Journal 53-1 (Spring 2015), as described in a previous edition of this newsletter, is just about a wrap, and Journal 53-2 (Summer 2015) as described here, is set to follow not too far behind it.
With edition 53-2 we welcome back S. Bernard ‘Bernie’ Shaw with “In Brief: After the Arrow – A Trip Down Memory Lane”. As the title suggests, this is a reminiscence piece. The author takes us on tour through an eclectic range of industry projects discovered while he was employed at the Aerospace Branch of the Department of Industry in the post-Arrow years. In the style of a natural storyteller, both highlights and insights are shared for each of a baker’s dozen subjects, some of which are more well known than others. The narrative starts off with lofty spaceflight goals before ambling through a number of more down-to-earth commercial and general aviation ventures including some interesting lighter than air projects, before arriving back on the “space” side of aerospace. This article falls under our occasional “In Brief” heading due to the succinct yet not unfinished nature of each subject’s entry. I guess each could have stood alone as individual “In Briefs”, but with Bernie’s point of view as the connective thread and the sense of historical timeline that aspect lends to the article, it seemed a shame to break it apart.
Having penned some two hundred articles and a number of books on a range of topics that includes aviation, Bernie Shaw is no stranger to historical writing. It is good to see his name associated with CAHS Journal material once again.
Another veteran writer welcomed back with this edition is Alastair Reeves – taking us once again into his favorite neck of the historical woods where aviation and forestry meet. Given the extent of Canada’s truly awesome arboreal biome, and the desire to explore and exploit it exhibited by even the earliest of our aviators, it is not surprising that this theme never tires. With plenty of aviation of that distinct early Canadian bush flying type within it, Alastair’s telling of the “Owen-Greene Aerial Timber Survey, Labrador, 1919…” tale reads like a nicely slow-cooked and considerably more believable Indiana Jones movie plot transplanted to northern climes. We learn about some possible Canadian aviation firsts, “facts” of likely unlikelihood (by Alastair’s excellent analysis of historical claims), and the harder facts of photo survey interpretation. All truly edifying stuff as usual. As an interesting aside, one of the reference sources that appears in the article’s end-notes is the wonderful Photographing Canada from Flying Canoes by none other than S. Bernard Shaw!
Although Alastair’s article is proximal on the timeline (1919), this Journal edition does depart from the First World War aviation theme we’ve adhered to over the past year or so. Although the theme will still feature somewhat persistently over the coming three publication years, more page real estate will be given back to other eras and genres as dictated by article availability.
Next up is my own article, an account detailing a combat mission flown by a small cohort of Canadian airmen involved in the Royal Air Force anti-shipping effort off Norway towards the end of the Second World War. The very few involved in “The Last of the Buffalo Beaux…” are the two crews (four men, three of whom were Canadian) lost on 404 Squadron’s last Beaufighter combat operation of the war, 24 March 1945. This article recounts the day’s events from morning recce sorties through to a bittersweet end; that uneasy mix of partial success and tragic outcome so often characteristic of war at the unit level. These would be the final losses endured by the squadron during the war. This story was extracted out of a larger project – the operational history of 404 Squadron’s wartime years – after getting to know some members of the family of one of those lost, Flight Lieutenant Lorne Aljoe. Some aspects of the story can be found about three quarters of the way down the page here on the Vintage Wings Canada e-magazine site, in another extract of the work in progress parsed to highlight the combat career of another of 404 Sqn’s pilots.
Finally, part 4 of Bill Upton’s Canadair Tutor chronicle is concluded in this issue, though the balance of the overall CL-41 story is still to come in near-future CAHS Journal editions.