Category Archives: Reflecting

How to preserve the past?

Like how that museum preserved the past with the Memphis Belle?

The Americans are very proud of their past 8th Air Force history, and they should be. The 8th A. F. lost 47,000 airmen in the skies over Germany, and a good number were flying the B-17 Fortress. To honor them, they preserve, and paint their aircraft as correctly as possible. The Memphis Belle is one-of-a-kind, rare, priceless and the first B-17 to survive 25 bloody air battles over Europe.
In Canada our very own two [and only] veteran combat RCAF Lancaster Mk. X bombers are both painted as replica aircraft, one in British markings and the other will be painted in postwar markings. You can never replace a rare original RCAF Lancaster that flew in WWII with a replica. That is a slap in the face to the RCAF veterans who flew and died in the Canadian built Lancaster. Most of these brave young men are now deceased, and the RCAF Association should be there to respect and uphold ‘their” past for future generations to read, see, and learn. The fact is, they are not, and just turn a blind eye to the painting and preservation of the WWII Lancaster in Canadian museums. The second and and most important combat veteran RCAF Lancaster in the world, is now in Trenton, Ontario, the roots of the RCAF, and it will be painted in postwar markings.
Why should a peacetime Army Provost Corps Cpl. be telling the RCAF how to paint their WWII bomber correctly. I do it to honor and show my respect for the generation of young men who went to war in the Lancaster and never came home. The Americans would never, never, repaint the “Memphis Belle” in another postwar B-17 marking and place it in their Air Force Museum.
So, why would the RCAF Museum in Trenton, Ontario, repaint and destroy a rare Canadian built, RCAF combat veteran Lancaster which flew the most operations during WWII. It’s an insult to the RCAF veterans of WWII, but they are all deceased and can’t say a word. So, I do my best to speak for them.
Clarence Simonsen
Or how the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum museum preserved the history of KW-K “King of the Air” of 425 Alouette Squadron ?

Click here!

Lancaster in the museum

Epilogue – A Journey Into the Past

Post by Pierre Lagacé

Clarence Simonsen has done an incredible research using Gordon Hill’s photos.

This is probably the most interesting photograph in the hundreds of photos in Gordon McKenzie Hill’s collection.

At least in my own humble opinion…

This is what Clarence wrote about it.

Gordon Hill was sent to the RCAF Release Deport in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and met up with an old High School friend who was graduating from the University of Manitoba. Gordon became her escort for the evening, and had his photo taken after the dinner. The other males at his table have spent the past four years studying at University, while Gordon was flying around the world, fighting for Canada. I wonder if they had any idea what he had seen and done for them.

“I wonder if they had any idea what he had seen and done for them.”

I don’t know if these people had any idea what he had seen and done for them, because I did not ask Clarence if Gordon Hill had talked that much about that photo.

I don’t know also if he had talked that much about the war with his relatives before he met Clarence. But I glad he did talk to Clarence because I have learned so much about many 416 Squadron pilots and especially about the French Connection who were “damn good pilots” according to Gordon Hill.

“Lou” Nault, “Pic” Picard, “Jack” Menard and “Lou” Brouillard now will always be remembered on Preserving the Past thanks to “Gord”.

“Lou” Jean, another French-Canadian Spitfire pilot, will also be remembered.

On the left is F/O M. R. “Mush” Sharun. On the wing is F/L D. W. Harling. Below is F/O W.F. Bridgman, then F/O W.D. “Wally” Hill and F/O Gordon “Gord” Hill, W/O L. J. “Lou” Jean, F/L W. R. “Webb” Harten, F/O J. Leyland and F/O R.W. “Tap” Tapley.

W/O L. J. “Lou” Jean

This is one of the reasons I colorised that picture. W/O L. J. “Lou” Jean was a “damn good pilot”.

I colorised it also to pay homage  to the three pilots who never came back from the war.

Their stories are here on Preserving the Past.

Use the search button to look for them…

F/L D. W. Harling…


F/O W.F. Bridgman…

F/L W. R. “Webb” Harten…

I wonder if some of the French Connection pilots shared what they did during the war with their relatives.


Intermission Five – Petit Brogel

Intermission post by Pierre Lagacé

This morning Clarence is seeing Gordon Hill to give him back his logbook that he scanned as well as asking a few more questions about what he remembers from World War Two from the hundreds and hundreds of pictures he shared.

When I first saw this one I knew I just had to colorise it for Gordon Hill, even more when I learned from Clarence that Louis Jean was part of the French Connection.

Sharun, Harling, Bridgman, Wally Hill, Gordon Hill, Louis Jean, Harten, Leyland, Tapley


I have yet to find more information about Louis Jean who flew Spitfires with 416 Squadron.

