Newsletter – 1993 Fall and Winter

Dam Busters 50th Anniversary Huge Success

One of the few surviving pilots who took part in the WWII raid on the dams of the Rurh Valley held his audience of 300 people spellbound when he spoke at the evening banquet on July 24/93.

Ken Brown was one of 19 pilots handpicked by Wing Commander Guy Gibson to fly the modified Lancaster bombers carrying bombs that had heen specially designed to destroy three key dams in Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

NLS president Dan Fox in introducing Ken Brown, spoke about the historic raid, saying, “W/C Gibson picked only the best for this raid, dubbed “Operation Chastise.” The war was in its darkest days at the time of the raid, with the Nazis having the upper hand. The knocking out of the Mohn and Eder dams was to be indeed a turning point and a great boost to the morale of Britain and its Allies.

Brown went on to talk about the raid, about flying at three top level enroute to his target, the Sorpe dam. After making several passes he dropped his bomb on target. It was learned later that because this was an earthen dam there was no way the special bomb could have destroyed it. However, other Lancasters did breach the other two dams.

Eight of the Lancasters did not return from this operation and fifty-three aircrew gave their lives.

The 50th anniversary day turned out great and the many visitors were lined up at times to view the Dams Raid display which was enhanced by the DFC and other medals of Milo, Alberta, born Torger Taerum, who was W/C Guy Gibson’s navigator. A handwritten copy of Gibson’s log book is also part of this memorial display.

The afternoon celebrations were culminated by a flypast of a Tiger Moth, two DH Chipmunks, two Harvards, and a CF-5 jet from CFB Cold Lake. The evening banquet was sold out and the guest speaker left those in attendance feeling they had been on the raid! Other dignitaries in attendance applauded the Society for the comemboration day and for its ongoing efforts to create a museum to preserve the history of Bomber Command and the BCATP

From Near and Far

This past summer the Society has had members from Ontario, British Columbia and Northern Alberta, come to work on the Lancaster and other aritfacts for a week or more at a time.

Paul and Peter Whitfield, Sarnia, Ontario, along with Harold Branton, Trail, B.C., and Ken Buckley from Fort McMurray, AB, all arrived in May and worked at making the Lanc look much better. They cleaned up the Lanc’s ailerons in readiness for applying fabric, worked on the port elevator and did a great deal of other work over the week they were in Nanton.

Paul, Peter and Harold also went on a “field” trip to haul home the fuselage of a Bolingbroke from Erskine, Alberta. This fuselage is the basis for one of the museum’s priorized restoration projects as Bolys are part of both main themes in the museum.

Peter Whitfield was back to Nanton in July and lowered the flaps for the first time in 33 years, cleaned out bird nests and grime and painted the inside area. The flaps looked so good after this that they have been left in the down position since.

Harold Branton was also back in July. He, along with Martin Vejdovski (first year aircraft mechanical student at SAIT hired under SEED program to work in the museum shop for the summer), covered the Lanc ailerons with fabric. They look great!

The Society is most grateful for the upgrading work done by Paul, Peter, Harold, Ken and others. THANKS to all!

The Society’s Finances

Your Society has had a very successful financial history and this continued in 1993. With the assistance of the Town of Nanton, Province of Alberta, Government of Canada, numerous corporations, Legions, and thousands of supportive members and visitors, we have, in a few short years, constructed a museum building valued at $475,000. (We are pleased to advise that only 5% of this was “taxpayers’ money.”) As well, hundreds of thousands of dallars have been spent acquiring artifacts, for restoration, and development of displays.

Our only debt at this time is a small, interest-free loan with the Town of Nanton, which we are reducing on a regular basis.

With donations from visitors and sales by our gift shop we are capable of paying our operating costs without outside assistance.

However, to develop, we still rely heavily on our membership of approximately 1000 individuals across Canada and in other countries. Private donations are often matched with corporate donations and various grant programs to complete projects.

Current projects which we are attempting to fund are: (i) the improved signage; (ii) additional doors on the east side of the museum to enable the Lancaster to be rolled out for special occasions and eventually for engine run-ups; (iii) an inevitable expansion of our facilities to accommodate other fully-restored aircraft as well as our growing collection of artifacts, displays and artwork.

Please consider a further donation. You might consider the Square Footer and Lifetime Membership programs. Many “Square Footer” members are now making further contributions to become “Lifetime Members.”

Even renewal of you ($10) annual membership is very important to us. This assists us and enables you, the member, to keep up to date with your Society’s progress through the periodic newsletter. Remember, official tax receipts are issued for donations of $20 or more.

