Capt Lynn Barley, Director, Comox Air Force Museum
On November 17, the Comox Air Force Museum (CAFM) was honoured to receive a special visitor. Mr. Mervin Moore, now 91, worked here during WWII, traveled from the mainland with his daughter Elaine, his first visit in over 70 years. Following a tour of the museum and some time in the library looking at old station pictures, Mr. Moore was driven around the base, including a trip across the airfield where he had spent much of his time. It all looks much different now, and most of the old buildings have been replaced, but Mr. Moore had a great visit and it brought back many memories of times gone by.
Mr. Moore had a jovial demeanor throughout the tour, remarking that “It was some time ago that I was here. The base looks much bigger – most of the bush and trees are gone.” He recalled many orchards along the roads into the base, and shared that his job during the war was to keep the runways clear and to search for the crashed planes of pilots training here. He told stories of swimming at Air Force Beach and helping fight fires in the piles of trees that had been cleared to make way for the runways. He also commented how well they were fed during their time here.
He recalled a mate referred to as “Big Sandy”, and told the tale of a prank that Sandy loved to play with his false teeth and other people’s beer. “Those teeth got chucked across the room on numerous occasions. They were sure tough – they never broke!”
Mr. Moore’s final memory of Comox was that of people running out of the buildings yelling, “The War is OVER!” The following morning he got up and left, and started making his way home to Ontario. He took the boat across to the mainland and then headed to the train station. When the conductor asked for his papers, he explained where he was from and that, as the war was over, he was heading home. The man told him to stay there and wait, and 20 minutes later the conductor returned with train tickets and sleeper and food vouchers for the trip. When he got back to Ontario he went to Rockcliff Station to be discharged.
It was a great pleasure to host a veteran who served here during the Second World War. Although the base no longer provides regular access to the general public, the visit by someone like this was certainly a worthy exception. We sure enjoyed our time with Mr. Moore!