Newsletter – 1999 Spring and Summer

Honouring “The First Of The Ten Thousand”

Sixty years to the day after the first Canadian was killed in the Second World War, the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum will host an event in his honour and open a special display at the museum.

Sgt. (Pilot) Albert Stanley Prince was killed on September 4, 1939, while attacking enemy warships at Wilhelmshaven on the first Bomber Command raid of the war. He was the first of almost ten thousand Canadians to be killed while serving Bomber Command.
Fifteen Blenheims took part in the attack but only nine found the target due to low clouds and rain. Five aircraft from No. 110 Squadron enjoyed the advantage of surprise when they dropped their bombs at very low level. At least four bombs struck the pocket battleship “Admiral Scheer” but all failed to explode, most bouncing off the armour plated deck. One aircraft crashed into the cruiser Emden killing all aboard the aircraft and nine aboard the warship.

Sgt. Prince was flying one of four No. 107 Squadron aircraft which attacked next. By now the enemy was ready and waiting. One of the Blenheims was thought to have been brought down by the blast of its own bomb and the others were shot down by flak. Sgt. Prince’s Blenheim was ditched in the sea. All three crew members were able to escape from the aircraft but Sgt. Prince died later in hospital. His two crew members became the war’s first Prisoners of War.
As the first of almost ten thousand Canadians killed while serving with Bomber Command, the Society believes that it is time Sgt. Prince’s story was told. With the help of North Vancouver member Don Currie, we have been researching the raid and attempting to locate photographs and other material related to Sgt. Prince’s role in it. We have made contact with his cousin, Jim Foster of Vancouver, who is a former No. 78 Squadron air/gunner. He connected us with Sgt. Prince’s son, Bill Prince in England, who has in turn provided us with valuable photographs and other information.

An article rgarding Sgt. Prince has been submitted to “Airforce” magazine and will be published in the July issue.

As well, the Society has commissioned John Rutherford, a prominent Canadian aviationartist, to complete a painting depicting the raid. This will be unveiled at our event on September 4, 1999. Further information will be mailed to members so that they will be able to attend the commemoration ceremonies honouring “The First of the Ten Thousand.”


Commemorating the Sixtieth Anniversary of the death of Sgt. (Pilot) Albert Stanley Prince the first Canadian Military Casualty of the Second World War

Featuring a “Poppy Drop” with one poppy for each of the Ten Thousand Canadian Bomber Command Aircrew who were killed

Nanton, Alberta
September 4th, 1999; 2:00 p.m.

The purpose of the event is to draw attention to the fact that it is sixty years since the beginning of WW II and to honour those Canadians who gave their lives.

Sgt. Prince was the pilot of a Blenheim Bomber. On the second day of the war (September 4th, 1939), he was shot down while attacking an enemy battleship and became the first of almost 10,000 (9919 to be exact)Canadians to be killed while serving in Bomber Command during World War II.(Photos and more detailed information regarding Sgt. Prince are available.)

Special guests at the ceremonies will include:
-Bill Prince, Stoke on Trent, England -Sgt. Prince’s son
-Jim Foster, Squamish, BC -Sgt. Prince’s cousin
-Major General Lloyd Campbell, Winnipeg, Man. -officer commanding theCanadian Air Force
-Derek Farthing, Dutton, Ontario -President, Bomber Command Association of Canada

The ceremonies will include:
-The unveiling of a restored cockpit section of a Blenheim bomber in thecolours and markings of Sgt. Prince’s aircraft.
-The unveiling of a commissioned painting depicting Sgt. Prince’s attack onthe battleship.
-Aircraft flypasts including a poppy drop and a special salute by theCanadian Armed Forces.

For further information regarding this special event please contact:
The Nanton Lancaster Air Museum
Telephone: 403-646-2270; Fax: 403-646-2214

Lancaster Update

We continue to progress with the restoration of Lancaster bomber FM-159, our museum’s centrepiece. This winter saw the building of the rear section of the cockpit canopy, an all-wood laminated frame to which the Perspex will be added later. Calgary member Blair Towill took on the restoration of this much needed component. Curator Bob Evans, had offered to undertake the building of this canopy frame. Before he could get started, Blair offered to take on this project in his Calgary home shop. His offer was immediately accepted!

