WONZ 229 – Karl Kjarsgaard

Guest: Karl Kjarsgaard

Host: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 13th of September 2020

Released: October 2020

Duration:  1 hour 18 minutes 23 seconds

In a slightly different topic from the usual WONZ Show in this episode Dave Homewood talks with Karl Kjarsgaard of Canada about his efforts to ensure the Handley Page Halifax bomber is not forgotten by Canadians, and the world.

Karl is a former airline pilot who realised in the 1990’s that whilst many of the aviation museums in Canada have Avro Lancaster bombers in their collection to represent his nation’s huge part on RAF Bomber Command, in fact the aircraft that most Canadian bomber crews flew was the Handley Page Halifax.

The Royal Canadian Air Force operated 15 squadrons of Halifax in their own No. 6 Group of Bomber Command, and Canadians also served in the type with other squadrons. There were also over 40 RAF, 3 RAAF, 2 French and 2 Polish squadrons operating the type across Bomber Command, Coastal Command, and Transport Command, plus some Special Duties units.

With only one unrestored Halifax at RAF Hendon, which was recovered from a fjord, and a ‘bitsa’ restoration at the Yorkshire Air Museum, Karl decided to find one for Canada. He located and, with a team, recovered Halifax Mk. VII NA337 from Lake Mjosa in Norway. That aircraft was restored back to pristine condition and is now on static display in the National Air Force Museum of Canada, at Trenton, Ontario.

Next Karl set about recovering a second Halifax, LW682, from a swamp where it had crashed in Belgium, to recover the bodies of the crew.

And now his current project is to recover Halifax HR871 from the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden. The plan is for this aircraft to end up fully restored to taxiing (though not flying) condition at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada, at Nanton, Alberta. Work is already well underway on a centre section and a collection of Bristol Hercules engines for this aeroplane.

Quick Links:

•  Halifax 57 Rescue

•  Rebuildshop on Facebook

•  The Bomber Command Museum of Canada (Nanton)

•  The Bomber Command Museum of Canada Curated Public Group on Facebook

•  The National Air Force Museum of Canada (Trenton)

•  The Story of Halifax NA337

•  The Handley Page Halifax on Wikipedia

Fully restored Halifax NA337 in the National Air Force Museum at Canada with a line up of Halifax veterans (Photo via Karl Kjasgaard)
Karl on top of NA337 during its recovery (Photo via Karl Kjasgaard)
A colourised photo of a wartime Halifax with all its aircrew, ground crew, bombs and support equipment (Photo via Karl Kjasgaard)
Karl with the ingots from the Belgian swamp bomber (Photo via Karl Kjasgaard)
Halifax NA337 following initial recovery and before the restoration
(Photo via Karl Kjasgaard)
The centre section for the Nanton Halifax (Photo via Karl Kjasgaard)
The wall of names of all the Canadian casualties from Bomber Command, and the Lancaster, at the Canadian Bomber Command Museum, Nanton (Photo via Karl Kjasgaard)

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