Airport monument pays tribute to Second World War airmen

Airport monument pays tribute to Second World War airmen

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A sculptural monument paying tribute to the 179 Allied airmen who lost their lives while working at Patricia Bay Air Station during the Second World War will be unveiled this week in Sidney.

The Lost Airmen of the Empire was created by Victoria sculptor and landscape architect Illarion Gallant, and commissioned by a Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) working group that included local citizens, politicians and VAA staff.

Gallant says the intent of his sculpture and memorial site is to remember the pilots, navigators, armourers and mechanics from around the world who began working at the air base in 1939.

“These people came from all walks of life, surviving the depression with an optimistic outlook as to the challenges before them,” said Gallant of Rusnak Gallant Ltd. “Upon completion of their training, these service personnel went on to serve in various theatres of war where they were confronted with the harsh realities of survival.”

Gallant, 60, is the son of Second World War British Army Private (Retired) Harry Gallant. He was made aware from a very young age about the horrors of war through stories told by his father and other members of his hometown of Scarborough, ON, who had lived through the war in Europe.

He was commissioned for the $160,000 project in April 2016.

The main feature is 25 Cooper’s Hawk feathers measuring 14 feet high, chronologically inscribed with the names of the deceased pilots and airport workers. It also features approximately 1,000 bricks salvaged from an original military administration, which forms a seating area. Gallant says he is still seeking additional submissions to a yet-to-be-sealed time capsule or “memory capsule” he is placing at the site.

The ceremony gets underway June 1 at 10 a.m. at the memorial site located at the north end of Victoria International Airport. Keynote speakers include Gallant, George Walter du Temple, son of the Commander of Patricia Bay Air Station during the Second World War, and 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron Commanding Officer, LCol Shawn Williamson.

LCol Williamson grew up on the Saanich Peninsula and spent some of his youth in the nearby airbase hangar as an Air Cadet, and says like many others in his community he feels a strong personal connection to the monument. He hailed the work of the Hospital Hill Working Group and Gallant in establishing the monument that he says is the first of its kind.

“There is a room dedicated to these airmen in the B.C. Aviation Museum and some signage at the Victoria International Airport main terminal, but this new monument is spectacular and very moving. It offers a large physical presence in a prominent location on the highest spot of the airfield,” says LCol Williamson. “The VAA has done a very good job in reaching out to stakeholders in the community, including our squadron, to make this happen.”

The event will have a strong military presence. Shortly before the ceremony commences, personnel from 443 Squadron and its Colour Party will march up to Hospital Hill from the Holy Trinity Church. The ceremony will also have musical accompaniment from the 443 Squadron Pipes and Drums and a fly past by a Sea King helicopter. The event will be attended by senior leadership from CFB Esquimalt, Commander Col Michael Atkins of 19 Wing Comox, and 12 Wing Shearwater Commanding Officer, Colonel Peter Allan.

Parking for the event is limited to event staff and disabled parking spots. Those interested in attending can take a free shuttle bus operating from a parking lot adjacent to 443 MH Squadron, located on Kittyhawk Road off of Willington Rd., or people can walk or cycle to the memorial site using the airport’s bike trail.

For more information about the dedication ceremony visit the airport website at

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.