Today’s focus is on the “Hidden Stories” in our museum. Today, we’ll share a few of our favourite stories that are “hidden” or rather tucked away in our Main Gallery:
Tucked against a wall in the Museum is this Aircraft Pigeon Desk. Did you know that the RCAF used homing pigeons for communications throughout the Second World War? Two pigeons were carried in this desk, which is from a Hudson aircraft, during wartime missions over the sea. In the event of an emergency, and with radios damaged, a pigeon carrying a message with key information was tossed from the aircraft. If the radio was not damaged, the crew sent the distress message by voice (Mayday) or Morse Code (SOS). In that case, both pigeons were taken into the life raft and then released to inform rescuers of the raft’s position and the number and condition of the survivors.
Meet Dinty! This toy bear was purchased in Canada by a crew member and it became K.O. Moore’s crew mascot. “Dinty” flew on all their missions and seems to have earned a DFC! Dinty can be found standing proudly as part of the K.O. Moore exhibit.
An Act of Great Bravery ~On the afternoon of 24 November 1952, a Lancaster aircraft which was returning from an instrument practice flight crashed and burned near RCAF Station Comox. Robert Waters, just fourteen years old, was in the immediate vicinity, an eye witness to the crash; he quickly summoned assistance. Along with Albert DeCuyper, he went to the scene of the crash; to reach the burning aircraft, they had to fight their way through heavy brush and swamp. Upon reaching the burning wreckage, Robert (Bobby) noticed the pilot inside. Despite the intense heat and danger of explosions, he displayed complete disregard for his own safety; he entered the flaming wreckage and dragged the dazed and injured man to safety. This led to Bobby Waters being awarded the George Medal.
Fallen Comrades is a very special “hidden” gem. When members of the RCAF gather for a formal dinner, termed a Mess Dinner, a small table, set for one, is reserved to honour our fallen comrades. The table symbolizes that our fallen are with us in spirit.
Each item on the table is symbolic:
* the table is round, with no beginning and no end; it represents the everlasting remembrance of our fallen comrades
* the tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when they answered the call to duty
* the single red rose is displayed in a vase; it reminds us of the life of each fallen comrade, along with the loved ones and friends of these comrades who kept the faith
* the vase, tied with a red ribbon, represents our determination to remember our fallen comrades
* the lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those we have lost, never to return
* the salt represents the tears shed by the families who have lost their loved ones
* the Bible represents the strength gained through faith, a strength needed to serve, and still needed by those who remain
* the glass is inverted as they can no longer toast with us
* the chair is empty, as they cannot join the dinner
Lest We Forget