Wartime flight instructor fondly remembered
Ref: Bud Robertson ~ Brandon Sun ~ November 30, 2019
According to the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame, into
which he was inducted in 2002, Londry attended school at Willow Grove,
McBride and Minnedosa High School and was a member of the Boys’ and Girls’
Club, the forerunner of 4-H. Londry worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway
for eight years, drove mules and horses, fired steam engines and flew aircraft
before he began farming.
Following the war, in 1946, he married the love of his
life, Winona Horner, and they moved to a farm near the No. 10 highway north
of Rapid City. The red barn visible from the highway has been the subject
of many photographs over the years. Winona died in 2000.
Londry quit farming in 2007 and two years later moved
to Brandon, where he was living at the time of his death.
Londry was a force in the cattle-ranching industry and
served as a president of the Hereford Association, the Simmental Association
and the Manitoba Cattle Breeders Association. He influenced the cattle
industry, raising bulls for three generations of local cattle producers.
He judged at provincial, national and international shows and showed cattle
during exhibitions at the Keystone Centre for 68 consecutive years, except
for his time as a flight instructor during the war.
Londry was also a life member of both the Minnedosa Agricultural
Society and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #138 in Minnedosa. In 1992,
he was awarded the Legion Meritorious Service Medal and also received the
Palm Leaf — the highest honour that can be bestowed on a member.
"He was quite a fellow," said Wayne Mansell, first vice-president
of the Minnedosa legion. "Archie was probably the best service officer
the legion has ever had."
Service officers worked on behalf of veterans who were
having difficulties on various issues with Veterans Affairs. "He looked
after many different vets," Mansell said. "He was a hard worker. He didn’t
give up. If he thought he was right, he would not give up."
Londry’s portrait graces one of dozens of banners Minnedosa
placed on lampposts around town to honour the community’s veterans.
Londry was also board chairman of the Hunterville United
Church for more than 25 years and of the Minnedosa and Area Wider Parish.
He was passionate about youth, coaching baseball teams,
instructing a Youth Hunter Safety Program and helping 4-H judging teams
while leading the Rapid City Beef Club for more than 15 years.
"It’s such a loss," said Commonwealth Air Training Plan
Museum executive director Stephen Hayter, adding Londry was the last of
the group of veterans in Manitoba still associated with the air training
plan. "Archie was a fixture at the museum almost from the beginning," Hayter
said. "Because he was an instructor, he was someone who you felt you had
a direct connection with that time period."
According to a biography provided by the Commonwealth
Air Training Plan Museum, Londry was the only son in his family.
In 1941, he enlisted in Winnipeg with the Royal Canadian
Air Force and was sent to the Edmonton manning pool.
From Edmonton, he was transferred to the Initial Training
School in Regina and was then sent to Virden for elementary training school
for pilots. It was in Virden that he learned to fly the Tiger Moth.
After completing his training there, Londry was sent to
Dauphin for service flying training school. There, he learned how to fly
Cessna aircraft. He graduated and was posted as a flying instructor.
After receiving his posting, the young pilot was sent
to Brandon for another month of training.
He stayed in Brandon as a flying instructor until the
end of the war.
Londry had been posted for duty overseas in the Japanese
theatre, but the war ended before he was sent over.
While Londry always lamented that he never got to go overseas
during the war, "it was his training that made it possible for so many
of those young men to survive the horror that they were faced with," Hayter
said. "He was a fascinating gentleman."
Museum president John McNarry said he always enjoyed the
times he spent with Londry and the stories he was glad to share.
One story in particular that stands out is the time Londry
was flying in a twin-engine training aircraft with a group of students
when both engines died and they were forced to crash land in the Carberry
sandhills. Fortunately, everyone walked away safely.
McNarry said Londry was also a founding member of the
museum’s foundation that raises money to keep the operation afloat and
he was a tireless worker. "It was an absolute pleasure and honour to have
A service is planned for the spring.