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The history of Canada's Navy & Military on Canada's west coast

High Achievers

Chronicling Canadian Naval Aviation: Author Stu Soward

Stuart E. Soward wrote four books, including Hands to Flying Stations, Vols. 1 & 2, a recollective history of Canadian naval aviation, and A Formidable Hero, the story of Canada's last Victoria Cross winner, naval pilot Lieutenant Hampton Gray, RCNVR. 

Stuart Edward Soward.

High Achievers

The following introduction was written by the late Stuart E. Soward, CD, RCN (Rtd), who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Canadian Navy for over 26 years.

High Achievers pays tribute to some important Canadian naval pilots whose names seem to be seldom recognised or remembered. 

Like many other Canadians serving with the Royal Navy, the Canadian identity and individual achievements of these men were often not recognized or identified at home in Canada. They are Lt Cdr William MartynCdr Bill Atkinson, and a group of pilots known collectively as the Canadian Raleighites.

They certainly didn't receive the same degree of acknowledgement as Canadians serving in the three Canadian services.

It is an honour to introduce such a varied and remarkable group. Of particular note are the ‘Canadian Raleighites’. Prior to WW2 many young Canadians, singly or in small groups, joined the Royal Navy and served as permanent RN or RNVR officers. The one hundred and fifty Raleighites, as they came to be called, were young men from all walks of life, recruited through the various Naval Reserve Divisions, who became the largest identifiable group to serve as Canadian Naval officers with the Royal Navy.

These men served in all the major naval theatres of war, namely the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. A total of 18 Raleighites were killed while on active service. Of the 150 Canadian Raleighites, a total of 14 volunteered to fly with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. Six of these airmen were killed in flying operations.

It is important that we remember these courageous individuals and their dedicated service during the darkest period of the war, and it is important to recognise their many awards and individual acts of bravery, leadership and devotion to duty while serving their country.