COMOX AIR FORCE MUSEUM A HIGHLIGHT AT THE CUMBERLAND HERITAGE FAIRE

COMOX AIR FORCE MUSEUM A HIGHLIGHT AT THE CUMBERLAND HERITAGE FAIRE

This past Saturday, our Museum participated in the annual Cumberland Heritage Faire.  This has been a tradition for us, and this year our booth highlighted the Snowbirds.     Jon, our Volunteer Coordinator and Programme Manager appreciated all the volunteer who contributed to the presence of our booth, ” This year`s event was a success, great thanks go to Mel Birnie who selected and put aside all the display pieces for our Snowbirds Display. Thanks again to Gary Wiffen, Len Phillips and Mike Owen, who created and manned the fort! We would have had nothing without your help! ”...
RCAF 415 SQUADRON

RCAF 415 SQUADRON

415 Squadron was formed at Thorne Island, England, on August 21,1941. It was initially equipped with the Hamden bomber used in the torpedo attack role.     From 1941-1943 the squadron was involved in attacking anything the enemy sailed from the Bay of Biscay to the North Sea. They attacked everything from the simple coastal freighter to the fuel barges. They also went for fishing boats and the E- boats, even attacking German and Italian destroyers. On the 10th of April,1943, five Hampdens successfully completed a torpedo attack on the Italian blockade runner “Himalaya”. She was escorted in the Bay of Biscay by eight German warships. This attack and many more much like it resulted in the squadron during this 2 year period receiving many medals for heroism and bravery.     1943 saw the squadron being re-equipped with a duo of aircraft. They could not have been more different; Wellington bombers equipped two of the flights.     The other flight received the Fairey Albacore. The squadron was now based at Bircham Newton. This Canadian squadron was chosen because of the fighting reputation that the Canadians in Europe had. The type of missions they would be flying needed a drive and conviction that even today the Canadians are known for. The Fairey Albacore was the last biplane flown by the allies in combat. it was however, ideally suited to these missions. It could carry either a single torpedo or 750 lbs of bombs. 90% of the sorties were against light to medium size shipping and the crews chose bombs delivered by shallow dive bombing.     By D-day,...
WELCOME TO OUR MUSEUM LIBRARY!

WELCOME TO OUR MUSEUM LIBRARY!

Have you had the good fortune to spend time in our Museum Library?  It has quite the history: “The Air Force Indoctrination School (AFIS) opened at CFB Comox in 1982 to give CanadianForces (CF) officers and non-commissioned members serving their first tour on an air base a sound introduction to air force operations, history and heritage. Being a school, particularly in the time before the Internet, a library was a ne- cessity to provide students with appropriate reference material. When AFIS moved to Building 11 in 1986, the Library, still small, was located upstairs in the student lounge. The Comox Air Force Museum (CAFM), founded in 1982 as a small collection of artefacts in Building 22, also moved to Building 11 in 1986, developed greatly and was accredited as a CF Museum in September 1987. In October 1994, CAFM acquired a large collection of over 2500 books, thousands of photographs, hundreds of periodicals, dozens of aircraft models and many military artefacts from the estate of the late Geoffrey Rowe of Victoria. This magnificent gift became known as the Geoffrey Rowe Collection – the donation was recognized by the official naming of the room as the Geoffrey Rowe Memorial Library in June 1995. When AFIS closed in 1996, the library material not transferred to Winnipeg, and all of the Geoffrey Rowe Collection, became part of CAFM. The Library moved to its current location on the north side of the ground floor of Building 11 in October 2003 after the Totem Times, the 19 Wing newspaper, moved elsewhere. The Library is the “information arm” of the Museum. The book collection now...
HERITAGE AIR PARK CLOSES FOR THE WINTER SEASON

HERITAGE AIR PARK CLOSES FOR THE WINTER SEASON

Our Heritage Air Park will close for the winter season, effective Wednesday, November 15th.  The Heritage Stones will be covered in their “winter blankets” at this time as well; if you have any questions about the stones, please visit the Museum for help. Also available in the Museum’s Library are two photo albums showing the aircraft and vehicles that belong to our Museum; please come in for a look to learn more about them!...
“NURSE VIOLET”

“NURSE VIOLET”

  In 1995, a woman donated a Queen Alexandra Nursing Sister’s uniform, medical equipment, medals, badges, autograph book, photographs, and a 1930s era obstetrical nursing book.  The donor didn’t have much information, explaining that they were given to her family when she was a child, by a woman guest in their Black Creek home.  the uniform and artifact had been used by the family’s children as costumes.  The donations are now incorporated into our WWI Nursing Sister display.       One of our former volunteers, Corrine, explains the process of updating the display and the discoveries made during that time ~ “The process of updating the display with a new state of the art “personnequin” with realistic features and posable hands, tweaked our curiosity about the items used to dress our nurse.  With the help of Allison Hetman, Mel Birnie, Brian O’Cain, and Robert Lesage, we did some detective work and came up with some basic facts that raise yet more questions.   Informally known as Nurse Violet, the original owner of the uniform and artifact was a woman named Jean McPherson, born in Orangeville, Ontario on July 5th, 1886.  Jean’s records contained no information on her parents, so it proved difficult to find any relatives.  Military documents indicated that she had her medical for the Canadian Medical Service on September 8th, 1916, and her unit at that time was listed as the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Service (QAIMS).  She sailed from Montreal on the SS Scandinavian on October 12, 1916 but no destination was listed.  Entries in her diary suggest that she was in France in 1916,...
“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...