Ferry Command Memorials and Reunions

Don McVicar, D.C.T. Bennett, "Punch" Dickens and "Taffy" Powell, skilled pilots and aviation heroes, share a toast at the 1980 Ferry Command reunion in Dorval, Quebec.

Don McVicar, D.C.T. Bennett, “Punch” Dickins and “Taffy” Powell, skilled pilots and aviation heroes, share a toast at the 1980 Ferry Command reunion in Dorval, Quebec.


Royal Air Force Ferry Command Association

While little may have been known about the RAF FC / TC, even less is probably known about its social activities, namely the Royal Air Force Ferry Command Association, begun soon after WW II by Lloyd and Lillian Wheeler, who met within the FC and created the association.

NOTE: Numerous attempts over the years have not succeeded in locating the Wheeler family. Its archived records are likely lost, believed by many former members to have been lost in a hangar fire at what was then known as Dorval airport, now Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

This social group met regularly, receiving at times much newspaper coverage, especially in Canada, by such newspapers as the Montréal Gazette, when its columnist Ted Blackman wrote, on Thursday, June 12th, 1980, about the association’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first ferry flights of Nov., 10th, 1940. A week later, on Tuesday, June 17th the Toronto Star’s Ron Lowman penned yet another article on Page A8, dealing with the same meeting celebrating that 1940 anniversary.

There have been a small number of re-unions, and for a while, some internet activity – as can be found on the Way Back Machine, identified as one of many Finding Aids listed in on this website.

There is a 1977 roster of Ferry Command Association Members on our website, on our People & Sources page, which is part of Ted Beaudoin‘s Finding Aids. It can also be reached using this link: http://rafferrycommand.com/finding-aids/people-and-sources/

The last known meeting took place in 2000, in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, organized to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first ferry flights of seven Hudson bombers to England on November 10th, 1940.

More than 200 guests attended, all thanks to Canadian Steve Bowsher, who today operates a bed-and-breakfast business from his home in Inverness, Scotland.


datauri-fileThe North Atlantic Aviation Museum, in Gander, Newfoundland, is in the process of establishing a permanent Ferry Command Memorial. This is an excellent location for such a memorial, because of Gander’s importance as the “jumping-off point” for many Ferry Command deliveries. Their website has a concise history: http://northatlanticaviationmuseum.com/atlantic-ferry-command/

A rare Lockheed Hudson bomber is in their collection. From their website:

Our Hudson is one of the few remaining in the world. Efforts are being made to trace its complete history. From research to date, we know that following its military career, it was flown by Canadian Pacific Airlines and then by a number of photographic survey companies, and was at one time owned by Kenting Airlines

During the Canadian Centennial Year (1967), a group of volunteers at Gander decided to erect a monument to the crews of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command who were so vital to the Allied success. A Hudson bomber located at Field Aviation in Toronto was donated to Gander. The acquisition of this coveted Hudson was largely due to the work of A.J. Lewington, Les Gettel, Jack James and particularly Marsh Jones of EPA for flying the Hudson to Gander on May 17, 1967. Once in Gander the Hudson was mounted on a pedestal near the airport. In 1990, volunteers at Gander’s 103 Rescue Unit refurbished the BW769 and painted it as T9422 to commemorate the historic flight of D.C.T. Bennett of 1940.

The aircraft was also used in the filming of the mini-series Above and Beyond (2006), which tells the story of the Atlantic Ferry Command.

They are on a mission to raise the funds to build a hangar; from their website:

The Hangar will serve first and foremost as a permanent home for the Hudson, and a memorial to the Ferry Command. However, it will also improve the visitor experience and enhance our ability to share our story, and serve our community.

The hangar will be a pre-engineered steel structure, measuring 27.4 m wide x 24.4m deep x 6.1 m high, featuring a 21.3 m wide x 4.6 m high Horton Stack door, which will facilitate the movement of larger artifacts, such as aircraft. It will be connected to the main museum building by a covered walkway.

The hangar will also house a 60m2 activity room, which could be used for meetings, social events and creative activities for kids. This space will allow for more educational and recreational programming.

Additional storage space will allow us to properly store many of those artifacts which still maintain historical significance, but are no longer on permanent display in our redesigned exhibit.

Finally, a small theatre, with seating for 50, equipped with digital projection equipment and SMART board technology, would provide a space to show historical motion picture footage and mini documentaries. The space could also be used as a lecture space for informational and educational sessions.

(Information from their website is copyright North Atlantic Aviation Museum)

We wish them the best of luck!

North Atlantic Aviation Museum's prized Lockheed Hudson

North Atlantic Aviation Museum’s prized Lockheed Hudson

 


Dorval Museum of Local History and Heritage/Musée d’histoire et du patrimoine de Dorval

As Dorval airport, on the island of Montreal, Quebec, was built specifically for the war effort, and since Ferry Command was headquartered there, one would think there would be a museum to honor the RAFFC. It certainly was a goal for Capt. Don McVicar, who passed away in 1997 before he could see it realized.

