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Air ‘base’ to be honoured for Second World War role

Sep 04 2012
Retired civil engineer Ramsay Murray, 86: “The building of the airfields really built the Canadian air-transportation system.” 

Retired civil engineer Ramsay Murray, 86: “The building of the airfields really built the Canadian air-transportation system.”

Photograph by: Adrian Lam , timescolonist.com

The Patricia Bay Air Base, which became Victoria International Airport, is being named a national historic civil engineering site thanks to its role in training during the Second World War.

The base was one of 88 airfields built in the 1940s as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, where such personnel as pilots, navigators and gunners were trained.

The Patricia Bay Air Base is the first airfield in B.C to be recognized by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. The organization hopes to create a plaque for each site.

Ramsay Murray, member of the society and a retired civil engineer, said the design and construction took only 18 months, and that the engineers deserve recognition.

"The building of the airfields really built the Canadian air-transportation system. Practically every one of the airfields that were built for the [air training plan] are still in use today," Murray said.

Murray, originally from Scotland, was an officer cadet in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He later spent four years demilitarizing German airports.

Now 86, Murray said that young people in particular can benefit from learning about the Victoria airport's past, and he hopes it will spark an interest in engineering.

The plaque will be unveiled at the British Columbia Aviation Museum at 1910 Norseman Rd. in North Saanich on Friday at 11:30 a.m. Speakers from the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering, Victoria International Airport and the museum will make presentations.

mkaralis@timescolonist.com

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