Jeff Green | Jul 12, 2007
Feature Article - March 8, 2007
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Canada Day Memorial Dedication on Skootamatta Lake
by Carolyn McCulloch
On Canada Day 2007, representatives of the Cloyne and District Historical Society and members of the Family Blake gathered at a tiny island on Skootamatta Lake to dedicate a much-deserved memorial. The brass plaque was hammered into the granite rock of a small island in the lake now known as Blake Island, and reads as follows:
"Blake Island named in memory of Flying Officer William Vincent Blake DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for giving his life in the service of his country and for 'great gallantry in the performance of his duty while serving with No. 428 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force' during WW II. Your resting place is not known, but your courage will forever be remembered here.
Presented July 2007. Cloyne District Historical Society."
During the ceremony, island resident and historian Joanne Volpe explained more details of Flying Officer Blake's fate 63 years ago. She told us that while flying a mission over enemy territory, Bill Blake's plane was hit by fighter planes and ground flak. Undaunted, plane on fire, he ordered his crew to bail out, which they did. He released his payload right on target and rather than try to make a fiery landing and risk civilian lives, he turned out to sea and ditched. He was forever lost.
At that time, Dick Blake, Bill's brother, was serving as an officer with the Royal Canadian Navy on a destroyer escort in the North Atlantic. This Canada Day, 2007 he, in company with Margaret Axford, President of the Cloyne and District Historical Society, dedicated the Blake Island plaque to his brother Bill’s memory. We hope it remains there forever as a monument to his bravery.
The Honorable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, had heard of the stirring story and dedication. His good wishes were read by Dick's daughter, Chris Watson.
Dick and Edna Blake's other children, Dr. Bill Blake of Kingston, Sue Tamas of Almonte, and Dr. Jennifer Blake of Toronto, all attended the ceremony in company with their spouses, children and grandchildren.
This most deserved memorial plaque has been hammered into place to honour Flying Officer William Blake D.F.C., in the hope that succeeding generations will know of and be inspired by his courage.
photo: Blake, looking at the memorial to his brother Bill