Blair has completed two frames, one for Avro Lancaster FM-159 and a second one for the museum’s Lanc mock-up cabin section.

Bob Evans, and John Green, NLS flight director, visited Blair Towill’s home and workshop on April 9, 1999, to see the nearly completed frames and discuss details of the final finishing. They were advised of all the steps involved with this project. The photos accompanying this article do not do justice to Blair’s excellent workmanship.

The Society’s good friend and member George Ryning of the Aero Space museum in Calgary, supplied the drawings for both the Lancaster rear canopy frame and the forms on which the cockpit canopy frames were built.

All in all, a very exacting job, well executed!! Our Grateful THANKS to Blair Towill for this great boost towards completing the Lanc canopy and to George Ryning for his very special aid with the project.

Restoration work on the Lanc will get another boost in June when Paul and Peter Whitfield, Sarnia, Ontario, and Larry Wright, Calgary, Alberta, get together with British AME, Ian Hicklan, to work toward eventual start-up of FM-159’s four Merlin engines. They will also install the rear cabin canopy and its perspex. Larry Wright has spent several Saturdays during the winter working in the cockpit of the Lanc in preparation for the June work.

In regard to the eventual running of the Merlins, an estimated $30,000 is needed to expand the present door size to 110 feet, which will enable the Lanc to be rolled out for the engine start-ups. Funding for this may become a priority in the next year or so.

Blair Towill and the Lanc canopy frame

Financial Report

The Society continues to enjoy a stable financial situation. Through our strong volunteer program together with policies which minimize on-goingoperating costs, we are able to devote the vast majority of donations received to the improvement of our facility, the restoration of our aircraft, and the development of displays and programs.

The assistance provided through federal and provincial student summer employment programs is most appreciated but this is the only government funding which contributes to the operation of the museum.

With the completion of our 1200 square foot storage area this spring, our next capital expenditure may be directed towards the placing of concrete in the recently expanded hangar area.

As a member of our Society, you have contributed to our development in the past. Please consider a donation to help us continue our progress in 1999 and beyond.

Halifax Display

Our expanded main gallery now features a partial display honouring the aircraft in which most of #6 Group’s operations were flown, the HandleyPage Halifax.

The centrepiece of this display will be a Halifax propeller blade excavated from a crash site in Belgium. Larry Motiuk of the 426 Squadron Association, Karl Kjarsgaard, and Jay Hammond have all been instrumental in making this artifact available to our museum. Featured as well will be nose art painted on original skin from the Halifax bomber being restored at the RCAF Museum at Trenton, Ontario. This reproduction is courtesy of Clarence Simonsen, nose art researcher and artist.

As well, various paintings, photographs, and written information regarding the Lancaster’s worthy wartime partner, the Halifax bomber, will be part of the display.

Your Society hopes to have the personalities mentioned above, on hand whenthe display is officially opened later in the summer.

Note: The HALIFAX display will be officially opened on June 19, 1999 at 1:30 p.m.

Dave Birrell accepts Halifax nose are from artist and “nose art” researcher Clarence Simonsen.

New Library

From the earliest days of the Nanton Lancaster Society we have been acquiring books, manuals, videotapes, and other materials which pertain to our goals of honouring those who served in Bomber Command and commemorating the BCATP. As these materials continued to grow into an impressive collection, they began to occupy more and more of our office to the detriment of both the office and the library collection.

As part of the expansion we are in the process of completing, our collection now has a suitable home. Our 18’x20′ library is a beautiful room, dedicated to being a permanent home for our books and other archival material and a meeting room. Featuring prints and paintings from our collection of aviation art, the library also has an impressive group of tables and chairs and provides a very attractive area in which to host guests, conduct meetings, or undertake museum oriented-research.

But the library is also a display in itself. A very large window donated by Ab and Joan Fox, our president’s parents, opens up onto the museum so that visitors can enjoy looking into the library and those in the library can look out into the museum. The library will not be open to all of our visitors but Society members who wish to make use of it, or members of the public who request access, are welcome to do so.

