With Remembrance Day a few weeks away, many Vancouver Island families are thinking about family members that served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War.
The Neils of Nanaimo is one such family.
Born in Nanaimo on Nov. 17, 1919, John William “Jack” Neil would become one of the most highly decorated fighter pilots from Vancouver Island.
He flew 310 combat sorties and completed two operational tours, Neil joined the RCAF in September 1940 and during his RCAF/RAF service, distinguished himself as a courageous, skilled and determined fighter pilot.
While serving with 274 Squadron RAF in North Africa, Neil was shot down twice by enemy anti-aircraft fire
He returned to Canada in February 1944 for leave and returned to action that July, joining the 421 RCAF Spitfire Squadron.
In August 1944 over Paris, Neil’s plane was shot down and he spent the next eight months as a prisoner of war.
At the end of the war Neil was repatriated to Canada and reunited with his Nanaimo family.
He would marry Lavina Irene Foster, raise a family and enjoy a long career with Nanaimo Realty. Neil died July 13, 1993 in Nanaimo .
A model of Neil’s Spitfire will be added to the Vancouver Island Military Museum’s large Spitfire display on today (Oct. 20) at 1 p.m.
The Neil family will be in attendance to help with the dedication and to remember his wartime service and dedication.
The public is invited to the event. The Vancouver Island Military Museum is open Mondays to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 100 Cameron Rd.
For more information, please call 250-753-3814.