Heritage Day in Ottawa
Monday, 21 February was Heritage Day in Ottawa and forty-four local museums and heritage organisations gathered at City Hall to display artefacts and information pertaining to their respective institutions. Included among those represented were the Friends of the Canadian War Museum who displayed a number of our products, explained our role, and, in the process, managed to recruit a couple of new Friends.
The FCWM presence was arranged by Krista Duncan of the Membership Committee and the table was manned by Mike Hind (in full regalia), Mai-Yu Chan, and Krista.
Ed Storey Receives CEFCOM Commendation
On 11 June 2012, Warrant Officer Ed Storey received the Commander, Canadian Expeditionary Force Command Commendation for his work in Afghanistan on Op KEEPSAKE. The Commendation read inpart, “Since the initiation of Op Keepsake in 2010, W arrant Officer Storey has contributed to the preservation of countless historical artifacts from the combat mission in Afghanistan. … Warrant Officer Storey’s sustained efforts and advocacy have been critical to maintaining an important part of Canada’s military heritage.”
The Commendation was signed by LGen S.A. Beare, Commander CEFCOM. Warrant Officer Storey is a member of the FCWM Board of Directors and until recently was the Chair of the Special Events Committee.
Restoration and Unveiling of the M1917 Tank
The Renault FT, frequently referred to as the "FT-17" or "FT17" was a French light tank; and is regarded as being among the most revolutionary and influential tank designs in history. The FT17 was the first operational tank with an armament in a fully rotating turret, and its configuration with the turret on top, engine in the back and the driver in front became the conventional one, repeated in most tanks until today.
The M1917 Six Ton Tank was America's first important mass produced tank. The M1917 was a license built copy of the French Renault FT17, and was accepted by the army in October 1918. The US Army ordered approximately 4,440 Six Ton M1917 Tanks between 1918 and 1919, receiving about 950 tanks before cancelling the contract. Although 64 had been built prior to the end of the war, no US manufactured tank reached Europe in time to participate in The Great War.
In the early stages of the Second World War, the Canadian Armoured Corps lacked sufficient tanks of any type in which to train. During the period between the Great War and the Second World War, the Canadian Army had employed a small number of British manufactured light tanks in which to train and become familiar with armoured vehicles. In order to supplement the tanks already in use and to provide an armoured vehicle in which to train the newly formed armoured regiments, General Worthington purchased 236 M1917 tanks from the United States which were shipped to Camp Borden, Ontario in September 1940.
For nearly two years the M1917 proved to be a useful training vehicle. They were known to break down often, catch fire, and gave a bone jarring ride due to the lack of a suspension, but the soldiers learned maintenance and endurance. Since there was no onboard radio, the soldiers learned hand and flag signals and became proficient dealing with poor communications while still maintaining and executing formations.
Several years ago, Jim Whitham, now Director General of the Canadian War Museum, discovered the rusted hulk of an M1917 tank in a field in Alberta and managed to acquire it for the museum. With a generous donation by Mr. Richard Thorman supplemented by a grant from the Friends, this tank has been restored. The restoration is the result of four years of dedicated effort by volunteers in the “tank shop” led by Jason Ginn and his team of Ken Goodbody, Brian Earl, Neil Johnstone and Dan Guther. Also making an important contribution was the engineering firm DEW which manufactured a number of important missing components including the turret.
The remarkable product of this effort was unveiled on 13 August 2012 in the Lebreton Gallery before a large audience of distinguished guests including the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk, and Colonel (Ret’d) Robert Chapman, former President of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association . On behalf of the Museum, Dr Dean Oliver, Director of Research, Exhibitions and Interpretation, applauded the addition of this valuable and important artefact to the Gen. W. Natynczyk, Mr. R. Thorman, Col. (Ret’d) R. Chapman collection. Doug Rowland, President of the FWCM, added his congratulations in a speech reproduced below. Finally, Mr. Thorman added some remarks that underlined his personal interest in this project.
The M1917 tank has been beautifully and faithfully restored and is now on the floor of the Lebreton Gallery as a permanent exhibit.
Remarks by Douglas Rowland, President FCWM
General Natynczyk, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of the Canadian War Museum
What will be unveiled to you in a few minutes is the product of vision, generosity and more than four years of hard, skilled work and applied experience. I wish to acknowledge those who principally supplied these elements.
First, the vision was supplied by Mr. Jim Whitham, recently named Director General of the Museum, who found the M1917 tank rusting in an Alberta field and developed a plan to finance and realize its restoration. I know he is eating his heart out because he can't be here today.
Second, it was the generous gift of Mr. Richard Thorman that enabled the project to get underway. He was what Broadway producers call “Our angel”. I am proud to say he is a long-time member of the Friends. His generosity was supplemented by a grant from the Friends.
Third, we come to those who were hands-on, whose sweat, skill and inventive problem-solving changed something destined for the scrap-heap into this proud addition to the Museum's collection. I'm speaking of the crew of what is fondly known as the “tank shop”. It is composed of Jason Ginn of the Museum staff and his team of dedicated volunteers: Ken Goodbody, Brian Earl, Neil Johnstone and Dan Guther. Would these five gentlemen please stand and be acknowledged for their over four years of devoted effort?
Finally, this tank was neither complete, nor original, in appearance when acquired. Many parts had to be built from scratch, notably its turret. Much of this work was carried out by the engineering staff of the firm DEW. Will the representatives of DEW take a bow?
The Friends of the Canadian War Museum is an independent charitable organization founded to support the Canadian War Museum in its mission to educate, preserve and commemorate Canada's military history.
The M1917 Tank is the second large project supported by the friends and completed this year. The first was the Portrait Wall in the entry hall of the Museum. Around us are other examples of contributions by the Friends, for example, the Fordson Canteen Van.
This year, the Friends have committed themselves to several other noteworthy projects. Among them, the Friends will participate in the Museum's efforts to properly mark Canada's participation in the United Nations' intervention in Korea.
In addition, we are approaching the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War. Commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is well underway. Thus the next months will heavily engage the time and resources of the Friends.
I'm pleased to see so many Friends here today. We can be proud of our participation in the realization of this project through our membership in the Friends. We can look forward to making more such valuable contributions to the Museum in the future.
Visit of HRH Countess Sophie of Wessex
On September 12, 2012, HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, visited the Canadian War Museum and took a tour of the War of 1812 Exhibit.
She was escorted by Sharon Johnstone, the wife of our Governor-General, and Jim Witham, Director-General of the CWM.
She then met with twenty-five volunteer interpreters who were totally charmed by her smile and personality. She took time to shake hands and talked with every one of them.
One of the volunteers, Armand (Jas) Haley, presented the Countess with a Lincoln and Welland Regiment shoulder flash that he had worn during his service with the Regiment. The Countess of Wessex is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment.
Friends Awarded Jubilee Medal
The Friends of the Canadian War Museum were allotted a number of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals. A committee was established to determine eligibility criteria and a final list of award winners was announced.
Most of the medals were presented in the Lebreton Gallery during a ceremony on 2 November. The presentations were made by Honorary Director, General (Ret’d) Ramsey Withers.
The following is the list of current FCWM members awarded the medal on this occasion:
LCol. (Ret’d) William Aikman, Mr. John Anderson, Mr. Robert Anglin, Col (Ret’d) Berard Bennett, Dr. Marvin Blauer, Mr. Gerald Bowen, Capt. (N) (Ret’d) Michael Braham, Col. (Ret’d) Angus Brown, Mr. Eric Brown,Mr. Alan Cameron, Mr. William Campbell, Mr. Larry Capstick, LCol. (Ret’d) Donald Carrington, Ms. Mai-Yu Chan, Mr. Robert Collins, Maj. (Ret’d) Walter Conrad, Maj. (Ret’d) John Courtney, Mrs Tina Creber, Maj. (Ret’d) Maurice D’Amour, Maj. (Ret’d) Thomas Dent, Mr. Hunter Dunn, Mr. Stephen Dunne, Mr. Stewart Elder, Mr. Gordon Foster, Mrs. Jacqueline Gagnon, Maj. (Ret’d) Pierre Garneau, M. Maurice Gauthier, Mr. Charles Gruchy, Capt. (Ret’d) J. Haley, Mr. David Holmes, Col. (Ret’d) Murray Johnston, LCol.(Ret’d) Neil Johnstone, Mr. Nelson Langevin, M. Marcel Lavigne, M. Adam Leclerc, Mr. George Logan, Maj. (Ret’d) William Love, Maj. (Ret’d) Frank Lucano, Mr. J.R. MacDougall, Lt.(Ret’d) Peter Mace, Maj. (Ret’d) Howard Mansfield, Mr. Robert Margeson, Mrs. Connie Mooney, Mr. Frank Moran, Mr. Jerry Nudelman, Mr. Gordon Parker, Mr. W. Patrick, LCol (Ret’d) Alfred Rasmussen, Ms. Phyllis Reading, Maj. (Ret’d) Donovan Redknap, Capt. (N) (Ret’d) William Reed, Maj. (Ret’d) John Robertson, Dr. George Smith, Maj. (Ret’d) William Smith, Mr.Hugh Spence, Mr. Edward Storey,Maj. (Ret’d) Howard Stutt, Mr. Richard Thorman, Ms. Marie-Josee Tremblay, Gen. (Ret’d) Ramsey Withers.
