400 & 411 Squadron Standards Lain Up
PHOTO OPS VIDEO
In addition to the Ceremony at the Hall of Colours, this video contains pictures of the photo opportunities for both 400 and 411 Squadron Standards before they were invested in the Hall of Colours at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.
There are 108 photos from the photo ops in our Photo Album "Standards Lain Up".
Any of them may be downloaded free of charge by clicking HERE.
The following is an article written by Carl Mills for the Excelsior Magazine which outlines the history and background of our Squadrons' Standards.
Laying-up of the original Standards in the Hall of Colours
400 Squadron was established in Toronto in 1932 as 10 Squadron at the Trethewey Farm airfield (aka de Lesseps field). The Squadron flew several types of biplane aircraft including the Gypsy Moth and the Tiger Moth, was renumbered to 110 Squadron, and officially adopted as the “City of Toronto” Squadron in 1937.
In 1939, the Squadron was called to war and converted to the Lysander aircraft at Rockcliffe (Ottawa). The Squadron was the first RCAF squadron to deploy oversea and departed in February 1940. In the UK, it entered the armed reconnaissance era and converted to the P-40 Tomahawk and then the Mustang 1 aircraft. During this era, the Squadron was renumbered 400 Squadron. Prior to and after D-Day, the Squadron entered the unarmed reconnaissance era and flew the Mosquito XVI and the Spitfire PR XI aircraft. The Squadron was heavily involved in the planning for D-Day and the progress through Europe. 400 Squadron was the first RCAF unit to move to the Continent and then the first to cross the Rhine River into Germany.
The Squadron was reformed at RCAF Station Downsview (Toronto) in 1946 where it was in operation for 50 years flying the Harvard, Vampire III, T-33, Sabre 5, Beechcraft Expeditor, and de Havilland Otter. During the extensive Otter era, the squadron deployed to the Arctic, participated in many search and rescue missions, supported army exercises, and was also involved in many air shows.
In 1982, the Squadron converted to the Kiowa jet helicopter. In 1996, the Downsview Base closed and the Squadron relocated to CFB Borden where it is still active and flying the Griffon helicopter. While at Borden, the Squadron has been involved many significant missions including the Arctic, Bosnia, Canadian Winter Olympics, G-8 and G-20 Summits, and Afghanistan. This October was the Squadron’s 81st anniversary.
During the war, there were 28 casualties, including four MIAs, (and one POW) and during the jet era at Downsview there were eight casualties. All 36 casualties – the Honour Roll - are recorded on the 400 Squadron memorial monuments at the RCAF National Museum in Trenton and at the Squadron hangar at CFB Borden. There is also a description of the Honour Roll on the website.
The original 400 Squadron Standard was presented by the Governor General in 1961 and replaced with a bilingual version in 2000. It was the first Standard presented to the RCAF. The original Standard was then placed on display in the Veterans Wing at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. In June 2013, and in complete agreement with Sunnybrook, it was decided to relocate the Standard to the Hall of Colours at the National Cemetery of Canada at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.
During the relocation interval, in July and August, the 400 Standard was joined by the 411 Squadron Standard in a series of photo ops. Serving and past-members were invited to be photographed with both Standards at locations such as the 400 Squadron memorial monument at the RCAF National Museum in Trenton, the Downsview hangar doors, the Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, with their T-33 and Vampire, and the Kiowa at 1 Wing in Kingston.
The Standard is emblazoned with the squadron badge and the Battle Honours. The badge was authorized by King George VI in Septembre 1942. The Badge consists of an eagle’s head with two crossed Tomahawks. The eagle’s head symbolized the squadron’s primary role as a reconnaissance unit and the Tomahawks represented the P-40 Tomahawk aircraft which equipped the squadron at the time. The seven Battle Honours were; Fortress Europe 1941-45, Dieppe, France and Germany 1944-45, Normandy 1944, Arnhem, Biscay 1942-43, and Rhine.
The squadron was not a fighter squadron and was not involved in the Battle of Britain.
The Hall of Colours was established by DND in 2008 to exclusively serve the memorial needs of our Nation’s Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans. It was designed, with dignity, to house the retired ceremonial flags of Canadian Armed Forces formations including the Guidons, Standards, Queen’s Colours, and Command, Regimental and Military College Colours. The Hall represents a secure and final resting place for these significant icons and features a sun-lit stained glass window with the theme “Hope in a Broken World” with two rows of hung Colours and Standards.
Colours and Standards eventually begin to deteriorate and, following custom, it is traditional not to repair the progressive damage. Following tradition, they will remain honourably suspended and untouched until, with the passing of time, they completely disintegrate. Unfortunately, the original pike and finial were never located.
The deterioration has begun on the 400 Standard. In the bottom left corner it appears as if a giant cat has clawed the fabric leaving several long see-through openings. These can be seen on the Standard as it hangs in the Hall of Colours. It was timely that the Standard was moved from Sunnybrook to the Hall.
The 400 Standard was delivered to the Hall of Colours on 28 August. There was no ceremony, rather a gathering of 400 Squadron ex-members and friends who admired the hung Standard and stood for a moments silence for departed past-members.
The new 400 Standard, received in 2000, is nearly identical to the original with bilingual features in the badge. It is housed at the Squadron hangar in Borden.
411 Squadron was established in the UK, as a fighter squadron, in 1941 and the Standard was presented by the Governor General at CFB Downsview in 1972. It was laid-up at the North York City Hall (Toronto) in 1997 soon after the squadron was disbanded. The crest is represented by a Canadian bear and the motto “Inimicus Inimico” translates to “Hostile to an Enemy.” The Squadron flew eight types of aircraft over the fifty-five year history of the unit and there are 31 names on the Honour Roll. The unit was officially known as 411 (City of North York) Squadron.
When past-members of 411 heard that the 400 Standard was on a photo tour and about to be presented to the Hall of Colours, it was decided that the 411 Standard should also be included. The two squadrons operated side-by-side from the same hangar in Downsview for 50 years and it is fitting that the two Standards are now hanging side-by-side in the Hall of Colours.
I wish to thank the past and serving members of 400 Squadron, 411 Squadron, the Directorate of History and Heritage, the staff of the DND Liaison at the Beechwood Cemetery, the National Cemetery in Ottawa, The Sunnybrook Hospital, the 400 Squadron Historical Society, the City of Toronto, and all those who participated in the photo gatherings for their kind cooperation and assistance in making this double project possible.
Readers are invited to visit the website at www.400squadron.ca to read more about the Standard, the 400 Squadron history, and to down load a free colour poster showing all 18 of the Squadron’s aircraft.
Carl Mills, CD, P.Eng, (LCol ret’d)