Comox Air Force Museum



  • Christmas Closure
    Date: December 6, 2015 Category: News & Events
    Holiday time at the Comox Air Force Museum means our annual closure. This year we will be closed from December 20 to January 2, 2016. Until then our regular hours apply.  
  • Heritage Stone Dedication Ceremony
    Date: September 9, 2015 Category: Member Info, News & Events
    The Comox Valley Air Force Museum Association  Cordially invites you to the Heritage Stone Dedication Ceremony When:                          Sunday, 20 September 2015 Time:                           2 P.M.   Please be seated by 1:45 Where:                        Protestant Chapel across the road from Heritage Air Park Suggested Dress:      Business Casual Guest of Honour:        Colonel Tom Dunne, Commander 19 Wing Comox, or his delegate The 2015 ceremony will follow the Battle of Britain Parade. The Master of Ceremonies will read out the name on each stone. Reception to follow in the Comox Air Force Museum. RSVP:                         by 14 September 2015 Museum:               (250) 339-8162 E-mail:                Canada Post:                CVAFMA Building 11, 19 Wing Comox PO Box 1000, Station Main Lazo, BC, V0R 2K0 Please let us know how many people will be with you. Participants are requested to bring an umbrella in case of inclement weather. If you are unable to attend, we will be pleased to send you a photograph of your Heritage Stone.
  • Do you have RCAF items to donate to our museum?
    Date: August 16, 2019 Category: News & Events
    We appreciate receiving log books, Air Force artefacts related to 407, 409, 414, 418, 442, VU33 and Snowbird Squadrons, medals, uniforms (not modern), artefacts from prominent west coast airmen, Squadron history books and photos that include as much information about the photos and donor as possible. Visit our donation page to learn more. Other ways to support our museum Financial contributions can be made in person at the museum or through Tax receipts are provided for any donation over twenty-five dollars Thank you for your support in helping to preserve our RCAF heritage.
    Date: August 5, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Collections, Links, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_10890" align="alignleft" width="150"] AL WILSON[/caption]   Here's our August Edition for your viewing pleasure!  It's our honour to continue to share Al Wilson's work for all of you to enjoy.         [caption id="attachment_10975" align="aligncenter" width="827"] FEATURING BIG FRANS'S DANCING GROUP[/caption]         [caption id="attachment_10976" align="aligncenter" width="1443"] CYPRUS HOME SWEET HOME[/caption]
    Date: July 5, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Collections, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_10890" align="alignleft" width="150"] AL WILSON[/caption]   It's our honour to continue to share Al Wilson's work for all of you to enjoy.     This month's additions are from Al's scrapbook:   [caption id="attachment_10905" align="aligncenter" width="844"] A GENOOINE SOURDOUGH STORY...[/caption]         [caption id="attachment_10906" align="aligncenter" width="802"] FLOWER POWER[/caption]
    Date: June 30, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Community Outreach, News & Events, Posts
    On July 6th we are showing the original feature: THE DAMBUSTERS. This is the story of the famous RAF raid on the dams of the Ruhr valley in 1943. The RAF actually formed a special squadron to perform this raid. The film suggests that the crews were hand picked for their experience and skills but in fact, 5 of the 20 flight engineers were making their first sorties on this raid! The youngest member of the squadron was 18 on the night of the raid meaning that he had to have lied about his age in '41 at 16yrs old. This raid highlighted the amazing work going on between the men on the line and the Boffins (scientists). One of the main characters in the movie is Barnes Wallis, the man who designed the bomb, but he wasn't the only scientist who helped facilitate this raid. The movie shows the solution for the altitude problem was conceived by squadron leader Guy Gibson. In fact, it was solved by Ben Lockspier who was working on how to find U-Boats using two spotlights mounted on a Lockheed Hudson. His trials failed but the use of the spots to gauge the altitude of the Lancs proved to be both ingenious and simple. Out of the 84 crew, 29 were Canadian. Out of the 29, 13 were killed, one became a POW and the remaining 15 went on to serve on the squadron which became a specialized attack squadron. I feel it important to Read more...
    Date: June 28, 2019 Category: Books, Collections, News & Events, Posts
    If you're wanting more good reads, powerful stories, you might consider seeking out these titles:   The Tunnel King, written by Barbara Hehner, is the true story of Wally Floody and the Great Escape.  You might know that “the Great Escape was one of the most daring prisoner-of-war breakouts of the Second World War.  Yet few Canadians know the heroic story of Wally Floody.  Wally was a Canadian fighter pilot, imprisoned in Stalag Luft III, who was a key figure – The Tunnel King – in the carefully planned escape. Shot down over France on his very first combat mission, Floody captured by German soldiers and spent almost four years in POW camps… Wally, who had worked as a miner before the war, knew the best way out was to tunnel underground…”  This book not only has fascinating facts about life in the camp, but also pays tribute to a courageous Canadian.       The Forgotten, Canadian POWs, Escapers and Evaders in Europe, 1939-45“… tells the story of the more than 10,000 Canadian servicemen, merchant mariners, and civilians for whom the war ended in surrender, capture, imprisonment or escape, as seen through the eyes of a group of men who struggled to survive in Hitler’s Europe. Among them were Private Stan Darch, who had already survived the cauldron of Dieppe; Sergeant Edward Carter-Edwards, who endured the hell of Buchenwald; RCAF Sergeant Ian MacDonald, who was on the run before being betrayed to the Gestapo and spent six weeks in Read more...
    Date: June 26, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Links, News & Events, Posts
    After RAF Bomber Command had established itself with significant numbers of aircraft, it focussed its energies on the industrial sections of Germany. Towns and cities already damaged were hit again; this was because though light industries had been moved, it had been impossible to move heavy engineering and metal works. The raids therefore had substantial impact. On October 9th, 435 aircraft attacked Bochum.  On that day, 179 Halifaxes from several squadrons, including Squadron 424, set out to join the attack.  The crews were over the target between 17,000 and 20,000 feet, releasing 928,000 pounds of high explosives and 544,000 pounds of incendiaries.  The target was covered by clouds, and according to reports, the attack itself was scattered. Flight Lieutenant G.A. Bumstead, from Vancouver, was assigned to No. 6 (RCAF) Group, Squadron 424 at that time. On the 9th, he was part of the crew flying Halifax III MZ-802, coded QB-G (with nose art Gallopin' Gertie) and airborne from Skipton-on-Swale.  The squadron’s commanding officer, W/C G.A. Roy DFC, the pilot, along with his crew, failed to return from their raid.    It was later determined that one crew member was killed and six became POWs.  F/L Bumstead, POW No. 8226, was interned in Camp L3.
    Date: June 19, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Collections, Links, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_13614" align="alignleft" width="146"] FLIGHT LIEUTENANT John Fraser (credit: Bomber Command Museum of Canada)[/caption]   F/L John Fraser, perhaps best known for his participation as one of the Dam Busters,  as well as a part of "The Great Escape", was an RCAF bomb-aimer from Nanaimo, BC.  Prior to being selected to join No. 617 Squadron, he had completed a tour of 30 operations with No. 50 Squadron.               [caption id="attachment_13616" align="alignleft" width="209"] FLIGHT LIEUTENANT JOHN HOPGOOD DFC[/caption]   John Hopgood ( “Hoppy” ) was F/L Fraser’s pilot.  He was selected from the No. 106 Squadron, having served there with Guy Gibson, Wing Commander of 617 Squadron. “Fraser and Hopgood were part of Formation No. 1; Fraser was Hopgood’s bomb-aimer…like all the attacking aircraft, Lancaster AJ-M flew to the Mohne Dam at an extremely low level.  At one point, the rear gunner, Tony Burcher, saw an arc of high tension cable above his line of vision.  “It seemed to drop away behind the aircraft as Hopgood gained height. ‘Right under the bloody things!’ exclaimed the front gunner.  ‘Sorry about that,’ said Hopgood. Soon afterwards, AJ-M was raked by ground fire.  Burcher was hit in the groin and stomach. A searchlight blazed onto the aircraft but Burcher shot it out.  Then a shell burst alongside and Hopgood feathered an engine that had been set on fire.   As well as Burcher being wounded, John Minchin, the wireless operator, had been hit in the leg and the front Read more...
