In April 2021, our MAVA secretary received an email from Peter Merchant in Calgary, AB offering a scanned copy of a photograph of the 1947 inaugural meeting of the “Maritime Aviation Association”. Mr. Merchant explained that his father, Bob Merchant, third row second from left, flew scout (sic) RCAF convoy escort / anti-submarine patrol aircraft during the Second World War and that after the war a group of 22 maritime airmen formed the “Maritime Aviation Association” to continue the camaraderie that had developed during the war. Peter wondered if the “Maritime Aviation Association” may have been the genesis of the current day MAVA and thought the photo may be of interest to its members. The notes on the back, label the photo as of the inaugural “Maritime Aviation Association” meeting held at the Cornwallis Inn in Kentville, NS on 21-22 January 1947. The notes on the back also provide a key to the names of the men in photo.

Our MAVA historian replied and thanked Mr. Merchant for his thoughtfulness and explained that the photo was very interesting because none of the MAVA members was unaware that such an organization existed in 1947. However, the photo would be a welcome addition to the MAVA website as it documented the beginning of associations to preserve the traditional camaraderie among maritime airmen. He explained that since MAVA was formed only in 2014 by veterans with comparatively recent maritime flying experience, the men in the 1947 photo were at least a generation older than current members and none would likely be familiar. Except for one!

Our historian, Ernie Cable, recognized James McRae, second row second from the left, who served with his father, Stan Cable,[1] from 1942-1945 on 162 Squadron at RCAF Station Yarmouth, NS and Reykjavik, Iceland. As a pilot, McRae was a captain of one of the squadron’s Canso crews during the Second World War. On the squadron it was customary for the squadron C.O. to rotate among his crews. On one such occasion while deployed from Reykjavik to Wick, Scotland, McRae moved over to the co-pilot’s seat to allow Wing Commander Bill Chapman, the squadron C.O. to be the pilot in command of Canso 9816 “T”. On this sortie Canso 9816 “T” was on an anti-submarine patrol in the Norwegian Sea northeast of the Faeroe Islands where the crew successfully attacked and sank German U-boat U-715 as it was surfacing. Unfortunately, Canso 9816 “T” was shot down by return fire and Chapman had to ditch the aircraft on the sea. During the nine-hour ordeal on the frigid water in their dinghy one crewmember drowned, two others succumbed to hypothermia and the remaining five, including Chapman and McRae, survived after being picked up by a rescue launch.

In 1995, James McRae was the coordinator for RCAF Station Yarmouth’s 50th year reunion and telephoned Ernie[2] to request a CP-140 Aurora fly past for the reunion. After arranging the details McRae made the father-son Cable family connection and invited Ernie to be the reunion’s guest speaker. During the reunion Ernie met McRae and Chapman and other former 162 Squadron members who served with his father for the first time.

[1] Stan Cable was 162 Squadron’s Warrant Officer in charge of maintenance.

[2] Ernie Cable was the Deputy Commander Maritime Air Group.

%d bloggers like this: