Pennfield air base to get a Second World War memorial park

·3 min read

A tourist park housing a memorial monument, commemorating the martyrs of the Second World War, will be built at the former Pennfield Ridge air base in Charlotte County.

Members of the 250 Saint John Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association, Turnbull New Brunswick Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, along with representatives of the Acadian Seaplants, unveiled the first look of the park and the memorial providing details about the development at the Lions Club, Pennfield, on Wednesday afternoon.

The Acadian Seaplants have deeded one acre of land to 250 Saint John Wing RCAFA Inc. to establish the "Pennfield Ridge 100 Memorial Park," said Harold E. Wright, chair of 250 Saint John wing, RCAFA Inc.

He said the park will be a memorial for the men and women from Pennfield who served and died during the Second World War, as well as for others who made the ultimate sacrifice. It will also act as a cultural attraction with a lot of history engraved on its plaques, he said.

The park will be within walking distance of the old runway and the monument will be established in a field full of vegetation, away from the road, he added.

According to Wright, the base of the monument will be triangular, replicating the angles of the Pennfield runways, the three monument stones will be of black granite, symbolizing "Charlotte County as the home of N.B. Granite." A red granite piece will be carved like the right hand of Squadron Leader Bruce Carter and will be engraved into the front. It will represent the line, "put out my hand and touched the face of God," by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr - High Flight - RCAF Sonnet.

The vegetation in the garden surrounding the monument will consist of trees and plants of the four countries from where the war martyrs were from, he said, listing the names: maple trees representing Canada, oak trees for the United Kingdom, Indian fig trees for Australia and silver fern representing New Zealand. The trees will be surrounded by blueberry shrubs.

Wright said the plaques explaining the monument will narrate the story of the RCAF/RAF Station Pennfield Ridge, the 1932 flight of Captain James Mollison and the famous companies of Charlotte County in the aquaculture, stone, candy, blueberry and forestry sectors. The stories of Charlotte County communities and businesses will also be written on those plaques, he added.

The park will cost about $250,000 and the fundraising began at the announcement on Wednesday. Three toonies were collected that will be placed below the monument stones to symbolize the national sport of hockey. The development is targeted to finish in May 2024 and the representatives of all four countries will be invited to the inauguration ceremony, said Wright.

The event was attended by Andrea Anderson-Mason, MLA for Fundy-The Isles-Saint John West, St. George Mayor John Detorakis, Jason Gaudet, chief administrative officer of St. George and various local service district chairs.

Anderson-Mason appreciates the project, saying that it is very important to recognize veterans.

"I was raised in a household where it was emphasized on a very regular basis, how important it was to honour our veterans."

She said as a representative from the provincial government she has learned that "as a government, we can't start these initiatives, we can only support them," and the province requires more of such developments.

"I'll be pleased to get behind it," she said supporting the project.

Bev Harrison, president of the 250 Wing RCAF association said, "this idea came as a result of Squadron Leader Carter, who is 97 (years old), member of our association, served here for a bit and always had this vision of something more permanent.

"We are on the road and we hope to unveil it, complete, in 2024 which is his 100th anniversary," he added.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal