Friday, November 11, 2016

A Personal Remembrance

Fred Courtman
My father, Fred Courtman, was a veteran.  He joined the British Royal Air Force as a young man before the Second World War.  He was trained in electronics and avionics.   He spent much of 1938 and 1939 patching up RAF planes broken by over eager student pilots, or later shot at by Germans.  He witnessed the Battle of Britain from the tarmac of airfields around London.

Shortly after that he was sent overseas to Canada to become a part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, or BCATP.  Now he spent his days patching up the brightly painted yellow training aircraft of the training schools around Calgary.  He spent much of his time posted at what is now the Calgary International Airport (YYC).  He told me stories of he and his RAF colleagues marching around the drill hall which is now home to the Hangar Flight Museum (formerly, the Aerospace Museum) .  He met and married my mother while he was stationed here.

He was shipped back shortly after the war ended.  My Mom followed as soon as civilians were permitted to sail.  My Mom told us that she was in the very last convoy to leave Halifax. That makes my Mom a "reverse" War Bride!  She went to Britain, at the same time thousands of British girls were coming here after marrying Canadian soldiers, over there!

Life in Britain was hard after the war.  Factories that would have hired my Dad with his electronics and avionic skills had been bombed into oblivion.  Shortly after my birth my parents decided to return to Canada.  We three sailed back to Canada as part of a shipload of immigrants and refugees.  My Mom loved to say that she was one of the few immigrants to arrive in Canada carrying a Canadian passport!

The rest they say is history.  My parents settled in Calgary after they came to Canada, and Dad worked at the Calgary Brewery on Blackfoot Trail for many years until he retired.  Although he didn't talk about it often, my Dad was always very proud of his eight years in the Royal Air Force.  He wore a poppy every year, and he loved his adopted country.

My Dad passed away sixteen years ago.

I will be attending  the Remembrance Day ceremonies at Acme on Friday morning.  I will be placing a wreath on behalf of the Village of Beiseker, but I will also be thinking about my Dad!

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