Newsletter – 1995 Spring and Summer

Museum Expansion Next Major Project

A major Society project is now under way, after being made official at a recent meeting of your executive and members. The process for expanding the museum building, including the securing of financing, is now in motion.

The lack of space for displaying our increasing artifact collection has become critical, making expansion necessary. Also with wings about to go on the Fleet Fawn and our only Bomber Command aircraft, besides the Lancaster, the Bolingbroke/Blemheim to have wings installed in the near future, the lack of room becomes extremely evident. Just these two aircraft with wings installed, are going make it very crowded indeed.

The Society’s dedication to the continuing collection and preservation of WWII artifacts makes planning for future space mandatory. The original building and land acquisition were planned to enable the museum building to be expanded 60 feet to the west. The expansion will also have provision for the installation of a mezzanine floor (approkimately 4000 sq. ft.) to allow for additional display space some time in the future, as funds become available.

Your board of directors has obtained a cost estimate for the new addition which totals $212,000. Initial fund raising has commenced and we anticipate our membership will support this much needed expansion project.

The board would like to hear from anyone with ideas of how to obtain initial funding to start off this project. We are presently pursuing several sources, but someone in our membership may have other funding contacts.

Operation Manna Commemoration July 22/95

We hope that many of our members will be able to join us July 22 for a special event at the museum.During the closing days of the Second World War, with communications in Europe at a standstill and the Germans on the brink of defeat, 3.5 million Dutch people were without supplies of food and in a desperate plight. “Operation Manna” was put into action by Bomber Command and in the space of ten days, Lancaster Bombers dropped over 6500 tons of food to the starving citizens of western Holland. The RCAF’s 405 Squadron participated in the operation as did many Canadians who flew with the Royal Air Force.

Over the years we have spoken to many museum visitors from Holland and Canadians of Dutch origin, who were the recipients of the food drops. Through these conversations we have gained an appreciation of what was accomplished by the Lancasters of Bomber Command during this operation and the gratitude felt by the Dutch people.

Dedicated to honouring all those involved with Bomber Command during the war, the Nanton Lancaster Society feels that the fifieth anniversary of “Operation Manna” should be commemorated and a special event is planned for July 22, 1995.

The day will include a luncheon which will be attended by some of the airmen who flew in “Operation Manna,” Dutch citizens who were the direct recipients of the food drops, representatives of the Government of the Netherlands, some aircraft-related events, the unveiling of a painting which we have commissioned depicting Operation Manna, and the opening of a special museum display.

Prominent Aviation Artist Donates Another Lanc Painting

Aviation artist John Rutherford has again donated an exceptional painting to the Society for use in raising funds for the museum.

Visitors donating $5 or more during the spring and summer months will be given a chance to win the Rutherford painting in a draw to be held in the fall.

Your Society has also commissioned another painting which will be unveiled during the July 22/95 celebration of Operation Manna. This work will show Lancaster bombers of this operation flying low over inundated Holland of 1945. The painting, after its unveiling, will become part of a permanent exhibit about the “Manna Op.”

We extend our grateful THANKS to John Rutherford for his help and support.

Three New Displays For ’95

The museum continues to develop and we hope our members and visitors will enjoy our new displays this season.

To compliment our CF100 Gate Guardian which was placed on display last November, a display has been prepared which presents related information in both photographs and text. As well as historical and technical information regarding the Canuck in general and the museum’s aircraft in particular, the display pays particular attention to the years #18152 spent at CFB Suffield prior to its acquisition by the Society. The story of Nanton-born CF100 test pilot Bruce “Duke” Warren is presented as is the role played by Lancaster FM-209 in the development of the Orenda engine for the Canuck. Models, a Martin-Baker ejection seat, a piece of the extremely thick windscreen glass from a CF100, and a faceted gem cut from a piece of the broken windscreen of our CF100 in honour of Canuck crews by former RCAF Medical Officer Dr. John D. Birrell of Victoria completes the new display.

A new display cabinet honouring air gunners will be found adjacent to our fully restored, operational rear turret. Featuring a Browning .303 (donated by “Jeep” Wooley, Sandy Hook, Manitoba) which was used at one time on a Winnipeg Blue Bomber’s Grey Cup Parade float, the display also includes excerpts regarding “Tactics” from a Gunnery School Manual used at #2 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mossbank, Sask. This was donated by D.A. Egilson of Coquitlam, B.C.

Our display honouring Roy Chadwick, the designer of the Lancaster, has been enlarged and placed in a separate cabinet. Mr. Chadwick’s daughter, Mrs. Margaret Dove of the Isle of Mann, is our Society’s Honourary President and Mrs. Dove supplied much of the material for the display. Roy Chadwick designed over 200 aircraft, some 35 of which became production models. He worked on aircraft which were used in WWI and the 1984 Falkland Islands War but his greatest design was the Lancaster.

