought while we were both midshipmen in HMCS Quebec in 1954 had finally stopped working. That must be close to a record. The watch was one of the first that had an alarm, which occasionally went off at awkward times, including a burial at sea.
My worst experience with burials at sea was in HMCS Terra Nova when the casket was very slow to sink. The XO was LCDR [O] Jim Steele. We was busy preparing extra weights as we came alongside the still-floating casket when it slowly went down. For weeks we were apprehensive that it might float ashore somewhere in Nova Scotia.
Ted Davis writes from his home in Oakville, Ontario, from which he frequently attends the monthly FAA meetings at the Rose and Crown pub on Yonge Street just north of Eglinton. Apart from these meetings,
‘My only contact with the navy was on 8 May when I attended a ceremony in nearby Burlington marking the Battle of the Atlantic and the 60th anniversary of VE Day. Since I was to lay a wreath to commemorate the loss of the Bangor minesweeper in which I was fished while en route to the UK in 1945, I squeezed into my uniform for the occasion though it seemed to have shrunk somewhat since I left the Service!
‘... my frequent visits to Kent have now come to an end as my last trip in February was to attend the funeral of my close friends of the past twenty years....I keep busy as always as a volunteer driver for the local Red Cross.’
Others who attend the meetings are convenor John Bailey, Hugh Washington, Phil Foulds, and myself. Deb attends at times, as other wives do, but is often tied up with her volunteer work at the Wellspring, a cancer support centre. The meetings are held at noon on the FIRST WEDNESDAY of the month.
Speaking of VE Day, apparently Australia no longer uses the term VJ Day, but calls it VP Day, for Victory in the Pacific.
Davis Edwards in Nova Scotia has had to reduce his involvement in naval matters because of some health problems in his immediate family. Nevertheless, he and Dorothy are able to travel by road to places as far away as BC ‘We managed 83 nights on the road in 2004, and 56 so far [August 2005] in 2005.’ I’ll make sure that I fix the extra-copy problem this year, Davis.
John Eden still keeps up his interest in ‘Bernardo children’, since his mother was a ‘Bernardo home girl.’ About 30,000 home children came to Canada between 1886 and 1925, and their descendants now number 3 million. One was the Lieutenant Governor of BC in the 1970s. Said John,
‘I am compiling a listing of all those people who served in Canadian Naval Aviation since the inception of the RNAS in 1915. I already have 3,000 names in the computer, and at hand another 300-500 more to add. I have arranged with Christine Hines, the SAM curator, to have it put into the museum archives and to add it to the web site. It is an essential element of the history of Canadian naval aviation, and deserves a place in our museum where it will be available to researchers, former members, their families, and future generations.’
John wrote later to say,
‘We are pleased to advise that the CNAG website WWW.ncf.ca/cnag now has listing of some 3,670 names of Canadians who served in naval aviation [RCN/RN/RAN] from 1915 to 1980 that were collected over a two-year period from various published books and official documents. Some of the listings are sketchy while much of the personnel information needs to be verified by the surviving air branch members where possible. The SAM web site has a link to the CNAG site so members can quickly log on and view this data base. To make changes, addictions or deletions, members should contact Mick Stephenson ONLY at email@example.com who will be coordinating all changes, additions, and/or deletions to the listings on the CNAG web site. It is our objective to have all updates completed by the end of 2007, when the final data bank will be deposited with the SAM library and retained as an historical document and available to families and future researchers.
‘NOTE: The listings of personnel on the SAM foundation site is strictly a directory. Please do not send data-base changes to the Secretary or John Eden, who compiled the information contained in the original CNAG listing.’
Listing are only available on line; no paper copies will be available from CNAG. However if you can somehow view your listing, you can also amend it by writing to:
7 Ocean Lea Dr
Eastern Passage, NS, B2W 1P9
Gord Edwards has taken over the organizational duties for the annual Naval Air meetings in the Crowsnest of the Lisgar Mess in Ottawa each May. Both the 2005 and 2006 meetings were very successful. Gord is lending his computer skills to other worthy causes, including the Naval Officers’ Association of Canada.
Bill Farrell continues to challenge the bureaucracy over the use of the remaining property at Shearwater. In an article in the Halifax Chronicle last November he proposed that the former Canadian Naval Air Station would be an ideal place for the projected Rapid Response Force, but would lose that suitability if the 8,000 foot runway was sold to developers, as is planned. He also deplored the loss of valid sea-lift as part of ‘the shameful neglect of the armed forces’, and said that the loss of the runway in question would be a similar error, since that runway could service any airlift, ‘including the Russian giants.’ He pointed out the historical fact that the first ‘military air operations in Canada were conducted from the Shearwater site by Lt Richard Byrd, USN’, the noted polar explorer. [Thanks to Ken Brown for sending this along.]
Bob Featherstone was instrumental in finding Andy Rioux, whom I had not been able to locate due to an error on my part: I read the email address wrong. Andy’s reply to my subsequent email can be seen later in this letter, and both email and regular mail address are in the Annex. Bob is also a friend of reader Roger McEachern, a former Observer’s Mate and later a midshipman on JAOBTC 7. Roger hosted us at his cottage near Sault Ste Marie last summer when we were on route to Minnesota for a family reunion.
Deb and I were in Red Deer twice in the past eight months, and were able to see Roger and Mary Fink once last fall. They were both well then. On our spring trip we learned from a mutual friend that both remain happy and healthy, and that Mary was still involved with dancing.
Fred Follow mentioned that he and my late father-in-law, ‘Sam’ Davis, had both been part-time students in a Carleton University’s Master’s degree programme in Public Administration. I had done that same programme several years later, and had occasionally run into Dick Quirt, who was involved in Carleton’s well-regarded journalism programme, also at night school. Dick and I would occasionally would find ourselves in the very long lines that were required at that time to register for courses. If memory serves, Tom Pollard did a similar journalism programme at the University of Manitoba, and later worked on the staff of the Air Force magazine Roundel.
Fred remarked that some of his air force friends were somewhat taken aback by anti-air-force jokes that circulate on the Internet, some ‘Canadianized’ from USN sources. Occasionally they come to me by email, but I tend not to use them, since they seem divisive, and clearly would be distasteful to some readers. The same holds true for racist or mysoginist material that I receive, which thankfully has dwindled to a very small number recently.
The three most common expressions in aviation are, ‘Why is it doing that?’, “Where are we?’, and ‘Oh, s–t!’
‘Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.” [Thanks to Fred Follow for both sayings.]
The H.M.S Formidable Association sent a nice reply to my letter informing them about the VC Tattoo held in Tillsonburg Ontario as part of that Legion’s annual celebration of Canadian Victoria Cross winners. The 2005 event was dedicated to Robert Hampton Gray, and included a display on his career, arranged by the Ottawa Chapter of CNAG, Hampton Gray Chapter. Gord Moyer from Ottawa arranged and manned the display, and several members of Toronto Chapter, Tracker, were at the tattoo, including Deborah Davis, George Hotham, Fred Rol and myself.
The ceremony featured marching bands from London, Ontario and communities as far away as Toronto, including a Sea Cadet band. About midway through the ceremony the Master of Ceremonies read a biography of Hammy, and paid tribute to his heroism and sacrifice. The Ottawa CNAG Chapter should be congratulated for its contributions. Their display was an added dimension to ceremony, and was well received. With respect to the Formidable Association, their letter included a colour photo of the granite plinth and oak tree in the National Arboretum. The plinth celebrates Hammy and ‘all who served and flew from this great ship.’ The association continues to try to convince the Royal Navy to name a seventh HMS Formidable, with no success so far. Finally, the Association thanked me for sending along the poetry that Trix Geary had sent to me a year earlier, which I had forwarded to them for their 2005 reunion, possibly their final one.
Joe Gallant wrote from East Dover, NS, where he has lived for the past 25 years on,
‘... waterfront, a lot of rock and alders, but too big a lawn, too much garden, and too much “whipper snipping” needed to keep back the weeds and alders. Julie and I are busy with
the property and golf during spring, summer, and fall, then we both like to travel.
‘Julie has three daughters, one in Phoenix, Arizona, another in Toronto, and one in Halifax. As for myself, only son is married. He lived in Northern Virginia until he moved to Madison Wisconsin, his wife’s home town. I have two grandchildren: one three, one one and a half.
