Seven Second World War Avro Lancaster aircrew members and one production line worker were inducted into the museum's Lancaster Living Legends program April 7.
The 14 Wing Greenwood commander, Col. Pat Thauberger, honoured the Lancaster crew members with commemorative plaques engraved with their service details. The plaques are personally signed by each veteran and will eventually be riveted inside the museum's static Lancaster display aircraft (tail number KB839), but for now, the plaques will be installed in the museum.
Three honourees attended, while family and friends represented those absent.
The ceremony is part of the museum's Lancaster restoration project. Museum volunteer David Saulnier thought of the Lancaster Living Legends program while leading the project.
“There were memorials (of) the veterans that died during the war,” says Saulnier. “And somehow, there didn't seem to be any that honoured those who are still with us.”
Viola “Lola” Videto said she “couldn't believe it” when she heard about the Lancaster Living Legends program. Videto – Canada's own Rosie the Riveter – was an Avro Lancaster Mk X riveter between April 1943 and September 1945. She, too, was honoured at the event.
“It felt wonderful to be part of all this,” she said.
Honourees also receive unique gifts: a key-chain made from portions of glass once installed in a wartime turret, each engraved with a Lancaster.
Captain Robert Johnson, the museum's general manager, believes it is important to remember and honour those from our military past.
“People that served during the Second World War sacrificed their lives,” says Johnson. “Those that didn't survive – and even those who survived – paid the ultimate price. They've lived with that all their lives.”
And they can't forget it. For over 70 years, Flight-Lt. Roy Loomer has remembered the war. He was honoured by the program last September.
After being shot down in 1944, Loomer spent a year and a half as a prisoner of war.
“It comes back to you, you can't get it out of your mind. Sometimes you have a nightmare, and scares people half to death. You throw your pillows around thinking you're in the air(craft),” Loomer said.
“There's more over there dead right now than the ones who came home.”
It's true: 27 per cent of people in bomber command returned home from the Second World War unscathed, with the average age of casualties being 22-years-old.
Saulnier hopes more Lancaster crew members will come forward, with the intention of honouring crew members from every position on the aircraft. He says they currently have “four or five different positions being covered,” but are still searching for radio operators, navigators, and flight engineers.
Inducted on April 7 were:
Viola “Lola” Videto, Nictaux, Nova Scotia: Avro Lancaster Mk X riveter
Roy Morrison, Truro, Nova Scotia: Avro Lancaster tail gunner
Russell F. Hubley DFC, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Avro Lancaster mid upper gunner.
Clifford J. Roach, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia: Avro Lancaster mid upper gunner
Douglas E. Williams, Bowanville, Ontario: Avro Lancaster pilot
John A. Corner, Lindsay, Ontario: Avro Lancaster bomb aimer
Gordan E. Riddy, Midland, Ontario: Avro Lancaster bomb aimer
Robert J. Bradley, Kanata, Ontario: Avro Lancaster mid upper gunner