Daily Archives: April 27, 2016

War Correspondents

Updated 11 November 2021 with this comment…

Thank you for posting this article. I come to it yearly at Remembrance Day for my 2nd Great Uncle F/O David Griffin (maternal). This gives me an opportunity to share the well documented account of how he served and teach my daughter about our Canadian history. My family member located a copy of his book and has retained it in our family.

Research and story by Clarence Simonsen

War correspondents are a special breed of men and women who continue today risking their own personal safety to capture a story, photo, or painting, and communicate the news back to the public. These people are neither soldiers of war or members of the armed forces. However they were given the same uniform and are treated with the same priority and respect as the fighting man and women. It is an exhausting, dirty, and deadly business, facing the sniper’s bullet and land mine which is impervious to the war correspondent badge. Near the end of World War Two [30 April 1945], LIFE magazine presented a portfolio on ten artists who had been in the conflict since December 1941.

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My favorite American LIFE war correspondent artist was Capt. Tom Lea who wore the standard uniform of the United States Army Air Force. Only a small strip of cloth on his shoulders identified him as a war correspondent. Through the medium of pencil and paint Tom captured the mysteries, death, and spectacle of war art such as the American pilot expression and the four leaf clover he wore for good luck. His art appeared in many issues of LIFE magazine and dramatically showed how deep Americans had been plunged into the Second World War. It was the magic of the airplane and the U. S. Air Transport Command that flew Tom to the strange and new world at war.

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This image is from the 1944 book titled Flight to Everywhere by Ivan Dmitri, the story of the United States Air Transport Command in WWII.

The badge of the U.S. Army’s Air Transport Command contained the new boundary lines which changed the very shape of the world as these big transport aircraft flew the new circle routes. These routes opened up new remote landing strips and way stations for the aircraft to refuel and then depart on a network of bases from the Arctic to Australia.

By 1945, U. S. Air Transport Command flew regular plane routes that totaled over 160,000 miles. Artist Tom Lea, flew over 38,000 miles with Air Transport Command, including many trips around the world. He painted and brought back hundreds of images of the little-known places in the world, including Arctic Canada. When he stopped at Goose Bay, Labrador, in 1942, he painted images of the Arctic Northern Lights and the virgin forest that surrounded the remote air base.

He reported a Canadian, Eric Fry, found the base location while flying over the area in an amphibious aircraft in the spring of 1941. This was the only flat, sandy ledge, with room for runways and proximity to coastal waterways for thousands of miles. The base construction was a joint undertaking shared by both American and Canadian funds, containing both American and Canadian base camp areas. By 1943, the base could service and feed the crews of 100 aircraft in just 24 hours. Then weather permitting, they continued the Great Circle route to Greenland, England, and the war in Europe.

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This Tom Lea painting records one of the thousand rivers that cross the plateau near the great base of Goose Bay airport. This was recorded as being near the 300 foot Hamilton waterfall where the Indian spirit Manitou, lives.

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The next day Tom painted the enormous piece of Danish ice covering 700,000 miles of frozen island Greenland.

Many American airmen in Goose Bay came from the southern states. They were not prepared for the cold Arctic life style and from this was born the legend of the “Kee-kee Bird.”

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The Kee-kee Bird
This bird looks just like a buzzard;
It’s large, it’s hideous, it’s bold.
In the night, it circles the North Pole.
Crying “Kee, Kee, Kee-rist but it’s cold!”

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Images taken in December 1943, from book “Flight to Everywhere.”
Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada became the hub for the hundreds of American war correspondents traveling to the war in Europe and many of these men and women never returned to the United States.

On 20 September 1948, at 5 p.m. American Secretary of Defense James Forrestal dedicated a special memorial wall honoring the 80 plus American war correspondents who died or were killed during their war service. The wall was located in the National Military establishment Press room, [2E 676] of the Pentagon building. On any given day, forty war correspondents photographs will be mounted on the memorial wall, giving the location and date of death or missing in action.

In 1945, Gillis Purcell and Ross Munro formed the Canadian War Correspondents Association, which today records and represents over 100 Canadian reporters who served and died scattered all over the world. Two Canadian War Correspondents from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Art Holmes and Robert Bowman, departed Halifax, Nova Scotia, in a convoy for England in late December 1939. They would spend the duration of the war wearing the standard Canadian Army attire which was identical to the front line soldiers they served beside in action.

Other Canadian newspapermen served as civilian war correspondents, while many served as members of the armed services in the public relations sector. Several didn’t come home. To their roll of honor, you can add the name of RCAF Flying Officer David Francis Griffin # C24863.

David Griffin was born in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1907, and began his newspaper career at age seventeen, working as a press boy for the Hamilton Spectator.

He moved on to become a newspaper reporter and was employed with the Windsor Star, Sudbury Star, and became assistant city editor of the Toronto Star newspaper. He was a widely-known and very well respected newspaperman with 18 years’ service when he enlisted in the RCAF in late 1941.