‘Needless to say, we travel a lot after the grass stops growing! Until recently we spent a month in Mexico every two years - recently Madison, Phoenix, Toronto, Boston. Last winter we spent a month in Corpus Christi - my son was born in the NAS Corpus Christi Hospital while I was doing my flying training in Kingsville [TX]. By the way, we both loved Corpus Christi and intend to spent a couple of months next winter down there “God willing and the creek doesn’t run dry.”
‘I haven’t seen many of the air types recently - haven’t been to Shearwater in ages - missed Rod Lyons, my old CO, on his visit to Dartmouth and Hartlen Point golf course recently. I hear that the club has named one of their lounges “Lyon’s Den” - a proper thing as Rod was responsible for the golf course. I missed Irish Robinson’s visit to the Maritimes last year ; however, a phone call found him well and busy working on his new house and his golf game.’
Joe closed by saying, ‘Arthritis is the last excuse for playing a horrible game of golf.’
Thanks Joe. I believe that next year’s CNAG will be in Halifax, so you could see several old friends then. Or you might even want to attend CNAG Ottawa’s ‘family gathering’ in September this year.
Bob Geale was very helpful to me while I was searching for some information about New Zealand FAA members. When I mentioned that I had visited Cuba recently, he said:
‘I do remember Cuba well as on one occasion we delivered an Avenger, #53682, to Maggie at Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The pilot was the famed Jeremy Wales, RN, who really impressed me when he tried to enter the circuit in the wrong direction and wondered why the other aircraft were heading toward us; Cy Gilhen was the maintainer, and we had to fly around Cuba with dire warnings of what would happen if we entered the Cuban air space. It all happened in April, 1956 ... just a few years ago.
Gerald Hill sent along a nice card showing a Sunderland Flying Boat. ‘The mainstay of coastal command throughout most of the war, the “Sunderland” remained in service with the RAF until 1959.’ Curiously, my midshipmen’s class flew in another flying boat, the USN’s Martin Marlin, out of Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, in 1954 or 55. For most of us, it was our first flight.
Robbie and Diana Hughes wrote in their Christmas card that they had had to stay in Canada for several weeks until Robbie was cleared to travel after a ‘teeny’ stroke involving his right arm. However, they eventually drove south to spend the holiday with family members stationed in Panama City Florida. Earlier in the year they had taken the scenic train from Calgary to Vancouver.
‘The train is a copy of the Orient Express, so the service and food was outstanding. From Vancouver we flew over to Victoria and spent ten days with Robbie’s brother, Bill, and Miriam. ... This year had a memorable event that we will never forget! For the first time ever [the Province of Ontario] had named an island [crown property] after a family -- us! It is called “HUGHES ISLAND - 911" in honour of our seven summers of volunteering.... ... A huge armada of boats were on hand, and there was a reception afterward. ... One of our friends presented us with a beautiful painting of the island, superbly mounted and framed.’
Congratulations, Robbie and Diana. That’s certainly something to be proud of.
Alma [Doupe] Jenson wrote from Hubbards NS, some time after the death of her husband, Yogi Jenson, She said, ‘Shearwater seems another lifetime! Maureen and Ed L’Heureux remain close friends. Peter Berry was has been in touch by mail and phone. He has fond memories of time there, as I’m sure we all share.’
Guy LaRamee travelled from Cape Breton Island to Vancouver Island last October to attend the CNAG Reunion in Victoria. Guy is one of a small number of naval airmen who has served in all three Canadian services; first the Canadian Army, then the RCAF, and finally the RCN. He was in the pre-war army, joined the RCAF for the duration of hostilities, and switched to the RCN after WW2 when the naval aviation branch was formed. While in Victoria last year, Guy lent me the book he had put together showing highlights of his career. While in the RCAF he served mostly on the west coast, and was able to qualify as a sergeant pilot; however, the RCN had no provision for sergeant pilots, so he joined as a technician, rising to chief petty officer’s rank before taking his commission. While commissioned, one of his most enjoyable jobs was working with the reserve squadrons as their technical advisor. Another happy occasion occurred when, not long before he retired as a lieutenant-commander, he was finally permitted to wear pilot’s wings.
On his return trip from Victoria to Nova Scotia, he was surprised to find that the airline had advanced his departure time by one hour without letting him know, and he came close to missing his flight. Last I heard he was ‘discussing’ the matter with the airline.
John [J J] Lehmann has decided that 50 plus years is enough in government service, and he will be retiring later this summer. The Canadian Forces College, where he has been working as a civil servant since1985, [and before that in the CF] will be holding a farewell for him on 14 July. . Anyone wishing to contribute a vignette or story may do so by calling LCdr Daigneault at the college, 416.482.6800, ext 6851.
John ‘Deke’ Logan has moved to a retirement home in Victoria, not far from where he was before. It is called ‘Berwick Home’, and the address is in the annex. Deke attended the funeral for Jim Burns where there was a large crowd including Dick and Margie Bartlett, Stretch Arnold, Shel and Barb Rowell, Stu and Sheila Soward, Irv and Hazel Bowman, Al Westwood [Knobby’s widow], Jean Howe, Benny Oxholm, Pat Muncaster, Peggy Buchanan, Jerry and Jackie Watson, and Phil Booth. Deke attended the CNAG Reunion in Victoria in October, and chatted there with Rod Lyons and Dave Oliphant.
As mentioned earlier, Lew Langstaff attended Peter Berry’s memorial service early in 2006. He lives in Toronto, and wrote,
‘I spent three years in Shearwater and three in “Maggie”; I paid Maggie off in Plymouth along with Bill Farrell. My first introduction to naval aviation was in Niobe in 1944. There were a group of Canadians at Daedalus at Newcastle-Under-Lime undergoing training as air mechanics who had been separated from their pay, so I was detailed to go there and square things off.’
Lew and his wife had enjoyed travelling for the last 35 years, especially a pair of trips to New Zealand, and most especially the fjords of South Island; but, since Iva’s death in 2005, Lew is now ‘in the stages of calling it quits; one knows when the time comes and common sense dictates.’ He is also a good friend of Robt John [Jimmy] Watson, and tries to see him whenever he’s in Ottawa, where Jim is in a nursing home. This spring he attended a celebration of Jim and Mary’s sixtieth wedding anniversary. It was held at the Lisgar Officers’ Mess. Jim is in an Ottawa area nursing home now, but is sound of mind if not of body.
Gordon Longmuir is the editor of the Venture Association’s excellent paper ‘The Signal’. The association also has a good web site at – www.hmcsventure.com – and Gordon is also the Registrar of the association. Venturites and other friends can contact Gordon with changes of address, passings, etc, at the address below, or through their Class Reps:
D Gordon Longmuir
Editor, The Signal
903 -- 168 Chadwick Crt
North Vancouver, BC, V7M 3L4
Tel. 604.980.1718; fax 604.988.1765
Email -- ‘firstname.lastname@example.org”
We exchange newsletters, and I occasionally use material from The Signal.
On our way to Victoria last autumn, Deb and I visited Phyllis Lowe in her home in West Vancouver. We admired her garden, and her collection of clown souvenirs, and she spoke at length of her early days in Shearwater, her wartime experiences working in the munitions industry in Toronto, and the time she pinned on Darky’s wings at his wings parade. Phyl also talked about the big changes in Vancouver in conjunction with the 2010 Winter Olympics, including the new Maritime Museum that will hold the RCMP vessel St Roch. Many of us will remember that historic vessel’s transit of the Northwest Passage, and later recall seeing her alongside on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour.
Admiral Debbie Piers had only recently passed away then, and Phyll remembered him well since Darky had been his XO in HMCS Algonquin. She lives in one of the first-established retirement homes in BC, which, alas, is about to be torn down. Fortunately, she has been offered a place in a newer development that is only steps away from her present home; unfortunately, the new home has been delayed, so her move was in limbo last we spoke. Good luck with the move, Phyl.
On the subject of nicknames, Phyl mentioned that Darky’s name was what could be called a ‘reverse’ nickname. He was called Darky because his hair was so fair. George “Curly’ Dainard had been bald since he was in his teens. ‘Pappy’ Weir was so-called because he had a large family. Were ‘Pops’ Fotheringham or ‘Pappy’ McLeod similar? If any of you have nicknames of unusual origin, please let us know how they came to be.
Bob McNish and I celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of our receiving our Observers’ wings on 13 January 1956. Only the two of us remain in Canada, and many of you would not remember Bob as being an Observer, since he requalified as a Pilot in about 1958. Our celebration was modest, a cross country email. One other RN member of the course, Bill Kavanagh, lives in the USA; and three others who were RNVR[A], Hugh Laughland, Dave Laker, and Tony Shepherd are in the UK, though we were unable to locate either Laker or Shepherd. Singly, we lifted a glass to Colin McClure, RN, our classmate who lost his life in a Sea Venom accident in the fifties.
Bob is one of the organizers of the West Coast Naval Aviators’ Mess Dinner, which now is held in the Wardroom of CFB Esquimalt in December every year. Details are available from George Plawski at:
401 -- 2025 West 2nd Avenue
Vancouver, BC, V6J 1J6
George noted that more than seventy people had been attending the mess dinners. The 2005 dinner celebrated two new books, Stu Soward’s biography of Dickie Bartlett, and Allan Snowie’s history of Canadian Naval Airmen in WW1. George also mentioned a trip that he and his wife, Rita, made to Tuscany, along with Bill and Susan Nash,
‘after which we joined Brian Moorhouse for an unforgettable fortnight in Brian’s yacht along the Croatian coast. Then in July, Hal Hallaran and Kit and the two of us were invited to spend some time in a cottage belonging to Malcolm McCulloch’s lovely lady friend Lisa Hunt, north of Ottawa. In September  Barry and Betty Montgomery will spend a week with us in Paris where I will act as guide -- [my mother-in-law lives there, so it’s been my second home for nearly 40 years] after which we will all decamp for a week in Malta.’
Later they spend a week in Wales with some of the same friends.
Carl Mills is still working hard on his new book about Canadian Aviators in the Korean War. He has sent some of his preliminary work to SAMF, so you may see it soon in an upcoming issue. The RCN members included Joe McBrien and Pat Ryan, and another Canadian, Irv Bowman, who flew with the FAA. Joe was an exchange officer with the USN, flying from the USS Oriskany, so he has kept in touch with many friends from this famous war ship. Recently she was sunk in the Gulf of Mexico as ‘the world’s largest artificial reef.’ The day before she was sunk, with hundreds of small craft watching, a former USN pilot did a low pass and simulated deck landing, and saluted as he flew down the side of the ship. [Thanks to Fred Follows for this last info.]
Dick Morgan PhD, a former RCN meteorologist wrote the guest editorial in the Crowsnest Autumn 2005 edition. His article was entitled, ‘Climate Support Services for Canadian Naval Operations, and it discussed climate change. He contends that ‘guidance on climate change ... tends to predict a change’ but ‘climate change is too complex to predict with any degree of certainty.’ His experience of 50 years in global marine meteorology indicated that there is no evidence ‘arctic climate, as a whole, is currently changing beyond the range of variation experienced in the first half of the last century.’ His conclusion is that, until more reliable data is available, ‘the wise approach to all planning with regard to climate variability is to maintain an efficient flexible response to extreme conditions which often tend to be local and the intensity unexpectedly severe.’
Don Neilly is doing research for SAM about Flight Lieutenant David Hornell, VC. Don and Hornell share the same hometown and a high school, both in the Toronto area.
Jim Robinson is a new reader, but not new to naval aviation. He was in Venture Class 1962, and is the brother of Charles ‘Irish’ Robinson, who would be known to many readers. Jim served in VS 880 from 1964 to 1968 before moving to 429 Buffalo squadron in Namao in 1968. He writes,
‘We have just moved up from Victoria to Comox where I see these same Buffalos still flying around doing yeoman duty in the Search and Rescue field. ... Since our move we have entertained such aviator notables as Ted Gibbon, Larry Lott, and Jack Ford, who all live here, and from Victoria Charlie and Bev Reagan, Russ and Sally Rhode, from Whistler and Vancouver Wayne and Inge Dannhauer, and Leland and Lee Weber... I find it difficult to attend many functions because of ... hearing loss about three years ago; however, I did get a cochlear implant last November  and it has helped immensely. My wife Mae and I are enjoying Comox - golfing and wine making, and look forward to any visitors to the Comox Valley.’
Thanks for the update, Jim.
Andy Rioux answered my email to him, thanks to Bob Featherstone who had provided the address. See Andy’s addresses in the annex. He wrote in part,
‘Captain Nemo [in his address -Ed] by the way is the name of an Internet café I use. I cannot get a land line to the house for my computer. About the museum [SAM], since I left Canada in 1984, I pretty well divorce myself from everything, sold house, cars, gave everything else away to friends, children, even sent my entire kit to an RN Sea King pilot I had befriended at HMS Culdrose. I never knew about the museum until 2003 when my good friend, husband of my ex’s sister-in-law visited me for two weeks, brought me a “CARE” package of things not available here, including Newsletters of Summer and Fall 2002....My son followed this up by taking a summer reminiscing trip to Nova Scotia, pictures of some of old houses like 4 Martlet Place, 10 years overlooking McNab’s Island and Halifax Harbour, Swordfish Drive next to Ray Doucette when Reaume, Hawthorne, etc were on Snob Hill. He, my son, also visited the museum, with many pictures and super comments while he was visiting the following winter. Peggy’s Cove was naturally included; he was travelling with his sweetheart who had never been to Nova Scotia. I don’t know if I could stand going back to my “alma mater”, but I am curious just the same to see it, and would love to spend much time in the museum. I guess that it’s all that’s left of a great part of our lives. And what a life it was!
‘... Following the theft of my life savings, and a Canadian divorce in 1994, [I am] no more the “sea dog”, sold my Niagara 35, built a sweet house, accepted responsibility for a new family, and incredible new wife, [the first was also a jewel], and two now beautiful adolescents.
‘... Living as always, loving and enjoying life to the fullest ... fiestas galore. Planning to be at the next CNAG, finances permitting, would adore Maria to visit my country. How would I look wearing SHORTS. Sure could not expect FEATHERS to lend me a suit....’
Andy also sent along a picture of a Sea Fury flying alongside a USN F-18 at an air show at Point Magu, California, captioned in Spanish. We hope to see you, Andy, either in Ottawa in 2006 [‘A family gathering ’] or in Halifax in 2007.
Russ Spiller from New Zealand is interested in knowing of any other Kiwis who served with the Canadian Navy, especially any flyers. There are none that I have been able to find, and Bob Geale, who has an excellent data bank of Australians who served with the RCN, has not found any New Zealanders who have done so. If any reader remembers another Kiwi flying in the RCN, please let me know. Russ and Corinne are both healthy, and enjoying life in beautiful Napier, on Hawks Bay. Russ recently had a tile placed on the Wall of Fame in Shearwater. By chance, he shares a tile with the brother of an old friend that he met in Canada: Sheila Davis. Her brother was killed while flying a Mustang in 1954. Russ also mentioned an FAA pilot who trained in Pensacola with him, Leonard Edward Lewis, and had noted that Lewis had died in London, Ontario recently. Lewis had continued his flying career until age 82. [A Royal Australian Navy pilot, Tangi Lea, was still flying with the RAN at age 58, according to FAA member Kevin King]. Russ had flown gliders in the Napier area, where there are lots of good hills and thermals. The Napier area also has an almost-permanent ‘long white cloud’, a symbol of New Zealand in the Maori language. Russ took us to a very high spot where the hang gliders were launched. He also noted that one of his very first flights from Shearwater had been a training flight off Halifax on a very black night, when the various land marks and lights in the area were all new to him. He also remembered the temporary living quarters in which he and his wife lived when at Shearwater. They shared a floor with two single Wren Officers whose names have been mentioned already: Sheila Davis and Alma Doupe.
