A Tribute To Our Canadian Prisoners Of War (August 12, 2000)
Each summer for the past ten years our Society has held what we feel are very successful events to honour various aspects of our Country’s contribution to the air war from 1939 to 1945. In 1990 we organized a dedication ceremony to honour S/L Ian Bazalgette VC, the only Albertan to be awarded the Commonwealth’s highest decoration for bravery during WW II. Last summer we commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Sgt. Albert Prince, the first Canadian Airman to be killed during World War II.
Our event for 2000 will honour those Canadians who became Prisoners of War. The tribute will focus on P/O Barry Davidson, an Alberta pilot who was shot down on July 6, 1940. P/O Davidson and his crew were immediately captured by the enemy. During his time at Stalug Luft III prison camp Barry became a key player in what has become known as “The Great Escape.” He had spent almost five years in confinement when he was released at the end of the war.
As part of the ceremonies we will be dedicating our Blenheim IV Bomber which is currently under restoration to Barry’s memory. The aircraft will carry the markings of the 18 Squadron Blenheim which he was flying on the day he was shot down.
Through the dedication of this aircraft to P/O Davidson, the Society intends to honour all those Canadians who became Prisoners of War during World WarII. To this end we are coordinating our planning with various Prisoner of War and other veterans’ organizations. We will be scheduling various ceremonies, a luncheon, and participation by vintage and modern aircraft.
Honouring Sgt. Albert Stanley Prince
September 4, 1999. witnessed another memorable event at the museum where the sacrifice made by an individual during the Second World War was commemorated. Sgt. (Pilot) Albert Stanley Prince was the first Canadian serviceman to be killed during the war and the first of some ten thousand Canadian aircrew to die serving with Bomber Command. He lost his life on the first Bomber Command attack of the war when his Blenheim Bomber was shot down during an attack on enemy warships at Wilhelmshaven.
The Society had spent some time researching the raid in which Sgt. Prince participated and locating information regarding this young Canadian pilot. The complete story was summarized by the Society and published in the Summer 1999 issue of Airforce Magazine. It is now available on this website.
The ceremonies were held inside the museum which was filled to capacity. Following a welcome by Society President Dan Fox and the introduction of special guests, Dave Birrell described the events of September 4, 1939, during which Sgt. Princeâs aircraft was lost.
Guest speaker Major General Lloyd Campbell from Winnipeg, Manitoba, officer commanding No. 1 Canadian Air Division, described how the traditions, spirit, and dedication of todayâs aircrew had their origins in the operations carried out by Sgt. Prince and his contemporaries in Bomber Command. Derek Farthing, from Dutton, Ontario, the president of the Bomber Command Association of Canada, spoke of the need to educate future generations as to the sacrifices made by Sgt. Prince and the other Ten Thousand Bomber Command Casualties.
The museum’s volunteers had restored a cockpit section of a Blenheimaircraft to its RAF markings and this was unveiled in memory of Sgt. Princeby Major General Campbell, Derek Farthing, and Jim Foster, Sgt. Prince’scousin from Squamish, British Columbia.
The Society had commissioned a painting by John Rutherford depicting the events of September 4, 1939. This was unveiled by our special guest, Bill Prince. Bill is Sgt. Prince’s son and had travelled from Stoke-on-Trent, England, with his wife Margaret for the ceremonies. Bill presented the Society with the wings and squadron crest worn by his father during his last flight. These special gifts will soon be added to the “Sgt. Prince” display which is now a special part of the Lancaster Air Museum.
Following the ceremonies, the flypasts featured a CAF Tutor, Tiger Moth, Chipmunk, L-29 jet, and Expeditor. The climax of the flying displays was the dropping of ten thousand poppies, one for each of the Canadians killed while serving with Bomber Command.
The Blenheim cockpit section was unveiled on Sept 4, 1999,
at the special event honouring “The First of the Ten Thousand.”
Halifax And Two Other Displays Unveiled June 19, 1999
With such terrific progress having been made at the museum during the first half of 1999, the Society found it necessary to combine the official openings of two significant new areas of the museum as well as the opening of a major new display.
Representatives of the two levels of government who had assisted in the funding of the new display area and our library were present to cut a ribbon officially opening this new section of the museum. Don Tannas MLA represented the province which had provided $107,000 through the Community Facility Enhancement Program which distributes Lottery Fund revenues. Mayor Ken Curle represented the Town of Nanton which made available an interest free loan of $40,000.
After many years of being “politely prodded” by Halifax veterans and others, a display honouring the Lancaster’s faithful partner was opened.
The display features a Halifax prop blade from an aircraft which was recovered from a bog in Belgium in 1997. Jay Hammond of Nelson, BC, whose uncle was killed in the crash, was instrumental in the recovery of the aircraft parts and the remains of his uncle and two other crew members. Canadian Airlines Captain Karl Kjarsgaard helped organize this operation. As well as the story of Jay’s uncle and the Halifax recovery, the display includes a nose art painting by Clarence Simonsen, paintings of the Halifax, and basic information about the aircraft and its important role during WW II.
Cliff Black, a former Halifax pilot and wartime commanding officer of 426 Squadron, Bill Christofferson, who was chosen because of his good-natured promotion of the Halifax over the years, – and Jay Hammond shared in the ribbon cutting ritual. Cliff, Bill, and Jay participated in the event as guest speakers prior to the official opening of the display.
NLS Receives Award
The “99’s,” a prestigious national organization of women pilots, has announced that the Nanton Lancaster Society has been awarded this year’s”99’s Canadian Award in Aviation.”
The object of the award is to promote aviation throughout Canada. An award is given annually to educational organizations, charitable institutions, or private individuals whose activities promote, improve, or preserve aviation and aeronautics in Canada.
The award was formally presented to the Society at the museum by Rosella Bjornson who was raised on a farm near Champion and has been a commercial pilot for the past 23 years. She is currently a Boeing 737 captain with Canadian Airlines and a member of the “99s.”
Interestingly, the Society has acquired Lancaster parts from the Bjornson farm as well as an Avro Anson aircraft. During her tour of the museum, Rosella recalled gathering up her dolls and going out to the Anson to play and pretend to be a pilot.
The Society intends to use the $1400 which accompanies the award to assist in the purchase of a computer simulator which will allow visitors to “fly” a Lancaster Bomber.
Society To Be Featured On The Discovery Channel
The Society was pleased to host a crew working on a documentary which will be presented by the Discovery Channel’s “Flightpath” series. Through our website the network became acquainted with our plans to honour Sgt. Prince and contacted the Society late last winter regarding the possibility of attending the ceremonies.
Director Chris Terry, together with a camera man and sound technician, ended up spending five full days in the museum carefully documenting not only the Sgt. Prince story, but the story of our museum and its development as well.
We look forward to seeing the results of their efforts on “Flightpath” early in the year 2000.
Local “Actors” To Be On Discovery Channel
Several local people were interviewed and filmed by the Flightpath film crew. Included were: ex-Lancaster pilot Joe English; NLS treasurer (and author) Dave Birrell; President Dan Fox; Curator Bob Evans; and others.
Some of these personalities may not make it to the final film used for Discovery Channel. The film crew did indicate that the two young “actors,” Chris Scase and Jason Evans, who dressed in WWII flying gear and played the parts of Blenheim pilot and navigator, would definitely “debut” when the film is shown sometime in January.
While this episode of Discovery Channel will feature the NLS museum, it will also show war footage of Lancasters and other aircraft of that era. Our members should be on the lookout for this program – it will probably be the best publicity your Society and it’s museum has had to date!
Your museum was the recipient of several framed prints of sketches portraying the Great Escape from POW Camp, Stalag Luft III. Joanne Kormylomade the presentation to the museum on behalf of the Kormylo family in memory of her late father, John Kormylo.
The prints had been obtained by John Kormylo, while organizing an International POW reunion in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1975. While John Kormylo was never a prisoner in Stalag Luft III, he had been a prisoner in several camps, namely, Stalag Luft I, Stalag IIIB, VIIIB, and IVB.
The prints will be included in a display to be unveiled on August 12, 2000, honoring all POW’s who were imprisoned by the Axis Powers during WWII. On that date the Blenheim bomber will be dedicated to the late Barry Davidson (the “Scrounger”) in the “Great Escape.”
The Society would like to again express a grateful THANKS to Joanne for this very special donation.
The above article is revised from the original as printed in the Fall/Winter 1999 NLS Newsletter due to additional information being received. Our apologies to Joanne Kormylo for inaccuracies in the original printing .
Lancaster Worked On
The restoration of Lancaster FM 159 was given a real boost this summer.