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The sudden crippling attack by Japan on the United States naval and air forces at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, quickly changed the war defenses in Canada and Alaska. F/O Griffin was assigned to cover this air defence of British Columbia and Alaska, attached to the new formed No. 111 [Thunderbird] Squadron. Some of his RCAF reporting would appear in his old newspaper the “Toronto Star” including the special color center-section titled “Star Weekly.”

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By May 1942, the tide of war was running very strongly in favour of Japan, and the U.S. War Department had to immediately booster its Alaska Air defence and ask if Canada could led air assistance to the American Forces in Alaska. On 27 May 42, Maj./Gen. S.B. Buckner, commanding the Alaska Defence Command, sent an urgent message requesting one RCAF Bomber Squadron and one RCAF fighter Squadron to proceed at once to Yakutat at the north end of the Alaska panhandle. On 2 June 42, twelve Bolingbroke bombers of No. 8 [B.R.] Squadron RCAF left Patrica Bay, B.C., for the 1,000 mile flight north to Yakutat, where they all arrived the next day. On 4 June No. 111 [F] Squadron under command of S/L A. D. Nesbitt arrived at Yakutat. The RCAF ground crews arrived by old Stranraer aircraft on 2 June and one of the passengers was F/O David Griffin. Lorne Bruce of Vancouver, B.C. the former superintendent of the Canadian Press at Edmonton, Alberta, was also selected to cover the RCAF in the Aleutians.

S/L Nesbitt joined the RCAF on 15 September 1939, then served with No. 1 Squadron in the Battle of Britain. Nesbitt returned to Ottawa on 18 September 1941, and took command of the new formed No. 111 Squadron on 1 November 1941. After the attack by Japan at Pearl Harbor, No. 111 Squadron was ordered to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. on 14 December 1941. On 18 February 1942, they were moved to Patricia Bay, where they completed training in the new Kittyhawk Mk. I fighter aircraft, becoming operational on 12 March 1942. During this time period, public relations officer F/O David Griffin was attached to No. 111 Squadron and recorded all the squadron activities until August 1943.

On 17 March 42, a special ceremony was held when the West Coast Saanich Indians adopted the fighter squadron and presented S/L Nesbitt with a 20 inch carved and painted “Thunderbird” totem pole. This was reported by F/O Griffin and images appeared in the Star Weekly magazine.

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17 March 1942, S/L Nesbitt, D.F.C. and his Thunderbird. Star Weekly image

On 15 June 42, Nesbitt was promoted to Wing Commander and given command of RCAF Station Annette Island. The little “Thunderbird” totem stood on his desk for all to see.

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Ottawa image PMR 75-603

No. 111 flew their first operation on 1 July 1942, from Elmendorf Field, to intercept an unidentified aircraft. A few of the fighter aircraft painted the Thunderbird totem as nose art, as seen in the recovery image of Kittyhawk Mk. I, serial RAF AL194, [RCAF #1087].

The RCAF No. 111 Squadron formed “F” flight of the 11th Pursuit Squadron commanded by Major John S. Chennault, the son of the famous Major Gen. Claire Chennault of the Flying Tigers fame.

In a few days motion picture producer Col. D. F. Zanuck arrived and shot color flying scenes of the war in Alaska. This film can be downloaded and watched today, including the unrehearsed scenes of the RCAF “Thunderbird” squadron.

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In 1943, the U. S. Navy commissioned war correspondent artist Lt. William F. Draper to capture the war in Alaska. These two of 42 paintings, record the conditions at Umnak Island where the RCAF No. 111 Squadron were based.

Public Relations Officer F/O David Griffin was attached to No. 111 Squadron from March 1942 until August 1943, completing two tours of operations against the Japanese forces. During this time he recorded the interesting account of RCAF operations and of the life involving the Canadians who served in the Aleutians. His unpublished manuscript was titled – “First Steps To Tokyo.”

After taking thirty days leave, he was assigned to cover the story of the Norwegian patrol bombers flying from Iceland, protecting the Atlantic convoy ships from German U-boat attacks.

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Images from the 1945 book “Little Norway” Publisher unknown

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When Hitler suddenly attacked Norway on 9 April 1940, the Norwegian Government fled to Canada and purchased 20 million dollars of American combat aircraft. The first training of the Royal Norwegian Air Force began 10 November 1940, next to the Toronto “Maple Leaf” baseball stadium which was now named “Little Norway.” Fairchild trainers, Curtiss fighters, Douglas attack bombers and new Northrop patrol bombers were now seen on the Toronto Island Airport, which had been obtained for use from the Toronto Harbour Commission. By 1942, the Canada trained Norwegian fighter squadrons were taking the fight to Hitler, and this included Catalina flying boats and new Northrop N3-PB patrol bombers flying from Iceland bases.


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The training in the N3-PB float aircraft at Toronto Island Airport, “Little Norway” July 1941

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Wings parade at Toronto Island Airport, “Little Norway” 1941

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LIFE magazine 29 May 1944

Bernt Balchen sketch by war correspondent Tom Lea in Iceland, 1943. He learned to ski at age eight and flew in the Norwegian Naval Air Force. He piloted Admiral Byrd to the South Pole 1927, then became an American citizen in 1931. In 1940, he assisted the Norwegian Government to begin pilot training at “Little Norway” in Toronto. In 1941, he was placed in command of the northern U.S. air base at Goose Bay, Labrador, and the main base in Greenland. All his life he was involved with snow, ice, and aviation.

