Americans In The RCAF During World War II
Photos below are an overview of the well-attended August 25 event honouring those Americans who joined the RCAF prior to Pearl Harbour and fought for freedom along with their Canadian Cousins.
Some of the crowd at the outdoor breakfast.
Smiling Lions cook breakfast for those attending. Lions members are always pleased to help with the fly-in and have donated the breakfast funds back to NLS.
John Phillips “swings the prop” to start the Fleet Fawn’s Kinner engine.
BATUS Gazelle helicopter lands with British crew to attend the August 25 event.
The Kinner starts with a bit of smoke.
Larry Oakman from Swift Current, Sask., in the Fleet’s front cockpit. Larry’s dad, Ernie donated this aircraft to NLS in 1990.
The Lancaster’s inner Starboard Merlin engine seen here being run-up – it started on the second turn!
It was run-up four times during the day that saluted the Americans who served in the RCAF.
Americans In The RCAF
During our summer event, Dick Anderegg, Director of History and Museums for the United States Air Force, and Gordon Symons officially opened a set of three permanent display panels that introduce the history related to the Americans in the RCAF. One of the panels lists the names of 753 American airmen who were killed while wearing our country’s uniform.
Gordon and his two brothers were all wartime RCAF pilots. He is the author of “The Boys of Spring.” We were pleased that he chose our summer event for the official launch of his book. As well, Gordon sponsored our new display. NLS very much appreciates his contribution.
Gordon Symons, Dick Anderegg and NLS president, Rob Pedersen, in front of the newly opened American exhibit.
The new “Americans in the RCAF” display just prior to the ribbon cutting that officially opened the exhibit in the museum.
Dick Anderegg, Director of History and Museums for the USAF, spoke to the luncheon crowd about the joint efforts of Canadians and Americans in WWII.
Judy Armstrong sang O’Canada and The Star Spangled Banner to open the indoor ceremonies. RCMP Cst. A.J. Mand stands at attention.
Thomas Huffaker, American Consul General, from Calgary, brought greetings to those attending the August 25 event.
Jim Blondeau sings “The American Eagle,” a song he had written specially for the NLS event,
honouring the Americans who had served with the RCAF during WWII.
“Nuts for Nazi nose art.
Clarence Simonsen and Joe McCarthy Jr. unveil the nose art panel dedicated to Joe McCarthy Sr., an American Volunteer who took part in the WWII Dams Raid.
Biographer Holds Seminars
Biographer Linda Granfield, held two seminars on the morning of August 25, to start off the day that saluted the Americans in the RCAF. She talked about the life of WWII Spitfire pilot, John Gillespie Magee, an American who volunteered with the RCAF at the beginning of WWII.
The NLS extends THANKS to Linda for her contribution to this summer’s event.
Linda Granfield, conducting a seminar about the life of John Gillespie Magee, who wrote the well-known poem “High Flight,” at the NLS summer event.
A Supporter and Friend of the Museum – MLA David Coutts
MLA David Coutts brought greetings from the Province of Alberta to those who attended the August 25 event.
As a great supporter of our aviation museum, David was instrumental in finding major funding (Lottery Funds) which has allowed us to complete Phase I of the 14,000 square foot building expansion. We owe David a debt of gratitude for this boost to our growing museum.
David has recently announced that he will not be standing for re-election in the next provincial election. We hope his replacement has the same vision for constituency tourism and the preservation of history that David has demonstrated.
Our Society wishes David “all the best” in his retirement.
Member of Legislative Assembly of Alberta, The Honourable David Coutts, addresses guests at the August 25 event luncheon.
A new dimension was added to this year’s summer event with the participation of eleven “Re-Enactors” or “Living Historians.” Travelling from as far away as Winnipeg and Oklahoma, they were introduced to our Society when we were both involved in the 2006 Oshkosh Air-Venture.
The Re-Enactors arrive at the Lancaster riding in the museum’s Jeep (on loan from Jerry Barthel of Lethbridge) to get ready for a “Night Op.”
