Bomber Pilot Memories

Medium: Acrylic on canvas 24 x 36 (1999)
Display: Abbotsford Air show 1999. Canada Aviation Museum – Ottawa during Artflight 2000 show.RCAF display Okanagan Military Museum, Kelowna, BC (2003). Artist’s collection.


This painting was inspired by my meeting with Wing Commander (Ret’d) T.C. (Cam) Weir at the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, BC.

I was drawn to the museum by the WW II Hampden bomber being rebuilt there. The aircraft was recovered from 600 ft of water off Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island (near the sight of the present Victoria airport) where it crashed in 1942. Remarkably, the crew survived the ditching.

I was privileged to be able to talk at length with Mr. Fred Gardam who has been the driving force behind the restoration of the aircraft and who has worked on this type of aircraft as a part of a long career in aviation. In listening to Cam’s story of his youth and war remembrances, I was struck by the clarity of his memory. His story seemed to me in many ways so typical of his generation, of ordinary Canadian men and women, who had an extraordinary impact on the world in which they lived and of which we are the inheritors.

Cam’s experiences ranged from actions in the air in aircraft such as the Hampden, to personal interaction with historic figures such as Guy Gibson – leader of the “Dambusters”, Arthur Harris – who led Bomber Command during the war and Lord Mountbatten – commander of the British Forces in the Burma/Pacific campaign. Cam was a witness to many major events in that conflict involving these well-known people, but it was his emotional and intense memories of his fellow aircrew and friends that left me with a deep impression of the impact of these times on his generation.

The painting is my modest attempt at a portrait of this man who I believe symbolized many of his fellow RCAF veterans as they look back in the slipstream of over fifty years of time to those days. In the background is a depiction of a Hampden bomber with aircrew, having returned from a mission. Another Hampden is coming into a landing.

Cam died several months after this painting was completed, having seen it and been told of its selection for the Canada Aviation Museum’s Artflight 2000 display.