Canadian WWII flying ace 'Stocky' Edwards dies
One of Canada's most successful Second World War flying aces, James Francis "Stocky" Edwards of Comox, B.C., has died at the age of 100.
Edwards was 19 years old when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in October 1940. By the end of the war, he had risen to the rank of wing commander and achieved an estimated 20 confirmed aerial kills, mainly over North Africa, though the Department of National Defence admits there is still debate over the official tally.
"Flying a P-40 Kittyhawk, he flew 373 operational sorties and was never shot down himself," said National Defence spokesperson Yvette Mills in a statement to CTV News.
"There is some discrepancy over the number of confirmed kills, however it is a greater testimony to Stocky’s character, and memory, to mention that he did not like to discuss this number as a matter of professionalism," Mills added.
Edwards earned the nickname "Stocky" for his toughness despite his small stature. He was born in Saskatchewan and went on to serve 32 years with the air force, in a variety of domestic and international posts, before settling in Comox.
It was on the Canadian prairie that Edwards first honed his shooting skills, according to longtime friend Dave Mellin, an honourary colonel with the air force's 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron.
"He used to tell the story that he was very fortunate as a fighter pilot because he understood to lead his target – not shoot at his target but lead it," Mellin told CTV News. "And he acquired that knowledge hunting ducks with his father back home."
'THERE WASN'T AN AWFUL LOT THEY COULD DO'
Edwards was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2004 and a Knight of France's Legion of Honour in 2014.
His longtime friend was on vacation in Mexico when he received a phone call with the news that Edwards was in the beginning stages of heart failure.
"There wasn’t an awful lot they could do for him and Stocky, being the gentleman he is, said 'I don't want any heroics and I don’t want to pass away in the hospital. I want to be with my friends and family.' And that's exactly what he did," Mellin said.
"He passed away peacefully early Saturday evening and it was in the company of a lot of close friends and of course as much family as possibly could get there."
Comox Mayor Russ Arnott confirmed the death Saturday in a Facebook post, saying, "Stocky's intelligence, warmth and energy never ceased to amaze us."
In recent years, Edwards had dedicated his time to conservation projects, including wetlands protection with Ducks Unlimited.
Mayor Bob Wells of Courtenay, B.C., said Edwards was "a heroic man of great character and conviction, and yet he was consistently humble, charming, and kind."
The mayor joined others in offering his condolences to the war veteran's wife, Toni, and their family.
A funeral is expected to be held at Christ the King Catholic Church in Courtenay.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
In the wake of last year’s discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools and the prominent displays of the Canadian flag during 'Freedom Convoy' protests, some Canadians are re-evaluating the meaning of the national symbol.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling on Canadians to recommit to the country’s values, including respect, hope and kindness, in his official Canada Day message.
'Not going to happen in our lifetime': First-time homebuyers share their struggles with purchasing a home
A recent survey shows nearly 50 per cent of Canadians who rent expect to do so forever. As rising interest and inflation rates contribute to a sense of pessimism among first-time homebuyers in Canada, some are sharing their struggles with purchasing their first house.
NEW THIS MORNING | What you need to know about Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa
A sea of red and white is expected to converge on downtown Ottawa and LeBreton Flats today to celebrate Canada's 155th birthday.
Police officers in cruisers, on foot patrol and on bicycles are patrolling the Parliamentary Precinct, the ByWard Market and the so-called 'motor vehicle control zone,' as the city prepares for Canada's 155th birthday celebrations and possible protests.
Multiple crashes involving bears in a B.C. national park earlier this month prompted a crackdown on drivers in the area, according to the B.C. Highway Patrol and Parks Canada.
The Royal Canadian Navy says it has relieved the commanding officer of a warship in the Pacific Fleet.
A rare portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales, will be on public display for the first time after it was recently sold for US$201,600 at auction.
Russian missile attacks on residential areas in a coastal town near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa early Friday killed at least 19 people, authorities reported, a day after Russian forces withdrew from a strategic Black Sea island.
After dog died on B.C.-bound flight, owner says airline offered compensation based on 'cargo weight'
Nearly two years after her beloved dog died on a flight to B.C., a Metro Vancouver woman says she’s still waiting for justice for her pet.
'We have that resilience and we are strong': Special ceremony marks 1 year since devastating Lytton fire
It’s been exactly one year since fire ravaged the small B.C. community of Lytton, but the source of that massive blaze remains unknown.
