RCAF 434 'Bluenose' Squadron Commemorative Flag
This one presents a bit of a mystery! It tuned up in a house clearance in Durham back in 2011 when we acquired it and has remained tucked away in our stock room ever since, pending research! The flag which is an RCAF ensign of standard design and similar to the RAF ensign but with the addition of a maple leaf to the centre of the roundel. It is we believe made of nylon and is of the printed variety. What adds special interest is the addition of machined embroidery, picked out in yellow reading WL-K R. C. A. F. Sqd.434 ENGLAND FEB-JULY 1944. 434 Squadron was one of the 15 that were stationed at various airfields in the County of Yorkshire, England as part of RCAF 6 Group. 434 were also known as the "Bluenosers"; the squadron was adopted by the Rotary Club of Halifax, Nova Scotia and took the nickname "Bluenose" in reference to the common nickname for Nova Scotians. The Squadron motto reads "IN EXCELSIS VINCIMUS" which translated means, most approparately, "WE CONQUER IN THE HEIGHTS". Initially formed on 13th July 1943 and based at Tholthorpe but transferred to Croft in December '43 where it remained for the rest of the war. Looking at the map Croft airfield was in County Durham and just 25 miles (40K) from Durham where the flags tuned up, so we surmise these were produced for a commemorative event at Croft at a date unknown.
Our investigation also confirms the Squadron codes used by 434 in WWII were 'WL' so the reference to WL-K appears to relate to an aircraft registration that took us to Halifax V LL179. Sadly it appears this aircraft, piloted by F/Sgt G. Mould, left Croft on the 20th January 1944 on a raid to Magdeburg and was lost, possibly shot down by a night fighter at Muckendorf SW of Berlin, in the early hours of 21 January 1944. Four of the crew including the skipper were sadly killed whilst the navigator, wireless operator and the bomb aimer survived and became POW's. Strangely our commemorative flag is dated 'Feb-July 1944' so after the date Halifax WL-K was lost. If any visitors to the site can clarify this apparent conundrum we will update our listing.
The flag measures 10" x 6" (25 cm x 15 cm) and the flag pole stands 15.5" (39 cm) to the top of the finial. It exhibits minor storage creasing and age related marks and with a slight curvature on the pole but overall it remains in good display condition. We were able to purchase two identical examples and these are priced individually. A total 1374 airmen volunteered to fly with 434 Squadron and of these 347 made the ultimate sacrifice and this emotive item is a lasting reminder of those lost on the final flight of Halifax WL-K.