THE R.C.A.F AND THE TRADITION OF THE GREY CUP
This week in the lead up to the annual Grey Cup game we would like to take our visitors back to WW2 when the regular C.F.L. competition was put on hold during World War II. Many of the players in the C.F.L. themselves went into military service.
It is a little known fact that in spite of a professional football league Military Branches including the R.C.A.F and the Navy continued the annual tradition and formed their own teams to compete and play for the Grey Cup.
The Grey Cup had always been great morale booster for the country and the military. Peter Worthington wrote in the Toronto Sun for the 100th anniversary of the C.F.L in 2012 of the R.C.A.F.’s connection to the Grey Cup.
The first game was played in 1942 when the Winnipeg R.C.A.F. Bombers succumbed to the Toronto R.C.A.F. Hurricanes 8-5. The game played at the Varsity Stadium in Toronto and was broadcast on radio to the troops in Britain.
The following year the Hamilton R.C.A.F. Flying Tigers dominated the favored Winnipeg R.C.A.F. Bombers 23-14.
The highly favored R.C.A.F. Hamilton Flying Tigers lost in 1944, 7-6 to what was basically a pickup group of Sailors called the Navy No Names.
Celebrating the annual Grey Cup has always been a major event for all Branches of the Service.
Members from the East and West on Grey Cup Day were now rivals pitted against one another in their various Messes cheering their favorite side. This often saw Bases competing for their own version of the Grey Cup.
Nowhere was this supported more than in Europe during the Cold War by R.C.A.F. members with their families as they served there with the squadrons and units in support of N.A.T.O.
Beginning in 1955 and continuing for the next six years, R.C.A.F. members participated enthusiastically in their own version of the celebrated annual Grey Cup festivities.
The first year the game ended in a scoreless tie.The competition see-sawed back and forth in the subsequent years with the East & West sharing three victories apiece.
The Miss Grey Cup Europe pageant however was a different story.
Arlen Nordan of Kapuskasing became the Miss Grey Cup Pageant winner that first year. It was the Contestants from Alberta afterwards that dominated the Pageant Competitions.
The tiles went to Beverly Fehr of Hana, AB. in 1958, Carolyn Kulas from Bezanson Ab. in1960, and in 1961 to Clare Bell of Egremont,AB.
Just as it was at home there was the Grey Cup Parade. Led off by the Pipes & Drums followed by local dignitaries,support section floats Miss Grey Cup Contestants etc. One year fourteen floats participated.Crowds of five thousand would attend.
The Comox Air Force Museum has discovered a small collection of slides from a Grey Cup Europe game played during this era.
There is no provenance and no date still, we thought that the images were worth sharing. Although the image quality may not be the best it is our wish that they may bring some enjoyment to those that served in Europe during this period.
Research to date hasn’t revealed much as to where and when they relate. Perhaps someone may be able to enlighten us.
We have included a bit of material that may revive a memory or two, even though it is more than 60 years on.
If anyone visiting this post know details of some of these images we would love to hear from you.
Enjoy the game Sunday 27, Nov. 2016