A student of Russ’s was Geoff [Steve] Stephenson, who was a member of the RN when he spent a year in Canada on Observers’ Course 3, along with fellow Brit Colin Boxall; and there he met Jeff Cowie, Jack Walters, Gerry Maloney, and Fred Sherwood. He also remembers flying with Russ, and was ‘glad to know that he is still around.’ Geoff contacted me through connexions with the FAA [I think], and has now been able to renew acquaintanceships with his former classmates. He is now a new reader of this newsletter, whom we hope to get to visit some time in his home in Gloucestershire. The FAA Blue Book, which contains information on all their members, listed Geoff as an army officer, with the designation ‘T.A.’. Geoff noted,
‘The strange title afforded me in the Blue Book is, I suspect, the result of an eagle-eyed compiler who noted my service in the Territorial Army some years after I left the R.N. The T.A. [a volunteer Reserve Commitment, but infinitely superior than (some others - ed)] was reconstituted in 1971 after having been axed in 1967 and I joined almost by mistake spending 22 years as a “Pongo” - but still sleeping in a cabin, going ashore, often doing naval drill in moments of parade stress, flying a White Ensign from my command vehicle when I led a squadron, and being the only bearded officer in the army. I was awarded the Territorial Decoration and Bar [T.D.*], which sounds a lot grander than it is - Long Service and Undetected Crime, and I retired as a major [a very elderly one!] although I do not use the rank.’
Since Geoff wrote, he had had visits from both John Hewer and Fred Sherwood. You can find Geoff’s addresses in the Annex.
JAV Stevenson wrote last summer that they had had a busy summer,
‘but had managed to visit a couple of not-so-young-anymore confreres. As you know, Jack and Peggy Ouelette live in Arichat [Cape Breton] where Jack spends a lot of time on the potter’s wheel. He’s had to have a few recent adjustments to his body to allow for the unusual positions a potter takes to execute his craft, but seems to be back at the grind once again. We spent two days of laughter and good times with them. At the same time, Jim and Lorraine Cantlie rent a nice cabin for the summer [for several years now] which is located right across the inlet from Jack and Peggie. So they added to the good times.’
David Wall is an acquaintance from helicopter days. He now lives in Chester in retirement and occasionally sees Mike McCall and Terry Tucker. He will be reading this newsletter from the SAMF website. His address is in the Annex.
Bob Willson, the former Commo of Bonaventure, wrote a featured letter to the editor of the Toronto Star last winter on our troops in Afghanistan. He argued that our troops had a viable role in protecting provincial construction teams and other NGOs, and bringing stability to the area; and they had already proved to be a success in their work in the Kabul area. Bob edits the NOAC Toronto’s ‘Bumph’ newsletter, and is the former captain of HMCS Haida when it was at Ontario Place as an attraction.
Rollie West is active with SAM Foundation in Halifax, and is looking forward to the CNAG Reunion in 2007 there in Halifax, where one theme will probably be the fiftieth anniversary of Shearwater winning the national intermediate football championship.
Cards, emails, notes, telephone calls and brief letters were received from faithful readers including John Cody, Mrs H V Clark, Jack Moss, Sheila Davis, Alma Doupe, and others.
Maritime Aviation, Shearwater & Other Naval or Aviation News
The future of Shearwater. Arguments forwarded by Bill Farrell, in which he argued that Shearwater would be and ideal home for the proposed Rapid Response Force government, were not accepted by either our present or former government. Much of the current site will go for a housing development that will reduce the number of available runways for fixed wing operations. There will be no runway left that can handle heavy jets. In a question and answer session in NS early in February, 2006, the new Minister of National Defence, Gordon O’Connor, said, ‘It is certainly not in my plan.’ [From an article entitled ‘No go for Shearwater’ by Chris Lambie in the Halifax Mail Star of 5 February 2006.]
Another article by Lambie, dated 23 March 2006, said ‘years of underfunding “bordering on neglect” have left 12 Wing Shearwater in “an advanced state of deterioration”, according to the region’s top sailor.’ Lambie quotes Rear Admiral Dan McNeil as being ‘determined to focus on Shearwater as a high priority among priorities’, and to carry out ‘various infrastructure improvement along the Shearwater flight line.’
An article by John Ward of the Canadian Press on 11 Feb 2006 said that five Sea Kings were being stripped of any ASW capabilities, and would be used as troop carriers as part of a new quick-reaction force. The aircraft would be used to ferry troops from ships to shore.
Flight Training in Canada. [Taken from ‘Top Guns’, by Dale Anne Freed, in the Toronto Star, 5 March 2006]. ‘A small aerospace consulting firm from Quebec became the first civilian company hired to provide airborne combat training support to the entire armed forces. It may put Canada in the vanguard of a global trend to out-source defence services’. The company, called Top Aces, provides ‘battle coaches’ from its offices in Point Claire, Quebec. Under a contract called ‘Contacted Airborne Training Services’, the coaches fly a fast and manoeuvrable Alpha Jet and act as ‘the enemy’ in training missions, including the 2006 Maple Flag in Cold Lake Alberta. In addition, they replace the CF-18 for training in ground support roles with the army, and provide similar training services to the navy. The owners of the firm are all former CF pilots and graduates of the Royal Military College. The contract is costed at $94 million over three years, with a two-year option.
Other out-sourced training is done by Allied Wings, which
‘provides primary helicopter and multi-engine training out of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba’, and Bombardier, which provides ‘basic and advanced jet pilot training to NATO Flying Training in Canada [NFTC], which attracts allied countries from around the world, and is done in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
‘...Canada’s navy also contracts out 10 per cent of its courses.
‘The army is considering using contractors in two areas: basic military vehicle training, and to simulate the roles of civilian populations.’
2010: The Centennial of the Navy, [and the sixtieth anniversary of naval aviation.] Excerpts are from Starshell Spring 2006. The underlying theme is ‘Bring the Navy to Canadians’. The
Centennial slogan is, ‘Commemoration, Celebration, and Commitment.’ All service organizations have been asked for their input. Among the initiatives are commemorative coins and stamps, though neither the Mint nor Canada Post has made any firm commitment at this early date. There will be naval assemblies on each coast sometime during the year, that on the west coast being in June 2010. ‘MARLANT is planning a Task Group visit to the Great Lakes to be in Toronto during the late August Canadian National Exhibition.’ Cities where there are Naval Reserve Units are considering ‘freedom of the city’ open houses, Canada Trail runs, and other events in conjunction with their municipalities. The Reserves will be foremost in promotions and events within their own communities.
It is hoped that their will be a travelling road show, and perhaps a gun run and a marching contingent. The major sports leagues [NHL, MLB, CFL] and associations such as the Calgary Stampede, Royal Canadian Golf Association, and Canadian Curling Association have all been contacted. First Nations are also involved. A set of paintings and a coffee-table book may be commissioned.
For more details, see the websites at:
--www.navy.forces.gc.ca -- AND – www.marinecanadienne100.forces.gc.ca –
CNAG Reunion 2005 - Victoria. The reunion went well, with more than 200 CNAGERs attending, over a weekend of fine weather. The CNAGER of the year was Yon Quintin for his work with SAM. Padre Bill Cowie, a former Bonnie Chaplain was the officiating clergyman on Sunday. The reunion committee made a profit on the reunion, and disbursed some of it to SAMF and some to yours truly. It was a pleasant surprise, for which I thank them again.
CNAG Reunion 2006 - Ottawa. The reunion will be held in the Travelodge Convention Centre on Carling Avenue in Ottawa. [There are two other Travelodges in Ottawa, so don’t get them confused. The others aren’t convention centres.] It will be early this year, 15 - 17 SEPTEMBER, and is being called ‘a family gathering’. You are encouraged to bring family members to the event. The special CNAG rate is $115 per day, single or double. That’s a little higher than some other reunions, but includes parking and the use of the nice wave pool in the hotel. Call the hotel direct for reservations, quoting Canadian Naval Air Group. Their toll free number is 888.515.6375. Details of the events can be had from:
c/o Gord Moyer
9 Centrepark Drive
Gloucester ON, K1B 3C2
Website -- http://cnag.ncf.ca/REUNION-2006.html –.
Bob Mofford and Dave Tate are co-chairs of the reunion committee.
CNAG Reunion 2007 - Halifax. This reunion will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Shearwater Flyers’ winning the Canadian Intermediate football championship in 1957, and is expected to be held over the Thanksgiving long weekend. Other details will be available early that year.
