- Feb 8, 2007
- Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
Honorary Colonel Charley Fox carrying the torch at 87
by Holly Bridges
It’s the younger generation who should be carrying the torch for veterans like 87-year-old Charley Fox, Distinguished Flying Cross recipient with bar.
Yet the honorary colonel for 412 Squadron (his old wartime Spitfire squadron) and decorated Second World War Spitfire pilot, is carrying the torch for a special group of Canadian and allied veterans who, he believes, have not received their “due recognition.”
HCol Fox has started a project called the Torchbearers to recognize all Canadian prisoners of war (POW), six Canadian airmen who were executed along with 44 others after the “Great Escape” from Stalag Luft III (Permanent Camp for Airmen #3) on March 24, 1944, and Polish combatants who served with Canadian air and ground forces throughout the Second World War. HCol Fox served and trained with two of the six Canadian airmen who were executed for trying to escape via tunnels the POWs had dug.
“I have a passion for seeing these three groups of veterans recognized,” said HCol Fox. “I am 87 years old, I hurt from the various injuries I sustained in the war. I live on a fixed income, yet I am absolutely passionate we must do something to give these fallen heroes the recognition they deserve.”
Among his goals: to have a medal struck for all Canadians who served as POW, living and deceased; to have 50 Canadian students travel to , Poland (formerly Sagan, Germany) in 2010 (the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Stalag Luft III) to march and wear the air force battle dress of all the countries of those executed; and to encourage the federal government to officially recognize the contributions of Polish combatants to the success of the CF in Italy, Normandy and through to the liberation of Holland.
“The Polish Air Force served within the Royal Air Force and one of the largest air forces in the European theatre,” said HCol Fox. “Over 14 000 air crew flew with 18 different squadrons. They fought in the Battle of Britain and many other campaigns—they were ferocious fighters.”
So far HCol Fox has discussed the Torchbearers project with senior CF leadership, several mayors of Canadian and Dutch cities he would like to twin, and other officials with an interest in commemorating the allied victory in Europe.
“I’ll be 90 years old in 2010 and I want to be there to see this thing unfold,” said HCol Fox. “These veterans have fallen through the cracks. Something must be done.”
HCol Fox's Unit is 412 (T) Squadron, he sounds like an amazing man.
412 (Transport) Squadron
412 (T) Squadron is based in Ottawa but belongs to 8 Wing Trenton. It provides high-ranking government officials and foreign dignitaries with VIP air transportation worldwide.
The Squadron currently operates six Bombardier CC-144 Challengers. To accomplish this task it employs 16 pilots, 7 flight stewards and 9 civilians. Last year, the Squadron flew a total of 2825 hours.
Transport Canada has been working with the squadron since the closure of CFB Ottawa in October of 1994 when it assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the four Challengers. The relationship has since evolved and matured. The result is a more economical, efficient and effective Administrative Flight Service.