CANADIAN WWI VICTORIA CROSS ON SALE A CENTURY AFTER IT WAS AWARDED

CANADIAN WWI VICTORIA CROSS ON SALE A CENTURY AFTER IT WAS AWARDED

A CANADIAN WWI VICTORIA CROSS ON SALE A CENTURY AFTER IT WAS AWARDED.  IT WAS SUCCESSFULLY PURCHASED BY THE CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM FOR $350,000.  THE MEDALS WERE AWARDED TO COLIN FRASER BARRON. The Battle of Passchendaele, Belgium in November 1917… where more than 500,000 people including 15,000 Canadians, were either killed or seriously wounded during the prolonged fight, as weeks of rain and shell fire churned the battlefield into a sea of mud and blood… Yet amid the horrors that enveloped a small part of Belgium in the summer and fall of 1917, nine Canadians would be awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Empire’s highest medal for extreme bravery. Now, in December 2017, one of those medals, awarded to 24 year old Cpl. Colin Barron for his actions 100 years ago, was to be auctioned in London on December 5th. What is fascinating about Barron is not just the caliber of the citation, but one might even call it a suicidal mission to do what he did, according to David Erskine -  Hill, an historian. “He strikes me as a soldiers’ soldier. He is out there to help his comrades , and whilst he takes lives, the enemy, he also saves many, his comrades.” On November 6th, 1917, a cold drizzle was falling on the muddy, shell torn and blood soaked fields surrounding the Belgian village and ridge bearing the Passchendaele name.  The men of the Canadian Corps, clerks, farmers, miners, lumberjacks, shopkeepers, and in Barron’s case, a railway worker, had been fighting in the quagmire of mud for just over two weeks, without water and even less food....

SEASONS GREETINGS!

  We here at the Comox Air Force Museum wish to thank our friends and supporters for your continued interest in our work as we continually strive to improve the Museum, as we share the history of the RCAF. From all of our staff, we send seasons greetings to the many many followers around the...
THE VICTORIA CROSS

THE VICTORIA CROSS

THE VICTORIA CROSS   The Victoria Cross, founded by Queen Victoria was created in 1854.  The first recipient was in 1857 for bravery in the Crimea War against Russia. Since its inception, only 1358 Victoria Cross medals have been struck.  A single company of jewelers, Hancock of London, has been responsible for the production of every Victoria Cross.  Because of its rarity, the VC (Victoria Cross) is highly prized and the medal has fetched over 400,000 UK pounds at auction. Since 1987, the private collection of UK Lord Ashcroft amassed more than one-tenth of all VC medals issued.  He recently donated his entire collection to London’s Imperial War Museum.  It is reported that Lord Ashcroft paid 1.5 million for the VC of Captain Noel Chavasse, Medical Corps, a medical doctor.  He is only one of three people who were awarded the VC medal twice for bravery on the battlefield. Of the 1358 VC medals issued, only one has been awarded to a woman.  This was Elizabeth Webber Harris.  Her bravery astounded the entire regiment.  She remains the only woman to receive the Victoria Cross.  It was given to her for her work in India.  In 1869 a cholera epidemic broke out.  Hundreds died.  Elizabeth, a nurse, was credited with saving many of the British and Indian soldiers that she was assigned to, risking her own life with this very infectious disease.     A Canadian Story: Andrew Mynarski VC RCAF: Mynarski, born in Winnipeg, was 27 years old when he flew with 419 Squadron, based in England.  On the night of June 12th 1944 he was on a mission...
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE VICTORY BELL

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE VICTORY BELL

The Royal Air Force Victory Bell was created for the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund.  Its purpose was to raise money to help serving and former members of the R.A.F. and families, as well as to assist in the upkeep of the R.A.F. Memorial.  The RAF Benevolent Fund was founded in 1919 after WWI; it continues to be a registered charity and receives no government assistance.     Conrad Parlanti was the designer of the Bell.  Conrad Parlanti was born in London in 1903 to his father Ercole Parlanti, who was a prominent bronze artist. Ercole was commissioned to cast his most famous work, the casting of the RAF War Memorial, which is located on the embankment of the River Thames.         The Bells were cast in 1946 from aluminum taken from German aircraft shot down over London during the London “Blitz. The Bells have images of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Some of the first Bells were auctioned by Chesney Allen of the WWII famous entertainers “Flanagan & Allen”.  During the London “Blitz”, Flanagan & Allen, who were radio and vaudeville entertainers, would visit the air raid shelters and the underground railway stations that were used as air raid shelters to entertain the people. The auction took place at the first Battle of Britain dinner held at the Hungarian Restaurant in London, shortly after D-Day. As much as 1200 pounds was paid for the first few Bells that evening. Here at the Comox Air Force Museum, located in Comox B.C., we have had two Victory Bells donated to our vast collection of Air Force memorabilia.     Note of...
“WAR BIRDS” ~ PIGEONS AT WAR

“WAR BIRDS” ~ PIGEONS AT WAR

Seventy years ago a carrier pigeon performed the act of “heroism” that saw it awarded the animal’s equivalent of the the highest award, the Victoria Cross – the Dickin Medal. It was the first of dozens of animals honoured by the veterinary charity P.D.S.A during WW2. On 23 February  1942, a badly damaged RAF bomber ditched into the cold North Sea. The crew were returning from a mission over Norway, but their Beaufort Bomber had been hit several times and crashed into the sea more than 100 miles from home. Struggling in freezing waters – unable to radio an accurate position back to base – the men faced a cold and lonely death. But as the aircraft sank, the crew had managed to salvage their secret weapon – a carrier pigeon.  The blue chequered hen named Winkie, was set free in the hope it could fly home to its base near Dundee in Scotland, and so alert the airbase colleagues to their predicament. During World War 2, carrier pigeons were routinely carried by RAF bombers for this very real danger, though in an era prior to GPS and Satellite Beacons, rescue was far from certain. But Winkie did make it home, after flying 120 miles, and was discovered, exhausted and covered in oil from taking rests at sea. The pigeon did not carry any message, but the RAF were able to determine the probable location of the downed aircraft. A rescue mission was launched and in a short time the crew were located and they were recovered by the Air Sea Rescue Service.     Winkie became the toast of the base. A year later the Dickin Medal...