Donations which assisted in the completion of the library came from our local Community Lottery Board Grant Program, Home Hardware in Nanton, Furniture Villa in Vulcan, Alberta, and Wittich Electric. One of our directors, Jim Wiersma, was responsible for building and finishing the tables and bookshelf units. Jim and his wife Pauline recovered a number of chairs and Jim’s nephew, Benjamin Wiersma of Airdrie, donated 14 very comfortable and attractive chairs. Scase and Company, a local accounting firm, donated a computer for the library.

You are welcome to use the library next time you visit, simply identify yourself as a member at the front desk.

Navigators Table

Lanc FM-159’s navigator table has been restored over the winter by Andy Lockhart, Calgary, Alberta. Andy brought the completed table back in early April after spending several weeks restoring the table frame and remakingthe top with its hinged storage opening.

The table will likely be installed in the Lancaster’s cabin area in June when Larry Wright, Paul and Peter Whitfield, along with UK AME Ian Hicklan, are slated to arrive for a two week work session on the Lanc.

Our Society extends its grateful THANKS to Andy Lockart for his help with this project.

Andy Lockhart restored the Lancaster’s navigator’s table

Plaques On The Wall

Members will be familiar with our plaque boards which list those who have assisted with the development of the museum.

As of April 24/99 there are 1115 plaques on display listing the names and home towns of contributors. Some also indicate that the donation was made in memory of a particular individual. A few moments spent perusing these boards demonstrates to our visitors the broadly based support our museum enjoys together with some touching references to friends and relatives.

One of the priorities in planning for our new display area was to enable the plaques to be displayed at eye level. In the past, our lack of space resulted in placing the display boards one above the other. Many of our members mentioned this made both the ones at the top and bottom difficult to read. This problem has now been solved and the plaque boards are now grouped attractively and efficiently at eye level.

If you are in the museum and looking for a particular plaque please check at the front desk for assistance. An alphabetical listing of all the names and the location of the plaques is available.

For information about the plaques that represent the Society’s “Square Footer Club,” “Lifetime Membership,” and “Wing Commanders Club,” please call the museum at (403) 646-2270.

The plaque boards newly displayed

Blenheim Project

Work has commenced on restoring the “Harry Whereatt” Bristol BolingbrokeMk.IV. The final result of this activity will be a static Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV bomber painted in its wartime camouflage colors.

The Blenheim’s six propeller blades are now restored and painted. The prop hub parts that are on hand are cleaned and ready for assembly. We are still missing some hub parts in spite of receiving all the leftover parts from the now completed Boly restoration at the British Columbia Aviation Museum at Sidney, B.C. Our THANKS to Stan Henderson and everyone at BCAM!

One vitally needed propeller part is a front hub (case) piece, through which the counter-weights protrude.

The rudder frame, which was restored by Bill Erickson of Claresholm, is now in the hands of one of our former SAIT students, Greg Morrison. He is going to complete the restoration and apply the fabric. Greg works as an Aviation Mechanical Engineer for High River Aviation Services, High River, AB, and has been volunteering once a week in the museum shop.

We will be hiring two SAIT first year AME students for the summer under a Federal Government Student Employment Grant just approved. Renewing the damaged aluminium skin on both the fuselage and wings of the Blenheim will be their main job for the summer.

ANYONE having spare Bolingbroke propeller parts (in any condition), as just mentioned in this article, please contact us. Your assistance would be very much appreciated!

The 2000 Project – Bristol Blenheim IV

Anson Report

The Society’s Avro Anson project has not been forgotten! Rob and Pat Pedersen are still working at restoring smaller parts including some of thewood framing for the fuselage. Their daughter, Krista generally accompanies them when they come to work on “Annie” and does her share of paint scraping, etc.

While the restoration of the Lancaster and the Blenheim project are presently high priority, restoration of “Annie” is continuing. The Petersens could certainly use some “more hands” to speed up the restoration process. More help will be available next year when the “2000 Blenheim” project is completed. Meanwhile, if anyone wishes to add their efforts to restoring this aircraft, please let us know. Rob and Pat havenumerous jobs they can set you to.

Our Society has assisted the B.C. Air Museum by supplying parts for the Anson II they are restoring. They, in turn, have supplied needed parts for our Blenheim project. As well, we have helped the Aviation Heritage Museum in Edmonton with Anson parts and drawings and they are reciprocating by restoring the flaps for our “Annie.”

