Hornby Islanders discover details of heroic relative at museum

  • Aug. 18, 2014 10:00 a.m.

 

Bobby Waters was not quite 14 years old when he saved the life of a pilot whose aircraft had crashed and burned near the air force base in Comox in 1952.

Two years later, former governor general of Canada Vincent Massey presented Bobby with the George Medal for bravery at a ceremony at the Jericho garrison in Vancouver.

The story — which appears on a blog on the Comox Air Force Museum website — drew the attention of a few relatives of Bobby’s who recently paid the museum a visit.

“We call it one of our museum moments,” volunteer Corrine Bainard said.

Eileen Waters of Hornby Island remembers her late uncle as a funny, big-hearted guy who liked to entertain children by doing things like placing seaweed on his head.

“He was always a very jolly man,” said Eileen’s daughter, Jenny Smith. “He told the best jokes.”

Despite her uncle’s young age, Eileen said Bobby was quick to take action when the Lancaster aircraft crashed while returning from a practice flight on Nov. 24, 1952.

“He put the rest of the people into action — like what they teach in first aid,” she said.

After summoning assistance, a citation states that Bobby fought his way through heavy bush and swam in order to reach the flaming aircraft. Upon reaching the wreckage, he noticed the pilot trapped inside. Despite the heat and danger of an explosion, he entered the burning aircraft, and dragged the dazed and injured occupant to safety.

“This young lad’s courageous actions under the most dangerous and harassing circumstances was undoubtedly responsible for saving the life of the pilot,” the document states.

Waters, who was born in 1939, grew up near the base. He worked as a longshoreman and as a crane operator. He lived for a time in Toronto but “came back quickly,” said Eileen, recalling her uncle was an avid skeet shooter who raised hounds. He was married with a daughter, Lalani.

After Bobby passed away in 2007, his widow, Anne — now a Chemainus resident — donated his medal to the museum.

He was the youngest person ever awarded the George Medal, which at the time was the second-highest award for bravery that could be bestowed on a citizen of a British Commonwealth nation.

As chance would have it, the museum contains a second story about another Waters — of no relation to Bobby — who was also awarded a George Medal for helping save the life of a pilot who had crashed.

Master Corp. Harry John Waters was nearby when a Royal Canadian Air Force Sabre jet crashed and burst into flames on an airbase in Marville, France, July 21, 1955. Disregarding his safety, he rushed into the flames to assist the semi-conscious pilot, who had a broken back.

Like Anne, Marie Waters also donated her late husband’s medal to the museum.

The Comox Air Force Museum is rife with history of heroes.

The museum, located at 19 Wing, right at the end of Ryan Road, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
SD71 identifies eight positive cases of COVID-19 and instructs 108 people to self-isolate

The letter noted that all who have tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Geoff Garbutt takes over as City of Courtenay CAO on April 14. Photo supplied
Courtenay council selects new city CAO

A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be joining the City of… Continue reading

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The Town of Comox will formally examine speeding within the town. Black Press file photo
Comox to examine speeding within town

Following discussions at various council meetings, Comox council will formally examine speeding… Continue reading

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Man arrested after allegedly punching Burnaby Canadian Tire staff over mask rule

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

A conceptual drawing of the preferred conveyance route for the Comox Valley Sewer Service.
Preferred conveyance route chosen for Comox Valley Sewer Service

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission approved a plan Tuesday to upgrade the… Continue reading

Most Read