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In February 1944, F/O Griffin completed his story on the Royal Norwegian Air Force in Iceland, but his story would never be published.

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Reykjavik, Iceland, was the H.Q. for No. 330 [N] Royal Norwegian Air Force and a major base for the RCAF Liberator bombers that were hunting German U-Boats. No. 10 [Dumbo] Squadron of the RCAF used this as refueling base on flights from Gander, Newfoundland.

On 18 February 1944, F/O Griffin secured a ride in a No. 10 [Dumbo] Squadron Liberator GR. V 856 bomber returning to its base at Gander, Newfoundland, from Iceland. This B-24 had delivered ground personnel from No. 162 [B.R.] Squadron to Reykjavik, Iceland, and was returning home empty with crew of five.

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No. 10 [Bomber] Squadron had been formed at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 5 September 1939, and established a record of 22 attacks on German submarines, with three confirmed sinking’s. They were also proud to have two unofficial titles “North Atlantic” and “Dumbo” Squadron. Walt Disney artists in Burbank, California, created the unofficial insignia. They had moved to Gander, Newfoundland, on 8 May 1943 and continued anti-submarine duty until disbanded on 15 August 1945.

F/O Griffin would be the only passenger in Liberator [U.S. #42-40526] RCAF serial 586, the very first bomber assigned to the squadron on 15 April 1943. This bomber had scored the units very first U-Boat kill 15 September 1943, when it sunk U-341. This should have been a safe normal flight but freezing temperatures caused icing problems. Three inches of ice built up under the wings and this cause the aircraft to consume more than normal fuel for the flight. The last contact with the crew was when they acknowledged a signal to divert to Goose Bay, Labrador. The story of this crash first appeared on 5 January 1945, in the British magazine “The Aeroplane” titled – Crash in Labrador. It can be found online, but in short the ice covered bomber ran out of fuel in three engines, and then just thirteen miles from Goose Bay, the fourth over-stressed engine caught fire. The Liberator plunged headlong into the thick bush and struck many large eighteen inch diameter trees, snapping the bomber fuselage in half. F/O Griffin was thrown out and killed instantly. The other five crew members all survived.

In the fall of 1944, the RCAF published the manuscript of Flying Officer David Griffin, titled First Steps To Tokyo. The front covers were designed by another RCAF famous Official War Artist, Donald Kenneth Anderson. In the early 1990s, I had the pleasure to meet this artist at a dinner in Nanton, Alberta. It is possible this original art survives today in Anderson’s War Museum collection in Ottawa.

It is also possible that F/O David Griffin and RCAF artist Sgt. Donald Anderson knew each other. Anderson had painted covers for the Star Weekly magazine as early as 1940, and Griffin was then employed as assistance city editor for the Toronto Star.

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Booklet here


War correspondent artist Tom Lea drawing of Gen. Claire Chennault, China 1943.
[LIFE magazine 29 May 1944]

F/O David Francis GRIFFIN C24863 is buried in the Goose Bay Cemetery, Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada.

The war correspondent from Canada and the United States represent a free press, for the free people, and they are not afraid to die for both. In the United States the newspapermen and women killed as a direct result of their chosen war correspondent assignment are remembered in memorial walls, arches, and special televised dedication by the Overseas Press Club.

In Canada, we forget about our Newspaper Heroes, but they are there, being killed in a far off dirty land just to bring us a story to read with our morning coffee.

On 30 December 2009, a young 34 year old Calgary Herald reporter was on a six-week assignment as a war correspondent in the War in Afghanistan. She wore the same uniform as the four Canadian soldiers that carried out a route patrol in an armoured military vehicle. They struck a roadside bomb and all five were killed together in the blast.

This World War Two story is dedicated to Canadian War Correspondent Michelle Justine Lang, 31 January 1975 – 30 December 2009. The first Canadian journalist to die in the war in Afghanistan, but never forgotten.

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Calgary Herald image

Copyright Clarence Simonsen 2016

The Calgary “Clunk”

Research and story by Clarence Simonsen

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The new design to meet the RCAF specification for a Canadian all-weather fighter was initiated at Avro Canada in October 1946. The fighter would be able to patrol the vast areas of Canada’s far north and operate in all weather conditions day or night. The two seat fighter was crewed by a pilot and navigator powered by the Canadian built Avro Orenda gas turbojet engines.

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The first two aircraft were given the Mark I prototype designation and serial number 18101 and 18102.

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The first CF-100 prototype serial 18101 emerged from the factory wearing overall gloss black finish with white lightning bolts running full length on the fuselage and twin engines. The pilot was the chief test pilot for Gloster Aircraft Company, S/L Bill Waterton, who was on loan to Avro Canada. The twin engines Rolls-Royce Avon RA3 turbojets. She carried the code letters FB-D and flew her maiden flight on 19 January 1950. Testing continued until 3 September 1952, then taken on strength by RCAF. The aircraft then conducted testing while on loan to A.V. Roe until 15 July 1954. Struck off charge by the RCAF on 31 May 1965 and scrapped.