The cooperation between our museum and the others mentioned has benefited all.

Tools Donated

Local member, Burt Ayles, recently donated a lifetime collection of mechanic’s tools and the rolling tool cabinet in which they were stored to the musum . This has doubled the tool selection in the NLS shop. These additional tools are a great asset, we have already put them to good use. Our Grateful THANKS go out to Burt Ayles!

(Eitors Note – Our good friend and member Burt Ayles has passed away shortly after the nwasletter was printed.)

More Donations

Donations of funds to the museum continue to be received by your Society. Some of the most recent donors were:

* The Southern Alberta Protective Association.
* The Selma Philips Estate.
* Calgary Aircrew Association.
* Richard deBoer.

Many other donations have been received including: aircraft wheels, cowlings, radios, instruments, uniforms, framed photos and prints, memorabilia, books, etc. The Society extends a grateful THANKS to the above mentioned persons and to everyone who donated in any way during the past year.

Towing Tractor

For a number of years the “towing tractor” has been a bit of a thorn in the side of local Society members. It has been one of the museum projectswhich was never quite completed. The lack of original parts such as clutch and brake pedals, an overhauled engine that was very “tight” still needing some small accessories, proper wiring, etc., kept this project from completion and made it somewhat of a challenge.

Several members have worked on it intermittently over the years. Alvin Berger supplied the brake and clutch pedals from a 1940 3/4 ton truck modifying them to fit. Assisted by Albert Fox, Alvin also built a new engine “hood.”

Merrill Honeyman and Fred Hollowell, who had worked on it back when the engine was originally overhauled, recently got totally involved again with the aim of finishing this project off. They spent several evenings over the last two months working to this end. The result – on Tuesday, April 4, they, with several other members on hand, started the engine for the first time since the project was originally undertaken. “Finally, it runs!”

This towing tractor was originally obtained from 408 Squadron, CAF, Edmonton, AB. According to personnel there, this unit may have been used at one time on Canada’s only aircraft carrier the Bonaventure. It’s history is not documented.

Norm Etheridge

A most valued member and friend of the Society, Norm Etheridge, donated some very valuable and sentimental items to our museum this past winter. These included maintenance manuals for the Lancaster and the Packard Merlin 224 engine. Norm, as you likely know, was Chief Engineer on the Mynarski Lancaster restoration project.

Norm has also donated several limited edition prints, including “Entering The Labyrinth” by artist Don Rogers, and a copy of “The Dam Busters” by Robert Taylor.

Also donated, and now occupying a prominent spot in our new library display space, are three collector plates and four mugs depicting various Lancaster related events.

Norm Etheridge also sent his story of the painstaking restoration of Lancaster VR-A. A most interesting tribute to the dedication of many volunteers over the nine years it took to restore the Mynarski Lancaster to airworthy condition.

The Society extends a grateful THANK YOU to Norm Etheridge for his generous donations and continuing interest in our museum. We look forward to seeing him in person at the CAPA conference in October.

Lancaster Photos Donated

Steve Dixon of Brant, Alberta, holds a framed selection of photographs of the Lancasters stored at the Claresholm BCATP base after the war.

The original photos were taken by Steve in 1947. This photo montage is now on display in the museum. The society extends a Grateful THANKS to Steve and Helen Dixon for this donation to the museum.

WWII Pathfinder Visits

Former Pathfinder navigator, Mike Horlick, of Regina, Saskatchewan, was a recent visitor to the museum. He had not been in a Lancaster since the war ended so it was an emotional reunion for him. Mike, originally from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, trained as a navigator with the BCATP. When sent to England he served with 635 Squadron RAF. He was very involved with the development of the “GEE” navigation equipment during his tour of duty.

The trip to the NLS museum was arranged by a family friend, Todd Lemieux of Calgary, Alberta. Todd, a former resident of Moose Jaw, told us that Mike Horlick had expressed several times over the years, his desire to see a Lancaster up close once again.

Several of Todd Lemieux ‘s friends (who along with Todd had been Air Cadets in Moose Jaw and now living in the Calgary area) were part of the group touring the museum on April 12/99.
The Society was pleased to be able to reunite Mike Horlick with aLancaster after nearly 60 years.

