Newsletter – 1997 Spring and Summer

Building Expansion Underway!

On March 25, 1997, with a warm Chinook wind blowing, the official ground breaking ceremony took place. This heralded the commencement of work which will see 9600 sq. ft. added to our museum building.
Those doing the honours of turning the first sod with “golden” shovels were two of the original “triumvirate” who had the foresight to bring the Lanc to Nanton as a memorial and tourist attraction. They were George White and Howie Armstrong. Assisting with this duty were two Provincial MLA’s, Don Tannas and Barry McFarland, who were both involved in securing a provincial grant of $103,000 (lottery funds) to match an equal amount raised by the Society.
A fifth shovel, with its golden blade, stood in the centre, flanked by the four others. This was in memory of the late Fred Garratt who was the third person involved in obtaining Lancaster FM 159 back in 1960.
The foundation has now been poured. The building has been ordered and will likely be here in early May. The 60′ x 160′ building “shell” (main hangar and the two lean-to additions.) A drive is now on to come up with another $45,000, which would completely finish the new small artifact area.
Your Society’s directors are sure that the enthusiasm and planning to this stage will generate donations from members and the corporate world to complete the interior of the structure. This is what happened when the main building went up in 1991.

The Third Man

Many NLS members do not know that there was a “triumvirate” which purchased Lancaster FM-159 as a tourist attraction for the town of Nanton in 1960. Two of the original trio are shill involved with the Society, these being George White and Howard Armstrong. Over the last eleven years George and “Howie” have seen the Lancaster become the centrepiece of an air museum that is known worldwide.
The third person who participated in bringing the Lanc to Nanton was Fred Garratt. Fred lived to see the old Lanc protected by a fence and become a point of interest to passersby on #2 highway through town. He was pleased that many thousands of people stopped to take photos of the old bomber.
Fred Garratt passed on before the NLS came into being in 1986. The surviving two members of the trio recall that Fred was dedicated to making sure the Lancaster was protected from vandals and displayed to attract people to stop. When it was first hauled into town he sat up many nights to guard it until a proper fence enclased the area. We are sure Fred had a vision that someday the Lancaster would be a major attraction.

July 26, 1997 Tribute To Roy Chadwick

July 26, 1997 is the date of our annual all day-event. This year the theme is, “A Tribute to Roy Chadwick.” Roy Chadwick, of course was the designer of some 60 aircraft from World War I through World War II, including the Lancaster. He was killed in the crash of a prototype aircraft in 1947. Long after his death one of his designs was developed and used huring the Falklands War.
The Lancaster bomber was without doubt Roy Chadwick’s ultimate crowning achievement. This WWII bomber went on to fame as having dropped more than sixty percent of the bomb tonnage dropped on Nazi held territory by Bomber Command.
Fifty years after Chadwick’s death your Society will pay tribute to this gifted aircraft designer with special displays, the unveiling of a newly commissioned John Rutherford painting, a special luncheon, and a fly-past of WWII and other vintage aircraft.

NLS Has A Harvard!

Harvard #200419, which we mentioned in the Fall/Winter 1996 newsletter had been acquired by NLS, is now in our museum.
This aircraft, which came off the assembly lines at the Canada Car and Foundry Ltd., Montreal, Quebec, on October 4, 1952, adds one more vintage trainer aircraft to our collection. While the fuselage is that of #419, a post war Mk.IV, somewhere it acquired Mk.II wings! Anyway, it is representatvie of the Harvards that were used in the BCATP.
Since the arrival of #419 at our museum, it has had a proper pair of main undercarriage wheels installed. The wings and empennage have not yet been reinstalled because of a lack of space in our museum building. With the building expansion now underway we will soon have room to install these components.
Once all the Harvard components were placed in the museum, it really brought home the fact that we had indeed ‘run-out-of-room’ for things with wings! Anyway, that is being corrected.
Our THANKS go out to the Harvard’s former owners, the Canadian Museum of Flight and Transportation (CMFT) at Langley, B.C. They were most cooperative and helpful in getting the aircraft disassembled and loaded for the trip to Nanton. Our best to ‘Gogi’ Goguillot, George Proulx, and all at CMFT who helped to get the Harvard on the road.
THANKS also to our good corporate friend MULLEN TRUCKING LTD, who hauled the aircraft to Nanton for the price of the fuel and NEIL McCLAINE for supplying wheels and undercarriage parts. It is because of support like this that our museum continues to thrive.

The Fawn Story

It was hard to visualize that the pile of aircraft components would eventually become an aeroplane again. Even though it is static, it’s beautiful!
When the late Ernie Oakman and family of Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan, donated it to the NLS in 1990, none of us would have predicted it would be restored this soon.
We think Ernie would be proud of what we have done with his Fawn!
On May 3/97 members of the Oakman family will help us unveil the Fawn in all the glory of its new fabric, painted in BCATP yellow. Fabric work was done by NLS member and AME Ron Jackson and his wife Julie. Although it is a non-flying aeroplane, one can easily visualize it “taking off!”
The Society would like to thank the Alberta Museums Association, the Lethbridge Foundation, who helped fund the project, and everyone who worked at restoring Fawn #264 over the last four years.