At present, there are no firm dates or places for further CNAG reunions, but probable sites are EITHER Edmonton or BC mainland in 2008, and a return to Halifax in 2009 or 2010, depending on other celebrations in conjunction with the centennial celebrations of the RCN. Annual reunions are doubtful after 2010.
Submarines. Of the current group of submarines, only HMCS Windsor is operational. HMCS Chicoutimi has a severe rust problem, which, combined with her fire, means she will need over $100 million dollars of work before she can be deemed operational. HMCS Corner Brook should be starting sea trials sometime this summer. The drain on the Defence Department budget is seen as a deterrent to maintaining a viable under-sea force, and those of us in naval air remember what happened when naval aviation was seen as being too costly. One estimate says that the submarines will need $1.5 BILLION for maintenance over the next decade.
The former submarine HMCS Onandaga will be used as part of the display at the Musee de la Mer Pointe-au-Pere, near Rimouski, Quebec. The museum bought the former RCN/CF submarine for four dollars, but will spend another $2.6 million on bringing the sub to Quebec and constructing facilities for her. The War Museum in Ottawa had hoped to acquire the submarine, but found that cutting her into sections for transportation to Ottawa would have been too costly.
News From The Shearwater Aviation Museum [SAM]
And Its Foundation [SAMF].
[From your editor, just a reminder that the museum and the foundation are two separate entities. The museum belongs to DND, and is run by the curator. The museum refurbishes, repairs, designs and displays artifacts, whereas the Foundation raises funds, and acquires artifacts for the Museum. Your membership fees or donations should be sent to the Foundation, which will use them on behalf of the Museum. In essence, any money that you give to the Foundation will eventually end up in direct support of the Museum. To make a donation to the Foundation rather than the Museum, annotate the contribution to ‘membership’ or to the Foundation. The two organizations work hand in glove.]
[From an article entitled ‘Museum’s war display grows’ by Nasreen Gulamhusein in the Halifax Chronicle Herald of 1 October 2005.] ‘Shearwater Aviation Museum’s hero collection got a bit larger ... as 12 Wing Commander Alan Blair accepted memorabilia from the family of Victoria Cross recipient Robert Hampton Gray.’ The memorabilia consisted mostly of papers and family photographs that had been found in a relative’s home in the UK. ‘[Curator Christine] Hines said the mandate of the aviation museum is to take in anything related to Shearwater but that “Hampton Gray is a bit of a special case. He is a Canadian naval aviator and that makes him of interest to us.”
Toronto Aerospace Museum [TAM]. From George West, TAM Volunteer. The museum is open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. It is situated at 65 Carl Hall Road in Toronto, in Parc-Downsview-Park [PDP] , the former site of RCAF Station Downsview and CFB Toronto. The main museum building was formerly DeHavilland Plant 1, dating back to 1941, with other portions dating back to 1929 and 1935. One section was home to the Tiger Moths built for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in the 1940s. PDP is now a federal organization reporting directly to Parliament; the Museum has a firm lease on the building where it is housed.
Among the collection is Tracker #1600, which was built at the site. There is also a full-scale replica of the Avro Arrow, and the Avrocar [flying saucer] is now on display on loan from the Smithsonian in Washington. Visiting displays included a replica of the Vickers Vimy, pictures of which can be seen on the museum’s website, http://www.torontoaerospacemuseum.com. News and a picture gallery are also available on the website. The rollout of the Avro Arrow replica is scheduled for the Thanksgiving weekend. [CNAG Tracker meets in the museum, and almost every member remarks on how impressive the replica is.]
Information is also available by phone or fax at 416.638.6068 and 416.638.5509 respectively, or by mail at 65 Carl Hill Rd, Toronto ON M3K 2E1. Among the past or current volunteers at TAM are John and Mary Bailey, George Hotham, Fred Rol, and George West.
HMCS/CFB Cornwallis Reunion. Now that Cornwallis Park is promoting itself as a Conference Centre site, some people have contacted the Conference Centre asking about a reunion of those who served there when it was open. It is estimated that 500,000 served there between 1943 and 1994. There will be a reunion this year 25-27 August. Information can be obtained as follows:
Cornwallis Reunion Association
PO Box 33
Cornwallis NS B0S 1H0
Tel. 902.638.3434, fax 902.638.3101
E-mail -- email@example.com--
Website - www.cornwallisreunion.ca –.
Sea King Replacement. The programme seems to be on track. John Cody is still involved, and hopes to get some rest once it’s all over. Shearwater is expecting delivery of 28 new Cyclones to replace the 40-year-old Sea Kings.
415 MP Squadron. ‘ Swordfish’ Squadron had several former RCN pilots on strength after unification. Last summer the squadron was officially retired 64 years after its first mission. In its latest commission it flew Aurora aircraft. For 20 years RCAF Station Summerside was home for the squadron, but it moved to Greenwood in 1981.
Service Canada. The Federal Government has a new ‘service charter’ to ensure that Canadians get the best possible service from their government, including access to services and benefits, choice of how we access these services, and respectful and individual services. It is essentially a ‘one -stop’ or referral service. To access any information you need, you can call their toll free number,
800.O-CANADA [800.622.6232] or 800.926.9105 for those who need TTY service; for Internet users, click on ‘servicecanada.gc.ca’. You can also visit a service centre near you, and can find one through their telephone number or Internet site. Their brochure is called ‘Service Charter, Our Commitment to Canadians’, and is available in Braille, audio cassette, and on computer diskette. According to the brochure, ‘Requested documents are automatically produced in the format selected and mailed directly to the caller.’
Nova Scotia International Air Show. Information on the airshow can be found at their website,
Commissioning Ceremony for the Welland Room. The commissioning of the Welland Room in Esquimalt will be held in conjunction with the Venture Annual General Meeting to be held at 1000, 30 September 2006. For details see the Venture website, www.hmcsventure.com.
Goose Bay. When the German Air Force left Goose Bay after years of using it as a training base, they left a large sum of money with the local high school for scholarships.
CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES TO - Diana and Robbie Hughes, for their own island, to JJ Lehmann and Isabelle Keeley on their recent marriage, and to JJ on his upcoming retirement.
News of special interest to FLEET AIR ARM readers in Canada
[From the FAA Officers’ Association ‘News Sheet’ edited by John Shears, September 2005 and January and May 2006 editions. NB. The list of events etc., is NOT complete, and the listing of deaths does not contain all FAA personnel who died during the period..]
The Canadian FAA monthly gatherings are held in Toronto at the Rose and Crown pub on Yonge Street, just north of the Eglinton subway station, at noon on the first Wednesday each month, NOT at the time shown in News Sheet. For further info, contact John Bailey, at 416.755.7628.
Tony Cramp has moved to Houston, Texas, and now has a Canadian connection. He works for the Shell Aircraft on a three-year assignment. He is responsible for Shell Aircraft’s US, Canadian, and South American operations.
Vice Admiral Adrian Jones, has been promoted to his new rank and appointed as ‘Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Aviation. He is to continue as the Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm.’
Guy Jones moved from Coquitlam to Vancouver BC in June 2005.
Colin Howgill wrote that ‘I now own a Florida Real Estate agency, WEICHERT REALTORS - SouthShore. If any [FAA] members are interested in buying property in Florida please let them know that I would be happy to look after their best interests.’
The last Sea Harriers have recently left the FAA.
A book about RNAS Stretton, HMS Blackcap is now on sale. It has 210 pages and over 200 black and white photographs. It costs 13.5 pounds in the UK, and can be ordered from:
Birchmoss, New Road
Antrobus CW9 6NY UK
Tel. 01565 777248
Don Cooper of Stratford Ontario sometimes talks about the joys and problems of piloting a Barracuda. Derek Williams writes from Observer’s perspective.
‘It wasn’t all bad sitting in the bottom of a Barracuda. I found that knees up gave a good base for a chart board plus the fact that there was plenty of spare space to accommodate a Wren. An end-of-war fly-over from Crail with two Wrens aboard was however a bit of a crowd.’
829 Naval Air Squadron has recommissioned with the responsibilities of ‘parenting six Merlin Maritime Patrol Helicopters and their integration into the Type 23 Frigates’. Earlier 829 squadrons served in WW2 in ‘East Africa, the Mediterranean, and in the attack on Tirpitz in Norway in 1944, as the heralds of small-ship embarked aviation, and later in the 1991 Gulf war.’