Louis Jean

A few months ago I knew nothing about Gordon Hill and the French Connection until Clarence wrote me about this Spitfire pilot he had met. He had asked me if I would be interested in publishing his whole research about him on Preserving the Past.

I got even more excited when Clarence told me Gordon had hundreds and hundreds of photos from the past. I am an easy excitable person when it comes to old pictures and preserving the past.

These are the first photos Clarence sent me. He wanted me to colorise just a few to eventually post on the blog, but he was a little afraid to ask.

This one is about Belsen concentration camp Gordon had visited but had wished he never did.

There is another one he sent and asked me to colorise, but I wonder if I should show it.

This one is about “Sweet Sixteen”, a Spitfire Mk XVI he flew many times.

“The Petité Jeanne”, a DC-3 flown by Captain G.W. Odell.

I also decided to colorise these even if he did not ask.

Gordon with a Spitfire Mk XIV.

This one after he earned his wings at No. 13 SFTS St. Hubert.

No. 13 SFTS St. Hubert

I was just starting a new hobby, and I was quite excited about it. Then that hobby became more and more a mission than a hobby. These colorised photos are by no means perfect. I was just starting to learn about Preserving the Past in colours.





No. 13 SFTS St. Hubert

As a footnote, I am sure you are wondering who was this pilot with the serious look on his face.

His nickname was “Mush”. “Mush” was Michael Rico Sharun. While searching the Internet for more information on Michael Rico “Mush” Sharun…

Lo and behold!

I stumbled on one of my blogs!

Next intermission…

Is he holding a revolver?




One Final Word From Clarence Simonsen

Aviation Historians in Canada

World aviation historians are trained in history and other related fields, focusing their research on aviation-related topics concerned with the history of flight, its social, technological, and economic dimensions. Their job also tends to involve travel for conducting interviews, preserving important history, and visiting crucial areas of interest which includes Aviation Museums. In the U.K. and United States, a mix of historians and retired veterans from the Air Force, visit and advise the authorities of Aviation Museums on the correct history and markings of vintage aircraft. Their most important skill is communicating with the museum authorities on saving and preserving the aircraft for the future education of a new generation, as well as future historians and students. In 2016, the average annual salary for an aviation historian was around $60,000 [U.S.].
In the past fifty plus years, I have worked closely with a number of Canadian Aviation Museums and a wide range of Canadian Aviation Historians. In far too many cases, the skills and abilities of Canadian Aviation experts and historians are ignored by the local city run museum experts and this also involves our RCAF and Federal DND run Museums. The Museums in Canada, have no one of authority in control over the history or how our aircraft are painted and as a result history is being lost or twisted. Our Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X WWII bomber is a perfect example.
The world’s largest number of surviving WWII Lancaster Mk. X aircraft, [as you might expect] remain in Canada, with a total of eight. Most of these veteran bombers were saved by pure luck, thanks to the Canadian Public, when they were purchased as war memorials for $500 to $1,000 each. Today they are worth two million each and museums are beginning to take an interest in these veterans and a few are being restored back to flying condition. To the average Canadian this looks and appears to be the right approach to persevering our past. The history of each Lancaster can be found on line and it clearly records we in Canada have only two KB series Mk. X Lancaster bombers that flew operations during World War Two. The original history and original markings of our last two Lancaster bombers have been altered and painted in replica markings, and our “Canadian Aviation Historians” and other powerful V.I.P.’s in Ottawa remain silent. Aviation Historians are trained to discover the truth and make sure these sources of history are in fact true. All historians study history to learn and save our past, preventing these mistakes from happening again. History is preserved in original objects, monuments, written documents, and most of all paintings. Museums then present this history allowing students an analysis of our human past and make change over time, in the world we live in. Out Aviation Museums in Canada are in fact destroying original aircraft and painting them incorrectly.
KB839 in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, has been repainted as a British RAF Lancaster, and now our second original veteran WWII bomber KB882, is being restored to her postwar markings. The other five FM series Lancaster aircraft are all painted in replica WWII markings, etc. Out of eight original Lancaster aircraft, our Canadian authorities, and most of all our Canadian Aviation Historians have not been able to save one Lancaster and paint it in “ORIGINAL” World War Two markings.
If the Canadian authorities in Ottawa can just repaint KB944 as she appeared in No. 425 Squadron markings, and display the true history, they would have the only original WWII KB series Canadian built Lancaster bomber in the world.

It is very simple – “History is the analysis and interpretation of our human past that enables us to study continuity and change over time.”