Dressed in authentic RCAF uniforms and with a thorough understanding of the history, they remained “in-character” throughout the event. An entire “crew” drove up to the Lancaster in our jeep and climbed into the aircraft prior to its start-up. Wartime songs were sung at various times, and great photo “ops” were constantly available to our visitors.
The Re-Enactor “crew” just before taking up their positions in the bomber. Note the authentic WWII flying gear. The real wartime crew ladder at the entry door is always kept with the Lancaster in case it is needed by crews to board the bomber for such operations.
These Living Historians came at their own expense and camped in their wartime bell-tents on the front lawn of the museum. A big THANK YOU to Don and Marie Zorniak and their friends. We’re certainly hoping they will be available to participate in future events.
The “Re-Enactors” pitched their tents and actually slept in them while attending the “Americans in the RCAF” event of August 25, 2007.
If you’ve wondered how our museum came to be, a good introduction to our society’s history may be obtained by skimming through our museum newsletters. Each one, from the inaugural Spring -1987 edition to the current issue is available on the website.
One of our supporters, Jim Blondeau has made available a number of video clips that are now available on various parts of our website. Jim is a highly respected musician, songwriter, researcher, historian, and audio-visual professional and an enthusiastic supporter of our museum. He has attended several of our summer events. The clips include Jim singing “American Eagle,” the Dedication of Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial, and the raising of the giant RCAF flag prior to this summer’s event. Jim also wrote and performs “The Wall at Nanton” song for our Dedication Ceremony in 2005. NLS THANKS Jim Blondeau for making his work available for use on our website. Also you may want to visit Jim’s website at [www.dunrobincastle.com] to view the wide variety of other projects he has underway.
S/L Donald Patterson DFC
The museum is honoured to be entrusted with the medals, logbook, and archival material related to S/L Donald Patterson of Calgary. It was appropriate his family presented this memorabilia at our “Americans in the RCAF” event, as Donald’s crew included American Frank James, Waco, Texas. The Patterson Collection is one of the museum’s most extensive sets of archival material related to a single individual.
M.J. Patterson, S/L Patterson’s daughter, together with Bill Bessent, the mid-upper gunner on the crew, unveiled a spectacular, nearly full-size replica of “Willie the Wolf of the West,” the nose art that was carried on S/L Patterson’s No. 426 Squadron Halifax. Visit “The Clarence Simonsen Collection” at www.lancastermuseum.ca to view this replica and all of Clarence’s paintings held by the museum.
M.J. Patterson presenting S/L Don Patterson’s log book, medals, and memorabilia to NLS President Rob Pedersen at the August 25 event.
Rob Pedersen with former aircrew, Bill Bessent and Cliff Black, who have just unveild the nose art,”Willie the Wolf of the West” as reproduced by Clarence Simonsen. The original art was on Don Patterson Sr’s. wartime Lancaster.
The weather was good and attendance at the seventh annual NLS fly-in breakfast saw 42 aircraft fly in and a large number of participants arriving by automobile. Breakfast was served by the Nanton & District Lions Club. The local Cadet Squadron served hamburgers at lunch time. An enjoyable day for everyone.
Sunwest Aviation’s restored Beech Expeditor attended the NLS July fly-in. This aircraft has been in attendance at nearly all fly-ins in past pears and is always a crowd pleaser!
Our thanks to Sunwest Aviation and their pilots for adding greatly to the day.
Alex Bahlsen’s Stearman as seen through the wings of Gordon Johes’ Tiger Moth.
The tethered balloon added to the day.
Jerry’s Jeep with a supercub at the fly-in.
From Paris To Nanton
Philippe and Francoise Uziel, along with son Guillaume, of Paris, France, visited with Bob and Carol Evans in July and attended the 2007 NLS fly-in breakfast.
NLS members may remember that Guillaume had travelled to Canada in 2002 with the goal of working on a Canadian Lancaster bomber. He spent a week with the Evans family and spent some of those days working in the museum shop. True to form, during this visit he again insisted on spending a few hours in the museum shop, where he worked at cleaning up the Avro Anson windscreen frame.
