WWII CANADIAN ACE ~ MARK HENRY BROWN

WWII CANADIAN ACE ~ MARK HENRY BROWN

WING COMMANDER MARK (HILLY) BROWN was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.  Wing Commander Mark Henry Brown DFC, nicknamed Hilly, was the first Canadian pilot to become a fighter ace during World War 2 whilst serving with the Royal Air Force during the Battle of France and also the Battle of Britain; he was killed in action in November 1941 over Sicily.   He was the son of Mr & Mrs S Brown of Glenboro, Manitoba. Whilst working for the Bank of Montreal, he learned to fly at the Brandon Flying Club and after passing the required medical test, left Canada to join the RAF in May 1936.           After completing his RAF training, Pilot Officer Brown joined No 1 Squadron in February 1937. He was promoted to Flying Officer in December 1938. At the beginning of September 1939, Brown’s squadron was deployed to France as part of the RAF Advance Air Strike Force. On November 23, 1939 he was credited with half a kill of a Dornier 17 whilst flying a Hawker Hurricane.     During the Battle of France in early 1940, Brown was involved in heavy fighting and on 20 April 1940 he claimed his first kill, a Messerschmidt 109. He became the first Canadian pilot to reach “ace” status with five confirmed kills by May 1940. Brown also was the first allied pilot to capture a German aircraft and fly it back to Britain for evaluation. With the French surrender to the Germans, Brown came back to Britain and was shot down over Harwick on 15 August 1940 and was able to bail out without injury. On 3 September Brown was promoted again and in October 1941 he was posted to the Middle East conflict. On 12 November 1941, along...
CO-VAL CHORISTERS’ VIMY RIDGE COMMEMORATIVE PERFORMANCE

CO-VAL CHORISTERS’ VIMY RIDGE COMMEMORATIVE PERFORMANCE

The CoVal Choristers have asked us to share with you information about their special upcoming performance.  They’re also seeking help with related history.  Please read this and share! “Below is a poster about the event and news article about the CoVal Choristers’ Vimy Ridge commemorative performance at 2 pm on the afternoon of SundayApril 9th. As you may be aware that is the exact 100th anniversary of the start of the Canadian assault.  Using a combination of narrative and song from the era, the performance is evocative of those times. We would like to spread the word among the members of the forces.   Also we are looking for people living in the Comox Valley who are descended from those who served at Vimy.  Anything you can do would be appreciated.”   Please check ARTICLE VIMY for a request for help with related history....
INTRODUCING A SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP

INTRODUCING A SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP

The Comox Air Force Museum would like to introduce you to a special interest group that can be found on Facebook: CANADIAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT WRECKS, RELICS, SURVIVORS, WARBIRDS, AND CRASHES The administrator, Mike Kaehler, explains that the “group is dedicated to discussing and exchanging information and photos of Canadian Military Aircraft Wrecks, Relics, Survivors, Warbirds and Crashes. There are often very interesting, historically enlightening facts that come out in posts as subject matter experts and group members, that were present during the various events, contribute their information to this group… Please note that the objective of this group is not to discuss aircraft that were or are in active service unless they have been grounded due to an accident or administrative action. This group is also not designed to judge or humiliate anyone involved in an aircraft incident…” You can have a closer look at this group and the guidelines for participation by checking it out on Facebook.  Thank you, Mike, for being available to share information with our Museum as we do our research!...

SPITFIRE PILOT ~ HART FINLEY

This is the second in a new series ~ Spitfire Pilots.  This one highlights Hartland (Hart) Finley. SQUADRON LEADER HARTLAND (HART) FINLEY R.C.A.F SEPT. 14 1940 – MAY 25 1946   Hartland Ross Finley DFC was born in Montreal, Quebec.  He was the son of Major Eric B. Finley and Eugene Marjorie Finley. He graduated from McGill University, Montreal and on September 14,1940, he enlisted in the R.C.A.F.   Finley received air crew instruction at Toronto Ontario, Windsor Mills QC, Summerside PEI and graduated as a pilot from No2 Service Flying Training School in Ottawa on December 28, 1942. In February 1943, Finley arrived overseas and by September 1943 had carried out many missions with Fighter Command Squadrons No 1, No 416, and No 403 flying Spitfire aircraft.  On his very first operational sortie, August 12, 1943, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire puncturing one of his fuel tanks. Returning from his mission, he ran out of fuel; he bailed out, parachuting into the English Channel and was rescued by the Royal Navy rescue launch and returned to his Squadron.   By December 1944, he had flown 153 combat missions destroying a number of enemy aircraft.  Earning some leave, he was able to come home for Christmas in 1944, returning to England in 1945; he was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to 403 Squadron and later to 443 Squadron.  He was a wonderful leader and his men had a high respect for him. During his May 1945 mission, after destroying a JU88 bomber, he was once more hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and had to bail out, and landed in enemy occupied territory. Finley avoided capture for...

ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: BANDOOLA AND VIMY

  Elephants have long helped armies.  Bandoola pulled trees out of the ground, moved heavy logs to build bridges, and carried people and supplies across rivers, mountains, and along rough roads.  During WWII, Bandoola assisted Jim Williams, the officer in charge of the British Army’s No. 1 Elephant Company in Burma.  Williams worked with up to 700 elephants, each one helping the army.  Sometimes the elephants pulled up trees that were sent to England where wood was needed.  They also tugged heavy army trucks out of deep mud in the rainy season. Elephants are very smart animals, and Bandoola was no exception.  Loyal to his trainer, he did his job even when the weather was bad, and even when they were under attack. In 1944, Williams heard that the enemy was coming to take his last 47 elephants and they had to escape very quickly.  Bandoola bravely led the others along dangerous paths through the mountains.  The journey was long and hard, but Williams and the elephants ended up safely on the other side of the mountains.   Meet Vimy, shown in this photo with its mother and a Canadian soldier. Life for Canadian soldiers during WWI was tough.  They often had to march for hours carrying a rifle, ammunition, a heavy sack, a gas mask, shovels and more.  They were strong young men but needed help to get supplies to the front lines; tonnes of ammunition and rations had to be hauled each day.  Hard working pack horses helped with this task. 50,000 horses were shipped from Canada overseas to carry supplies and pull artillery guns.  Sometimes, baby animals...
ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: SERGEANT BILL, GANDER, AND BONFIRE

ANIMALS IN WAR ~ STORIES OF COURAGE: SERGEANT BILL, GANDER, AND BONFIRE

  A goat named Bill was pulling a cart in a small town in Saskatchewan, when a train carrying soldiers on their way to fight in WWI stopped.  The girl who owned Bill let the soldiers take him along as a good luck charm.  Mascots were not supposed to go to the front lines, but the soldiers had become very attached to Bill, so they hid him in a big crate and took him with them. Sergeant Bill, as the goat was called, was a big help.  He saw action beside his human friends in many battles, including one where he pushed three soldiers into a trench just seconds before a shell exploded where they’d been standing. Despite being wounded several times, Sergeant Bill survived the war.  Once the fighting was over, he was even part of a large parade in Germany; he proudly word a fancy blue coat with his sergeant stripes!  Bill eventually returned to his hometown where he was reunited with his owner.   This is Gander, a mascot that was also seen as a fellow soldier with jobs to perform. Gander was a Newfoundland dog raised by the Hayden family on the airport base in Gander, Newfoundland.  A friendly dog, Gander loved playing with the children; he pulled them on their sleds and they watched him drool - a lot!  He enjoyed living on the base; however, he spent too much time on the runways, trying to catch the planes as they came in to land! One day, because he was growing to be so large, the family decided to give the playful dog to...

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