Monday, 14 November 2011
Is the closure of the Air Museum in Toronto a disgrace?
The continuing saga about closure of the Air Museum in Toronto is a disgrace and I hope by shining my light, this little piece of our history will remain! Looking at the images brought to mind the hundreds of 'Rosie the Riveters' on the Lancaster line at Victory Aircraft and the dedicated work that they did in those dark days and thought that my readers might be interested in a little look back, again!
In the later years of WW2, my parents were both in their late teens and like most of their peers, decided to join the war effort. My father signed on to the RCAF, receiving his Flight Officer's commission when only 19; in fact, I still have his commission, his medals and his Flight Officer's uniform. My mother becoming one of the many 'Rosie the Riveters', at Victory Aircraft Limited, Malton, Ontario, building the Lancasters that my Dad would fly!
The work force at Victory escalated from 3,300 in 1942 to 9,521 in 1944, most of them initially unskilled and about a quarter of them women. To facilitate the manufacture, an RAF Lancaster from England (R-5727) was flown across the Atlantic in August, 1942 to act as a 'pattern' and the Canadian prototype, with serial number KB-700, rolled off the assembly line on August 1, 1943.
Living on the family farm on Yonge Street, near Finch, public transit to Malton would often take her 90 minutes each way and the work was loud and hot but she told me she worked with a great crew who had a job to do!
Eventually, production reached the level of one aircraft per day with a total of 430 Lancaster Mk. X's being built. Of the Canadian-built Lancs, some one hundred were lost in wartime service, approximately seventy missing in action and about thirty others crashing upon their return to England or in training. KB-732 flew the most operations of any Canadian-built Lancaster, completing 83 during its tour of duty with 419 squadron.
Following victory in Europe, three of the Canadian Squadrons began ferrying ex-Prisoners of War, many of whom were Canadian aircrew, back to England. But the war in the Pacific was still raging and the rest of Canadian Lancasters were flown home to be prepared for service against the Japanese. This bomber group was to be known as 'Tiger Force', training out of CFB Comox, on Vancouver Island where my father was stationed but plans were cancelled after the unconditional surrender of Japan in August, 1945........the roar of squadrons of mighty Lancasters was heard for the last time.
For those who are interested, they can still see the 'Andy' Mynarski Memorial Lancaster at the Hamilton Warplane Heritage Museum that just flew in the CNE Air Show.