    Date: June 15, 2019 Category: News & Events
    Nearly 9000 Canadians became German POWs during World War II.  These were usually soldiers who were captured during combat, airmen whose aircraft were shot down over enemy territory, sailors picked up from sea after their ships were torpedoed and sunk.  At times, Canadians were taken captive in large groups; 1948 troops were taken after the failed Dieppe Raid in 1942.  Others fell into enemy hands in ones or twos, especially the airmen shot down during bomber raids over Germany. In a previous post, “Hidden” Stories in Our Museum ~ Prisoners of War, a list of BC / Yukon prisoners of war was shared.  In this series, we’ll meet some of the men on this list, along with other Canadians who were POWs. [caption id="attachment_13554" align="alignleft" width="286"] FLIGHT LIEUTENANT ARTHUR COLES (photo credit: Coles family collection)[/caption] Flight Lieutenant Arthur Coles hailed from North Vancouver; he joined the RCAF at age 22 and headed to Europe during the Second World War.  He participated as a Spitfire pilot in 412 SQN.  On August 21, 1943, he gunned down his first German plane while over France.  On October 3, 1943, Coles shot down 2 Focke-Wulf 190s in separate engagements, blowing off a wing from one enemy plane. He didn’t fare as well when on an operation November 29th, 1943.  In a letter to Coles’ father written a few days later, the Squadron Leader explains, “At nine o’clock on November 29th, Arthur took off with the squadron for an operation over France.  He was leading a section Read more...
    Date: June 15, 2019 Category: Heritage Air Park, News & Events, Posts, Vehicles
    The 1954 Dodge Ambulance engine overhaul is finally nearing completion.  Our volunteer heavy vehicle mechanic, Tom, has been working away all winter.  The block and head were taken to Nanaimo to be re-conditioned and returned looking as good as new.  The radiator and gas tank were also taken to a local shop for checks and repairs as required.  Once the engine was reassembled, it was replaced in the engine compartment.                  Now the fun began...reattaching hoses, connections and systems.  Some parts and pieces were missing or beyond repair but Tom has been able to come up with solutions every step of the way.  Recently the radiator and gas tank have been re-installed, so it was time to think about flashing it up.     The first engine run occurred on Thursday, 23 May.  Check out this video of Tom at the wheel! (vroom, vroom). There are still some timing issues and the daunting task of getting all the electrical hooked up, but the team is cautiously optimistic that this vehicle will be back on the road very soon.  If you see us on a road test, like the one shown here, give us a wave.
    Date: June 12, 2019 Category: Aircraft, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_13599" align="alignleft" width="102"] F/L GARDINER[/caption] Flight Lieutenant T.H. (Tommy) Gardiner was from Powell River.  Recognized by his home community as an all ‘round athlete, Gardiner trained as a pilot in 1940.  He described his barracks as “… very spacious.  There are over 1200 stationed here. (Brandon, Manitoba)  Just try to picture the scene as the mess bell rings and 2400 legs drive ‘all out’ for the grub pile…” By January of the following year, he’d completed over 50 hours in the air.  He wrote, “Took the old kite up last week and put her through a few rolls and loops – am looking forward to getting on one of the big Bombers – and, boy, am I sweating on the day I let those eggs off over Berlin.”  In July 1941, Gardiner had graduated from the Commonwealth Air Training School and was soon promoted to the commissioned rank of Pilot Officer. On May 23, 1942, Gardiner was reported missing in operations over the Ionian Sea. He was last seen when his Beaufort dived to attack an Italian convoy. Then on July 1943, Gardiner’s family received a cable stating that, “Your son, Pilot Officer Thomas Gardiner, is a prisoner of war in Italy.” His aircraft had been brought down by flak from the Italian Navy.  He was out of fuel and surrounded by a sea of burning oil.  He dived, swam under water and cleared the danger zone, only to be picked up by an Italian destroyer. He suffered slight burns Read more...
    Date: June 6, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, Links, News & Events, Posts
    One of our volunteers, Mel, has just returned from the annual OMMC (Organization of Military Museums of Canada) Conference, and saw a presentation about Project '44, Mapping the Battle of Normandy. On this, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, we thought you might like to have some information about this enormous undertaking: This summer, the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA) will launch a massive initiative to help commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Normandy. After reading the information below, have a look at their website at to get an appreciation for the depth and quality of their work. "The Project ‘44 website will combine basemaps, unit positions, and war diaries into an online experience focused on the First Canadian Army and the Victory Campaign. This is the first initiative of the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA), a not-for-profit organization specializing in digital preservation, collection management systems, and mapping military history. The CRMA was formed in the Fall of 2018 and is led by Executive Director Nathan Kehler, a former Geomatics Technician from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment. Included on the CRMA’s Board of Directors are serving or former Sappers, including Colonel (Retd) Mark Gasparotto, Capt Stephan Gurgurewicz, and WO John Girard. This is a massive undertaking and the CRMA team has spent months meticulously collecting data on where units were fighting day-by-day in Normandy. This includes the typical infantry and armoured units, as well as the engineer field companies, the artillery regiments and other supporting arms such as the RCAF, Read more...