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The second CF-100 prototype was serial 18102, painted in overall gloss black finish, with yellow lightning bolt running full length on each side of fuselage. The wing tip tanks had red fins and the RCAF insignia appeared on both sides of the nose just ahead of cockpit. The code letters were FB-K. The engines were Rolls-Royce Avon RA-3 turbojets.

The book “The Avro Arrow Story” by Bill Zuk explains the reason for the markings on 18102. Avro test pilot S/L William A. “Bill” Waterton and rear seat new test pilot F/Lt. Bruce “Duke” Warren flew the second prototype to compete against the Americans in a tactical air show at Logan Field, Boston, 30 August 1950. Pilot Waterton arranged for the painting of the yellow lightning bolt, red wing tip tank fins and the addition of the RCAF insignia.

F/Lt. Duke Warren replaced S/L Waterton as the chief test pilot and on 5 April 1951 he was killed flying the second prototype 18102. Duke had cleaned his flying helmet and oxygen gear the night before and forgot to replace one section in his air tube. Duke and observer Robert Ostrander were killed when the pilot oxygen mask failed and Duke blacked out. A passing Trans-Canada Airlines crew witnesses the straight down vertical dive of one all black jet, which never pulled out and impacted the ground at high speed. Crash site Komoka Bog, west of London, Ontario. They were the first two Avro Test Pilots to be killed, but others followed. After the investigation was completed, CF-100 #18102 was taken off strength officially by the RCAF on 23 June 1951.

The next five production aircraft were Mk. 2 test aircraft, and two were fitted with dual controls and designated Mk. 2 T [trainer].

#18103 Mk. 2 Indefinite loan to A.V. Roe, 20 June 1951, off charge 3 June 1955.

#18104 Mk. 2 Testing as FB-F, to RCAF 17 October 1951, off charge 6 November 1974, Preserved at St. Jean, Quebec.

#18105 Mk. 2 T indefinite loan to A.V. Roe, damaged 23 September 1953, off 27 May 1955.

#18106 Mk. 2 After testing was active until 2 May 1956. Became instructional airframe, off 14 November 1966. Preserved at Lambeth, Ontario.

#18107 Mk. 2 T indefinite loan to A.V. Roe, first gun firing trials. Off charge 21 July 1958.

These five test aircraft became the first fitted with the Canadian designed, developed, and new tested Orenda 2 engines.

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The next four production aircraft were RCAF test aircraft, with designation Mk. 3 T [Trainer], two seat long range fighter aircraft.

#18108 Mk. 3 T Testing then to RCAF 6 May 1952, first to operational training unit, off 5 August 1955.

#18109 Mk. 3 T Testing to RCAF 22 May 1952, code JF-R, off charge 18 April 1955.

#18110 Mk. 3 T Testing to RCAF 5 June 1952, code JF-S, overstressed and bend wings at CNE air show 20 September 1952. Off charge 5 August 1955.

#18111 Mk. 3 T Indefinite loan to A.V. Roe, burnt hanger fire Malton, 22 March 1956.

The fourth test pre-production aircraft was #18112, built as a Mk. 4 for testing 11 October 1952. It was on indefinite load to A.V. Roe for testing and had a Cat. “A” crash on 23 August 1954.

Full production now begins on the CF-100 Mk. 3 A, and 21 will be built. They are powered by the Orenda 2 turbine engines.

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#18113 3 A Taken on charge RCAF 15 August 1952, off charge North Bay 23 March 1955

#18114 3 D Built as a dual control version for RCAF operational training unit. Delivered 31 March 1953, off charge North Bay, 3 August 1960.

#18115 3 A Delivered RCAF 4 November 1952, crashed North Bay 31 December 1954.

#18116 3 A Delivered RCAF 4 November 1952, off charge 3 O.T.U. 3 August 1960.

#18117 3 A Delivered RCAF 4 November 1952, crashed 3 O. T. U. 15 October 1954.

#18118 3 A Delivered RCAF 10 December 1952, converted to 3 T on 30 October 1953, off charge 23 May 1958.

#18119 3 A Delivered RCAF 3 January 1953, converted to 3 T on 2 November 1953, off charge 3 August 1960.

#18120 3 A Delivered RCAF 19 June 1953, converted to 3 T on 22 March 1954. Coded JF-120, off charge 3 August 1960.

#18121 3 A Delivered 1953, converted to Mk. 3 D in 1955, off charge 9 September 1968.

#18122 3 A Delivered RCAF 8 January 1953. Code JF122, crashed North Bay 17 October 1954.

#18123 3 A Delivered RCAF 8 January 1953, converted to Mk. 3 D, off charge Cold Lake 3 August 1960.

#18124 3 A Delivered RCAF 21 January 1952, converted 3 T on 8 January 1954, coded JF-124, off charge 3 August 1960.

#18125 3 A Delivered RCAF 22 January 1953, converted 3 T on 19 January 1954, off charge 3 August 1960.

The 26th built CF-100 is serial #18126, the 13th production Mk. 3 A, assigned No. 12 Technical Services at A.V. Roe on 27 January 1953. It was delivered by A.V. Roe on 2 March 1953, and immediately assigned to Air Defence Command and transferred to No. 3 All-Weather Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station North Bay, Ontario.

RCAF Station North Bay was founded on 1 September 1951, as part of Canada’s air defence system due to the “Cold War” and rising threat of air attack from the Soviet Union. Like it or not Canada was situated between the Soviet Union and United States and this could become a nuclear battlefront. A massive building program began around North Bay involving all radar, air control, runways and weapons facilities for American and Canadian aircraft. The base received a new 10,000 foot runway and a peak strength of 2,200 military personnel, including 34 United States Air Force and 100 American civilian personnel. The sole purpose for the base was air defence, to monitor and protect the skies over northern Canada. On 1 November 1951, No. 3 All-Weather [Fighter] Operational Training Unit was formed featuring state of the art school teaching in fighter interception, combat, and cutting edge techniques to defend against the Russians in all weather conditions, day or night. Five RCAF fighter interceptor squadrons would serve at North Bay, No. 430, No. 445, No. 419, No. 433 and No. 414 Squadrons.

Canuck 18126 was returned to No. 12 Technical Services Unit [A.V. Roe, Malton] on 24 August 1953 and it is believed this is the date the dual trainer conversion to a Mk. 3 D was completed.

CF-100 serial 18126 was assigned to No. 440 [Bat] All-Weather [F] Squadron at Bagotville, Quebec, on 23 November 1953. She flew as KE-126 and wore the green colored engine cowlings, rudder, with white ‘crocodile tears.”

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Black and white photo image RCAF from Chris Charland

On 14 July 1954, #18126 was transferred to No. 3 A.W. [F] Operational Training Unit at North Bay along with three other CF-100’s [ #18120, #18127, and #18137]. The code letters marking became JP-126 and she now flew with the impressive “Night Witches” insignia on her nose. The adopted nickname was suggested by the wife of the unit Engineering Officer and thus became the unofficial insignia beginning in summer of 1953.

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Night Witch image from 22 Wing Heritage Office Archives

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Milton Caniff was one of the most famous and successful comic strip American artists of all time. A pro-American he was best described as a ‘drawing board patriot’ who produced special strips celebrating Christmas, Armed Forces Day and Air Force Day. Caniff never glamorized war and always paid respect to those who gave their all, including the pilots of the RCAF.

President Truman established “Air Force Day” on 1 August 1947, in recognition of all personnel who were victorious in the U.S. Army Air Forces. On 18 September 1947, the U. S. Air Force became a separate military service and the Army Air Forces were officially abolished on 26 September 1947. On 18 September 1948, Caniff created his first special strip – Today Is Air Force Day.”

On 19 September 1953, Caniff created a special strip which featured Steve Canyon giving a special salute to the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian built CF-100 which joined with the U.S.A.F. to protect the free world. The RCAF unit is No. 3 All-Weather [Fighter] Operational Training Unit at North Bay, featuring the little “Night Witch” and #18126 is one of the aircraft. The first American instructors to arrive at North Bay No. 3 A.W. [F] O.T.U. were USAF Major John Eiser and Captain B. Delosier, who arrived on 9 January 1952.

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Milton Caniff strip – 19 September 1953 copyright Shel Dorf.

On 8 November 1954, 18126 [coded JF-126] makes a very heavy landing at night piloted by Wing Commander E.G. “Irish” Ireland.

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RCAF image from Chris Charland

The right main landing gear broke, causing Category “B” damage. The damage is repaired and the fighter continues training duties.

On 22 May 1955, No. 3 A.W. [F] O.T.U. was transferred to RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta. On 24 January 1956, the Canuck went to Bristol Aerospace at Winnipeg, for refit modifications, special and periodic inspection maintenance. On 18 January 1957, the aircraft was declared “serviceable Reserve.” On 14 March 1957, the aircraft is re-designated as Inactive Reserve on paper RCAF Station Lincoln Park, Calgary, Alberta. 3 April 1958, classified as “War Reserve” again only on paper records at Lincoln Park. 12 August 1960, flown for storage at Lethbridge, Alberta, which was the storage detachment for Calgary. The runway at Lincoln Park was too short for a safe landing of a CF-100.

18 October 1962, Canuck 18126 is designated [A.P.D.A.L] Aircraft Pending disposal at Location, RCAF detachment at Lethbridge, Alberta.

In March 1963, Lynn Garrison found this rare Canuck and purchased the fighter from Crown Assets Disposal Corporation on 22 November 1963 for $1,000.00.

It was purchased in the name of his Alberta Aviation Museum at 2732 Brecken Road, Calgary, Alberta. This was the first operating name of the Calgary museum which consisted of nothing more than a letterhead printed by Roy Farran and Graham Smith of the North Hill News.

