Sunday, June 5, 2011


Post Supplied by: Carl Mills   

On Thursday May 27, 2011, I accompanied Col. Gerry Gilroy to Belleville and Trenton where he signed the contract documents to commence the construction and placement of 400 Squadron’s Monument.  The project was initiated by Col. George Georgas some years ago, and although there were some changes to the design, the memorial features were all of Col. Georgas’ ideas.  The monument will be placed in the RCAF Memorial Air Park of the National Air Force Museum in Trenton, ON.  The monument also satisfies all of the Museum’s requirements.

The monument will be two-sided as shown on the drawings and will be 5 foot - eight inches high.  The front side will feature the squadron Standard plus the original dialogue as written by Col. Georgas.  Colour for the Standard was considered, however, it was determined that the colour eventually fades.  Because of this the Standard will be on a polished black granite insert.  The black insert is two inches thick.

Col. Georgas’ dialogue has been translated into French and is in accordance with the Museum’s rules which states, “Monument inscriptions must be in both official languages, however, the extent of bilingualism is discretionary.”  
The reverse side will contain the Honour Role of 35 names.  The main part of the monument is unpolished grey granite.  The grey granite is smoothed by using high velocity steel shot.  The black granite comes from India while the grey granite is from Vermont.  Apparently Ontario granite is too grainy for lettering.

The memorial will be located as shown on the layout (marked by an ‘X’) and will be about 15 feet from the Museum’s walkway.  The path will be three feet wide and made of light grey brick with a dark grey trim.  The path will surround the monument.  This is the same location as originally considered by Col. Georgas.  The memorial will be placed on a four foot deep concrete base to prevent heaving by ground frost.  There will be ample space for those who wish to have their own inscribed in-ground stone (Ad Astra stone program) in the future.  For those who may have already place a stone at the Museum, there is a free relocation opportunity for those who wish to have their stone near the 400 memorial.
The view is toward the west with a vista of several of the Air Park’s aircraft.  On the left is a CF-100 while on the right is an empty grassed space backed by trees.  Across the Park is a Canadian flag with a long row of trees.  There was some discussion about the empty space.  It was expressed that it should be a 400 squadron type aircraft.  The T-33, Kiowa, F-86 are already in the Air Park.  Perhaps a Vampire or surplus Griffon helicopter would fit.  This could be another 400 squadron project.

This project was funded from the 110 Squadron Trust Fund and is estimated at $14,000 including the installation, brick walkway, and a 10% perpetual maintenance fee to the Museum.  The Fund was established when the squadron went to war in 1939.  It resulted from the sale of furnishings from the Trethewey farm airfield in Toronto.  Over the years it has been entrusted to several of 400 Squadron’s senior officers and has been invested.  It has paid for other items such as the Squadron’s Standards in 1961.  The latest trustees were Cols. Georgas, Gilroy and Davidson.

The Honour Role is an important part of our heritage but has been a ‘moving target’ for the squadron over the years and previous documentation has some errors and omissions.  For this project, there was a significant review to confirm the information.  During the 110 Squadron era in the UK, there was also a 110 RAF Squadron and this caused some confusion with the four fatalities during this era.  The 400 Squadron history book (1996) was a significant basis for the Honour Role.  To confirm some information, the book published by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (1996) was used, however, there were also errors in this book.   Other information came from tombstone data, the Veterans Affairs on-line data, and the Book of Remembrance in Ottawa.

One story is of interest.  All of the personnel who were killed in the UK are buried at the Brookwood Cemetery near London with the exception of F/O McKiggan.  Although his Spitfire crashed near the airbase (Odiham), he is buried in a town in Wales.  It turns out that he was married to a lady from that town.  F/O McKiggan was from Sault St. Marie, ON and it also turns out that his wife emigrated to SSM.  Further, we found out that his wife was expecting a daughter when he was killed.  We were able to find both his wife and daughter in SSM.  The daughter was delighted to know about the memorial cairn with her father’s name on it.  She also said that they often visited friends in Belleville. 

The National Air Force Museum of Canada’s RCAF Memorial Air Park is a significant location for the memorial and the Honour Role.  Our memorial joins a growing number of other significant military memorials around the Park.  An attempt will be made to contact descendants of those on the Honour Role.  See the website for more details on the Honour Roll.

The memorial should be ready for viewing early in August.  At this point there are no immediate plans for a ceremony.  Suggestions are welcome.  Information will be posted on the 400 Squadron website.  Next year is 400 Squadron’s 80th anniversary.

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