In early June, the Whitfield family, Paul, Louise, and son Peter, of Sarnia, Ontario, along with NLS director Larry Wright of Calgary, spent nearly three weeks at the museum.
British AME Ian Hickling and friend Melanie Wilkinson, arrived a week later to complete the “team.” Ian donated his time at the museum and spent most of this checking FM-159’s Merlins to determine whether they were runnable. At East Kirkby, England, he is the engineer responsible for making the Merlins runnable on Lancaster NX-611 and is in charge of maintaining this taxiable Lanc.
Larry worked at restoring the cockpit interior, repainted the starboard roundel, assisted with installation of Plexiglas, etc.
Paul was largely responsible for the installation of the Plexiglas, which was completed except for one section. Time ran out so this last piece will be installed when the Whitfields visit again next year.
Ian Hickling gave the engines a clean bill of health for future running except for engine number 4, which needs valve work done on one cylinder. Of course, a great deal of work remains to be done over the next few years, installing new controls, gas lines, making brakes operational, etc.
Louise Whitfield and Melanie Wilkinson also worked at many things, sorting donated magazines, organizing the library, helping with work on the Lancaster, etc.
Lancaster Undercarriage Display Is A Popular Addition
The working example of Lancaster undercarriage was placed on display at the museum in June. Conceived and built by Society Director Larry Wright and member Bill Howe of A-1 Fluid Power in Calgary, the display involves an actual Lancaster undercarriage system including a Lanc wheel and tire. All of the parts were collected by the Society from farms in southern Alberta where wartime Lancasters had been scrapped during the 1950s.
The deposit of a dollar begins the demonstration which allows the visitor to observe the retraction of the gear and then its lowering and locking into place for landing. The system was designed to operate at the same speed as in the aircraft. Funds raised through the display are directed to the Lancaster restoration.
Bill Howe and Al Wittich.
On The Road Again
The Society makes every effort to promote the museum by participating in as many air shows and related events as possible throughout the year. During the past summer our travelling display put in appearances at the Cold LakeInternational Air Show, the Lethbridge International Air Show, and the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
The highlight was clearly the event at CFB Cold Lake where our friends in the military honoured the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Royal Canadian Air Force. An impressive ground display of aircraft included Alan Jackson’s full size mock-up of the Avro Arrow. Our display was situated inside one of the huge hangars and was next to 4 Wings’ CF-18 display. Tens of thousands of visitors filed past both our display and the Hornet which was presented in such a way as to demonstrate the armament and tactics which our Airforce had recently made use of in Kosovo.
The flying displays featured the ever-popular Snowbirds as well as two F-105 Starfighters and the USAF’s huge B-1 bomber which put on an unforgettable demonstration. The CF-18s of 4 Wing brought the show to a spectacular conclusion. All in all a most impressive show and the hospitality shown to the Society’s volunteers by the personnel at CFB Cold Lake was most appreciated.
To the visitor’s eye it may appear that little progress has been made in restoring our Blenheim. In spite of appearances this, our “Millennium”project, is well underway. Much has actually been accomplished over the past few months.
The Blenheim’s horizontal stabilizer and elevators are nearly ready for application of the fabric. In addition an estimated 90% of all metal repairs to the fuselage have been completed. Work consisted of re-riveting damaged sheet metal seams, patching the wing centre-section, replacing wing root fairings, and repairing the gun turret mounting position.
One of our volunteers, AME Greg Morrison, from High River, AB, a former SAIT student employed by the Society about four years ago, has taken on repairing the outboard wing sections. He has one wing well along and should have it finished by year’s end. Greg has worked a number of Saturdays and nearly every Tuesday evening (this is ‘work night’ at the museum) over the summer. He has been assisted several times by Colin Markle and Monica Dauenhauer, who are also AMEs from High River and Calgary respectively. Another volunteer, Charlie Cobb, from Calgary, has been coming nearly every Tuesday night during the summer to work on the Mercury engines. One engine is now ready for a paint upgrade.
It is our hope to have most of the work on the aircraft completed by May of 2000. The Society has applied for a federal government “Millennium” grant to do some of the restoration work and have the finished aircraft custom painted.
This is an ambitious project. Anyone reading this who would like to help make this happen, please contact us!
Charlie Cobb working on one of the Blenheim’s Mercury engines.
