Second World War pilot from Halifax area honoured by heritage society

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News Article / October 10, 2017

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By Ryan Melanson

The story of a Second World War veteran from the community of Herring Cove, Nova Scotia, a village in the Halifax area,  is getting the attention it deserves, with members of a local heritage group recently unveiling a new plaque in honour of Lieutenant-General Edwin Reyno.

Lieutenant-General Reyno was of about 100 Royal Canadian Air Force pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, going overseas in 1940 as a flight lieutenant with No.1 Squadron. He continued serving after the war and began training aircrews, rising through the ranks to senior appointments including vice-chief of the defence staff and deputy commander NORAD in his later years, before retiring from service in 1972 in the rank of lieutenant-general. He died on February 10, 1982 in Texas and is buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Herring Cove.

“He was one of ‘The Few’, recognized for saving Britain during those dark times in the war and, by the time of his death in 1982, Lieutenant-General Reyno had become one of the best known and highly admired Canadian aviators,” said Leslie Harnish, president of the Mainland South Heritage Society, adding that residents of the area can feel pride in the bravery and accomplishments of one of their own.

Lieutenant-General Reyno was born on May 11, 1917, and grew up in Herring Cove. He graduated from St. Mary’s University in Halifax in 1936, joining the RCAF about two years later.

With 2017 being the 100th anniversary of Lieutenant-General Reyno's birth, the time was right to commemorate him and honour his legacy, Ms Harnish said. The society unveiled the bronze plaque outside of St. Paul’s Church in Herring Cove, and they hope to soon find an appropriate permanent home in the area for the memorial. It features a photo of Lieutenant-General Reyno taken in September 1940, along with a brief summary of his life and military career.

Members of the RCAF Association were on hand for the unveiling, and member Earl McFarland spoke about serving for a brief stint as executive assistant to Air Marshal1 Reyno during his time as deputy commander, 4th Allied Tactical Air Force Group. A navigator and flight lieutenant at the time, Mr. McFarland recalled a conversation with Air Marshall Reyno about an opportunity for pilot training, and whether or not he should pursue it.

“I talked to Mr. Reyno on a number of occasions about it, and he advised me of the possible repercussions one way or the other, and that eventually led me into accepting that offer for cross training, so I would thank him very much for that,” Mr. McFarland said.

Lieutenant-General Reyno’s godson, Reg Dempsey, who still lives in the Herring Cove area, was also present at the church. He said he hopes that more people will become familiar with the story thanks to the plaque and the work of the heritage society.

“It think it’s a nice thing they’ve done for him. I’m happy to see it,” he said.

Ms Harnish thanked the various levels of government for financial and other types of support for the project, as well as the members of the society for the time and labour put in, with a special shout out to Wayne Shellnutt for his dedication to the project and ensuring the idea became a reality.

Text of the plaque

Lieutenant-General Edwin Reyno, AFC, CD

This plaque was erected in Herring Cove in 2017 on the 100th anniversary year of the birth of Edwin Reyno, by the Mainland South Heritage Society to recognize his outstanding military service provided in war and peace. Edwin grew up on Shore Road in Herring Cove. He obtained a BA degree from St. Mary’s University in 1936. He joined the RCAF in early 1938 and soon commenced training as a pilot. He went overseas with No. 1 Squadron (Fighter) RCAF in June 1940 as a Flight Lieutenant, one of a small number of RCAF members who fought in the Battle of Britain. He returned to Canada in 1941 to train aircrew throughout Canada under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. For his outstanding work as a trainer, he was awarded the Air Force Cross. In the post war years Edwin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater in 1965 as he advanced through the ranks with a final promotion to Air Marshal in 1966. With the unification of the three armed services in 1968 to the Canadian Forces, his rank was retitled to Lieutenant-General. He held various senior appointments including Chief of Air Staff 4th Allied Tactical Air Force Europe; Chief of Personnel, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff and lastly as Deputy Commander of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) 1969-72. He retired from the CF in 1972 and worked for LTV Aerospace in Dallas for five years retiring as Vice President International. He then worked for a number of years as graduate lecturer at the University of Texas. He died in Dallas, Texas in 1982. He is buried locally in St Paul’s cemetery.

Image (DND): Flt/Lt Reyno dated 12 September 1940 in the midst of the Battle of Britain

Ryan Melanson is a staff writer with Trident, the newspaper of Maritime Forces Atlantic, published in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


1 The ranks of air marshal and lieutenant-general are equivalent, with the first being the RCAF rank used before the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, and the second being the post-unification rank.


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