NLS to Honour P.O.W. Barry Davidson

Your Society plans to dedicate its Bristol Bolingbroke (Blenheim) to the memory of Barry Davidson, well-known former WWII prisoner of war. Barry passed away last fall in Calgary at the age of 82. His family has been contacted and have indicated their approval and willingness to participate. We hope to have the dedication ceremony sometime in the near future when Boly project comes together. It will be finished as a Blenheim bomber with the squadron letters of the Blenheim which Barry was flying when he was shot down.
Barry Davidson spent five years as a P.O.W. after his Blenheim bomber was shot down July 6, 1940, on one of the early raids on Nazi installations in occupied France. He was eventually imprisoned in Stalag Luft #3 where he participated in the preparations for what is now known as the “Great Escape.” In the movie by the same name, the part of the “scrounger” was based on Barry’s efforts to secretly obtain items needed for the escape. This part was played by actor James Garner.
Barry Davidson was not one of the 72 prisoners chosen to escape through the extensive tunnel that had been dug to come out on the other side of the prison camp fence. Thus he spent nearly the whole wan as a P.O.W. The Great Escape was indeed a magnificent effort but it ended in tragedy when 50 of the escapees were recaptured and executed by the Nazis.
Our Society would be forever grateful to anyone who could assist with parts, etc., to help get our “Blenheim” project onto an undercarriage with wings!

Boly / Blenheim

Your Society plans to dedicate its Bolingbroke (restored as a Blenheim) to the late Barry Davidson. It now becomes very important to speed up the restoration of this aircraft.
We have written to several people who have parts we need and/or whole Bolingbroke aircraft. It is hoped that with the decision to make a special display, dedicated to a special individual that someone out there will consent to be our benefactor and help get this project into ‘high gear.’
When restored, this aircraft display will have prominent, permanent signage indicating it is being dedicated to Barry Davidson. However, this signage will also have on it the names of all those persons and institutions who have helped to make the display possible.
A whole Boly would really speed up getting the project on display. However we are not waiting and hoping for this to happen. Our friends at the Brandon, Manitoba, BCATP museum have indicated they will let us have a wing centre-section. Two leads about Boly outboard wing sections will be followed up shortly. The project will go this summer!

Donated 400 Squadron Plaques’ On Display

The more than 50 plaques, representative of all the 400 numbered Canadian squadrons, donated by Don Vance of Marysville, B.C., are now on display in the museum foyer. We are grateful to Don Vance for this great addition to our museum’s collection. The museum’s entry and foyer area had two areas near the ceiling that were bare of displayed items and the plaques were ideal items to place there.
When more wall space becomes available with the expansion of the museum this year, the plaques may be moved to a lower setting where they can be read more easily. The donor also supplied a binder with information about all the squadrons represented by the plaques.
Don, who is retired from the RCAF, has also donated several other artifacts which will eventuall be added to displays. It is because of support like this that our museum continues to grow and its displays get better. Our THANKS to Don Vance!

NLS Museum in new CD

Filming done in the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum on April 18/97 will be included in a new CD that is being produced by the Royal Canadian Legion through the facilities of 2&7 CISA-TV in Lethbridge.
This CD will be titled, “Victory For All” and is designed to provide school students throughout Alberta with information about Canada’s involvement in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The CD will also include material on the Royal Canadian Legion and its youth-related services.

Victory For All will include:

    • Archival newsreel footage from all three wars.
    • Interviews with WWII and Korean War veterans.
    • Text-based information on the causes of each war.
    • Biographical materials on Canada’s political and military leaders during each conflict.
    • Re-enactments based on actual events from all three wars.
    • Colour maps of the world before and after each conflict.

Victory For All is slated for release in November 1997. It will be distrubuted free-of-charge to schools throughout the province and offered for sale to other interested parties.
The Nanton Lancaster Society and its Air Museum is pleased to be included in this forthcoming CD production.

Baechler Donation

Glen Baechler of Ontario recently donated a number of items to the Society. One of these was a wooden propeller for a Wright R975, 450 h.p. engine.
Richard deBoer, of Calgary, who does appraisals of the value of donated items offered to our museum, informed us that the only aircraft using this Wright engine with a two-bladed wood prop was the Avro Anson Mk.IV. Thi was a relativedly rare model Anson which resulted from mating Mk.I and Mk.II airframes with the Wright N975 engine. Very few Ansons were actually converted this way.
Glen’s donation also included instruments and various vintage aircraft components. Another interesting item was the dual headphone and microphone set. Richard tells us that this unit would have been used for instructor-student communications in a training aeroplane and it is relatively rare.
The Society extends a sincere thanks to Glen Baechler for the artifacts that he has added to our collection. We hope that in the future he will be able to visit our museum and we can meet him personally.