Wedding on a Wing

Another first for your Society! On July 24/93, Wanda Evans and Lorne Herriman took their vows up on the starboard wing of the Lancaster bomber.

Wanda, a former NLS summer tour guide and daughter of Bob and Carol Evans, decided that the only way she could assure that her father would be at her wedding (Bob as volunteer curator spends a lot of time at the museum), was to have it in the museum! Lorne, (son of Ken and Clara Herriman of High River, her husband-to-be, and everyone concerned) thought it was a great idea. It turned out to be just one more of those successful events connected to the museum and your Society.

The young couple and the wedding party were all given their “wings” (a Lancaster pin), after the ceremony by NLS president Dan Fox as a token of having completed their first “op” on the wing of a Lanc.

The young couple now reside in High River, Alberta.

Pennemunde Ceremony

On August 18/93, five survivors of the Bomber Command attack on the V-2 rocket plant at Peenemunde, Germany, on August 17/43 attended a museum ceremony.

Under a wing of the Lancaster bomber, Jack McIntosh, Ray Savage, Jim Love, Bob Charman, and Morris Davidson signed a limited edition print by artist Robert Taylor depicting the raid, for display in the museum.

The target was the plant on the Baltic coast where the Germans were testing the V-2 rockets in preparation for attacks against Britain in 1944. The bomber fleet on this raid included 324 Lancasters, 218 Halifaxes and 54 Stirlings.

It was only the second time in WWII that a precision raid was attempted at night on such a small target. The one-hour raid saw nearly 1,800 tons of bombs dropped on the target. Of 596 aircraft taking part, 23 Lancasters, 15 Halifaxes and two Stirlings were lost, 280 aircrew did not return. Bob Charman was shot down and he spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp. The other four returned, safely to base.

Visitor Numbers Up 29 Percent

The number of visitors to the museum in 1993 is in excess of 24,000, an increase of 29% over 1992. We are also noting three other encouraging trends. The first is that visitors are clearly spending more time in the museum as our displays increase in quantity and in quality. Secondly, we are attracting more and more visitors who are coming to Nanton specifically to see the museum and not just “passing through town.” The third encouraging trend is increased visitations by the executive, staff, and members of other museums.

Please note that the museum will be open on weekends only until May 1, 1994.

Anyone wishing to visit on weekdays during the winter months, may make appointments to do so, by contacting the museum or by leaving a message on the museum answering machine. We would be pleased to accommodate you any time.

The Calgary Rolls Royce Club

The Calgary Rolls Royce Club visited the museum in June and were greeted with coffee and donuts by local NLS members.

Some of the vintage automobiles were placed under the wing of the Lancaster for photos that were to be used in the Rolls Royce Assoc. newsletter.

A Rolls Royce Club Member presented NLS secretary Dave Birrell with a donation to the museum. Visits by vintage auto clubs, etc., are welcomed by the Society. Arrangements can be made by contacting the museum.

Murry Peden Visits Us

The author of “A Thousand Shall Fall,” Murray Peden Q.C., and his wife, spent most of a day in Nanton, going through the museum and visiting with local members.

Those of you who have read his book, will know that Murray was a Bomber Command pilot during WWII. He flew Stirlings and B-17s. The book takes you through Murray’s experiences in basic training, service flying and eventually to an Operational Training Unit in England and on the bombing runs over Europe.

We thank Murray Peden for taking time to visit our museum so we cauld make his acquaintance. For those of you who haven’t yet read his book, we recommend it as the best account yet of what it was like to go through the BCATP training program and then on to operational bombing of Nazi Germany.

Sinage Project

During rapid development of our museum, signage has been hastily produced and is clearly inadequate. The Society is pleased to inform you that, with help from the Alberta Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the designing of new signs is underway, funded by the Department. A consulting firm has been contracted to design a series of signs and interpretive displays to better tell the story of Bomber Command and the BCATP.

Powerhouse Architecture have designed the signage for the two recent major developments in the province, the Reynolds Alberta Museum and Remington Alberta Carriage Centre. They are now working closely with the Society to incorporate our knowledge and their skills of graphic design, museum interpretation, and writing, to design a new series of signs. We appreciate the Dept. of Economic Development and Tourism assisting us with this project.

