Featured Artifacts

  • Pith helmet

    WWII Tropical Pith Helmet Khaki covered sun helmet with a puggaree that runs around the bottom of the outside torso of the hat. It forms a type of bow at the back just above the protective neck peak. On the left side of the helmet a tri coloured patch of dark brown white and reddish brown, has been attached to the puggaree midway between the front and the back. The interior bowl of the helmet is made up of one quarter inch thick layer of sola (Indian swamp growth) copper mesh and finally the fine straw-like mesh forming the inside liner of the helmet. A brown hand sewn leather sweat band encompasses the inner rim of the helmet. A small square paper label is affixed to it and reads, EXACT 7 1/8 59. A triangular paper label attached to the inner bowl of the helmet reads, Star Millinery, D-58, Municipal Market, CALCUTTA.
  • Jack Friday's Logbook

    Observer's and Air Gunner's Flying Log Book. The name Friday, J. W. is printed in capital letters on the cover of the log. Jack Friday was the bomb aimer on Lancaster Mk X, KB726, the Mynarski Lancaster. The log shows Friday's record of service from 26 April, 1943 to June 12 1944 when the aircraft was listed as missing on a raid over Cambrai. Jack Friday was the fourth member to crew up with Lancaster KB726 VR.A. Jack joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in August 1942 and graduated from No. 2 Bombing & Gunnery School at Mossbank Saskatchewan, and No. 7 Air Observer’s School at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba as a navigator. He went overseas in August 1943 where from Bournemouth was posted to Moreton Valence and No. 6 Group, No. 419 Squadron. June 12/13 1944, raid on Cambrai. The crew of KB726 VR.A, Arthur “Art” de Breyne, the pilot, Roy Vigars, flight engineer, Jack Friday, bomb-aimer, Jim Kelly, wireless operator, Bob Bodie, navigator, Andrew “Andy” Mynarski, Pat Brophy, rear-gunner took off in their Avro Lancaster MkX on their 13th operation together. While flying on a raid to Cambrai, France, Jack and his crew were attacked by a Ju-88 nightfighter. The damage to the aircraft was substantial, the port wing was hit which disabled both engines and set the gas tanks between them on fire. Another fire broke out between the mid-upper and rear gunner turrets associated with the hydraulic fluid for the rear turret. The intercom as well as the pilot’s instrument panel were disabled. As the aircraft descended between 3000-4000’ and Art de Breyne, the pilot ordered the crew to bail out. Jack Friday, the bomb aimer had pulled up the escape hatch in the nose of the aircraft and the force of the airstream had blown it up into his face, knocking him unconscious. “I made my way down to the bomb-aimer’s position and found Jack Friday slumped on the floor, unconscious, as if having a nap. He had a gash over his eye. I rolled him over, clipped on his chute pack, and slid him over to the escape hatch and dropped him through the opening while holding on to the ripcord. This was a risky manoeuvre, as pulling the ripcord too soon, the parachute could wrap around the big tail wheel of the Lancaster, which was non-retractable. But Jack made it O.K.” – Roy Vigars, flight engineer. Jack was found by two farm workers early in the morning of June 13, 1944. He was to learn of this later after the war from members of the French Underground. The farm workers took him to a doctor in a nearby village for medical aid. The doctor feared that Jack was seriously injured and turned him over to the Germans, with whom he felt Jack would receive better medical attention. The doctor also feared for his own life by attending to a downed airman, as many were shot for assisting Allied airmen if they were caught. Jack’s first memories were of waking up in a prison cell in Amiens, four days later on June 17, 1944. He remembered asking an American airmen sharing his cell to lift the bandage over his eye and tell him if he had lost his eye. The American told him that the Germans had apparently not stitched his wound, as the flap of skin from his injury was hanging down over his eye preventing him from seeing. After he was deemed fit to travel, Jack was transported to Dulagluft Interrogation Centre. The first vivid memory Jack had after recovering, he had no recollection of the events of the raid after the briefing, was the bright sunlight at the railway station where to his surprise he saw Roy Vigars, crewmember and flight engineer of KB726. Together they were transported to Stalagluft 7 in Silesia, and were later liberated after months as Prisoners of War, on April 22, 1945. After liberation Jack traveled to England, and in June 1945 he returned home to Canada.
  • Flying Helmet

