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Mills, Carl - LCol (ret)

Carl Mills, LCol (ret)
Canadian Military Aviation Historian 

Article Supplied by: Col Gerry Gilroy (ret)
The 400 Squadron Historical Society has lost a dedicated and exceptionally productive member with the resignation on January 25, 2012 of (acting) LCol (ret.) Carl Mills, due to health reasons and other personal commitments.

Carl joined the RCAF Auxiliary (420 Squadron, London, Ont.) in 1955 after being an Air Cadet for a few years. The squadron trained him to marshal and refuel aircraft before he had his trade training. He was alone on the line one day when a Mustang fighter crashed near the field shortly after takeoff, and he was the first on the scene. The pilot was dead, face down in a ditch, and there was a great deal of aviation fuel around the scene. He kept the locals away until other military personnel arrived.

420 Squadron was disbanded in 1956, and Carl moved to 2420 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron and was commissioned as a fighter control operator. This unit was disbanded in 1961 when the function was automated by SAGE.

Carl graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in electrical engineering in 1965, moved to Toronto, and joined the Air Reserve as a technical officer at CFB Toronto (the former RCAF Station Downsview).  In the Wing, he gave lectures and organized summer courses for the ground crew.

He was a member of 400 Squadron for a few years in the 1970s as a technical officer, and retired in December 1983 as CTechO at 2 Wing Headquarters.

Carl became interested in the McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee carrier-based jet fighter when the squadron was refurbishing one for the National Aeronautical Collection in Ottawa (today the Canada Aviation & Space Museum).
Refurbished Banshee 464 at the Canadian Aviation & Space Museum 

Banshee 464 active duty            
Later, he interviewed 350 people to write the book, Banshees in the Royal Canadian Navy (1991). From this point on, his hobby has been Canadian military aviation history. Carl is an Associate Historian with the Directorate, Heritage and History, at Can Air Div Winnipeg.  Carl also wrote a  9 page article Royal Canadian Navy Banshees for the Winter 1995/96 edition of Aviation Quarterly Magazine.  The full article can be viewed by clicking HERE, { use the 'Carl Mills' link at the top of the new page to return to this page }

Carl next researched and wrote an article about the Silver Dart for the Canadian Aviation Historical Society on the occasion of 100 years of flight in Canada.

Following that, he researched and wrote an article on “Canadian Airmen and Airwomen in the Korean War” for Air Force magazine; made many presentations; and was instrumental in arranging an exhibit of nine of his dioramas in the National Air Force Museum at Trenton. He did much of the fundraising for the museum and, when it was over-subscribed, he was allowed to specify how the balance was to be used. He allocated $1500 to the 400 Squadron Memorial Monument.

In 1999, Col George Georgas, as president of the 110 Society Fund, obtained the approval of the directors to install a 400 Squadron Monument at the National Air Force Museum, but as a result of the loss of his wife followed by his struggle with cancer resulting in death, the project was never completed. I, Gerry Gilroy, decided to complete George’s project for him.

Carl wanted to put the Honour Roll on the back of the monument. At first I resisted. Carl pointed out that would be the only place that their family members could see such a list. I relented and obtained sufficient support from the other directors. Before the Honour Roll was permanently chiseled in marble, Carl decided to check the accuracy of the list by checking the 400 Squadron History book, the book by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Veterans Affairs (on line) and the Book of Remembrance in Ottawa… and found at least seven errors. Next he located the graves… and their families.  You can view our Honour Roll by clicking on the MEMBERS Bay above.
The Memorial Monument cost $15,063, of which Carl’s contribution from the Korean project of $1,500 left $13,563 to be paid from the 110 Society Fund. The Society then made a dollar swap of $1,500 to be used for dioramas and a poster of squadron aircraft.

Here are some of the key projects Carl has been working on for the Historical Society:

He has been making dioramas of squadron aircraft in historical settings.  To establish the quality and elicit advice on improvement, he entered several in a competition and earned one 1st -place, three 2nd -place and one 3rd-place awards. Some had been financed by a contribution from the Mary Sansack estate. The 110 Society Fund dollar swap was to, in part, finance further dioramas.

You can view these in more detail by following the Diorama link in the ARTS CENTRE Bay. 

Carl also designed a historically accurate poster of  the aircraft types operated by 400 Squadron. The 110 Society Fund dollar swap was to pay for this.  The poster is available for free and can be downloaded by going to the AIRCRAFT Bay and following the link to Aircraft Poster.

Carl has provided encouragement, valuable suggestions, and considerable material for this History Hangar website started by Bill Bishop.

Carl thought an 80th anniversary patch that could be worn on a cap or on a flying suit would be a good idea. Further, a cap with a patch should be given to each member of the squadron, to our members who are over 90 years of age and, some to the CO to give to visiting VIP’s.  To accomplish this we will have to find a sponsor. 
Len Neath did an excellent job in designing the patches.

Carl was collecting squadron photos and art work of squadron aircraft. For the art work he has obtained releases for the artists and posted 18 paintings on the History Hangar. There are 14 paintings of squadron aircraft with still  a few to go.  All of these can be viewed by visiting our ARTS CENTRE Bay and following the link to Squadron Artwork.

There is a space for an aircraft near the Memorial at Trenton, and it would be nice to have a representative squadron aircraft in that location. Every few months, Carl had been researching availability of an appropriate aircraft type to place there.

The Post Office prefers anniversaries that are multiples of 25 years for commemorative postage stamps. For this reason Carl’s 2300-word application for the Squadron’s 80’s anniversary postage stamp was rejected.

It was Carl who arranged for pictures to be taken at the Black Velvet.  For people he could not identify, he sent emails to people he could identify and asked who was sitting next to them. All have been identified, and the pictures and names have been sent to Bill Bishop for posting to  the History Hangar.
These may be viewed, along with a brief write up, by accessing the Black Velvet link in our SPECIAL EVENTS Bay.  

When a person is receiving an award from the Governor General, there is a procedure to be followed to have a letter (or email) of congratulations placed in a folder which is given to the recipient on the occasion of the presentation. Carl emailed all the past CO’s and Honourees to advise them of this procedure when Capt William Fielding was presented with the Medal of Military Valour for action in Afghanistan.

As a result of the Korean project, Carl knows the editor of Air Force magazine and they agreed that an article on 400 Squadron’s 80th anniversary would be a good idea. Carl was running behind on this, and called the editor to postpone the article to a later issue. The editor asked that it be split in two, and, after a discussion, it was decided that there would also be an article on a pilot shot down during WWII and Capt William Fielding, shot down in 2011. The former, Mel Pepper, had been located through an email address he left on Freddy K's original Unofficial 400 Squadron site in 2005. In addition to the articles, Carl was going to produce a Power Point Presentation on this story.

Carl wanted the Squadron to produce a video of the Griffin in action for the website.  The 400 Squadron Historical Society will continue to pursue this.

Carl has had five coronary by-passes, may need another stent in the near future, and has serious diabetes. On Wednesday, January 25th he resigned from the 400 Squadron Historical Society and said:
“My departure from 400 Squadron Historical Society will leave a place for others who will work on these and other planned historical projects”
That’s an extremely big hole to fill. We have lost our main engine.

Carl, you will be missed and we hope you enjoy the additional time to spend with your wonderful wife, and help mate, Sophie.

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