Guillaume is busy working on the Anson windscreen frame.
Not to be outdone, his father Philippe has committed himself to translating the museum’s pamphlets into French so that this information would be available to French speaking tourists. Philippe has already sent back translated text to be incorporated.
Philippe and Guillaume have volunteered at the Paris aviation museum, Ailes Anciennes, where the lone French Lancaster is being restored. They left Nanton enthused and eager to again add their efforts to that of the other volunteers at the Ailes Anciennes in restoring Lancaster NX664.
We extend THANKS to Guillaume and Philippe for their efforts in making the museum better!
From L-R. Guillaume, Francoise, Philippe Uziel and Carol Evans share a laugh at the annual NLS Fly-In.
An Amazing Co-Incidence
During our summer event, Shere Lowe presented a print of the spectacular painting that she commissioned Len Krenzler to complete depicting John Hopgood’s Lancaster over the Mohne Dam. F/Lt. Hopgood’s aircrift was the second to attack and was set on fire. Hopgood successfully gained enough altitude for Shere’s father and one other crewman to escape but the pilot and the other crewmembres were killed shortly after the moment depicted in the painting.
After having the painting framed, it was hung in the front entrance of the museum on a Saturday morning. An hour later Jim Heather entered the museum and began chatting with one of our volunteers. He mentioned that his uncle’s name was on our Memorial Wall and our volunteer asked who his uncle was. Jim’s uncle was Ken Earnshaw, the navigator on John Hopgood’s aircraft.
Visit “The Dams Raid” section of our website to view Shere’s painting and read about John Hopgood and crew and www.actionart.ca to learn about Len Krenzler’s amazing artwork.
Museum Expansion – Phase II
The initial phase of our project was completed during the summer. We are pleased to have the initial 90′ x 160′ basic building expansion, c/w a concrete floor, heat tubing in the floor, and the storage mezzanine in place. The new area will be used for storage and some aircraft restoration work.
Phase II will enable us to: install a sprinkler system throughout the entire building (current building code requirement); construct interior walls to divide off the restoration shops at the west end of the new area; create a “multi-purpose” room for school and other groups’ large meetings; expand our small-artifact and interpretive display area; add another washroom; and incorporate a mezzanine area that will be available for additional displays and as a visitors’ viewing platform for the entire building. Once this is completed, our existing shop areas would then be removed, enabling visitor access to the entire building. Plans are also in the works to heat the entire building using a solar, geo-thermal system.
As things stabilize following our completion of Phase I, we are now actively working towards the necessary fund-raising to begin future development. If you have ideas as to how we might attract corporate and other financial support, please let us know.
First concrete arrives to pour the floor.
In-floor heat tubing – ready for concrete.
Concrete floor & mezzanine above shop area.
Signage indicates the museum addition is supported by funds from the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Lottery Board.
Boychuk Builders Ltd., was the contractor for the Phase I construction of the addition to the museum.
Museum with new addition.
Panel Changed In The Wall
One of the black granite panels on the Memorial Wall was changed in early August. Several of our 50,000+ visitors of the past couple of years, who have seen the memorial, have noticed that there was a discrepancy in the one panel. One whole row of names were inadvertently left off the original panel. The new panel corrects this oversight.
Setting the new panel in the Memorial Wall.
With the help of Dan Hjalte and his “picker” truck, the original panel was removed and the new one installed. NLS extends a special THANKS to Dan, who has helped museum with lifting other items in the past.
The panel in place – it was polished later.
The metal ingots shown in the photo below are from the remains of Halifax LW 682 which was removed from a Belgian bog a few years ago. NLS members Jay Hammond and Karl Kjarsgaard were involved in putting this recovery together. The remains of three Canadian crew members still in the aircraft were recovered and given a proper burial. Parts of LW682 were salvaged for restoration of the Halifax in the RCAF Museum, Trenton, Ontario.
The remainder of LW682 was smelted down and shipped to 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron Association at Trenton. As storage became a problem, Karl Kjarsgaard along with Larry Motiuk (426 Squadron) arranged with NLS to accept and store the ingots.
The 426 Squadron Association and the Air Force Museum retained several ingots for heritage purposes. The remaining 1700 pounds are now safely stored at Nanton.
The ingots will be held for use in heritage projects by the NLS Museum and/or other museums involved in the preservation of Second World War aviation history. The ingots will not be sold or used for any other purpose. Some ideas are presently being discussed as to how they might be used.
This past summer the Society said goodbye to two extraordinary, long-time volunteers. Keith and Pat Phillips have moved to Edmonton to be nearer their family. They have both been associated with the NLS almost since its inception. They have volunteered in many ways to help make the museum a success. Both Pat and Keith have manned the reception desk, signed up many additional volunteers, helped organize events, raised funds, and helped with anything else that needed doing.
The Phillips were also very involved in other aspects of the Nanton community. Their volunteering was not limited to just the museum. All their NLS friends wish Keith and Pat all the very best in their new home.
Pat and Keith Phillips.
Fairey Battle Project
After a trade with Darrell Brown in Ontario, our museum now has the bare beginnings of a “Battle.” Darrell delivered the instrument panel (as shown in the photo above) when he delivered a truck from Ontario to a friend in Alberta. He has more “bits” of this aircraft type which he will deliver next year when he travels to Nanton to pick up traded Bolingbroke parts.
Curator Bob Evans has been searching for Battle parts for some time to make up a display of this aircraft which was used on BCATP Bombing and Gunnery bases across Canada, one being situated at Lethbridge.
A wartime Fairey Battle in flight. Note the training aircraft, paint scheme stripes.
Ex-Lancaster Pilot & Friend Building An Airplane !
Joe English has talked about building an airplane for a number of years. He’s finally doing just that along with friend Peter Uithuisje. (Peter is originally from Holland where he has flown ultra light aircraft.) Joe English, of course is Nanton’s resident former WWII Lancaster pilot.
With Peter’s carpentry knowledge and Joe’s drafting abilities, they are busy making the components of the all wood, two-place, Falco airplane from blueprints.
The making of the initial components is going ahead in Peter’s small shop. Once assembly is started they are hoping for a space in the museum’s new addition. NLS members are looking forward to watching this project come together and to see Joe, who is 83, take to the air once again!
Peter Uithuisje and ex-Lancaster pilot Joe English hold up two components of the Falco two place aircraft they are building.
The on-going restoration of Lancaster FM159 continues.
Merlin #4 has been in the shop for over a year but is now nearly ready to reinstall on the aircraft. The overhauled prop is now back and in the museum awaiting the installation of the Merlin.
Both elevators are now back on the Lanc and the controls hooked up. They only need the final painting to match the upper area camouflage and the black underside.
The second overhauled Merlin engine nearly ready to be re-installed in #4 position on the Lancaster.
The port elevator is being re-installed on Lancaster FM159.
The newly overhauled propeller for the Merlin engine being moved into the museum. Curator Bob Evans runs the fork lift while John Phillips stands by.
Cowlings For The Blenhiem
While the Barry Davidson Blenheim has been on display for a number of years, we had never been able to find the upper cowling sections for the Mercury engines. Due to our friend Scott Marchand, curator at the Pima Air Museum in Arizona, we now have two sets of cowlings. Scott located them in southern California (the last place we would have looked) and purchased them for us. A bit of sheet metal work will make them presentable. THANKS to Scott Marchand, the Blenheim is another step closer to being a completed display!
Former WWII truck donated by Beau Builders at Burmis, Alberta. This vehicle had not yet been hauled as the newsletter was being printed.
Fork lift donated by Ocean Trailer Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta. Their service manager, Rick Featherstone, arranged for this. Rick lives in High River and is a volunteer in the NLS shop. This machine is a very welcome addition to the museum.
