Ownership of 427 Squadron memorial will transfer to township

Cobden -- Whitewater Region (WWR) Township council has voted to accept the transfer of ownership of the Memorial to the Fallen in Veteran’s Memorial Park in Cobden.

Established in 2017 by the 427 Squadron Association as a project to help mark the 75th anniversary of the forming of the squadron, the memorial was initially slated to be situated at Garrison Petawawa. The memorial commemorates all the members of the 427 ‘Lion’ Squadron who died on flying operations since the squadron’s inception on November 6, 1942. The driving force behind its creation was the 427 Honourary Colonel and Cobden resident, Del Lippert, and the project evolved into the memorial’s establishment in its current location.

Ken Sorfleet, a member of the squadron’s executive committee, wrote to council last month to request the township assume ownership of the memorial, explaining financial regulations dictate the squadron itself cannot assist the Squadron Association and that the funds remaining from the memorial’s construction have annually been reducing to the extent the association’s abilities to continue to cover the annual insurance costs of $810 will eventually render the organization financially unviable.

“Given the economies of scale regarding insurance costs and other issues…. we seek the ownership of the memorial to be transferred from our association to that of the township,” wrote Mr. Sorfleet. “You will be ‘inheriting’ a memorial valued in excess of $150,000 at little if any additional insurance costs, which is already built on land owned by the township. This will greatly enhance the long-term financial viability of our association by taking the financial responsibilities of ownership off our hands.”

The main feature of the memorial is a massive bronze lion mounted on a four-sided concrete base with quartz-engraved names and dates of all Lions who perished on flying operations as well as engraved plaques depicting all the aircraft previously in use by the squadron. It also includes bronze plaques in English and French depicting a short history of the squadron and a separate bronze plaque listing some of the significant individual and group contributors.

The Squadron Association will transfer the remaining memorial contingency funds of $1,401 to the township to help offset insurance costs. Further, a Continuous Care Certificate purchased as part of the project should preclude the township facing any significant upkeep expense in the future, wrote Mr. Sorfleet.

CAO Ivan Burton explained the certificate, purchased for the project at a one-time cost of just over $2,500, is held in trust and will transfer to the municipality as the new owner.

“It provides a guarantee against fading, cracking, discoloration, and other damages or vandalism,” he said. “That continuous care is provided by Campbell Craft Monuments.”

He noted hat the cost to the township of adding insurance coverage of the monument to its existing policy will be about $200 per year,

Mr. Sorfleet acknowledged that, in relinquishing ownership of the monument to the township, his organization is giving up all rights associated with it.

“For example, though we consider it unlikely, we recognize that the township could move or remove the memorial at any time at their discretion,” he wrote. “Moreover, there is no expectation the township would be expected to add to the monument, in the unfortunate situation of further loss of Lion lives on flying operations. Indeed, even if the agency proposing any changes to the memorial can provide the necessary full costs, prior township approval would still be the primary prerequisite. In short, the memorial will be completely the township’s to administer as you deem appropriate.”

Marie Zettler Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader