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Halifax Bomber restorer passes away


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PUBLICATION:  The Kingston Whig-Standard
DATE:  2010.05.14
PAGE:  12
ILLUSTRATION: Photo submitted Former Halifax bomber pilot Lloyd Wright passed away Tuesday, May 11. Wright led the Halifax restoration team at the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton. 


Halifax Bomber restorer passes away at 87


Lloyd Wright spent hundreds of hours devoted to restoring the famous Halifax Bomber displayed at the National Air Force Museum at CFB Trenton.

The World War 2 veteran also logged hundreds of hours in the cockpit of a Halifax, piloting the bomber over the dangerous skies of Europe.

Wright died at his home in Trenton Tuesday. He was 87.

When the Halifax display was officially opened in 2007, Wright was overcome with emotion. He described it as one of the most important missions of his life -- seeing the restoration through to its completion.

Wiping tears from his eyes, Wright said he was unable to sing the National Anthem. "It was so emotional,'' he said at the time

Wright's contributions both as a soldier and, years later, as one of the individuals behind the restoration of the

Halifax earned him a provincial award. Wright was one of 20 recipients to receive the Ontario Senior Achievement Award in 2009.

Wright flew 33 missions with 424 Squadron. That accomplishment earned Wright a Distinguished Flying Cross.

A memorial service will be held at the Chapel of St. Clement Astra Church, 8 Wing CFB Trenton Chapel on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. A reception will follow at the museum.

Wright knew every part of the Halifax.

Museum executive director Chris Colton described Wright's contribution as integral to the development of the museum and the restoration project.

"What a great gentleman he was,'' said Colton. "Llyod was an expert on the Halifax. He was the heart and soul of a group of very dedicated volunteers and restorers. He told great stories and was a fantastic source of information. He brought those stories to life.''

Wright spent approximately 250 hours piloting the Halifax, many of those hours under the cover of darkness using only his instrument panel to guide him through the skies over Europe.

Though a number of flights stood out in his mind, during an interview with QMI Agency in 2009 Wright recalled one trip when his crew was luckier than others on the mission.

On Jan. 12, 1945, a dozen planes from four different squadrons -- three aircraft from each -- were laying mines along the Germany-Denmark border and began crossing the North Sea, an area generally known for antiaircraft attacks.

Wright said they were surprised to see nothing threatening ahead when, suddenly, fire flares popped up from nowhere.

"That night we were lucky," he said. "We weren't shot down but the other two aircraft from 424 were. We made it back and they didn't," he said.

Wright officially retired from the service in 1971 and worked as a public servant until 1984.

That same year, he began his longtime association with the air force museum.

Thirteen years later, he began restoring the Halifax bomber that had been discovered in 1995 in Lake Mjosa in Norway.

The aircraft was transported to Trenton to become one of the key attractions at the National Air Force Museum of Canada.

The job of helping with the restoration did not seem so significant to Wright at first.

"I started working on it and once I got into it I realized the importance of it," he said." There has to be something to show kids today and future generations what their forefathers went through for our freedom and this is one of those symbols."

Quinte West Mayor John Williams nominated Wright for the provincial award.

"I knew Lloyd through the museum and I had been out there one day when he was working on the Halifax and we got talking and he took me inside the plane and told me he'd flown missions in it and it got me thinking about him flying it as a young guy and then the fact he's worked on restoring it for years.... I thought he was the perfect guy for the award," Williams said. "He was a great man, and a great citizen of our city.''

Wright was born in Toronto in June 1922. He joined the RCAF Special Reserve in May, 1942. After receiving his pilot's wings in April 1943, Wright went overseas to the United Kingdom for further training and was assigned to 424 Squadron in number 6 (RCAF) Group.

After being released from active duty in 1945, Wright earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Toronto. He rejoined the RCAF in 1949 and retired to Trenton in 1971.

Wright is survived by his wife Joan and sons Michael of Trenton and David of London. Visitation is scheduled for Friday, May 14 at the Weaver Family Funeral Homes, West Chapel in Trenton from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.


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WRIGHT, F/O Lloyd William (J25937) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.424 Squadron - Award effective 10 May 1945 as per London Gazette dated 25 May 1945 and AFRO 1291/45 dated 10 August 1945.  Home in Toronto; enlisted there 6 May 1942.  Trained at No.5 ITS (graduated 26 September 1942), No.13 EFTS (graduated 18 December 1942) and No.16 SFTS (graduated 30 April 1943).  Award presented in Toronto, 30 November 1949.  No citation other than "completed... numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty."  DHist file 181.009 D.2610 (RG.24 Vol.20627) has recommendation by W/C C.W. Marshall dated 22 January 1945 when he had flown 31 sorties (179 hours five minutes), 14 August 1944 to 12 January 1945.  Medals and logbook displayed in RCAF Memorial Museum, Trenton, Ontario.
Flying Officer Wright has completed 30 operational sorties against some of the [most ?] heavily defended enemy targets.  Throughout his tour he has consistently displayed a high degree of courage and crew leadership worthy of the highest praise.
His dependability to carry out the most difficult tasks and his cheerfulness and willingness on all occasions have gained him the confidence of all.
Flying Officer Wright is an outstanding young officer and I strongly recommend him for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

424 Squadron "Notable Battle Honours":
English Channel and North Sea 1944-1945 ,
Baltic 1944-1945,
Fortress Europe 1943-1944,
France and Germany 1944-1945,
Biscay Ports 1943-1944,
Ruhr 1943-1945,
Berlin 1944,
German Ports 1943-1945,
Normandy 1944,
Rhine, Biscay 1943-1944,
Sicily 1943,
Italy 1943, Salerno

The attached photo is of a 4000 pound "cookie" bomb to celebrate the 2000th operation by No. 424 "Tiger" Squadron. A photograph was taken and then the bomb was loaded into Lancaster RF-128 (QB-V) and delivered on 21 March 1945. The aircraft was known as "Victorious Virgin" and was flown by F/L J. F. Thomas and crew. The art shows a winged tiger breaking out of an Easter egg and this particular bomb was a special present for Hitler from the squadron. It was dropped on the oil refinery at Hemminstedt, near Heide, Germany.
The nose art image on the Lancaster was based on the November 1944 "Varga" pin-up ( see attached photo ) that appeared in Esquire magazine. That is a gas patch just forward of the "V".
The raid was effective. The oil refinery was put out of action, and was still inactive when captured by American troops seceral weeks later. One Lancaster was lost.



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Another one of Canada's national living treasures has gone to the 'mess' for good.

87 is a bloody good wicket.