Tirpitz Display Unveiled

As announced in our Fall/Winter 1994 newsletter, the new Tirpitz display was opened as scheduled.

In spite of the time of year there was a good crowd in attendance for the event. Dr. Maggie Tweddle along with NLS President Dan Fox did the honours by cutting the ribbon to officially open the display. Maggie is the daughter of the late F/O Douglas Tweedle who was one of the Lascaster pilots who bombed and sank the Tirpitz 50 years ago. Your Society was honored to have Dr. Maggie Tweddle on hand to officiate.

Maggie visited our museum again in January along with her mother, Mrs. Margaret Tweddle, of England. Both ladies had visited the museum back in 1992 and had found a Lancaster model on display having the markings of the one flown by F/O Douglas Tweddle on the Tirpitz raid. The Society would like to THANK both Maggie and her mother for their interest in helping preserve WWII Bomber Command history.

The Crew of William “2” 101 SQD RAF

Gladys and Lyle James DFC of Sarnia, Ontario, visited our museum a couple of years ago and several members of the Society were able to join them for supper and hear firsthand the classic story of “Flak over the River Canard.” Lyle became a “Square-footer Club” member last year and later wrote with the idea of honouring his crew by arranging for plaques in honour of each of them to be placed on the museum’s “Square-footer Club” board. Lyle’s crew flew Lancaster W-2 with 101 Squadron, Royal Air Force. The plaques are now on the board and grouped together as an impressive tribute by their pilot to a crew which he obviously held in the highest of esteem.

Members are reminded that the purchase of a “Square Foot” of the museum @ $100 each, entitles the purchaser to a five year membership, a certificate, a plaque inscribed to their specifications on our board, and an official receipt for tax purposes. We have over 650 plaques now and the variety of squadrons, home towns, etc., is most impressive. Lifetime Memberships (@ $500) are available as well.

History of FM-159 and the Nanton Lancaster Society

The history of our Lancaster (FM-159) and the Nanton Lancaster Society is told in a display that is new for 1995. The story of the construction of Lancs in Canada, their use during the 1950s by the RCAF, our Lancaster’s acquisition and the trip to Nanton, and the development of the Society and Air Museum is presented in text and photographs.

We hope to see many of you this summer.

Breathe Life Into Lancaster FM159

by Larry Wright

Over the past few months our Society has set several new goals for itself, and one may just spark the interest of those who love to hear the rumble and roar of a Merlin engine.

The Lancaster’s port inner engine is to be restored to running, but non-flight condition; with a tentative time frame of three years??

Work will include: the removal of the engine from the aircraft, overhaul of the engine to running condition, assessment, repair and installation of all fuel, electrical and instrumentation systems required to operate the engine, and finally the reinstallation of the engine.

The successful completion of the project, however, hinges on the installation of four overhead doors into the museum’s hangar. Only with these in place, can the Lancaster be rolled out for engine run ups and other special occasions. Cost estimates are being obtained.

Should you wish to support or be a part of this project, please contact the Society.

“Annie’s” 60th Birthday

Sixty years ago on March 24, 1935, the proto type Anson made its first flight. On Friday, March 24, 1995, your museum had an open house to commemorate this event. In all some 8,000 Ansons were eventually built.

The Avro Anson was designed as a coastal patrol aircraft, but went on to a training role with the BCATP that was equalled by few other aircraft. In this latter capacity it was used throughout the Commonwealth, in such places as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and of course here in Canada.

Our Anson restoration is moving ahead under the direction of husband and wife team, Rob and Pat Petersen. They recently completed the cockpit floor and it is now in place. Items like seats, instrument panels, rudder pedals, etc., are already restored. We wish the THANK Rob, Pat, and their small daughter Krysta for their dedication to this project. THANKS: to Ron Jackson for repairing the nose wood; to Garth Slade for recovering the seats; and Walter Peach for hauling plywood.

Vickers Viking Replica Loaned to Alberta Heritage Museum

On March 30/95 Bernie Hughes and Spence Sample, members of the Alberta Aviation Heritage Society, arrived in Nanton to help NLS members dismantle the Viking replica for transporting to their Edmonton museum.

The Viking has been loaned long-term to the Edmonton group, with whom NLS has a very good cooperative working relationship. They have passed on several items to us for the Lancaster bomber and BCATP displays. The original Viking G-CAEB was used in the Edmonton area and the NWT in the 1920’s.

A truck with a semitrailer, driven by AAHS member Malcolm Horton, arrived on Friday, March 31/95 and with the help of Local Society members was loaded with all the Viking parts and pieces and away by noon. Bernie Hughes has informed us that everything arrived in Edmonton in fine shape and the Viking will be reassembled in the near future.