Herb Spear drives to Lethbridge in a truck loaned by Gerry Wolton’s Lumber Yard in Calgary. On the return trip Spear encounters many problems getting the aircraft to Calgary where it is placed in the Shell Oil pipe storage yards. This became the second aircraft purchased by Lynn Garrison for his new museum and it joined Mosquito CF-HMS [RS700] in the storage yard for protection.

In April 1964, the “Air Museum of Canada” was incorporated by lawyer Albert Ludwig, however none of the aircraft are transferred into the museum’s new title.

In the following years, a major battle developed between Lynn Garrison and his friend powerful lawyer Milt Harradence. The Air Museum of Canada floundered in its development and Lynn Garrison departed for California. Peter D. Norman seized control of the Air Museum of Canada in 1966, and in the following seven years a large number [45 plus] of aircraft were sold without permission to interested collectors. Today these aircraft remain in collections and museums around the world.

On 23 April 1973, Peter D. Norman sold the Air Museum of Canada to the City of Calgary for “one dollar” and only seven aircraft are listed on the official Bill of Sale, #22407 dated 1:39 p.m. 23 July 1973. Schedule “A” listed the aircraft as follows:

1. Avro CF-100 #18126
2. de Havilland DH98 Mosquito CF-HMS, serial RS700
3. de Havilland DH100 Vampire CF-RLK, serial 17069
4. Hawker Hurricane XIIA AC41, serial 48084
5. N.A. Harvard Ground Trainer [unmarked]
6. Sikorsky H5 serial 9607
7. de Havilland Tiger moth

The aircraft are now moved to the rear south side of the new Calgary Planetarium property and left to rot in the extreme hot and cold climate of southern Alberta. Bob Nelson is the technical supervisor of the Calgary Planetarium and he is given control of the ex-Lynn Garrison collection for safe keeping. Recently retired Calgary Airport manager Bill Watts is next appointed by the City of Calgary to run the daily operations of the nameless organization. Mr. Watts is given a central office in the Calgary Planetarium and paid as a manager for safekeeping and display of the seven ex-Garrison aircraft.

In the summer of 1975, the “Aero Space Museum Association of Calgary” is formed and registered as a non-profit, charitable, organization. The museum processed no building, no storage or protection for their aircraft, and meetings are held in the basement of the Planetarium.

In January 1978, my father passed away in the Foothills Hospital at Calgary and I decided to leave my twelve year career as a Metro Toronto Police officer and return to my home near Acme, Alberta. At this date, I was heavily involved in the research, collection, and repainting of WWII aviation aircraft ‘nose art’ which began in the summer of 1967, at Malton, Ontario.

In 1968, I joined the Royal Canadian Legion at Malton, Ontario, and thanks to being a police officer, I was allowed to tour the very plant where the Lancaster Mk. X, Avro CF-100, and famous Avro Arrow was developed, tested, and put into full production for the RCAF. On a cold winter day in 1969, I snapped a number of images of the CF-100 located in front of the Malton, Ontario, Legion building, located across the road from the plant where this fighter was built.

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In June 1978, [after the death of my father] I relocated to the farm in southern Alberta, where I continued my research into the aircraft markings known as ‘nose art.’ I also processed a wealth of Canadian aviation knowledge which I had gained in the past ten years living in Toronto.

In January 1979, I met Richard de Boer and made my first contact with a paid member of the Aero Space Museum Association of Calgary. In describing Richard, it was very clear he was not a very humble person, he was a know-it-all, tell-it-all, find-it-all, combined with being very articulate in his knowledge of aviation history and aircraft.

His smug tone in speaking came across to some people as being arrogant, however that was just his style and for many years we formed a friendship in the world of aviation. He taught me the complete operation of the museum, where items were located, plus the good, bad, and ugly, of the people in charge. It soon became very clear that Richard had one bad point, he expressed a high degree of biasness towards a Mr. Lynn Garrison, a man he had never even met. I had learned during my Military Police and Metro. Toronto Police training that an investigator must never show bias in any investigation and must always have a neutral viewpoint. This must also apply to professional historians when they display our past in professional operated museums.

In March 1979, I became a member of the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, and learned the small amount of money allotted each year paid the wages of the manager, financial officer, and directors.

credit Estate of Sig Wieser

We volunteers, attended monthly meetings in the Planetarium basement, drank coffee, talked of future plans and went home. Compared to Eastern Canada, the Calgary ‘paper museum’ was a told joke to the Canadian aviation community.

In 1984, Bullock Helicopters were renting the 1940 Royal Air Force drill hall as a hangar for their fleet of helicopters. They had paid in full to the City of Calgary the building rental fees until 1986. The old WWII RAF drill hall was a fire trap, with a leaking roof, electrical wiring from WWII that shorted out and a furnace that provided very little heat. In 1985, Bullock located a much safer location and the old drill hall was suddenly vacant. This WWII drill hall became the first home to the newly formed Aero Space Museum Association of Calgary and has housed the aircraft collection and related artifacts since that date.

