“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,...
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...

“COMOX AIR FORCE MUSEUM ~ OUR STORY”

You might remember that our Programme Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, Jon Ambler wrote a book chronicling the first 30 years of our Museum’s history.  We quickly sold out and after a number of people requested a copy, we reordered another series.  Of those, we have just ten left! If you’d like a copy, they are available in our Gift Shop for a $30 donation.  We hope you’ll consider purchasing...

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