Pictured above are propeller parts the Society is in great need of to help complete the Blenheim/Bolingbroke restoration. Needed are one (1) front hub plate as illustrated in the photo on the left and five (5) counter weight arms as in the photo on the right.
The above propeller parts can be any condition and do not have to be airworthy, as the Blenheim is being restored as a static display aircraft.
Anyone having information where any of the items illustrated above can be obtained please contact the museum at (403) 646-2270 or Curator Bob Evans at (403) 646-2243.
Also needed are 8 sets of Mercury engine cylinder cooling baffles and 8 exhaust collector ring connecting tubes.
Finding any of these items will help to complete the Blenheim restoration. Your help in locating them would be much appreciated.
New Storage Area In Use Thanks To Corporate Donations & Volunteers
The late spring and summer saw the completion of our new 1200 square foot display area. After being “roughed in” as part of our winter of 1997/1998 expansion, the interior finishing was put on hold as the new display area and library were completed.
Through the assistance of a grant from Museums Alberta, the concrete and in-floor heating was installed in April with insulation, drywall, and electrical completed shortly afterwards. Two-W Livestock Equipment Ltd. donated the steel necessary for storage shelves. The steel was then cut, welded, and installed by our volunteers. Bill and Gail Szabon, owners of Nanton IGA Groceries, donated nearly all the plywood for the storage room shelves and two standing shelf units.
Our Grateful Thanks goes out to these donors and to anyone who might have contributed other items or labor. Within the storage area an 8×20 foot separate room was included to provide clean storage for uniforms and other artifacts requiring special care.
The new storage area is now being used and, of course, we don’t know how we got along without it. A considerable amount of material has been moved from the restoration shop where it had been stored and this in turn opens up more area for restoration projects. Other material which had been stored in the main hangar area now has a new home as well. Our office area used to have lots of stored artifacts in it so it is now much neater and easier to work in.
The new storage area is a major step in the overall development of the museum.
Donations Of Display Cases
During the summer two display cases were donated to the museum. One by the Foothills Health Unit, High River, which is now in use exhibiting part of our extensive aircraft model collection. The other, donated by Roy Nelson of Nanton will become part of a display now being assembled, which will be added to the front gallery next year.
This summer the museum shop was very productive. This was due in part to the hiring of two first year AME students from SAIT, Darryl Dietrich an Doug Kosak. They were hired under the Summer Career Placement Program and were on staff with us from mid-May until the end of August. Our THANKS goes to the Government of Canada for their assistance in this regard.
Most of the work accomplished over the summer by Darryl and Doug was directed toward restoration work on the “Millennium” Project Blenheim and to the Blenheim cockpit section. The latter was unveiled on September 4, 1999 as part of the Society’s special day which honoured “The First of the Ten Thousand.”
Due to the efforts of these two SAIT students, work on the fuselage of the Blenheim “2000 project” progressed very well. This aircraft is to be dedicated to the late Barry Davidson (of the Great Escape) in the year 2000.
Another reason for increased activity in the shop was establishing Tuesday nights as “work night” at the museum and attendance has been great! Most work nights have seen up to ten volunteers working on various projects. Some of these labors went towards the finishing of the new storage area adjacent to the shop. Recently the many donated items stored in the shop over the last few years were moved into this new area, freeing up considerable work space.
Over the past summer, the husband and wife team of Rob and Pat Pedersen, whom at present make up the Anson restoration work force, have been assembling some of the fuselage wooden side frames and scrounging fittings from our stockpiled Anson collection.
All this is a slow process with only two people working once or twice a week. Even though visitors may not see much change, progress with the “Annie” project is being made.
With the restoration of the Blenheim “Millenium” project presently being a priority, other restoration work, such as the Anson has been temporarily placed on the “back burner.”
Next year, with the Blenheim completed, we anticipate that Annie will become more of a priority project and a much larger team will really “get to work” on this project.
In Memoriam For
*Burt Ayles, Supporter, volunteer extraordinary, and most of all a good friend. Just prior to his passing on Burt donated a lifetime collection of tools for use in the museum shop.
* Bill deRoaldes, Long-time resident of Nanton and Lifetime Member and friend of the Society.
* Karl Coolen, Member and long time supporter from Ontario.
On behalf of the Nanton Lancaster Society and all its members, we extend deepest sympathy
to the families and friends of Burt Ayles, Bill deRoaldes, and Karl Coolen.
Copyright 2010, Nanton Lancaster Society