Thursday, February 23, 2023

Recognizing John Joseph “Joe” Gilmore as an Exceptional Person from the Past.

Join us virtually on National Aviation Day, Thursday, February 23rd at 7:00 pm, as Heritage NL celebrates the newest addition to our Provincial Historic Commemorations Program (PHCP) – John Joseph “Joe” Gilmore as an Exceptional Person from the Past. Facebook Live Event 

The PHCP (administered by Heritage NL) commemorates provincially significant aspects of our history and culture. It is unique in that it also recognizes intangible aspects of our culture and heritage – the customs, cultural practices, traditional skills and knowledge that define our province and our people.

Joan Ritcey, chair of the Commemorations selection committee, says, "the Provincial Historic Commemorations Program is an important element for the recognition and appreciation of our past. By recognizing our cultural traditions and history we honour our heritage and pass it on to future generations."

Since the Program's inception in 2010, 40 designations have been made, including the designation being recognized on February 23rd.  

Born in east Belfast in June 1900, John Joseph “Joe” Gilmore was a pilot, engineer, parachutist, innovator, inventor, and search and rescue specialist. He first came to Newfoundland before the outbreak of WWII, as an employee of the British carrier Imperial Airways. He helped set up the flying boat base at Botwood and flew as an engineer on several of Imperial’s experimental transatlantic flights in 1939. During the Second World War, Gilmore played a pivotal role in the success of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. He arrived in Gander in 1941 with his wife and children as Ferry Command’s civilian superintendent of aircraft maintenance. 

Ferry pilots plying the North Atlantic during the war praised Gilmore as “the greatest airplane mechanic in the world today.” By war’s end in 1945, Ferry Command had delivered some ten thousand aircraft worldwide. The busiest airfield was Gander, which handled roughly forty-percent of the total delivery number. Gilmore and his maintenance section, working around the clock, deserve much credit for the success of the operation. Regrettably, Gilmore lost his life in May 1945 when his Norseman aircraft, en route to Montréal for servicing, crashed in a farmer’s field on Prince Edward Island. Follow this link to the official Commemoration listing .

Heritage NL is a provincial crown agency with a mandate to stimulate an understanding of and an appreciation for the architectural heritage and intangible cultural heritage of the province. For more information visit

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