Royal Canadian Air Force, April 20, 2015 - By 12 Wing Public Affairs - A ceremony was held to mark the official opening and naming of 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s new hangar facility at the Victoria International Airport in British Columbia on April 9, 2015.
The ceremony, presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Judith Guichon, also included the consecration of a new Colour (standard) for the squadron.
The new hangar was named after Arundel Castle, a prominent landmark in West Sussex, England, where the squadron was stationed during its involvement with the D-Day landings in June 1944. During the Second World War, 443 Squadron was a fighter squadron, and flew on air defence operations in eastern Canada under Eastern Air Command. After transfer overseas, it flew on bomber escort and interdiction duties in Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands under the Second Tactical Air Force and in Germany under the British Air Forces of Occupation (Germany).
“This building will finally allow for all unit operations to be housed under a single roof and will provide operational enhancements that are not available in the current facilities,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick MacNamara, the squadron’s commanding officer. “This building and its technology will advance the abilities of this unit as we move from the CH-124 Sea King helicopter to the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.”
This official opening marks the end of a four-year-long project at a cost of $155 million for the facility, which measures more than 215,000 square feet. In addition to the new building, the project also included the construction of an aircraft apron, a taxiway, an aircraft wash area and refuelling cabinet, a vehicle parking area, a guard house with security barriers and fencing.
The new hangar facility will allow the squadron to accommodate the new CH-148 Cyclone helicopter through the hangar’s additional capabilities, space, and technology.
443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron employs more than 200 military personnel and operates four to six CH-124 Sea King helicopters. It plays an important role on the West Coast, providing three helicopter air detachments (known as "HELAIRDETS") in support of the Royal Canadian Navy Pacific Fleet based in Victoria.
“We are extremely pleased to officially open the doors to our new facility” said Major Donald Leblanc, the commander of 443 Squadron’s Air Reserve flight. “After 10 years in the making, from design to construction, this facility will combine all aspects of flying operations, maintenance and aircraft supply under one roof. It will provide increased flexibility for operations with the Royal Canadian Navy and response time to British Columbians. This is a state-of-the-art facility that will serve the Royal Canadian Air Force for decades to come.”
RCAF Colours: Colours are a unit's most prized possession. They are presented personally by the Sovereign or by an individual, normally the Governor General, nominated to act on the Sovereign's behalf. Historically, Colours marked and provided a rallying point for army regiments in the line of battle. Today, they are no longer carried in action or held by a unit in a theatre of war. They continue, however, as visible symbols of pride, honour and devotion to Sovereign and country.
On presentation, Colours are consecrated by the Chaplain General assisted by the unit chaplains; when the Chaplain General is unable to be present, he will personally designate a chaplain to officiate for him. Through this means, Colours are sanctified and devoted to service as symbols of honour and duty; all members of the unit, regardless of classification, rededicate themselves to constancy in the maintenance of these qualities. Once consecrated, Colours are closely guarded and they are honoured by the appropriate compliment while uncased.
A squadron is eligible to receive its Colour, which is a standard bearing the squadron crest, motto and battle honours, after 25 years of existence. The Colour is paraded during change of command ceremonies and is kept on display at the squadron or wing, often in the officers' mess. The Colour can only be paraded when the majority of the squadron is present.
The Royal Canadian Air Force has two Colours: the Queen’s Colour (similar to the national flag with the Royal Cypher superimposed on the maple leaf), and the RCAF Colour (a blue flag with the Air Force crest in the centre which, at the time of writing, is still the Air Command crest).
When a unit ceases to exist or its Colour is replaced, the old Colour is retired or “laid up” in the care of a suitable custodian, often in a church or a museum. In recent years, many Colours have been laid up in the Hall of Colours at the National Memorial Centre, adjacent to the Beechwood National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.
443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s Colour: 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s Colour includes its squadron badge, which incorporates a hornet and the squadron motto: “Our sting is death”. During the Second World War, 443 Squadron, which flew fighter aircraft, was nicknamed “Hornet Squadron” and thereafter adopted the hornet for its badge.
The squadron carries the following battle honours: FORTRESS EUROPE, 1944; FRANCE AND GERMANY, 1944-1945; Normandy, 1944; Arnhem; and Rhine.