On March 30, 1989, NLS members Dan Fox, Dave Birrell and myself had the pleasure of attending the dinner meeting of the Calgary Air Crew / YOW Association. We were there primarily to see if their members would be interested in sponsoring audio recorders for our present museum displays. Later when the meeting was over, we left slightly overwhelmed after being in the company of men whose experiences would make the best of fiction pale by comparison. These are the men who overcame the tyranny of the Third Reich so that we might be free. Although they would deny it to a man, they are of the same mold as Robert H. Gray, Ian Bazalgette and others, who are the recognized heroes of that past historic record.
During lunch your editor sat next to a man who had been a POW for five years! He had gone to England prior to the war and joined the RAF where he trained to be a fighter pilot. Just after the fall of France to the Nazis, he found himself piloting, not a fighter plane, but a twin engined Blenheim bomber. With just four and a half hours flight time in this aircraft type, he was sent on an operation to find and bomb the many small airfields that the Germans were building in France. On this, his first sortie, he and his crew found such a target, bombing it without being shot at, until he was climbing out of a dive and into wallowing, more or less level flight. A forced landing was made when it was decided that return to England was impossible. He and his crew all walked away from the crash landing and spent the next five years as prisoners of war.
I'm sure that all of this group could relate a similar story.
A guest also related his experience of being shot down over France. He had escaped capture and found the French Underground which helped him across France and into Spain. After being interned there a few months (they didn't believe he was a Canadian) he was taken to Gibraltar and then to England.
We left the meeting confident that our goal of an air museum of the memorabilia of WWII and the BCATP is indeed worthwhile. Our recent dedication fo the Lanc to Ian Bazalgette and all those who participated in the WWII aviation effort is most fitting.