Forestburg Donates 1943 BCATP Crash Truck

Fromer aircrew member Ian Laing of Forestburg, AB, was instrumental in the acquisition of a vintage crash truck by your museum. He approached the Forestburg Fire Dept. and the Town of Forestburg with the idea that the old truck, once used as a town fire truck, would be a welcome addition to the NLS Air Museum’s collection and that it would be preserved there for posterity. Both these groups agreed to the request and the crash truck is now in the museum.

Louis Kowalchuk, owner of Louie’s Trucking, Nanton, AB, donated the hauling of the truck from Forestburg. Louis has been a long time supporter of the Society.

The crash truck is the first runnable artifact in the museum and was used in the Nanton Days parade in August. The truck is presently being readied for repainting by Ken Blumhagen who once lived in Forestburg and was a fire department volunteer.

A ceremony recognizing the Town of Forestburg and its Fire Dept. will be arranged after the vehicel is painted. A plaque will be made up to go with the display recognizing the donators.

The Society wishes to extend grateful THANKS to The Town of Forestburg, the Forestburg Fire Dept., member Ian Laing and Louie’s Trucking for their donations that have resulted in a great addition to our museum.

Volunteer Appreciation Night held October 30, 1993

The Society held a volunteer appreciation night to honour the many persons who have helped look after the museum and further its development.

Nearly 100 people attended the “pot-luck” supper and social evening. Those present were local and from as far away as Calgary. Many of those present were local seniors who have been looking after the museum since September, 1/93. Some 50 senior citizens of Nanton did a great job of keeping the museum open every day until November, 1/93. Those same people will be on hand to greet visitors every weekend during the winter also.

Calgary member Larry Wright brought his stereo equipment and music of the 1940s to be heard in the background all evening.

Milt Harradence was the guest speaker and his speech was well received by those present.

NLS president Dan Fox thanked those present for their help in keeping the museum open and upgrading it. He said since the evening had turned out so good, it could well become an annual event.

FN-121 Mk. 1 Turret Offically Unveiled

The restored rear turret was officially inveiled on May 17/93. This project, which was completed by the Society’s Clagary Chapter, is now in the museum, mounted in the Lancaster mock-up rear section. It is now fully operational (with imitation machine guns) and has an electric/hydraulic pump unit to supply power to it.

The only thing left to be completed is installation of plexiglass. This final detail will be in place for the 1994 season.

The official unveiling day was attended by some 90 Alberta ex-airgunners. The first tail-gunner to try out the turret was Leonard Isaacson, Lethbridge, Alberta. He recalled having spent nine hours and 25 minutes sitting in such a turret during an op over Germany. He said, “You didn’t dare take your eyes off the sky!”

Larry Wright, Chapter president, said that the turret was one of several projects that had been considered. He reiterated that the project took twice as long to complete as had been esimated. He said, “Little did we know what we would be up against.” Parts had to be obtained from as far away as the U.K., Australia and the U.S.

Doug Penney, who made 37 trips as an air gunner, was very enthusiastic about the restored turret, and praised the Society for its work.

Our THANKS to all those who participated in the unveiling. Please visit us again in the future.

We will be working toward having all three gun turrets restored in the future.

Bolingbroke Project

The fuselage of Bolingbroke #9978 was hauled and is now in the museum. The Society is presently trying to locate a centre section, undercarriage, engines and empennage for this restoration project. If there are any members out there who know where any Boly parts might be found, please let us know.

The Bolingbroke is the first aircraft project that fits in with both of the museum’s main themes. While it was used as a training aircraft and for coastal patrol here in Canada, its counterpart, the Blenhiem IV, was actively used as a bomber. In fact some of the first bombs dropped on the Nazis was by Blenhiems.

Because of its dual role the Blemhiem/Bolingbroke is a high priority project on our restoration schedule.

We have had two former WWII pilots visit us this past summer who actally flew Boly #9978. Milt Harradence, Clagary, AB, now a judge on the Alberta Court of Appeals has #9978 entries in his log book from his training days. John Mallandaine, Bowser, B.C., also flew this aircraft.

This makes “old 9978” an even more important artifact as the display now has a human element that can be included in the signage that goes with it.

Avro Anson Restoration

by Rob Pedersen

Well winter is fast approaching and the time has come to dig in deep and head for the restoration shop while the winter winds blow outside.

Some really exciting news has occured that is going to give the Anson project a really big boost. The Alberta Museums Association has granted the Anson restoration project $1121.26 towards the restoration of the nose and cockpit section. This grant will go towards the purchase of materials and supplies. This restoration phase will take place over the next 12 months.

