(Canadian Historical Aircraft Association President, John Robertson (left) leads a toast to veterans on Remembrance Day during The Bells Of Peace ceremony at the CH2A Hangar located at Windsor International Airport on Nov. 11, 2018. Photo above by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.)
The Canadian Historical Aircraft Association held a Bells Of Peace ceremony on Remembrance Day, ringing a bell 100 times to honour the sacrifices of Canadians who served during the First World War, and to remember the horrors of war, the costs to society, and the promise of peace.
The “Bells Of Peace,” a national commemoration organized by the Royal Canadian Legion to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, was held across the nation on Remembrance Day 2018 at dusk. Locally the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association was among several Windsor Essex organizations and locations joining with those across Canada in this important national commemoration. They held their Bells Of Peace ceremony at their location inside the CH2A Hangar at Windsor International Airport on November 11, 2018.
Bells Of Peace marked the occasion 100 years ago, when church bells across Canada rang out to share the news that the First World War was over.
All across Canada this year bells rang out observing this 100th anniversary and to remember the 650,000 who served, close to 66,000 killed, and more than 172,000 wounded. In addition, many communities saluted local people and events that link their community to the Great War.
At CH2A, the ceremony began with opening comments followed by a bugle sounding the Last Post, which in the military signifies the end of the day’s activities and during remembrance day services signifies soldiers have gone to their final resting place. Next came two minutes of silence and another bugle sounding the Rouse, which implies hope that there will be a day when the living and the dead will arise together.
Thanks to the efforts of Canadian Historical Aircraft Association Vice President, Don Christopher, a bell was recently mounted inside the CH2A Hangar. Members of the community, with priority given to those with family members who fought in WWI, rang the bell 10 times each following the Rouse. In total, the bell was rung 100 times during the Bells Of Peace ceremony.
Canadian Historical Aircraft Association, Secretary, Larry Whitmore, and Elaine Whitmore, made the final rings of the bell in honour of their grandparents, Private Walter Whitmore of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 20th Battalion (Central Ontario), and Lieutenant Joseph Harding Lewis who served with the Royal Flying Corps.
John McCrae’s war poem, In Flanders Field, with a video was played and then a toast to our veterans was led by John Robinson, President of the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association. “To those who died serving their family, friends, and country,” began Robinson. “To all veterans we raise our glasses and thank you for your honour, your courage, your sacrifice, and your service. We will remember them.”
Before everyone departed, Robinson introduced Robert Symons who came into the CH2A Hanger about 3 months ago and told them his father and two uncles flew overseas. His father, G. Gordon Symons, was a de Havilland Mosquito fighter pilot who wrote the WWII autobiography called The Boys of Spring. Robert was in attendance with his son Shawn, and Robinson announced, “today Robert presented to the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association, a very generous donation of $10,000 to the Mosquito project in honour of his father.” CH2A’s Mosquito bomber project began in 1993 as the dream of Tim Gillies to build a “Mossie,” as they are often referred to by their crew. The formation of the Windsor Mosquito Bomber Group followed and in 1996.
On November 11, 2018, at dusk, Bells Of Peace sent ringing sound waves across the nation marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and to help tell the historical journey of Canada’s service and sacrifice during the 1914-1918 War.
The Canadian Historical Aircraft Association, located at Windsor International Airport, is open to the public and admission is free for CH2A members, veterans and children under 6 years old. For more information about the CH2A, including guided tours, special events, and hours of operation please visit http://www.ch2a.ca