Fuel Bowser News

Progress has been made in the restoration of the museum’s 1941 fuel truck (bowser.) Due to the joint efforts of our museum and the BCATP Museum at Brandon, Manitoba, we now have had the castings for the hose booms made. We had tried unsuccessfully to find someone here in southern Alberta to cast a second one for us and two for Brandon (they had none) at a reasonable price.
Reg Forbes of the Brandon museum visited here last summer. He took our one casting we had gotten from Wally Fydenchuk of Centralio, Ont., as a pattern. Reg found a sympathetic foundary which made the three castings up at a very reasonable price. In addition Reg found a machine shop in Manitoba which did the machining at a reasonable cost. So, while the new casting and our original are still in Brandon, we now have a set and can make up the pipe booms, etc.
Nanton’s, Siebens Auto Industries is well along with the body work and we should be able to display the restored unit this summer sometime. They have also donated toward fixing up the WWII BCATP fuel truck. Our THANKS to all who have helped!

Aircrew Association

Over the years the Southern Alberta Branch of the Aircrew Association, in Calgary, has supported the NLS Air Museum numerous times. We have many friends and supporters from among the members of this group.
On October 24,1996, NLS members Jim Wiersma and Bob Evans attended a luncheon meeting of the Association in Calgary. Here they were presented with a cheque by President Eric Atkinson to assist with the expansion of the Nanton Air Museum.
Both Bob and Jim spoke to the meeting about what was happening at our museum and about plans for the expansion of the building.
We would like to herewith , express our gratitude, by again saying THANKS for the on-going assistance given us over the years by the Aircrew Association and also by its individual members.

Clarence Simonsen and Aviation Nose Art

On the evening of March 25/97, a small group of local NLS members listened with rapt attention to Clarence Simonsen relate the history or “nose art” on aircraft. He has spent the last 30 years researching and recreating art work that graced wartime and other aircraft.
Clarence told us that the artwork painted on aircraft did not, as mony people think, originate in the United States. Nose art originated in France during World War One and reoccurred huring WWII on RAF aircraft. When the war started, the War Office had strict orders that nothing could be painted on RAF aircraft except insignia. Soon, however, pilots and crew members were demanding permission and the order was changed.
It was likely the Americans who picked up on it and took the art form to its ultimate. Many of the nose art displays related to Walt Disney cartoon characters and Disney did promote his art on WWII aircraft.
Clarence Simonsen has not only researched the history of nose art but has accumulated enough material to publish a good-sized book on the subject. He has much documentation, plus photos and pieces of original nose art. Clarence is looking for a publisher for this material, which he has spent 30 pears of his life putting in place.
Clarence’s great love of this art form does not stop with research. He actually reproduces original nose art on pieces of metal and fabric from scrapped WWII aircraft and others. He has donated many pieces of his recreated nose art to several museums and institutions.
Clarence’s work is on a par with that of well-known artists in other fields. The materials and selected art form are what makes it unique. The Nanton Air Museum will very soon display one of his creations on the Society’s Lascaster mockup nose section. We hope to use an actual panel from a scrapped wartime Lancaster.
Our THANKS goes out to Clarence for making the trip to Nanton to inform us about “nose art” and its historic importance.

Students Visit

Mrs. Bev DePaoli, teacher at the Cayley, Alberta elementary school has been bringing her classes to the museum for the past three years as part of their social studies program. She is one of a growing number of teachers who are making use of the museum to inform about WWII history.
The museum promotes visits by teachers and their clases and will arrange to have someone to talk to them about the Lancaster and the museum. In 1996 the museum was visited by several school groups.
We believe that our museum has an obligation to inform the next generation(s) about WWII Bomber Command and the BCATP. These great contributions to the overcoming of the terrible Nazi regime has, in some cases, been entirely ignored or treated as unimportant by the writers of school text books.
We are trying in our small way to make sure that young people are made aware of this part of history and the important lessons to be learned from it, so that it doesn’t happen again.

In Memoriam for Hamish Mahaddie

A good friend of our Society, Group Captain Hamish Mahaddie DSO, DFC, AFC, CzMC, C.Eng, FRAES, RAF (Retd), passed away on January 16/97 at the age of 85 years.
Hamish was among the founding crew members of the RAF’s wartime Pathfinder Force (PFF.) He had survived his first tour with Bomber Command and then a second with the ‘Pathfinders.’ He then was selected as Group Training Officer and responsible for finding and training of all PFF crews. Finally he was given command of RAF Warboys, the PFF Training Unit.
Those of you who attended the dedication of the Nanton Lascaster to Ian Bazalgette VC in 1990 will remember the Hamish was the entertaining speaker at that event. ‘Baz’ had prevailed on Hamish to be recruited for PFF after having completed his first tour of ops.
His visit to Nanton was the highlight of that year for the Society. In his short time here he made many friends. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to know Hamish. He also wrote the foreword for our book “Baz.”

The Nanton Lancaster extends sincere condolences to Hamish’s family.

Copyright 2010, Nanton Lancaster Society