The Society hired aircraft detailer, George St. Denis, during the summer to polish the museum’s CF-100. He spent a lot of time over a three week period getting it to shine. During that time the weather was very hot in the daytime so George worked at night.
From the two photos above the difference of “before and afterwards” is very evident!
We extend a grateful THANKS to George St. Denis for his efforts and for donating some of his time in making this outside display look so much better.
Anson Restoration Update
First we would like to welcome our newest team member Gary Amundrud. Gary recently moved to Nanton and dropped by the museum wondering if there was something that he could help with. Gary comes to us with a background in Electronics and Avionics so naturally we found a job for him working with wood. We also had some unexpected help this summer from two fellows, Chris and Colby, from the US who were visiting Canada on a Bible camp exchange. While they were up here they helped out around the museum doing various tasks but were instrumental in the stripping down and priming of our Cockpit windscreen frame.
The Anson cockpit floor frame slowly coming together using as much of the original wood as possible.
John Maze is well underway restoring the original cockpit floor while Gary has tackled the challenge of restoring the two formers, which sit on either side of the crew door. Let me tell you that both of these projects are monumental tasks. The act of restoring is far more time involved than just making a new piece. In both cases old damaged wood is cut out and replaced with good wood. See one example in the photos below. Wherever possible we are re-using wood that came from the Anson instead of new wood.
Plans for the winter: Over the next couple of months, we should see the cockpit floor covered with plywood and installed into the fuselage, the starboard windows and formers painted and installed plus the cockpit windscreen frame installed.
The two photos above show “before and after” of an original wartime repair section in the Anson door frame and how the Anson “crew” kept this in the restored frame.
Fleet Fawn Engine Runs
Fleet # 264 is now back together after its fuselage spent the last year in the museum’s small shop, having the Kinner engine installed for running. This involved fitting fuel lines, instruments, brakes, etc.
In that same time frame the Kinner engine was overhauled by volunteer Gordon Neu and the engine mount modified in order to accept this make of engine. The engine was run-up several times before its official public running at the August 25 event.
Dan Hawken watches as Greg Morrison runs up the Kinner for the first time.
The recently acquired scissors lift was utilized in re-hanging the Fleet’s one-piece upper wing.
CAPA Conference 2007
Dave Birrell and Bob Evans attended this conference which was held, October 18-23 in Toronto, Ontario. The host museum was the Toronto Aero Space Museum (TASM). A full agenda was in place for the delegates from seventeen museums across Canada.
A meet and greet at the TASM on the evening of Thursday, October 18, was followed by two full days of conference and visits to the Toronto University’s Aerospace division and to Bombardier’s Dash 8 assembly factory at the old Downsview airport. The AGM was held Sunday morning and everyone headed home having rubbed shoulders with their counterparts representing the other museums. In several cases mutual help was agreed upon.
Seen here are robots at the Aerospace division of the University of Toronto.
These are first generation; newer versions are being developed for eventual use in the International Space Program’s future Mars expedition.
Testing takes place in the dome building (inset photo) which attempts to imitate the surface of the planet.
The visit here and to the Bombardier Dash 8 factory were both very informative.
The wings and other components of FM104 are seen here as exhibited in the Toronto Aero Space Museum (TASM)
The photo shows the repairs being done to the cut away bomb bay of Lancaster FM104 by Toronto Aero Space Museum. They are using parts from Lancaster FM118 that were originally salvaged by NLS.
This full size Avro Arrow replica is an impressive sight in the TASM. It looks like it could fly.
A sneak look inside shows it won’t! But what a great display!
57 Rescue (Canada) Ltd – Halifax Recovery Project
At the time of this writing, Karl Kjarsgaard has just filed report #21 to the website, www.57rescuecanada.com. Here is a paragraph excerpted from the report;
“Our most important Halifax sonar survey, to locate and inspect LW170, is very much a reality and soon we will be on our way to find our historic Halifax. I have been constantly corresponding by email and phone with the deep sea experts in Galway, Ireland, and their officials about the plans for the sonar survey. After much adjusting and evaluation of the scientific ship cruises scheduled for late 2007 and early 2008, our joint opinion is that we will be able to “piggyback” the Halifax sonar survey work on to one of these scientific cruises in the early part of 2008. That is the latest information on the efforts being made to recover the WWII Halifax, LW170, from the ocean floor.”
