We can’t think about the Y2K Spitfire Gala without including Stocky Edwards.  We recently honoured him on his 97th Birthday.

In our Research Library, we have two books that give the reader a closer look at this WWII Flying Ace:

The first is “The Desert Hawk“, written by Barbara Hehner.  “James R. ‘Stocky’ Edwards was one of Canada’s greatest WWII air aces, who shot down more than 20 enemy aircraft and gave cover to other pilots on countless flight missions.  Enlisting just after he graduated from high school, Jim was eventually sent to North Africa to help stop the German advance on the Suez Canal.  While there, Jim endured harsh desert conditions, including sand storms and extreme temperatures.  And on top of it all, he was learning to fight in new planes, where one wrong move could cost him his life.  When the desert war ended, Jim fought on, in Italy, France and Germany, ad took part in the largest military landing in history: the D-Day invasion of Normandy.”

Filled with details about fighting in the sky and surviving desert life on land, The Desert Hawk is a tribute to a Canadian hero.”

 

Kittyhawk Pilot,” written by J.F. (Stocky) Edwards and J.P.A. Michel Lavigne, this books is the “true story of Edwards…”  The book’s tribute by A.U. Houle tells us Stocky, “… is an excellent example of the Canadian youth who grew up in the hungry 30s.  He regarded work a privilege – the only way to earn his daily bread.  He probably never heard of the silver spoon type of living.

He was born at a time when courtesy and respect were taught in every home, and when patriotism was a part of every Canadian.  It is little wonder he rallied to serve his country in time of war…

It was typical of Stocky to enlist early in order to do his share to stop Hitler.  Anyone knowing him could have safely bet he would apply to become a fighter pilot.  His self-confidence, his preference to rely on himself, almost to be a loner, would influence him to select that role.  However, as the author so aptly writes, his dedication and sense of responsibility made him a good team man and leader.  The hardships and dangers of the Western Desert merely acted as a catalyst to his determination to excel, to help others, and to survive…

This is a story that should be told.  Desert fighting was not experienced by many Canadians.  It did not get the publicity it deserved…

We must remember – the march into Germany started at El Alamein.”