    Date: June 5, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Collections, Links, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_10890" align="alignleft" width="150"] AL WILSON[/caption] This is June's set of Al Wilson's cartoons.  Thanks for letting us know how much you're enjoying these glimpses into RCAF life!             [caption id="attachment_10964" align="aligncenter" width="808"] ATTACK! EVERYONE OVER THE TOP![/caption]       [caption id="attachment_10965" align="aligncenter" width="1315"] A LITTLE DAB'LL DO YUH![/caption]
    Date: June 3, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, News & Events, Posts
    6 June 1944 was the day that Operation OVERLORD, the Allied invasion of NAZI-occupied Europe, commenced with an amphibious assault over the Normandy Beaches: Operation NEPTUNE. The term “the longest day” is said to have been coined by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who had responsibility for defending the Atlantic coast from the Allies. More famously, it was the title of Cornelius Ryan’s excellent single-volume history of the invasion. The term “the longest awaited day” would have been just as accurate. The Russians had been fighting in their homeland since the spring of 1941, and were desperate to have a Second Front to draw NAZI forces away. All the occupied countries – Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France and more – were desperate to be liberated from the evil of NAZI occupation. Finally, the Allied nations were eager to commence the final operations that would see the end of the Third Reich. For the soldiers, sailors and airmen, however, it was to be a long day of savage fighting. Elite airborne troops would open the battle during the night, then five Armies, over 150,000 men, would cross five beaches that day in the greatest amphibious operation in human history. Two British Armies would attack over Sword and Gold, two US Armies would invade over Omaha and Utah and one Canadian Army, volunteers all, would storm Juno Beach. The casualties were significant, although mercifully less that feared, but still some 2,500 young soldiers lay dead in the sand, with another 7,500 wounded. Read more...
    Date: June 1, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Exhibits, Heritage Air Park, News & Events
    It has been a busy winter with three major projects for the Heritage Team out at the Air Park, but the Link Trainer display is really starting to take shape.  John and Nort have spent many hours sanding down the surfaces to get all the pieces ready to paint.  The next challenge was mounting the Trainer onto the trailer that will enable it to be moved from location to location. The team had to use the largest hoist in the shop to maneuver it into place. With the bellows attached to the trailer, the fuselage was then attached to the bellows. With the prep work done, it was ready to paint.  Upon seeing the original colours, the decision was made to try and match them as best they could. Volunteers John and Keith spent most of one day getting enough layers spray painted to really make it shine. Final steps will include attaching and connecting the flight surfaces and reinstalling the cockpit items including the instrument panel and radio set.  As the instructor's table and the mechanical base will be missing, a set of interpretive panels will be made to accompany the display and tell the story of the Link Trainer system.  The Comox Air Force Museum is looking forward to sharing this important piece of aviation history with the Comox Valley in the near future.
    Date: May 29, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, Member Info, News & Events, Posts
      [caption id="attachment_13233" align="alignleft" width="140"] DOUGLAS BADER[/caption]   The posting this month is not from our gallery but from our theatre. Throughout the summer, the museum will be showing some classic war movies. On June 01/19 we will be presenting the story of Douglas Bader, one of Britain’s great fighter pilots of World War II. The movie is called “Reach for the Sky”, and it’s one of my all-time favourites. I have also watched several documentaries covering the same story.     From these sources, I had drawn conclusions about the man himself. Having been asked to write this post I thought I had enough information already; but feeling as though I should get all the information I could possibly find, I decided to read the original book. Boy, am I ever glad I did.  The movie and the documentaries only covered the Bader story from his accident to the end of World War II. From these I thought I knew the man as many of us do when thinking of our heroes and stars of movies and TV. The book, however, starts at his birth and gives insight to the make up of the man.  I had always thought that Bader was sometimes careless with the safety of his men, driven to get the highest scores. Part of that last statement is correct and yet the other half couldn’t be further from the truth.  He was born to a middle-class family, the second of two boys. From the moment Read more...
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