Artifacts

The Carley float
Artifacts

The Carley float

Many sailors owed their lives to this durable, quick-launching raft The corvette HMCS Louisburg was on escort duty off the coast of North Africa when she was hit by a torpedo dropped from an Italian plane at sunset on Feb. 6, 1943. In minutes, Able Seaman Budd Parks found himself injured, swimming in the pitch black, covered in oil, one of dozens “struggling for survival against time and the elements as darkness settled around us,” he recalled in Corvettes Canada: Convoy Veterans of WW II Tell Their True Stories. “I was one of 42 crew members swarming around one Carley float designed to carry 12...Nineteen hours later, six of us were alive.” — John Gleason, survivor of HMCS Guysborough, sunk March 1945 Forty shipmates, including the captain, did not survive. Som...
The aircrew boot
Artifacts

The aircrew boot

It concealed escape tools and was designed to transform into an ordinary shoe When Erin Napier is asked about her favourite item in the collection of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ont., the curator produces a pair of well-worn leather boots, originally property of Second World War Lancaster flight engineer James Allward. These high-top flying boots look ideal for their primary use—keeping aircrew warm as they carried out their missions over wartorn Europe. But they have a split personality. “This is a regular, everyday thing that can be used as an escape item,” she explains. “If an airman had bailed out or survived a crash, he could use a knife concealed in the fleece lining and cut the leather upper off. He’d be left with just a regular looking shoe”—and ...
The Ross rifle
Artifacts

The Ross rifle

  This Canadian-made First World War weapon was loathed by infantry and loved by snipers   At the end of the Boer War, Canada couldn’t persuade arms-strapped Britain to supply it with Lee-Enfield rifles, or even a licence to manufacture them. How was this fledgling country going to arm its army, police and militia? Scottish industrialist and gun enthusiast Sir Charles Ross stepped forward, proposing to build a factory in Quebec City to manufacture a rifle of his design. The government ordered 12,000 of the rifles for delivery in 1903. The gun’s straight-pull, bolt-action design promised faster firing than the Lee-Enfield, since a manual quarter-turn of the bolt was not required. Its accuracy and precision won the unflagging support of avid marksman Sam Hughes, Minister...

CANADA AND THE
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