Lancaster links reunite former crewmates

News Article / November 10, 2017

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Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, when we honour those who fought in the service of Canada and Canadians. Lest we forget.

By Sara Keddy

Look at these two men, side by side.

Seventy-two years ago, they walked away from the wartime years, from flying Lancaster bombers over Europe in one of the deadliest roles an airman could play. Their shared experiences carried them through reunions and exchanges for more than 40 years but 30 years ago, they lost touch. Each presumed, in more recent years, they were the last of that Lancaster crew.

Warrant Officer (retired) Roy Morrison, 93, flew 35 missions as a tail gunner with the Royal Air Force’s No. 90 Squadron. In April 2017 he was inducted into the Lancaster Living Legends project at the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia. In a twist of fate, this led to his reconnecting with his old comrade, Flying Officer (retired) Henry “Chick” Hewitt, 95, who served as a navigator with the same crew, after Warrant Officer Morrison mentioned his crewmate, with whom he shared 30 missions, in a media interview.

Following a phone conversation, and with support from the Royal Canadian Air Force Association Trust, the two have reconnected in person.

Warrant Officer Morrison, of Truro Heights, Nova Scotia, and Flying Officer Hewitt, from Oshawa, Ontario, met in Truro and then travelled to Greenwood where, on October 4, they were escorted by family, friends and officials through a series of dinners and gatherings. On October 6, Flying Officer Hewitt was also inducted into the Living Legends project at the museum.

He signed a metal plaque, detailing his Lancaster service—35 missions over Germany from 1942 and 1945—and riveted it onto a metal display panel that will be placed inside the museum’s restored Lancaster JB266 – on which he flew during his service.

“Outstanding, the odds…,” mused museum representative Dave Saulnier, who leads the Lancaster Living Legends project, as he described Flying Officer Hewitt’s extensive mission roster as well as the remarkable events that led to the men’s reunion. “This marks the induction of a newcomer in our program – a special event. Not only does Mr. Hewitt join 11 others already inducted, [but] one is a former crewmate. We’re proud to have this program, and glad it has been instrumental in the reunion of two ‘gladiators’.”

14 Wing’s commander, Colonel Mike Adamson, welcomed the crewmates as well as Ms. Viola “Lola” Videto, a Lancaster aircraft assembly worker, and Sergeant (retired) Clark “Monty” Montgomery, former Lancaster middle upper gunner. Both were inducted previously.

“Command of this wing is an honour and a privilege, but that’s day-to-day business,” said Colonel Adamson. “This honouring people who have gone before is truly special, and what I will remember.” Flying Officer Hewitt and Sergeant Morrison are “two brave men,” he said, describing how just 27 per cent of Lancaster airmen survived unscathed, and how less than one per cent of men born 95 years ago are living today.

“These men are living legends: they are in the minds of their own aging generation and their families, but also for future generations as well. Their plaques and signatures that indicate ‘I am here’, inside our Lancaster, remind us they are still our special heroes.”

Sara Keddy is the managing editor of The Aurora, 14 Wing’s base newspaper.

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