While Sunday, July 2nd, continued Canada’s 150th celebration weekend, it was also time for another celebration … recognition of the World War II Mosquito Bomber and Southampton’s (Saugeen Shores) connection to it.
An enthusiastic crowd gathered at George Marion Park in Southampton where Saugeen Shores Municipal Heritage Committee unveiled a commemorative plaque.
The infamous, light and fast, Mosquito Bomber was said to have been a turning point of the war.
The Mosquito’s all-wooden design was a major advantage during a time of acute shortages of light metal alloys. Most of the aircraft was made of plywood. The fuselage was a frameless shell made of balsa wood sandwiched between sheets of birch.
The design was developed by De Havilland engineers in England for a plywood fighter aircraft and, the Southampton Dominion Plywoods Factory, supplied various plywood components for that new aircraft.
Bob Whitney, who came to the ceremony, is involved in the recreation of a Mosquito Bomber in Windsor at the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association in a former World War II training hangar.
He told the story of how the group accessed two Rolls-Royce engines from a farmer in Saskatchewn, that had been built by Packard and, on the tops, was a stamp ‘Maytag’, the forerunner of Maytag appliances today.
“We have accessed parts not only from Saskatchewan where the two motors came from, but the Arctic where we retrieved parts from a crashed plane and New Zealand where we got a fuselage, Whitney added. “One day, this plane will fly.”
“The role played by those at the Dominion Plywoods Factory was very, very important [to the war effort] as the plane was made of plywood,” said Whitney.
Heritage Committee member Bill Streeter (L) discussed book excerpt (above) with Mark Preston, who helped manufacture parts for the Mosquito Bomber in 1942, as Preston’s son-in-law, Ross Lamont (L) looks on. Streeter was instrumental in having the plaque established.
Many Southampton children and grandchildren today still live in the area and remember hearing the stories of their parents who had worked at the factory and the key role that they had played in the war effort.
On the plaque, there are many interesting facts researched by Streeter, including, how in 1944, two of the planes shattered the ‘transatlantic speed record’ by two hours and 10 minutes.
The artifact bears a medallion of explanation and the tip may, in all probability, be placed in the Bruce County Museum.
Whitney also presented a framed print of the Mosquito Bomber to Mayor Mike Smith who had visited the Windsor facility where Whitney and other volunteers are re-constructing an authentic Mosquito Bomber working from existing drawings accessed from the Smithsonian Institute in the U.S.
Mayor Mike Smith has close ties to the Dominion Plywoods Factory. Not only did the family live next door at one time but his father worked at the Factory, where he became Manager, until the facility was bought after the war and the equipment was moved to Toronto.