A 1772 Squadron get-together had several overseas guests including Agnes Stephens, the widow of their former Senior Pilot, Red Stevens. She travelled from Canada for the reunion.
The front cover of the January 2006 News Sheet showed ‘Hammy Gray VC, DSC, leading his flight of Corsairs on a strike of the Sakashima Islands.’ [The artist, Hank Adlam, notes that the carrier was not in sight of the islands when the aircraft were launched, but he exercised ‘artist’s license.’]
The following is an excerpt from ‘The First Fight - A Short Historical Tale’ by Commander Malcolm Pollock, RN, Commander Naval Aviation at the Maritime Warfare Centre.
‘... Taranto was by no means the first successful battle for the FAA in World War 2 ... No, that honour probably falls to the Skuas of 800 and 803 Squadrons. These squadrons flew a brilliant - but almost forgotten - feat of arms during the Norwegian campaign of 1940, ... the first naval operation to be decisively affected by air power. From its opening day, the Norwegian Campaign began to demolish old theories. Coastal Command had discovered several German warships at anchor in Bergen. Admiral Layton was ordered to take a task ‘force into Bergen to deal with them. This mission was called off, but not before before Layton’s force had approached closely enough to provoke a strong reaction from the Luftwaffe [in which the destroyer HMS GURKHA] was quickly overwhelemed and became the first significant warship to be sunk by aircraft during World War 2.
‘The following morning the FAA went into action. The COs of 800 and 803 [later a fighter squadron in the RCN - Ed] Squadrons decided that they could reach Bergen in their Skuas from Hatston. A round trip of some 600 miles, it would only be feasible for the Skuas. Precise navigation and absolute surprise were required, because the Skuas had no margin for error or evasive flying. This was, however, the very kind of mission for which the FAA was trained, and a force of 15 Skuas, operating at extreme range and in difficult weather conditions made a precise landfall withing 30 seconds of their ETA. Diving at 60 degrees from 12,000 feet over Bergen harbour the Skuas caught the Germans by surprise and began their attack runs on the light cruiser Konigsberg moored alongside.
‘[They] delivered some of the most accurate bombing of the war, all 15 of the 5000 lb bombs were either hits or near hits. The cruiser caught fire, rolled over, and sank. It was a model attack in every way, and indeed the “spectacular success for naval aviation” that a subsequent Admiralty communique described it as. The BBC thought otherwise. “The RAF” they said that evening, “have done it again!”
‘Either way, air power had claimed its greatest success so far, and one that was noted by the world’s air forces and navies.
‘Casualties were high, and by mid 1940 few of the original aircrew were still alive.’
Among the survivors were a Royal Marine Officer, Lieutenant ‘Skeets’ Harris who was one of the youngest officers in 803 Squadron. He flew the entire mission in his number one uniform. Later he was shot down while flying from HMS Ark Royal. He recalled,
‘The Skua, sedate to the end, waddled to the seabed. Luckily, the Royal Navy had a ringside seat and, after a remarkably short but very cold bath, picked up my Observer and myself. That was that for six months.’
Harris was awarded the DSC for the Norwegian action, and later flew Fulmars ashore from the carrier Furious for an epic flight across Africa to join forces based at Alexandria. His most lasting legacy was that as the father of Fleet Air Arm Night Fighting when Commander of 746 Squadron, the Naval Night Fighter Interception Unit.
Comments on the End of WW2 in the British Pacific Fleet, Task Force 37. Russell Abraham wrote:
‘I was serving in 849 NAS flying Avenger aircraft from Victorious as part of the BPF and on cessation of hostilities headed south from off Japan to Sydney. When off the Great Barrier ‘Reef all serviceable aircraft were flown off to RAAF Maryborough [just north of Brisbane] where after a great all-night party - courtesy of the RAAF - all aircrew were flown the next day by three RAAF Dakotas to Sydney in time to see the Fleet arriving in the harbour. Some weeks later, on the way home we learnt to our dismay that all the aircraft left in Maryborough were taken by the USN under the Lend/Lease Act and ditched at sea off the Barrier Reef. Those aircraft had served us well throughout the campaign so you can imagine our feelings.
‘As the Pacific war ended, three signals were sent and I recorded them in my log book.
‘ “From Vice Admiral Rawlings, TF 37. While the armistice may be still a few days away, today, August 12th, sees the end of the British Task Force as we have known it. I have no hesitation in saying that it has written a memorable page in the history of the British navy. The time is coming when many of you will be returning to shore life, but to those that leave and those that remain in the service I would say two things: First, that you carry with you in life a feeling of pride in what you have done out here, and the second that you will realise I am profoundly grateful to you all”
‘ “From Admiral Halsey, 3rd US Fleet. On occasion of our parting company with some units of Task Force 37, I want all your outfit to know that during the past months the fine co-operative attitude and fighting spirit of the British Forces have made as many friends and admirers as there are officers and men in the American section of the team.”
‘ “From Commander US Naval Air Force, 3rd US Fleet. It is fitting that our great allies in many a previous hard fought battle should have helped us in this last campaign. Good fortune to those who are departed, and my humble respect to all of your gallant airmen.”
‘Finally, on the way south from Japan, Admiral Vian [of Cossack fame] who was the FOAC at that time transferred by breeches buoy to each of the Fleet Carriers to personally address and thank aircrew for what they had achieved. In a somewhat boisterous Wardroom, I was in a group talking to him when a more than happy New Zealand pilot in my squadron joined us, and after closely inspecting the admiral’s shoulder rank badge said, “Excuse me sir but if you were one of us ‘A’ boys, where the --- hell would you put your ‘A’?”’
Victoria Cross recipients [from New Sheets Vol 33 Nos 1 & 2]. There are two or possibly three recipients of the Victoria Cross who were awarded that decoration more than once. Captain Charles Upham was a New Zealander. Captain Noel Crevasse and a third officer, [no name given] were medical officers. An RN officer, Commander Gordon Campbell, refused his second VC, which had been voted on by his ship’s company for an action in WW1. [Such votes were allowed under the regulations for making the award.] Campbell asked an officer from another ship to duplicate the vote without his [Campbell’s] name in it. Subsequently he was promoted to Captain and awarded a bar to his DSO. [‘Upham’s remarkable story is told in the book Mark of the Lion by Kenneth Sanford.] Campbell is believed to be the only person to decline a second VC.
Display Flying. According to Tank Sherman, the FAA was first to
‘recognize that red would be a dramatic colour for a formation acrobatic team, and appeared with a red painted team, almost certainly Sea Hawks. It was the navy who first used coloured smoke - again Sea Hawks.... The navy also invented the first entirely new manoeuvre in formation aerobatics when four Scimitars in “box” formation produced an astonished gasp when all four suddenly did 360 degree fast aileron rolls in what I believe was called a “Twinkle Roll”’.
Buccaneer website. Digby Stephenson recommends a website to which he is a contributor.
Upcoming FAA events. From News Sheet Vol 33 no 2, May 2006.
30 June Lynx Silver Jubilee cocktail party - contact Phil Moore - firstname.lastname@example.org
29 July FAA Squadron Bristow BBQ - contact Michael Ryan - michaleryan@Lrgroup.co.uk -
3-6 September 815 Squadron [Wessex era] - contact Tony Dando - tel.01569 740447
23 September Fly Navy Heritage Charity Flying Day - contact Allison Dufosee [no details]
30 September AVCAD Reunion at FAA Museum - contact Mike Rawlinson - email@example.com
18 November FAA Squadron 10th Annual dinner - contact Michael Cozens - firstname.lastname@example.org
Help Wanted. Russ Spiller of New Zealand would like to know if there were any other New Zealanders who served as aircrew with the RCN. You can reach Russ at 5 Kennedy Rd, Napier 4001 NZ.
Books worth noting.
BRAND, Stanley, ‘Achtung! Stringbag!’ ISBN 1 86029, [order from Allison Dufosee, Warminster UK or on line at –www.royalnavyhistoricflight.org.uk –]. ‘A matter-of-fact narrative of 836 Squadron, which flew Swordfish from MAC Ships in North Atlantic convoys ... his penmanship is masterly.’ 14.95 pounds.