We would like to invite you all to the museum to see our progress and watch “Faithful Annie” begin to take shape.

In previous articles I mentioned that we were short on manuals for the MkII Anson. Thanks now to your support and generosity we have been able to fill in some of the missing pieces, however we still have some blank spots. If any one has any information on the MKII Anson that we may be able to copy please contact Rob Pedersen by calling the Nanton Lancaster Air Museum.

From the Anson restoration crew we wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and hope everyone has a fantastic winter.

Calgary Aero Space Loans

Since our Society was formed in 1986, the Calgary Aero Space museum has been a great help to our fledgling group. Many of our exhibits are on long term loan from them.

The Merlin engine has been with us the longest. In more recent years, the Orenda and Nene jet engines and the Link Trainer have been added to our exhibits. The latest acquisitions on long term loan are three engines for which the Society will have to make mounts in order to display them. They are: a P&W 2800, 18 cylinder engine, a Wright 1800 and a Goblin jet engine.

While some of these do not fit with our main themes in the museum, they will add tremendously to our current WWII (and prior) engine display.

They will give us some U.S.A. wartime artifacts that should be of interest to our many American visitors as well as others. The engine display is one of the few museum exhibits that takes in items not neccessarily to do with the BCATP and Bomber Command.

Art Exhibit Donations

Several donations have been received this year that have added to the art works now in the museum.

One of the most extensive donations was given to the museum by local resident Bill Pitt. This consists of 12 prints of aviation watercolors by well known artist, Don Anderson. These were on display this past summer.

Paul and Doug Hawks, Calgary, gave the museum two special limited edition prints by Frank Wooton, one signed by Barns Wallis.

Allan Brown, Calgary, gave us a print of a Seafire flying over the warship, HMCS Warrior. Several other persons also donated posters and art work. Our THANKS to everyone who donated.

Travelling Display

by Rob Pedersen

The traveling display had a great year. We brought our Martin midupper turret to both Red Deer and the Lethbridge airshows. The turret was a great hit with young and old alike.

It was very touching to watch people who had not been in a turret since 1945 climb inside. We also had several people get in, take hold of the controls and say, “My Dad sat in one of these forty years ago.”

For 1994 plans are being made to go to the Namao airshow and to Lethbridge. We are not exactly sure what we will be taking with us so it will have to be a surprise. We also plan on taking smaller displays to several schools in Calgary.

We would like to thank all display members for their support in 1993. Without your help the display would never leave the museum. The display crew this year consisted of Dave Birrell, Garth and Pat Hurl, Bob and Maureen Hurst, Dan Fox, Ken Smith, Steve Sears, Lawrence Pedersen and Pat and Rob Pedersen.

Seasons Greeting to Everyone!!

Ben Howser Visits Again

Your Society has made a lot of friends over the past few years, Ben Howser is one of those people. Ben works at the McChord Air Base, Tacoma, Washington, U.S.A.

He has been here several times to trade items and to just bring artifacts that are not applicable to the Air Base Museum themes. Ben also collects for himself and is planning a mobile air museum for his retirement years. The Society has helped Ben regarding the latter by supplying Jacobs engine parts and Anson cockpit components, etc. His mobile museum will contain an Anson cockpit and nose section exhibit when completed.

Our museum’s only bomb casings came from the McChord Air Museum along with some Link Trainer ports. The Society would like to herewith express it’s sincere THANKS to Ben Howser and the McChord Air Museum for recent and past help. We hope to be able to help both Ben and the McChord Museum in the future.

Vulcan Blackboard

Memories of the training days of WWII came flooding back for two former flying instructors who visited the museum to view the blackboard originally from SFTS Vulcan.

Peter Underwood, Ipswich, England, met with Don Clay of Clagary, to find their names still chalked on the 50 year old board along with those of other instructors and students of the last classes to graduate from SFTS #19 Vulcan in March, 1945.

Your curator/editor was in England and had met with Peter just two days prior to he and his wife departing for Canada. They were already planning their visit to the “blackboard” at that time. Peter had been reviewing the entries in his wartime logbook prior to the trip.

While both Underwood and Clay had instructed at the Vulcan base, they had now met previously due to the fact that they had been there at different times. Don Clay’s name is actually paint printed on the board and he is not indicated as instructing students from the particular class.

Peter Underwood’s name is chalked on along with a student named Reid.

A Tiger Moth on Loan

Society members, Ron and Julie Jackson, are restoring a Tiger Moth to airworthy condition. The fruit of their labors so far is now on exhibit in our museum.

