by W. T. Graham

Alliford Bay, British Columbia
I had just received a "Care" package for my birthday, and had taken it down to the Wireless Shack where LAC Ron Matthews was on duty. While we sat enjoying fresh fruit from Vancouver, F/O Halpenny came in and asked if anyone wanted to go for a flight, as they were going to check out the new mounting crate for the AR2/AT1 radio equipment. I volunteered to go, but before I had a chance to harness up, F/O Al Simpson our signals officer came in, and advised me he was going. Just before they left, F/O Halpenny came back into the shack, and grabbed a handful of my fresh grapes and left.

I left the hangar and went back to our quarters and proceeded to take a shower. I was standing in front of a window (no WDs on base at this time) drying myself, when I saw 517 in a vertical dive out over the Bay. I lost sight of it behind a building (the guard house I believe) and then heard a dull thud. Without thinking, I ran down the hall in the quarters to the front door; clad only in a towel and yelling "Crash."

It was only a couple of weeks before this that F/O Halpenny and LAC Dike had picked me up in a Shark at Prince Rupert, and after we were airborne, Halpenny climbed to about 3000 feet and put the nose down pulling out just over the roof of the Prince Rupert Hotel where he had a female acquaintance. We were slightly overloaded, as besides the two of us in the rear cockpit, we had mail bags piled all around us."

W.T. Graham
Copyright 2000

Wreckage of Shark 517 at Alliford Bay  ~~~   Shark 524 XE M in the background

This account first appeared in
Canada's Wings 1a: The Blackburn Shark by Carl Vincent -
Published by Canada's Wings, Stittsville, Ontario - 1977.
It is presented here courtesy of the author.
Photos by W.T. Graham

Shark III 549 with 119 (BR) personnel
under instruction, April 1940

In all, 26 Sharks (7 Mk.IIs and 19 Mk.IIIs) served in the RCAF and established a good reputation among aircrew and techs as a tough well-liked aircraft. Though capable of being mounted on wheels, they were much more at home on floats, as shown here, were number 503, a Mk.II, leads a companion through British Columbia's mountains. The only recorded RCAF Shark action during World War II occurred on 27 October 1942, when one attacked a submarine off the West Coast with no known results.

Shark IIIs of 6 (BR), 
Alliford Bay, summer 1940

Visit Bill Graham's other WWII site:
H.M.C.S. Prince Robert
Visits Alliford Bay ~ 1941
by W. T. Graham

HMCS Prince Robert arrives at Alliford Bay - 1941


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