    A Type C (22C/877-880, sizes 1-4) leather flight helmet with oxygen mask attachment. The first wired flying helmet introduced into the R.A.F./R.C.A.F. service in 1944 was an improved Type C with factory installed receivers and wiring which became standard for general purpose issue. The wired version was cut from the exact same pattern as the original, and differed little except for having the built-in wiring loom and plug connector on the left side of the chin for the oxygen mask microphone lead. The front goggle retaining straps were omitted and the leather chinstrap was replaced with one of grey elastic webbing.
  • Coveralls

    White coveralls from the Cockshutt Aircraft Factory in Brantford. The coveralls have dark red buttons and the Cockshutt Aircraft logo in red embroidery on the back. Tags on collar say "Kitchen's Frontliners" and "Peabody Shrunk."
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Collection Highlights

  • Hamilton during World War II

    A collection of documents, objects and photographs from World War II of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. With the outbreak of World War II, the people of Hamilton came together at all levels of society to support the war effort. Men, women, the elderly and the youth of the "Ambitious City" worked in factories, collected scrap and salvage materials, and participated in many community led initiatives. Army, air force and navy personnel travelled from all parts of the country and from abroad by rail, air and by ship. The growth of industry and people was great, and the city of Hamilton welcomed both the changes and the soldiers with open arms. The citizens opened their doors and their hearts to the young men travelling far from their homes, billeting with families, attending dinners with their new friends, and opening canteens to provide food and comforts to make Hamilton feel like home. The city produced munitions and war material, built wartime housing, increased food and agriculture and held Victory Loan campaigns to raise funds to see Victory achieved.
  • Olive E. Creasor Collection

    Olive Estelle Creasor joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 and trained as a Wireless Operator in Montreal. After her training, she became an instructor for wireless Air Gunners on stations in Ontario and Quebec. Upon discharge from the RCAF, Olive returned to Hamilton to work as a school teacher. She attended night classes at McMaster University and summer classes at University of Toronto during the late 1940's and early 1950's.
  • Andrew N. Orr Collection

    Flight Lieutenant Andrew Neilson Orr On April 17, 1943, F/Lt Andrew Neilson Orr’s Halifax bomber was shot down over Stuttgart, Germany. After bailing out of his aircraft and free falling in the slip stream as he struggled with his parachute, Orr was unable to walk after landing. He was picked up and taken to a German internment camp and eventually to POW camp Stalag Luft III. F/Lt Orr would spend the next two years at the camp and was an active participant in what is famously known as The Great Escape. Orr would help with some of the digging for Tunnel Harry and contributed largely to the forging of approximately 400 identification passes, perfect in every detail, each of which bore a head and shoulders photograph. Luckily, Orr was not one of the men chosen to go through Tunnel Harry on the fateful escape night and remained in the camp until he was moved at the end of the war. The Russians had surrounded the camp and wouldn’t release any prisoners. One day an American jeep full of officers came into the camp and F/L Orr, who had always kept his uniform in pristine condition, jumped in the back of the jeep. Because he didn’t have the appearance of living in a POW camp for two years, the Americans assumed he was entitled to do so and drove off with him in the back. The camp was finally liberated three weeks later.
  • Philip Gray Collection

    Flight Lieutenant Philip Gray joined the RAF in 1942 and underwent training at No. 4 British Flying Training School (BFTS) Falcon Field, Arizona, USA. Posted to 186 Heavy Bomber Squadron at Stradishall, Suffolk, UK, where he piloted Avro Lancaster I & II bombers. Philip flew 16 operations with 186 squadron, later transferred to 622 Squadron, Mildenhall. With 622 squadron he participated in the food-drops to the people of The Netherlands as part of Operation Manna, transporting former Prisoners of War (POWs) from France to Britain under Operation Exodus, Operation Baedeker, the low-flying observation of the bomb damage of Germany, and Operation Post Mortem in June 1945 testing the effectiveness of German air-defence radar. After the war, Philip flew with Fighter Command on the Island of Sylt, West Germany as a staff pilot, flying Hawker Tempests, deHavilland Mosquitos and Gloster Meteors on air-to-air firing ranges. In 1971 Philip Gray and his wife immigrated to New Zealand where he scripted a book titled 'Ghosts of Targets Past' (Grub Street, 1995) which he finished after immigrating to Canada in 1990. Philip Gray became a member of the Canadian Air and Space Museum in 2000, and made ten annual visits to the Duxford Air Museum, UK.
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Collection Themes

  • Flying Helmets

    Flying Helmets worn by aircrew from World War II and beyond.
  • Medals and Awards

    A collection of unique medals and awards presented to members of the air forces during World War II.
  • Helmets

    Military helmets worn by various members of the armed forces during World War II.
  • Personal Items

    A collection of personal and standard issued items from the Royal Canadian Air Force.
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