Bolingbroke / Blenheim

This project has seen some accumulation of needed parts in the last while. The British Columbia Aviation Museum at Sidney, B.C., has passed on parts that they had left over from restoring their Boly (which is looking great!).

Their member, Stan Henderson (to whom we are indebted), has been in touch several times in the last few months regarding their spares. We have been trying to help BCAM with info on making mock machine guns, etc. If any of our members, reading this newsletter, has information about Browning guns, please let us know or contact BCAM directly.

One item received from the Sidney Museum is a cockpit/nose section which is in real good condition. NLS board member, John Green, hauled this cockpit back an a recent trip to Vancouver Island. This section is bare of interior components. Our restoration project fuselage, however, has many of the needed parts for this cockpit section, such as bare instrument panel, flight controls, etc. NLS extends a grateful THANKS to all at BCAM!

Four Boly wheels were also hauled home by John Green on his trip to B.C. These were donated by George Aylard of Sidney, B.C., and will be a help to our project. THANKS George and to John for hauling these items!

We are following up several more leads for Boly parts but would welcome others.

The Fleet Fawn Project

The Fleet Fawn is coming along great! By mid-May the uncovered wings should be on the unrestored airframe. This project has been sopported by the Lethbridge Foundation and we sencerely THANK them for their funding of this project to date.

In Memoriam

Jonathan George Spinks (our friend and compatriot) 1966 – 1995,
Jon, as we were wont to call him, passed on January 22 of this year. Through his help and contributions the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum is a better place today. At the early age of 14 Jonathan was collecting WWII aircraft parts and pieces, in particular parts of Lancasters. Later he went on to acquire Bolingbroke and Yale remains, with the idea that one or both of these aircraft would fly again in his native England.
He was very much a part of many of NLS functions when he was not otherwise involved in hauling or collecting vintage aeroplane parts. One of the first such was a special event in 1987 when he donned the gear of a WWII pilot.

The Nanton Lancaster Society extends deepest sympathy
to the families and friends of these former members and supporters.
May God Bless.

President’s Notes

Recently our secretary-treasurer, Dave Birrell, and I had the opportunity to speak to about 75 members of the Southern Alberta Aircrew Association. We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of these war veterans most of whom had flown over Europe during WWII. Their meetings are once a week, year round, and are very well attended. This speaks well of tier camaraderie and sense of duty, both then and now. It makes you wonder if today’s youth would rise to the occasion if our country was again threatened from abroad. I’d like to think they would.

I spoke to this dignified and proud group about another war we are now engaged in. This is an undeclared ware, which makes it much more insidious. The enemy are the so-called “politically-correct” revisionist historians operating in our midst, many funded by taxpayer dollars. They would like to rewrite history, according to 1990’s moral and standards, ignoring the context in which WWII was so courageously fought. they would have us believe that Bomber Command was led by a bloodthirsty individual who was incapable of emotion. They want to “brainwash” the younger generation into believing that those who willingly participated in the bombing of German targets were as criminal as the enemy who incinerated six million Jews and indiscriminately bombed Coventry and other English cities killing many thousands.

Our museum is involved in this present-day war effort. Our weapons are not live ammunition, but words and objects. Words describe what it was really like to fly night after night over a well-defended target knowing you probably wouldn’t make it back. Such objects as our Lancaster bomber serve as memorials to those 55,000 aircrew who didn’t make it back.

Let us never forget what really happened!

     Dan Fox

Curator / Editor’s Desk

Another winter is past and green grass is starting to show. It is also time to get another NLS newsletter out. As I write this I am looking at one of the few copies of our first newsletter and Oh! What a difference this new computer makes! Than is, once this old head has learned the very basics of its operation!

Anyway, on tot he serious stuff. Your Society has grown some more as darkly a day goes by that a new name is not added to our membership list through ordinary membership. Square Footer, or Lifetime membership It is most encouraging!

What has happened in the shop in the last year has made us all aware that our museum building is NOT LARGE ENOUGH! A set of restored wings (uncovered) is nearly ready to go on the unrestored Fleet Fawn fuselage for the summer. They will emphasize the need for more space as other wings come into being in the next while. At a recent meeting it was decided to start the process of funding the expansion. We hope you, the members, will approve our “Pressing on Regardless” to upgrade the facility and that you may be able to help us in this endeavour.

Running an engine on the Lancaster is another NLS project now officially under way. The tentative time frame for completing this is three years.

The museum is seeing more and more people visiting during the winter months. Word of mouth advertising by visitors and embers, along with our minimum of advertising is certainly making our museum a well-known “must see” attraction. This is most gratifying for all the volunteers involved. We all look forward to a great summer and hope to be able to visit with old friends and make new ones at the museum this summer. Please do try to visit your museum this summer.

     Bob Evans