The beautifully restored fuselage, on its gear and with a motor mount, partial motor and prop, will be stored and displayed in the museum while the Jacksons restore the Tiger’s wings. They had to move the completed fuselage out of their shop to make room for the wing project.

The Jacksons have done a superb job of restoration. Probably no Tiger Moth ever came from the factory as immaculate and strikingly beautiful as the present display. The Society is very pleased that Ron and Julie have let us display their “baby.” It is indeed another asset to our museum and has gotten a lot of “look at that new airplane” comments so far.

The Society is indeed fortunate to have someone like Ron as a contributing member. Ron is a licensed aircraft mechanic and is working toward having his license endorsed for repair and signing out wooden aircraft structures. He presently has a contract to restore a set of wings for a Norseman and is building the required time under supervision needed to get this endorsement.

The Society extends a grateful THANKS for the loan of the Tiger Moth fuselage as a display. We look forward to seeing the aircraft completed in the next year or so.

From the President

After another very busy and interesting summer at the museum, it’s time for a little reflection. Sometimes we get so involved that we forget to stop and reflect upon our accomplishments, or to recall the great people we,ve met.

Because we are human, we like to hear the good things said about us (and forget the rest). Let me share some of the former with you from this past season.

Doug Penny, president of the Air-Gunners Association, at the unveiling of our restored rear turret said, “You’ve done a tremendous job. It’s a feather in your cap to be able to do something like this!”

Ken Brown, CGM – Dam Busters pilot, said at our July 17, 1993, commemoration day, “The Nanton Lancaster society provides a link between those who are not here to speak on their own behalf to let the younger generations realize that a tremendous contribution was made, that they might live in freedom.”

Milt Harradence, honorary colonel of 416 squadron and representing Legion Command, said, “When I walked into your museum this afternoon I was astounded at what you have accomplished!” (July 17, 1993)

Donald P. Evans, secretary treasurer, the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Toronto Chapter: “Bill (Turner) and I visited eleven Canadian aviation museums, attended two banquets, one conventionÉ. returning to Toronto June 17, 1993. Without any doubt, the Nanton Lancaster Society’s museum ranked among the best organized museums we visited. You people deserve a great deal of credit for getting your act together to build a beautiful hangar, display facilities, and setting up first class exhibits.”

Keith Shepard, representing Bomber Command Association of Canada said at our Dam Busters banquet, “The Lancaster Society has made Nanton famous all over the world.”

And finally, Helen Robertson, (cousin of Torger Taerum of Milo, Alberta, who was navigator for W/C Guy Gibson, leader of the Dam Busters raid): “I am sure, if Torger was looking down, he would say congratulations and smile on the people of Nanton (and Society members everywhere) for preserving a very important part of history.”

Sometimes it is good to reflect upon the past. It gives us energy to continue into the future.

     Dan Fox

Curator / Editor’s Desk

Your museum continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Since the spring/summer newsletter went out we have added several items to our collection.

In May the Bolingbroke fuselage was hauled and placed in the museum. We are presently searching for a centre-section, wings, undercarriage, tail section components. It is very derelict, but has many interior parts intact.

Also received was the 1943 BCATP Ford crash truck, donated to the museum by the Town of Forestburg and its fire department.

On loan from our member Jon Spinks is the fuselage and other components of a N.A. Yale trainer. Another, member Ron Jackson recently brought in his restored Tiger Moth fuselage on its gear.

Smaller artifacts and memorabilia are being received almost daily.

You are wondering why I am herewith repeating much of what you have already read on the preceding pages. Well, your Society is at a place in time where consideration of expanding our less than we-year-old museum building is a priority.

Contemplating the fact that if we presently had wings on our Anson project, Fleet Fawn, Bolingbroke, and our loaned aircraft, there would be no room to place them all!

We have room on the property allowed us by the Town of Nanton to expand the rear of the building another 60 feet. This would give us another 7200 square feet of space and would likely be adequate for all the present aircraft and any we anticipate to our collection in the future.

Such an addition would cost in the neighborhood of $200,000 dollars. Some grant (lottery) monies may be available but not on the scale realized with the main structure. I feel it is imperative expansion take place soon. In the future even lottery fund grants may not be available. (Is there a lottery winner out there who’d like to help out?)

Our restoration projects are going ahead slowly and in the next couple of years we should have projects that actually look like the original aircraft under construction. This winter will see several projects undertaken that, will greatly enhance next years displays.