Check the website mentioned above for the full report.
Air Canada Captain Karl Kjarsgaard, Joe English, and Chris Charland visiting duirng the morning of the annual event. Karl and Chris are board members of 57 Rescue (Canada). Can’t you just hear them talking recovery of Halifax LW170 off the coast of Ireland!
Author and former WWII bomber aircrew, John Neal, seen here on August 25, at a table promoting his books; “Thank You Brother Ervin” and “Lucky Pigeon.” John is a long-time friend of the museum and is presently supporting the recovery of Halifax LW170 with all profits from his book sales. He is a member of the elite “Caterpillar Club” having bailed out of a Halifax bomber during WWII.
The large 40’x20′ air force flag as seen over the gun turret on Lancaster FM159 on August 25, 2007. Thanks to Karl Kjarsgaard for initiating this project!
On August 25, a Hawk jet trainer from CFB Cold Lake makes a pass over the museum and was caught between the two flags.
Letters and e-mail addressed to the Society have in some cases been edited.
We try to make sure the intent of the message is left intact.
To NLS Visitor Services Manager:
Jane and I would both like to thank you, and the other museum staff, very much for the wonderful time given us yesterday at the “Salute to the Americans in the RCAF” event. It was very successful from our point of view, and we hope also from yours. I have calculated the revenue from my book sales, and a cheque for your share will be in the mail tomorrow. The next time your museum considers starting up the motors of the Lancaster, you may wish to take the following into consideration. I was considering protesting the noise, which was drowning out the voices of some book buyers, when I suddenly remembered that it had been that noise that was responsible for the D.V.A. pension that I now enjoy. Looking forward to next year.
Derby, England, UK
Dear Sir or Madam:
I have very recently put my dad’s wartime diary on the web. It describes how the Lancaster bomber he was Flight Engineer on was shot down over Germany in the WWII, also how he was taken prisoner of war and eventually taken on a long march through Silesia (now Poland) ahead of the advancing Russian Army.
There are photographs of the Canadian crew members who were all killed and also a list of fellow POWs. I would very much like you to publicize this on your website so that family members of the crew and POWs can see it. It would also be good if as well you would hyperlink it to your site.
There are also accounts of my dad’s life with British South American Airways, British Overseas Airways (BOAC), the Berlin Airlift, as well as what it was like being a Flight Engineer. The website address is: www.davidscottdiary.co.uk
Thanks and best wishes
Red Lake, Ontario
I would like to thank you for putting this site together. My grandfather, PILOT OFFICER ROSS S. WEBB, was in the first Lancaster to go to Europe for the war. I would like to find any information on this. My grandfather and all who fought during the war deserve so much more respect than they get. It’s easy sometimes to forget about the war, but all one has to do is to look around you and see that our forefathers have given us “freedom from our suppressors.” Thank you and God bless all who lived and died for our freedom. Thank you. Please, if you have any info I would appreciate some feed back.
Rocky Mountain House, Alberta
Can’t wait to bring the family down to Nanton and admire everything the NLS has to offer the public. Great work on your web-site, love the pictures & stories.
Site visitor entry:
My wife & I visited the museum last month. We found it amazing what you have all achieved there; the displays are first class, the Lancaster well what can I say! And the splendid memorial outside, summed it all up. Brilliant!
Larry & Lyn Oakman,
Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan
Hi Bob Evans:
Please pass on to everyone our deep appreciation for all the hard work you put into the celebration Aug. 25th. Thanks to everyone who treated us so great!! Special thanks to Greg for letting me sit in the front seat of the Fawn during the engine run ups. I felt transported back to my childhood! I know Dad would have been so thrilled to hear it running so smoothly. It was an honor to be included in the day’s events and the supper that followed. The day was top notch from breakfast on and the service of remembrance at the wall was very poignant and emotional for many. We enjoyed visiting with everyone.
