Stranraer 935 Memorial

Đánh giá Stranraer 935 Memorial, Sandspit

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Victoria, Canada12.883 đóng góp
thg 8 năm 2021
During World War 2, Haida Gwaii was an important strategic base. For those flying to (or from) the US, Sandspit was a key refuelling station. For the RCAF, Haida Gwaii was significant on at least 3 fronts: 1) Its geographic location on the Pacific made it strategically significant; 2) It functioned as an important training ground; and, 3) It provided the primary resources necessary to build a number of the de Havilland Mosquito aircraft (hence “Mosquito Lake” on Moresby). I think a good number of people would be surprised to learn of the area’s deep military history because there’s not much remaining or visible to the naked eye; however, Sandspit Airport does pay homage to Haida Gwaii’s role through a nice display in the terminal. Beyond that, though, things are kind of scant.

My grandfather often mentioned the significant number of PBY Catalina and Stranraer aircraft (flying boats) that used to frequent the area, first, in a military capacity and, later, in a civilian role. That must’ve been fun and quite the sight. Nowadays, most aircraft are generic and look very identical – they lack character. Anyway, given the nature of small communities, I imagine many of the locals got to know some of the various flight crews.

That brings us to the Stranraer 935 Memorial. Interestingly, my partner and I weren’t even looking for this attractive cairn – we stumbled across it quite by chance a while back. We were seeking out the Kwuna Point Trail and spied this memorial near the trailhead . . . its shiny construction caught our attention. There are actually two plaques on site: One details the RCAF Station at Alliford Bay and provides a bit of history and context. The other is, of course, the cairn, which was installed in November 2011. I’ve been back a few times since my initial visit, most recently with a group of friends.

The story of Stranraer 935 is briefly told on the memorial and it is quite sad. In short, the crew were partaking in a training mission – practicing takeoffs and landings – on the afternoon of 14 February 1943. Their first takeoff and landing went as planned, but the second attempt encountered difficulty when it bounced on the choppy water and subsequently crashed. Approximately two minutes after the flying boat went down, the water’s surface “heaved to a height of ten feet with flames shooting up a further twenty feet.” The live depth charges onboard had exploded. All six of the flight crew perished with only the Captain’s body ever being recovered about a month after the accident.

I certainly appreciate the RCAF memorializing the flight crew in this way, with the cairn. It’s a nice and very appropriate gesture – an acknowledgement of the past. Of course, what makes this memorial even more significant, on a personal level, is knowing that one of my late aunts participated in the unveiling ceremony in 2011 because she actually knew some of the flight crew. How cool is that?

If I had to nitpick anything, though, I’d say maybe the two pieces are too shiny, if that makes sense? On a clear day, the reflection of the sun can make reading the information plaque and cairn next to impossible!
Đã viết vào 14 tháng 9, 2021
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