For many years, inside the Dorval airport terminal building, there was a plaque which did honor Ferry Command. At some point, however, it was taken down and is now housed within the Dorval Historical Society’s building. Here is a photo with the plaque in the background of Ted Beaudoin presenting the propeller tip of the Lockheed Hudson Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees to the Dorval Historical Society for a temporary loan. (You may learn more about this mysterious aircraft on our website by visiting our page: http://rafferrycommand.com/our-books/earth-angels-rising/

This photo was taken at the Dorval Museum on Friday, May 11th, 2012, when I temporarily loaned the Spirit’s propeller tip to Ms. Beverly Rankin, Animator, Leisure and Culture, City of Dorval, on my left. Our group stands in front of a plaque commemorating the RAF’s Ferry Command, which used to be on display at what was then known as the Dorval Airport. From left are Jean-Guy Pelletier, a Director of the Dorval Historical Society (DHS) and Michel Hébert, President, DHS. To the left of Ms. Rankin are Alain Jarry, a Director of the DHS and Ken Watkins, member of the DHS and a WWII navigator. Ms. Rankin said that there are plans to open a special permanent section dedicated to the civilians and seconded military personnel of the RAF’s Ferry Command. In the spring of 2014, Ms Rankin kindly returned the propeller tip so that coloured copies could be made of it through the 3-D (additive manufacturing) process, with the original going to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, ON, Canada. The Dorval Museum will receive a ceramic reproduction as will any other aviation history society and / or museum who may request one. (Photo: Sébastien Gauthier, photographer, City of Dorval)

L-R: Jean-Guy Pelletier, a Director of the Dorval Historical Society; Michel Hebert, President of the DHS; Ted Beaudoin; Beverly Rankin, Animator, Leisure and Culture, City of Dorval; Alain Jarry, a DHS director; Ken Watkins, DHS member, WW2 navigator. Photo  taken at the Dorval Museum, May 11, 2012. Our group stands in front of a plaque commemorating the RAF’s Ferry Command, which used to be on display at what was then known as the Dorval Airport. Ms. Rankin said that there are plans to open a special permanent section dedicated to the civilians and seconded military personnel of the RAF’s Ferry Command. In the spring of 2014, Ms Rankin kindly returned the propeller tip so that coloured copies could be made of it through the 3-D process, with the original going to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario. The Dorval Museum will receive a ceramic reproduction as will any other aviation history society and / or museum who may request one. (Photo: Sébastien Gauthier, photographer, City of Dorval)

Here is the wording on that plaque:

1940-1946

IN COMMEMORATION TO THE MEN OF
ROYAL AIR FORCE FERRY COMMAND
WHO UNDER DIFFICULT AND ADVERSE CONDITIONS
FERRIED AIRCRAFT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM
THUS GREATLY HELPING TO ACHIEVE FINAL VICTORY.

THIS PLAQUE IS ALSO DEDICATED TO
THE MANY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
IN THIS SERVICE FOR THEIR COUNTRIES

“We trust Heavenly Father their
last flight was successful.”

 

Musée d’histoire et du patrimoine de Dorval
1850, chemin du Bord-du-Lac
Dorval (Québec) H9S 2E6
 
Dorval Museum of Local History and Heritage
1850 Lakeshore Drive
Dorval QC H9S 2E6
EXPOSITION ACTUELLE/CURRENT EXHIBIT
 
Survie et résilience : Un hommage aux vétérans de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale
Du 24 septembre au 22 novembre 2015
Pour commémorer le 70e anniversaire du jour de la Victoire en Europe, l’exposition « Survie et résilience : un hommage aux vétérans de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale » étudie la complexité de la vie pour les combattants du front durant cette guerre et les dangers indescriptibles auxquels ils furent confrontés au quotidien. Venez découvrir quelques-uns de ces hommes et femmes qui, dans le feu de l’action, ont protégé nos droits et libertés pour que nous puissions vivre dans le pays que nous connaissons aujourd’hui. Nous nous souviendrons d’eux.
 
Survival and Resilience: A Tribute to World War II Veterans
From September 24 to November 22, 2015
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, the exhibition “Survival and Resilience: A Tribute to Our World War II Veterans” explores the complexities of life on the front during the Second World War and the daily untold dangers. Come and discover some of the men and women who were at the centre of it all, protecting our rights and freedoms so we could live in the country we know today. Lest we forget.
Unfortunately, the museum’s permanent exhibition, located on the second floor and where the Ferry Command plaque is kept, as of November 2015, is closed for renewal. We will publish an update when it reopens.