In 1986, the Aero Space Museum of Calgary collection of aircraft were moved to their new home and this included CF-100 “Canuck” 18126. In 1987, the life at the new museum was very busy with the restoration of aircraft, created by the Federal Government. The City of Calgary obtained money through the assistance of the Canadian Government Job Development Training Program Grant, and then professionals were hired to restore the collection of aircraft. The funny part was the fact these restored aircraft were then sold to persons or museums however the museum remained broke. [this will be covered in detail in another story]

In 1973, the City of Calgary took over all assets of the Air Museum of Canada, including two WWII Hurricane aircraft. Lynn Garrison originally purchased Hurricane 5424, which was later leased by the City of Calgary to a Rem Walker in Regina, Saskatchewan. The City of Calgary then sold one new Merlin 29 engine to this Regina group for $900.00. In 1983, Rem Walker sold one Hurricane without serial number to a wealthy British collector Steven Grey in U.K. By the time the Calgary City Police began their investigation this stolen WWII Hurricane was in England and remains there today. [This story is covered in full detail in another history titled “Paper Kill.”]

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Lynn Garrison photo image 1946

Norseman CF-MAM, serial N29-26 was recovered in Northern Ontario, by Petro-Canada, then flown to Calgary in a Canadian Forces Hercules transport in fall of 1984. In 1986, it was restored by the Canadian Government Job Training Grant Program, then in 1988 it was sold back to Petro-Canada where you can find it displayed in the Atrium at 150-6th Ave. S.W. Calgary. This was the beginning of at least six aircraft being restored and then sold for profit, but I still wonder if this was all legal?

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Calgary Architect Bill Boucock was the man who designed the Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. In 1986, his Beech SC17R Staggerwing aircraft was restored by the Government Grant Program in the Aero Space Museum of Calgary. After being restored to flying condition, it was never seen again, and I always wondered what money was involved in this scheme to restore a private owned aircraft?

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A second Noorduyn Norseman CF-SAN serial N29-29 crashed at Fort Simpson airport, N.W.T. on 15 December 1981. Constructed in 1946, this aircraft had flown with the Saskatchewan Government Department of Natural Resources. The aircraft was purchased by George Stevenson of Rocky Mountain Air and trucked to the Aero Space Museum of Calgary for restoration in 1988. It was found to be beyond economical cost for repairs and donated to the Aero Space Museum of Calgary for a tax receipt. I obtained one damaged port elevator from this aircraft and painted WWII Walt Disney art on it for an auction. This Calgary auction raised $800.00 for the Aero Space Museum, however the aircraft was sold to Joe McBryan of Buffalo Airways and today can be seen in the series named “Ice Pilot’s.” How much money was made on the sale of this Norseman?

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Next a rare Swordfish was sold to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum located at Wetaskiwin, and it became clear someone was making money using the Aero Space Museum as a restoration base. The Calgary taxpayers had no idea what was taking place under their nose. They owned an aviation museum but ‘their’ aircraft were being sold to other museums.

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This selling of aircraft and restoration scheme would now be exposed to the public of Calgary, thanks to unexpected legal action taken by Lynn Garrison.

In 1962, Lynn Garrison was at a Confederate Air Force air show in Texas, [Rebel Field] where he met the original three organizers, Lloyd Nolan, Lefty Gardner and Connie Edwards.

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This C.A.F. friendship spanned a lifetime and proved to be very important in the spring of 1991. Lynn was coordinating events in Haiti, when he received a call from Lefty Gardner, informing him a Mr. Bill Watts, Manager of the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, was offering the sale of one complete Calgary Lancaster FM136 to the C.A.F. [today the renamed Commemorative Air Force]. Lynn contacted Calgary lawyer Andy Robertson and initiated a lawsuit to prevent the sale of his old bomber. Garrison had the original bill of sale for the Lancaster, and the bomber had never been part of the legal purchase of seven aircraft from Peter D. Norman in 1973. When Peter Norman seized the old “Air Museum of Canada” in 1966, he only seized a bunch of papers.

The Lancaster bomber never appeared on any legal forms, and Garrison believed he still held legal title. A court of law would decide, and the City of Calgary lawyers were in fact worried Garrison had a sound case. Part of the original evidence from Lynn Garrison.

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Original Bill of Sale and delivery notice received by Lynn Garrison 20 April 1961

This is the original Bill of Sale for the purchase of Lancaster Mk. X., serial FM136, dated and signed by Lynn Garrison on 15 April 1961.

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The purchase of FM136 began in late May 1961, when Garrison made a phone call to Crown Assets Disposal Corporation in regards to the Lancaster stored at Macleod, Alberta. A cheque from Garrison was received in payment of $975.00 on 5 April 1961, and the bomber was owned by him on 15 April 61.

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In 1989, the new manager of the Aero Space Museum became Everett Bunnell, a Canadian pioneer in the field of aviation, with a career that spanned over half a century. He joined the RCAF in Regina, and served as a Flying Instructor, then became a Mosquito pilot and was posted overseas as the war came to an end. He became a full time test pilot for the new CF-100 flying out of Winnipeg, and survived an in-flight starboard engine explosion. He next became the chief test pilot for Bristol Aeroplane and then Spartan Air Services and Field Aviation in Ottawa. In his retirement he remained busy in the aviation world and had just arrived in Calgary when the Garrison lawsuit confronted him.

Ev Bunnell ran the museum like he was still in command of an Air Force unit in WWII. He was totally in charge of everything and the only person to tell Richard de Boer to shut up, as Mr. Bunnell would conduct all future lectures. Under his authority two more aircraft just disappeared, a Canadair T-33 and North American Harvard. I have no idea if they were sold or just given away. This Garrison purchased T-33 serial 21001 is now on display in Edmonton, thanks to Ev Bunnell. Was it sold or just given away?

Prior to the 1991 Garrison court action, his original seven remaining aircraft [including CF-100 #18126] and the Lancaster FM136 mounted on the pedestal, had remained neglected by the City of Calgary. That suddenly all changed. I learned the Calgary lawyers advised that the Lancaster be moved to the property in front of the Aero Space Museum 1940 R.A.F. Drill Hall, and it be cleaned up, to show the City of Calgary cared. On 10 March 1992, a special committee was formed to complete the reverse operation moving the aircraft from gate guardian to museum static display. This was completed on 23 April 1992, and I took this image soon after. The Lancaster is being cleaned up, [bird nests, etc.] located on the museum property for protection.

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Andy Robertson of Calgary’s Macleod Dixon, represented Lynn Garrison at the lawsuit. When Bill Watts and the City of Calgary were confronted, they both denied making the offer of sale to the C.A.F in Texas. Today Lynn Garrison retains copies of the original Bill Watts offer to sell Lancaster FM136 to the Confederate Air Force.

Garrison also retains a 1965 document that states – “Should the City of Calgary decide in the future, that Lancaster FM136 is no longer wanted, the bomber will revert back to Lynn Garrison.”

The court ruled in favor of the City of Calgary and they became the lawful owners of the aircraft collection and museum artifacts’. They now became responsible for the upkeep and protection of the aircraft collection, required under Canadian law. Lynn Garrison not only prevents the sale of the WWII Lancaster to the C.A.F., he made the taxpayers of Calgary the legal owners of ‘their’ Aero Space Museum and all the artifacts.

This appeared to give new life to the future of the aircraft and museum, followed in 1993 with the sudden announcement by the Aero Space Museum Association of Calgary and the Board of Directors that a new museum would be constructed on airport property. A proposal for the new building was submitted by Bill Boucock Partnership Architects and I obtained a free copy. Where had I heard that name before. Oh, yes, he was the owner of Beech SC17R Staggerwing registered as CF-GKW restored to flying condition by the Aero Space Museum under the Canadian Government Job Training Grant Program. Canadian Federal taxpayer money used to restore a privately owned aircraft, which had nothing to do with the museum?

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The new museum proposal was turned down by the City of Calgary and many aircraft remained outdoors in the elements. To protect these outdoor displayed aircraft, General Manager and Executive Director Everett Bunnell created a new program where all aircraft would be painted in any color markings requested by a donor. Not the best way to run an aviation museum, which must historically display and educate future generations, and honor our past veterans. The good point was the aircraft skin was protected from the harsh Calgary weather.

When it came to the painting of Avro CF-100 “Canuck” serial 18126, Mr. Bunnell was in charge and like normal would not take any suggestions or offers of advice. The fighter still contained the original markings of the last unit it served with No. 3 A.W. [F] Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station North Bay, with code letters JF-126. The fighter was painted by Kenn Borek Air Ltd. at a cost of $10,000 and when it arrived at the museum there was total shock. Under orders received directly from Ev Bunnell, the CF-100 fighter had been painted in gloss black overall, with white lightning bolts running down the fuselage and engines. This was the correct markings of the CF-100 Mk. 1 prototype, serial 18101, code letters FB-D. However the Calgary CF-100 was incorrectly painted with serial number 18126, and then given the code letters KE-126, used at Bagotville, Quebec, in November 1953. What a total embarrassing paint job, combining three aircraft in one, thanks to the paid leader of the Aero Space Museum Association of Calgary.

What came next was even stranger, when the Board of Directors, and others in control, would not dare tell Mr. Bunnell the huge error he had created. So, like the Hans Christian Anderson tale of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” members walked around and pretended the paint job was OK. In two years Bunnell had departed for Edmonton, but his huge error still remains parked in front of the museum for all to see. Everyday thousands of Calgary taxpayers drive past this ‘unknown’ Canadian built aircraft and most have no idea it is painted wrong and that they in fact own this “Clunk.”

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The Canadian built CF-100 was manufactured in sixteen different variants, with a total of 692 produced in its lifetime. Today thirty still survive in static displays around the world. Calgary CF-100 serial 18126 is the third oldest in the world and the oldest surviving dual training version Mk. 3D in the world. Built by Canadians, for protection of Canadians, but still left outside and painted incorrectly.

If the Aero Space Museum Association of Calgary ever wish to exorcise their past demons, they must slowly start by learning the true history of each aircraft and painting them correctly. A very good start would be CF-100 serial number 18126. This would also erase the legacy Mr. Bunnell created for himself, a former CF-100 test pilot, who should have known better.