Published in 1989, Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story is the only book dedicated to the heroic young Canadians who fought in these rugged World War II fighters. With some justification, through the postwar years these fellows felt sidelined by historians specializing in the 1939-45 air war. Their gripe was about how history eagerly embraced the Hurricane, Mustang, Spitfire, Thunderbolt, etc., but where were the books about the Typhoon and Tempest? Well, the books (all by UK publishers) were there, but only a handful by comparison. Their authors, the renowned Francis K. Mason, Christopher Shores and Christopher Thomas included, did outstanding work.
In the early 1980s, Hugh A. Halliday, a historian at the Canadian War Museum, became interested in the Typhoon and Tempest and the Canadians who fought and (often) died in them. Hugh developed a manuscript, but could find no publisher with the interest. At some point we talked over his project. It did not take rocket science to decide: “Let’s publish, Hugh”, I impulsively concluded.
And publish we did in 1992. Robin Brass did our graphics and editing, Tri-Graphic in Ottawa did the printing and binding. Our book launch at Canadian Forces Staff School in Toronto was a gala event. The Officers Mess was packed with fellows who had survived tours on Typhoons and Tempests to go on to postwar careers in aviation and many other professions. A bit later we held another book launch on a blustery winter’s night in the 410 Wing (Air Force Association of Canada) mess at Rockcliffe. I was certain that few would brave the slippery highways that night, but they showed up. Even Honourary Colonel André Lord of 438 Squadron attended, buzzing in through the storm in a 438 Kiowa chopper from St. Hubert. His pilots looked ashen, but the old Typhoon warrior was ready to get right into it!
Hugh’s book now was off on its 20+ year career. We earned several glowing reviews from critics who actually knew an important book when they got their hands on one. Where such reviewers have disappeared to, I have no idea. Unless an author is a rock star (preferably not Canadian), there’s no way today to beg, borrow or buy a review for any such a world-class Canadian book as Typhoon and Tempest.
Much great fun was had in post-book launch times. Thanks chiefly to Ed McKay (438 Sqn), a Typhoon and Tempest pilots association came into being and various events were organized. The fellows made Hugh and I their only honourary members. We gathered periodically for lunch in and around Toronto, and in Niagara-on-the-Lake; and each year several also would team up for a Normandy tour. Gradually, however, the fellows began to drop away. Our lunches that often numbered 25 or 30 pilots in the 1990s, by 2013 had dwindled to 5 or 6.
One of the best post-book launch Typhoon and Tempest events was an evening hosted by Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion at her municipal art gallery. I forget just how this got going, but the late George Broomfield’s war art was on show. His widow, Bambi, was guest of honour, along with a contingent of wartime pilots and “erks” (mechanics and other groundcrew).
George Broomfield (1906-1992) painted widely as RCAF 143 Wing (where he was a transportation officer) moved across Europe after D-Day. The only RCAF Typhoon wing, 143 comprised 438, 439 and 440 Squadrons. The wing would play a prominent role in the brutal chore of sweeping the Germans from France and the Low Countries, then back across the Rhine to final defeat. As a curator of war art at the Canadian War Museum, Hugh Halliday knew of Broomfield and recommended that we use some of his 143 Wing pieces. This was done, with Bambi’s approval. On the night the exhibition opened, a solid contingent of Typhoon people turned out. Here are a few of the snapshots that I came away with that evening.
Over the summer of 2014 a few survivors of our Typhoon and Tempest community gathered at the Canada Air and Space Museum in Ottawa. This was a bit of a last fling to honour them and included the world’s one-and-only surviving Typhoon — arrangements had been made to transport it from the RAF Museum at Hendon on loan. The reunion was part of D-Day celebrations held in Ottawa. Attending pilots made their ways to Ottawa from as far away as Victoria, BC. On June 6 they all arrived at the CASM/Rockcliffe aboard the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum DC-3 in D-Day markings.
For the next year or so you’ll be able to see the awesome Typhoon at the CASM and, later, at the RCAF Memorial Museum in Trenton. Don’t miss your chance, if in the Ottawa or Trenton area. Here are a few other photos of the Ottawa “Typhoon roll-out” on June 6, 2014:
2022 addendum … Do you have your copy of Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story? It’s now out-of-print at CANAV Books, but you can find copies for sale on the web. Try abebooks.com and bookfinder.com