A B.C. father who printed off a blog post and submitted it to court in a bid to prevent his children's mother from vaccinating them against COVID-19 has lost the dispute, in part because the judge found his evidence inadmissible.
An often-vandalized memorial featuring the face of former MP Frank Oliver will no longer be displayed in front of Edmonton's Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.
A damning new report from Alberta's auditor general finds government ministries failed to include understandable, relevant and comparable data on COVID-19 in year-end reporting.
A man is facing multiple charges in connection with a rash of arsons in the Alberta Avenue area, and police are calling him a key suspect in a complex investigation.
After two years of mostly virtual celebrations to mark Canada Day, in-person festivities are back across the Greater Toronto Area.
Ontario gas prices are about to take a huge drop and one expert says it will be 'well worth waiting' if drivers can hold off on filling up.
Ontario drivers could soon see the end of "unfair" insurance policies with premiums based on postal codes, Premier Doug Ford said Thursday.
Thousands of Calgarians are ready to ring in Canada’s 155th birthday as festivities are set to be held across the city, but not everyone is calling this a ‘celebration.’
A southeast Calgary bank was evacuated Thursday afternoon, to allow hazardous materials crews to investigate a strange incident.
The daughter of a Calgary man shot and killed by police earlier this year is calling for details regarding data the service is collecting about interactions between police and people of colour.
Consumer rights advocates are demanding Air Canada provide compensation to many of the hundreds of thousands of passengers whose summer flights it cancelled.
Organizers of a Montreal Caribbean festival are looking for clarity from police as to why a large group of officers interrupted their pre-festival barbecue on Saint-Jean Baptiste Day.
The Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Tunnel is closed heading towards the South Shore from Montreal due to a vehicle on fire.
The spouse of the gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting will testify mid-July before a public inquiry, but she won't face direct questions from lawyers representing victims' families.
As Claire Mahaney-Lion dropped her son off at school this morning, she questioned the reasons behind scheduling a school day that would last fewer than two hours.
Saint John is having its dog day. The host city of the 2022 Memorial Cup is celebrating after the Saint John Sea Dogs bested the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in front of a capacity crowd during Wednesday's championship game at TD Station.
A crash involving a Transit bus that appears to have smashed into a home has shut down a road near Osborne Village.
Security measures are expected to be beefed up at two Winnipeg locations Friday when Canada Day events get underway.
AMC working to remove Arlen Dumas after probe found his conduct amounted to 'workplace sexual harassment'
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is working to remove Arlen Dumas as Grand Chief of the organization.
The eviction deadline for people living at an encampment at Victoria and Weber Streets in Kitchener has come and gone, but residents of the property say they’re not moving.
A miscommunication involving a COVID-19 booster shot has left a Kitchener woman concerned for her 86-year-old mother.
The news comes just two days after the City launched a naming contest for the young bird, which it said was the first offspring of Victoria Park swans, Otis and Ophelia.
Summer is officially here as the first long weekend of the season approaches. The last week has been filled with active summer weather and heading into the weekend the story isn’t much different.
Live performance kicks off at noon on the main stage in Wascana Park with opening ceremonies, followed by a variety of entertainment:
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have 12 players on either the one or six game injured lists and 10 roster players listed as ‘out’ or ‘questionable’ leading into Saturday’s week four rematch versus Montreal.
Friday marks the return of restriction-free Canada Day festivities across the region, with a series of closures to celebrate the nation's birthday.
The skies will be lit up on Friday for Canada Day, with fireworks displays planned for several areas across the region.
This Canada Day long weekend, police want everyone to stay safe and make wise choices as many people plan to enjoy the first restriction-free summer in two years.
Saskatchewan's social services minister announced plans to cut funding to Saskatoon's permanent downtown shelter during a talk radio appearance.
A video captured by a Saskatchewan man shows a kayaker paddling away from a developing tornado.
It’s been 25 years since Saskatchewan’s last residential school closed, but some are still healing.
The second annual Mooz Akinonmaaget Maa Aki Moose Hunt initiative was launched Thursday in Sudbury.
With Health Canada's permission, street drugs can now be consumed inside Safe Health Site Timmins.
Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services is helping seniors protect themselves against fire. The Assisting Seniors Awareness Program or Project ASAP is focussed on those 65 or older, and still living independently.