HAWKINS, Ian, editor. ‘Destroyer - An anthology of First-hand Accounts of War At Sea. 1939-45'. Conway Maritime Press 2005. 570 pages. ISBN 1 84486 088 6. Ten pounds Stirling. ‘This book must be rated as the best value for money produced this year.’
ROHWER, Jurgen, ‘Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1954: The Naval History of World War Two’, US Naval Institute Press, Annapolis MD USA. ISBN 1-59114-119-2, US$59.95. In his review in the NOAC’s Starshell, Spring 2006, Commodore Jan Drent called the book ‘magisterial’, ‘excellent value for price’ and ‘highly recommended.’
THOMAS, Jack, ‘The Lonely Sky and the Sea’, private publication. available from the author at 26, Leverhulme Ct, Quarry Road East, Bebington, Wirrall, CH63 3JR, for 10 pounds, all proceeds to the Royal Navy Historic Flight. A book of poetry, many about his wartime flying days in Swordfish from MAC SHIPS, with ‘memories of those far-off days of youth and happiness tinged with anxiety, fear and laughter as well as friends and shipmates whose lives were lost.’
LORD, Dick. ‘Tailhook to Mudover’, Corporal Publications, South Africa, ISBN 0 620 30762 5 . 20.50 pounds. ‘From the FAA point of view, this is the best book you will ever read on flying in the 1950s and 60s ... that hairy era of carrier flying.’
OTT, Frank. ‘Air Power At Sea in the Second World War’ published by Friends of the FAA Museum, Box D6 RNAS Yeovilton, BA22 8ht. 144 pages. ISBN 0 9513139 95. Price 5.5 pounds.
Recently deceased FAA members or associates. Rod Anscombe, Peter Austin, Cyril Ballard, Derek Brook, Sir Lindsay Bryson, Brian Calvert, The Rev Wm Catanach, Arthus Cookson [RNZVR], Patricia Cooper, Arthus De Labilliere, Peter Gibson, John Grantham, Reginald Jewell, Jack Henry, James Kneal, Wm Lang, Bob LePage, Ken Lee-White, Jack Lloyd, Ronald Martin, Fred Nottingham, Tom Penhold, Harold Potts, John Robathan, Geoff Rham, Jeremy Sidgwick, Vic Spencer, Tony Steel, Len Townsend, Dick Turnbull, Shyamratan Varma [IN], Fred Waddell, John Westcott, Edward Wilcock, RA ‘Tug’ Wilson, and Don Withers.
The following is from the ‘Lives lived’ column of the Globe and Mail, and was published in October 2005. About Patricia Cooper, it was written by her daughter, Pamela, and was edited for brevity.
‘Patricia Lucy Cooper. Lady, friend, knitter, chocoholic. Died May 5th in Stratford Ontario, age 81. “I’m losing my mind” Pat confided to her close friends, Christine Ford, in the early 1990s. She knew. And what a mind she lost.
‘Pat and her parents moved to Scotland when she was one year old, and her accent bore the trademark “oatmeal savage” as she called herself. Her father, Victor Gilligan, was a warm, funny, very clever man; her mother, Ida, was more serious and deeply wise. Pat’s older sister Betty and brother Vic were born in Scotland. Even in [memory loss], Pat’s long-term memory retained images of her beloved Highlands.
‘An excellent student, proficient in languages and with an intense love of literature, Pat showed innate artistic talent and attended Ayr Academy, but the Second World War broke out. The contentment of family life, friends and boyfriends, was left behind and changed forever when she joined the Women’s Royal Navy Service.
‘Stationed in Northern Scotland, distant from the front, Pat fell into another happy phase of her life working as a torpedo mechanic, eating, drinking [“to stay warm”] and dancing. As the war ended, and the loss of friends sank in, Pat sought a new normalcy: She and Fleet Air Arm pilot Don Cooper married on 1 June 1946.
‘She and Don lived initially in Netherfield England. After several difficult pregnancies and miscarriages, in 1955 a pregnant Pat flourished; Pamela was born that summer. As it transpired, Pat had given birth to a lifelong best friend.
‘Then began a nomadic life. Two sea sickened moves back and forth across the Atlantic. Two years in Montreal; Toronto for about twenty years, seven in Calgary where she happily worked as a proofreader [in French and English] then back to Toronto. She retired in Kitchener, Ontario.
‘Together we went to museums, galleries, ballet, theatre and films, and travelled to the Napa Valley in California. During my years working in motor sports, Pat often accompanied me and became a mascot to drivers Franck Freon and Andrea Montermini, whom she adored.
‘She was diagnosed with diabetes. She and Don moved to Stratford, my adopted home, a place where she had always wanted to live. Following a mild stroke in 1999, her mind, in essence left her. She was still the gracious and sweet gal she had always been, but gone was the vibrant intellect.
‘Two years later, after her [memory loss] had worsened and she had suffered from a lung tumour, and mere hours after I read her Shakespearean sonnets and My Heart is in the Highlands by Robbie Burns, she died.’
Don and Pamela are in the process of moving to Guelph, where Pamela is enrolled in a post graduate programme in the University of Guelph.
For other passings, please see the RCN/Canadian list of ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ near the end of the newsletter.
Terminology Corner. Unless otherwise noted, aviation terms are from ‘Words on the Wing’ by Tom Langeste, and naval terms are from ‘Origins of Sea Terms’ by John G Rogers.
Jetsam - jetsam is anything deliberately tossed over the side, whereas flotsam is anything that is accidentally washed overboard. [From Waterfront Watch, by Jack Perdue, ‘Power Boating Canada’ Volume 16 number 2.]
Joy Stick - a control column. Thought to be a corruption of ‘Joyce Stick’ after an early airman named Joyce who was instrumental in standardizing aircraft flight controls. [Any other suggestions of its origin?]
Jabberwock - RNAS origin - a nickname for the Sopwith Baby, a First World War Seaplane. Although obviously connected to the nonsense poem by Lewis Carol, the origin is unclear.
Jackass - a plug for a hawsepipe or hawsehole to keep seawater out of off the deck. Probably a sailors’ nickname, because some early ones looked like feed bags.
Jumbo - opinions vary on this term, but the prevailing one favours the large fore staysail of a Grand Banks fishing schooner. It could be related to the ears of the large Barnum and Bailey elephant.
Questions for 2006
1. Who was the youngest [and first] RCN officer to be awarded the DSO during WW2?
2. Who was the first RCN officer to qualify as a helicopter pilot?
3. Who was the first RCN Officer to qualify as an army parachutist?
4. What Canadian naval pilot was shot down and made a prisoner of war in WW ONE?
Movie Trivia Question.
In the academy award winning move Brokeback Mountain, set entirely in the USA, a family sits down to a Thanksgiving dinner while watching a football game. The father and grandfather argue about whether it is appropriate to watch TV during a festive meal. Q. What football game is being shown on the TV set?
End notes. Recently some reporters have been accused of making up the news, and several suits for plagiarism have hit the news. At times I borrow [and give credit for] articles from other sources, but I’ve not yet fabricated anything. Some readers say that I feature the same people too often. Mea culpa; however, I can only print what I receive, though I do seek out news from naval airmen who would be unlikely to come to me. That includes trips to New Zealand, Australia, England, Ireland, Guatemala [by email], most Canadian provinces and some US states. Last fall in Alaska I met an old college friend of Joe Sosnkowski, was able to show her a current photograph of him, and to tell her about his career. She was delighted to hear that he had become a test pilot.
Not all are so friendly. One family that I phone every year or so cuts me short every time: there is always another call coming in, or someone at the door; rejection is part of the game. No doubt you are all very busy, and writing is not everyone’s favourite pastime; nevertheless, please take a few minutes to let me know what is new in your life, so I can pass the news along to several hundred other mutual friends. Although most of the old war stories have been told, I’m sure that the last 50 odd years have been rewarding and interesting, if not hair-raising.
Thanks to Tom Copeland and Deborah Davis for their help with the newsletter. Any errors that you find are mine. To all of you I send my best wishes, and my thanks for your support. May the next year be happy, healthy, and prosperous, and may your all live long.