CAPA Convention ’99 (by Dan Fox)

The weekend of October 29 – 31, and November 1, 1999, will be an exciting one for the Nanton Lancaster Society. We are co-hosting this year’s Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association (CAPA) convention, along with the Calgary Aero Space Museum.

CAPA has grown tremendously over the past few years. On behalf of your museum, some of the NLS directors have attended past conferences in Wetaskiwin, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Winnipeg.

Most of the air museums in Canada, stretching from Halifax, NS, in the east, to Comox, BC, in the west, are represented in CAPA. They represent the majority of vintage aircraft collections in Canada and countless hours of volunteer restoration time.

We are proud to be a member of CAPA and co-host this year’s convention. It promises to be a very interesting and informative weekend. Norm Etheridge, our good friend from Ontario, who was chief engineer for the restoration of the flying “Mynarski” Lancaster, will be a guest speaker at this conference. The Calgary Aero Space Museum will be giving a presentation on the restoration of their Tri-Plane and Mk. II Anson, as well as hosting the Saturday night banquet.

All in all, we are looking forward to a productive meeting that will be of benefit to all aviation museum members. Also, we will be introducing our eastern cousins to some first class western hospitality.

Wartime Bicycle

A new display in the museum is a wartime folding bicycle donated in 1995 by Doug McGowan of Nanton.

This bike was purchased by Doug’s father after the war from a war surplus supply. The exact history of this artifact is not known. However, bicycles were a common method of individual transportation around airfields and other military establishments during WWII.

Several persons have contributed to its restoration. It has been in storage since it was dismantled and the paint removed by our AME students two years ago. Nanton resident Harold Andrews transported it to Blackie, Alberta, where bicycle collector Richard Percifield reassembled it. Harold also delivered it back to the museum.

The final finishing and painting was donated by Jim Goller of Mountain Auto Graphics, a local auto body repair business.

Our Society extends a special THANKS to Doug McGowan, Harold Andrews, Jim Goller, Richard Percifield and everyone who contributed to the restoration of this small but unique artifact.

Visit By Wartime Artist

Tom Walton, artist of the original nose art “Sugar’s Blues” on a WWII Lancaster, visited the museum on April 14/99. Tom and his wife Millie were met at the museum by several NLS members and nose art researcher and artist, Clarence Simonsen, of Airdrie, AB. Clarence had reproduced Sugar’s Blues on the museum’s Lancaster mock-up cabin section a two years ago.

The Society had anticipated a visit from the Waltons since their move from Toronto to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in 1998. NLS treasurer, Dave Birrell, has been communicating with Tom Walton for some time regarding the original nose art, Sugar’s Blues. A lot of historic information has been gathered from Tom about the painting.

Lancaster, “Sugar’s Blues” was flown to Alberta after the war and eventually scrapped along with hundreds of other wartime aircraft. No effort was made to save even the portion of skin on which the art was painted. At the time, no one thought of this as a unique art form that should be saved. Clarence Simonsen is one of the few people in Canada who recognized nose art as an art form worthy of recognition. He has spent over 30 years researching, documenting, and personally reproducing nose art. His book on the subject will go to print sometime this summer.

In Special Recognition of Lynne Maynard

Lynn has proof read our twice yearly newsletters since Volume II Issue No. 1. Her expertise has helped make our museum newsletter one of the best.
We herewith extend a special THANKS to Lynn for her indispensable help.

In Memoriam For

*Selma Philips
a long-time supporter of the museum. Selma was a museum volunteer and was instrumental in having the 1942 Ford crash truck donated from Forestburg, Alberta.

* Bill Shaw
local resident and supporter of the museum. Bill supplied many vintage parts, for restorations of the crash trucks, fuel bowser, towing tractor, etc., from his collection of vintage vehicles.

* E. A. (Eddy) McLean
local resident and Lifetime member of the Society.Eddy was one of our early supporters.

On behalf of the Nanton Lancaster Society and all its members, we extend deepest sympathy
to the families and friends of Selma Philips, Bill Shaw, and Eddy McLean.

Copyright 2010, Nanton Lancaster Society