How New Glasgow’s crest ended up on a Lancaster bomber
Efforts on the homefront by students helped Second World War fundraising efforts
Each year on Remembrance Day, Canadians gather at their local cenotaph to remember those who died in their country’s service and to honour those who served.
It’s also a time to remember those who served the war effort at home. I’m sure there are many interesting stories of groups and individuals who did extraordinary things to support our men and women in uniform.
This is a story which should be told and should also be remembered. In 1943, the Second World War was raging and the Nazis were inflicting terrible casualties on our armies as well as civilians in Europe. Governments needed huge amounts of money in order to sustain the cost of the war. One of the methods used to raise funds was the Victory Loans Campaign. Individuals were encouraged to purchase these bonds throughout the war. Communities and companies also supported these campaigns and to come up with novel ideas to raise awareness.
In the spring of 1943, New Glasgow residents Hymie Goodman and Harold Smith came up with a promotional idea for a Victory Loan Campaign that would pit the town against major Canadian cities and would eventually gain national recognition for the Town of New Glasgow. Their idea was named “Bonds or Bondage” with the hope that it would bring residents the message of what the war should really mean to people. Helping drive home that message were the students of New Glasgow High School (NGHS). I will try to tell the story as accurately as I can, with much of it coming from old Evening News clippings about this great event. The photos are in my own collection. Although the public had been told about this demonstration, many people were not aware it was taking place and there would be some surprises.
On Saturday, May 1, 1943, at about 4:30 p.m., groups of NGHS students made their way from the form up location at the Goodman Auditorium to Provost and MacLean streets, where large crowds were waiting. The 219 NGHS Army Cadet band was leading, along with other members of the army cadets. The band was followed by four girls, wearing uniforms with the school’s green and white colours, and carrying a banner with the words “Back the Attack with Victory Bonds”. Not far behind them was a single girl holding a poster with the single word “OR”. This girl was followed by four more girls holding another banner “Be the Attacked With Nazi Bombs.” Following these banners were dozens of students, along with some adults and children, who were portraying people in bondage and looking downtrodden. They were wearing tattered clothing and were chained or roped together. Other students played Nazi soldiers and pretended to whip those in the procession.
Reports indicate that spectators were moved by these sights. As they moved, an elderly man dropped with exhaustion and the Nazi guards unchained him and threw him to the side of the street and the march continued. A Red Cross ambulance had been following a distance behind and unnoticed by the crowd. It came up to this man and a nurse got out to aid the man. This scene was repeated a number of times along as the group made their way along Archimedes Street onto George Street and then down Provost Street.
When the procession was outside the post office (now New Glasgow town hall), a young girl did this and she was unchained, brutalized by the ‘Nazis’ and rolled to the curb. As fate would have it, a man who knew nothing about this event was just leaving the post office and witnessed this happening. So convincing was the acting of the young girl that he immediately intervened and picked this girl up and was trying to carry her into the post office when the crew of the Red Cross ambulance was finally able to convince the man that this was part of the performance.
Eventually, the procession ended back at the Goodman Auditorium. Reports from people who witnessed the skit indicate that many of the onlookers were in tears while watching this unfold before their eyes. Several of them reported afterwards that nothing they had seen in newsreels or read in the news had struck them as strongly as what they had just witnessed.
Hymie and Harold were quick to indicate they merely had the idea and had supervised the “actors” and that all credit for its success was due to the hard work of the NGHS students. They had also registered their idea with the Fourth Victory Loan Headquarters and would now be competing against the rest of Canada, with the prize being a brand new Lancaster bomber being named after the winning municipality. Everyone was hopeful that New Glasgow would win.
When asked about the possibility of winning, many of the students said they did it to honour former school members from just a few years prior who had already lost their lives during the war and for those former students who had joined the forces and were now training.
On July 5, 1943, the Victory Loan Committee met in Vancouver to pick the best promotional idea and to grant the honour of naming the bomber. Entries were judged on a standard of originality and effectiveness. The expense wasn’t a judging point but it is interesting to note that Hymie Goodman said the New Glasgow entry cost a total of $2, which was the cost of the posters and banners.
At the end of that meeting, it was announced that the entry from the Town of New Glasgow had won the Fourth Victory Loan Campaign. On Nov. 10, 1943, Canada’s newest Lancaster bomber rolled out with the Town of New Glasgow crest on the fuselage just below the cockpit.
A Lancaster bomber with the New Glasgow logo on it is unveiled Nov. 10, 1943.