Victor Vaivads, the editor of the FCWM e-bulletin, who was unable to be present at the awards ceremony in the Lebreton Gallery, is seen here being presented his medal at a later date by General Withers.
A separate ceremony was held on 20 December 2012 in the Commonwealth Room of the Centre Block of Parliament Hill to honour another long time member of the Friends and a number of employees of the Canadian War Museum who were nominated for the award by the Friends. The Friend was BGen (Ret’d) William Yost and the Museum employees were Ashlee Beattie, Laura Brandon, Eric Fernberg, David Loye, Jane Naisbitt, Mark O'Neill, Dianne Turpin, Et Van Lingen and James Whitham. This group of medals was presented by LGen (Ret’d) William Leach, former President of the FCWM and currently the CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilisation Corporation.
Finally, Ted Ronberg, a Friend and former air force officer received his Jubilee Medal from Jacqueline Gagnon.
Jackie is a World War II veteran who served with Bomber Command in Operations Control. She now dedicates her time as a volunteer several times a week in the FCWM office. Jackie has been a member of the Friends since 2000.
Visit of 2012/13 Silver Cross Mother
On the afternoon of November 10, the Canadian War Museum was honoured by the visit of the 2012/13 Silver Cross Mother, Mrs. Roxanne Marie Priede of Grand Forks, BC accompanied by her husband, Mr. John Priede and representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Mrs. Priede was in Ottawa to lay a wreath the next day, during the Remembrance Day Ceremonies at the National War Memorial, on behalf of every Canadian mother whose child had died while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Priedes lost their son, Master Corporal Darrell Jason Priede on May 30, 2009 when the Chinook helicopter carrying the 30-year old crashed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He had been in that country for just over one month, serving as a photographer for the Air Force. Five American and one British soldiers died with him. He was the 56th member of the Canadian Forces to die in the Afghanistan theatre of operations.
On her arrival at the Museum, Mrs. Priede presided over the viewing of the work of 12 young Canadians who were the winning participants in the Royal Canadian Legion Poster and Literary Contest for works commemorating Remembrance Day. Their posters, poems and drawings are displayed in the lobby of the group tour entrance to the Museum. Each of the young people was congratulated by the Silver Cross Mother and presented with a gift by Mr. James Whitham, Director General of the Museum and Mr. Douglas Rowland, President of the Friends. At the end of the ceremony, which was attended by family members of the winners and officials of the Legion, Mr. Rowland spoke briefly and presented Mrs. Priede, as Silver Cross Mother, with honourary membership in the Friends and a plaque to mark the occasion – a custom begun with the opening of the new building in 2005.
Mr. Whitham then took the Priedes, accompanied by Mr. Rowland and a Legion representative, on a behind the scenes tour of the Museum's extensive collection of paintings, uniforms, medals, weapons, models and major pieces of equipment undergoing and awaiting restoration. Both the Priedes showed a lively interest in the collections and a genuine appreciation of the opportunity to view them.
Immediately following the tour, Mrs. Priede was rushed to the Museum's Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour where, surrounded by evidence of Canada’s respect for its war dead, she was interviewed at length by one of the television networks.
The Priedes were then whisked off to their next event, pausing before their departure to extend gracious thanks for the Museum's hospitality accompanied by spontaneous hugs from the Silver Cross Mother for those who had accompanied her on her tour and looked after arrangements at the Museum.
All involved were impressed by Mrs. Priede's candour, dignity, approachability and warmth. The mothers of Canada's service men and service women were represented well.
Darrell and his brother and sister have reason to be proud of their Mom.
Murmansk Run Sailors Honoured
At a ceremony in the Canadian War Museum on 27 November 2012, Canadian veterans of the World War 2 Arctic Convoys were presented with the Medal of Ushakov by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation. The Medal of Ushakov is a state decoration that was retained by the Russian Federation from the awards system of the USSR after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The award was made to naval veterans of the 1939-45 war and the merchant marine sailors they escorted on the “Murmansk Run”. Of the seventy recipients from across Canada, three were able to be present at the War Museum to receive the honour, among them long-time Friend of the Canadian War Museum, Col (Ret’d) Bob Grogan.
Named in honour of Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, known as the patron saint of the Russian Navy, who was responsible for the modernization of the Russian Navy in the 18th century, the medal was created by the USSR in 1944 and awarded to sailors for bravery and courage displayed in defence of the Soviet Union in naval theatres of operations.
As reported in the February 2010 issue of The Torch, a “Victory Medal” had previously been awarded to Canadian sailors on the Murmansk Run and again one of the recipients of that medal was Bob Grogan, who had been an RCNVR seaman in the Canadian detachment on board HMS Sheffield.