With Spring comes the budding out of blossoms, and bright hues to succeed the drabness of a long Ottawa winter. At the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, the German First World War Fokker DVII biplane is wearing a new motley coat of distinctive camouflage.
Recently, I took some photos of original First World War German lozenge camouflage, the original fabric “skin” of a war trophy plane I have already featured on this site. Hopefully, the photographs will help a friend complete an impressive scale model of the CASM’s German AEG bomber. The original “night lozenge” pattern fabric has been preserved by the staff of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum at a nearby facility. In contrast, below is an elevated view of the original Fokker DVII fighter in the Brome County Historical Society’s museum in Knowlton, Quebec (more about this unique aircraft here). The pastel-like day lozenge camouflage on this aircraft is so significant to understanding First World War German aircraft colours, that today, this 4-colour pattern is known as “Knowlton lozenge.” I don’t pretend to be a specialist in aircraft, but I do know that the trophy aircraft, like the captured artillery, today reveal the strength of First World War artifacts in Canada.
Today, the Brome County Historical Society, in Knowlton, Quebec, has one of the strongest collections of First World War military artifacts in Canada. This is largely due to the efforts of Senator George Foster, who petitioned the Dominion Archivist and Comptroller of War Trophies Arthur Doughty for a quality collection. In addition to the spectacular Fokker DVII German biplane with original fabric covering including camouflage (with a good write up about it by a BCHS member here), the BCHS has a diverse collection of German trench mortars and a range of German machine-guns. Since Sep. 2013, work with Ross Jones, the museum’s militaria specialist, has established the battlefield provenance of many of these items using the War Trophies Commission records at Library and Archives Canada. We have poked around pieces, trying to discern key numbers, and any matches have added to the number of surviving pieces in my database. Some of the trophies also have capture info painted on by hand. The range of items, from machine-gun belt fillers (which look like a pasta grinder) to trench periscopes, to aerial bombs, gives a good idea of the variety of small trophies that once accompanied many of the larger artifacts out to sites across Canada. A very significant find was had when Ross managed to man-handle the destroyed barrel of a 25cm heavy Minenwerfer trench mortar around to discover the serial number. The 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion captured mortar no. 1524 (along with 119 German prisoners) on Vimy Ridge, April 9th, 1917. The barrel, bearing heavy shrapnel pitting and shell damage, is a powerful relic of the Vimy victory. This is only a small sample of the varied collection of the BCHS, a small museum worth a visit!