For the most up to date and accurate information, especially prices, dates and times, you should check direct with the persons or organizations shown.
The Canadian Naval Memorial Trust [from Ted Kelly]
Some 66 years ago, Canada began her magnificent struggles to keep the North Atlantic ‘lifeline’ open. From a handful of ships and fewer that 3,000 sailors, the Navy rose to the challenge and took on a major role - an achievement that Churchill and Soviet Marshal Zhukof both agree was essential to the Allies Victory in WW2.
The Canadian symbol of that magnificent accomplishment is HMCS SACKVILLE - the last corvette. It is fitting that this humble warship, manned during WWII by mainly wartime volunteers, is also the Canadian Naval Memorial to all those who have served in Canada’s Navy during its almost 100 years. The Canadian Naval Memorial Trust is dedicated to preserving this memorial and to illuminating the struggle for the Atlantic - a monumental national feat.
To achieve this goal, the Trust needs your support. You are invited to become a Trustee. A Trustee is a voting member of the Trust, may visit SACKVILLE free of charge, is a member of the Mess, and receives the Trust’s newsletter, Action Stations. If you prefer not to become a member, but wish to support the work of the Trust, you would be welcome as a Member of the Ship’s Company, and , as a result, have free access to SACKVILLE. Whichever of these categories you choose, your annual contribution will support the work of the Trust, and will result in a receipt being sent to you for income tax purposes. To make a contribution, visit the Trust’s website: http://www.canadiannavalmemorial.org/.
If you wish to use mail, please use either a credit card or send a cheque made out to the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust. The mailing address is: Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, HMCS SACKVILLE, PO Box 99000 Station Forces, Halifax, NS, B3K 5X5.
The Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund. The purpose of the fund is ‘to relieve distress and promote well-being of members of the naval forces of Canada and their dependants.’ There is also an education bursary fund for dependants and grand children, the CPO Andrew McCain Jack Bursary Program. Information is available from the fund at;
RCN Benevolent Fund
PO Box 505, Station B
Ottawas ON K1P 5P6
Tel. 613.996.5087 - toll free 888.557.8777.
E-mail : email@example.com
Web site : www.rcnbf.ca.
NB. Lew Langstaff is an advisor to the fund, which will still take your donations at the same addresses.
Tracker Pilots’ Reunion. Lieutenant Commander Gordon Bonnel USN is hoping to arrange a reunion of all pilots who flew the Tracker aircraft. The reunion is expected to take place in 2009 in the Shearwater area, possibly in conjunction with the Venture reunion there. He heads an organization called RAFS, short for Real Aviators Flew Spoofs, and can be reached by email at:
Former Observers Mates. Roger McEachern is interested in finding some old friends with whom he flew in the 1950s: Joe Bosque, Bill Gunn, and Stu Cowed [or Cowan.] If you know their whereabout, you can reach Rodger in Sudbury at:
718 Camelot Dr
Sudbury ON P3B 3N2
Answers to the 2006 Question .
1 Admiral Bob Timbrell according to several obituaries.
2 George Marlow [Canada’s Naval Aviators, 2nd edition, p 203.]
3 George Marlow [ibid.]
4. Arthur T N Cowley. [ibid., p 71.].
Answer to Movie Trivia question. According to the credits, the 1977 Grey Cup game, which was won by Montreal over Edmonton. Much of Brokeback Mountain was filmed in Alberta.
Generous financial assistance or assistance in kind was received from: anonymous, Hank Bannister, James Bond, Ken Brown, Al Brown, CNAG Banshee Chapter, Roger Dickinson, John Eden, Davis Edwards, Roger Fink, Fred Follow, Joe Gallant, Alma Jensen, Lewis Langstaff, Deke Logan, Roger McEachern, Jack Moss, Gord Moyer, George Plawski, Kevin Power, Don Sheppard, Joe Sosnkowski, and JAV Stevenson To anyone whom I have forgotten to mention, my apologies.
Returned newsletters. Many are still being returned marked ‘moved’ or ‘address unknown’, but I shall make a greater effort to find more of the lost ones.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.
Rod Bays, Bill Blake, Bill Brown [NOAC Ottawa], Jim Burns, Percy Buzza, Howard V Clark [in April 2004], VAdm D.A. ‘Al’ Collins [an early CDR (S) in Bonnie], Pat Cooper [wife of Don Cooper of the FAA], Barbara Dainard [wife of George], Jean ‘Pottie’ Decker [wife of Murray], Commodore G.M. deRosenroll, Dave Donaldson, Milt Droeske, Cyril Eaton, Reginald Foley [Dartmouth policeman and later a judge, who was sympathetic to some airmen who over-imbibed], Bill Gourley,, Bill Jones, Iva Langstaff [wife of Lew], Don MacKnight,, CWO Wm J McKinney, Arthur D McPhee, RAdm D B Piers, Wm Powell, HD ‘Buck’ Robertson, Doug Ross, Sam Rowe [December 2004], K M Roy [first CDR(S) in Bonnie], Bill Sargent, Joe Saunders, Jean Stebbings [widow of Wilf], RAdm Bob Timbrell, Jim Tobias [former Chief PTI in Cornwallis, known to many JAOBTC folk.], and Wyna Toye [former Capt [Nurse] CF, and wife of LCol John Toye ANAV, of Ottawa].
There were many obituaries for Admiral Timbrell, so I won’t repeat them here. The best was written by Venture’s Historian, Wilf Lund, and was printed in the Canadian and UK press.
[See also the FAA list earlier in this letter.]
Address changes or Corrections, including emails* and new readers**
R D Baird, #205 - 1841 Beaufort Ave, Comox BC V9M 1R9, tel 250.339.5029,
email - firstname.lastname@example.org -.
R Bissell, 3 The Paddocks, Great Hale, Sleaford, Lincs, UK NG34 9GX
Glenn Brown [A change of address that I had misplaced.] 86 Point St mark Dr, Kingston ON K7L 6X8.
John & Jackie Cody, 2 Craigburn Court, Dartmouth NS B2X 2Y3, tel [unchanged] 902.434.8437, fax 902.484.6848, email - email@example.com - OR firstname.lastname@example.org -.
Chris Dalley, 1529 Cooper Rd, #5, Victoria, BC V9A 7A6.
Roger J D Dickinson, 317 531 Westbay Terrace, Victoria BC V9A 5R3, tel. 250.480.3345, email - email@example.com
*Nils Floren - email - firstname.lastname@example.org
**R Featherstone, 22987 123B Avenue, Maple Ridge, BC V2X 0C4, email -- email@example.com
Rick French,195 Arbour Ridge Park NW, Calgary, AB T3G 4C6. Tel. 403.241.0811, email --
R M Houston, C/O L. Houston, 506 Boyd, Greenfield Park, QC, J4V 1S5,
John W Logan, 307 -- 1665 Feltham Road, Victoria BC V8N 2A2
*Sandy and Terry Kerr, email -- “firstname.lastname@example.org” .
*Norm Lovitt - email email@example.com..
George Marlow, 10413 Old Tampa Bay Dr, San Antonio, FL, 33576. [An assisted living facility.] His daughter Marilyn’s email is -- firstname.lastname@example.org --
Kevin Power, 1044 Tower Rd, Apt 213, Halifax NS B3H 2Y5, tel. 902.422.4983.
Brian Roberts, 370 Sandpiper Ct, Kelowna, BC V1W 4K7, tel/fax 250.764.6036,
**Jim Robinson, 1680 Guthrie Rd, Comox BC, V9M 1A7, email -- email@example.com –
Andy Rioux, Fronteras, Rio Dulce, 18022, Izabal, Guatemala, CA- email – firstname.lastname@example.org – NB - use ‘Capt Nemo, mail for Andy’ in the subject line.
Geoff Stephenson, The Worthings, Scott’s Lane, Sheepscombe, Near Stroud, Glos UK GL67RE, email – email@example.com --
David Wall, PO Box 966 [234 Otter Point Rd], Chester NS B0J 1J0, email -- firstname.lastname@example.org.
NB. Email addresses on this list may be unreliable since some email users change plans frequently for better rates or better service.
MANY THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO SENT IN INFORMATION, AND CHANGES OF ADDRESS.