Thanks again. Have a good fall and winter and we look forward to next year.
F/O (Ret) Sid Buck,
Site visitor entry:
I would like to express my sincere thanks to those whose efforts made “The Americans in the RCAF” such a wonderful event. To once again hear the roar of the Lancaster engine was a memory I will cherish always.
Site visitor entry:
What joy to see another “Lanc” being so lovingly restored. My late father (who was a wireless op on them) would have been so proud to have known that they have not been forgotten.
Richard M. Brown,
Bromley, Kent UK
I am still enjoying your site. It is so resource rich. Just brilliant. I am passing on a hyperlink to friends.
Alberta Air Gunners Association and NLS member. Passed away in 2006. Doug was very supportive of the efforts of the NLS to preserve the WWII history and in particular the gun turrets. He was a former WWII air gunner.
Formerly of Nanton, Alberta. Todd family members are long time supporters of NLS. Lila’s late husband Delbert was ground crew and serviced Halifax bombers during WWII.
Passed away in the summer of 2007. Good friend of NLS – instrumental in helping the museum acquire the scizzors lift from the North Star Restoration Group in Ottawa.
The Nanton Lancaster Society extends deepest sympathy
to the families and friends of these former members and supporters.
May God Bless.
This is my first official report as your president and as I look back over the past years I am amazed at the progress this society has made. I have seen this group and museum grow from a small town with an airplane to a world-class museum that we can all be very proud of.
This summer during our air show displays and especially the Lethbridge air show, I noticed something very significant. When talking to people at public displays we used to get questions like, “Where’s Nanton?” or, “Are you the guys with the B-17?” Today we hear comments like, “Love your museum, we stopped there on the way down here.” Or questions like “When are you guys going to have the second Merlin engine running?” It is not uncommon for the museum to receive email from folks in England who want to know our operating hours so they can plan a trip to see us while visiting Canada.
I’d like to share a short story of two young lads who stopped by our display while we were at the Lethbridge air show. They were looking over our display and noticed the “Bent machine gun” sitting out front. One lad turned to the other and exclaimed, “Hey, doesn’t that look like the gun they have in the Nanton museum?” He then added, “It is!” and then turned to me and asked how did I get it. Before I could answer, the second fellow pointed to our sign and informed his buddy that we were the Nanton museum.
Looking forward, I see a museum that will continue to grow. With “Phase I” of the restoration hanger complete, we are now preparing for Phase II where we will be looking to fund the construction of the workshops, storage areas and presentation rooms.
I have often said, and continue to believe, that this museum and society has a life force all of its own.
Curator / Editor’s Desk
Our organization at its inception brought together individuals with diverse backgrounds, who had one common interest; to save the Lancaster. Today, new volunteers, from different walks of life are still turning up to join in the effort to preserve the old bomber.
While the Lancaster is just a combination of different metals, a bit of wood, and fabric, it is the catalyst that brings together retired farmers, school teachers, pilots, mechanics, veterans, storekeepers, and a host of others, with one specific purpose.
Looking back, it is interesting to see how this diverse group, who initially started out to preserve the old Lancaster as a tourist attraction, ended up creating an air museum. As the momentum snowballed, preserving the Lanc involved preserving the history of Bomber Command in which Lancasters played a very significant role. Bomber Command involved the men and women who served in various ways. Delving into this brought to the fore how and where these men and women trained. Thus the BCATP became the museum’s secondary theme. And here we are today!
Without doubt this inanimate object, a former war machine named Lancaster, has had a positive effect on everyone who have been involved. Besides creating a museum that is world renowned, we have gained friendships. These friendships both near and far, that have stood the test of time, might not have occurred otherwise.
We have gained knowledge about our fellowman, ourselves and reaped the benefits of working together as unified group. We gained knowledge about a segment of history that played a significant role in preserving the lifestyle we enjoy today. All this because of one old flying war machine.