Stocky with a model of one of the planes he flew in combat.

Dashing young Canadian pilot.

Stocky Edwards as a young pilot

Edwards flew 373 missions.

Edwards with Pat Murphy.

Remembering Stocky Edwards, a real Canadian hero

Pat Murphy, right, has many memories shared with Stocky Edwards.

By Pat Murphy
Vancouver Island Military Museum

I was saddened beyond words when I learned on the weekend that famous Canadian Fighter pilot, Wing Commander (ret) James Francis “Stocky” Edwards had died suddenly at his home In Comox. We had been friends since 2000.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stocky while working on the Y2-K Spitfire project at the Comox Air Base. Stocky attended the restoration project each Saturday, he talked to people who came to see the Spitfire under construction. And he regaled them with stories of the brave young Canadian men who enlisted in the RCAF and flew the famous Spitfire during the second world war.

When the restoration hangar was void of visitors, I spent countless hours discussing his adventures along with his squadron mates. The stories were incredible and truly amazing. 

My hobby then and still today is building scale models of WW2 aircraft. Stocky got me started on building specific Spitfire models of Canadians he flew and fought with during his service in North Africa in the Western desert, the Italian campaign or over Northern Europe. 

Once Stocky got started telling stories his eyes sparkled, his face lit up and one story led to another. I was mesmerized to say the least. I built a model  of a few of the fighters he flew,  and displayed them in the restoration hangar. Stocky dug up the details of other pilots and provided me with those details and often pictures of the Spitfires. I was well armed with reference details. 

When the Y2-K Spitfire was sold in 2008, I continued to tavel to Comox to visit Stocky at his home or have lunch with him and his wife Toni. Over the years I built 70 models of Spitfires from various RCAF and RAF Squadrons. 

On one occasion Stocky asked me If I could build models of planes of two of his school mates from Battleford, Sask. With Stocky’s help I built a model of Flying Officer Cyril “Goose” Gosling and  Squadron Leader Bruce Innes, both pilots and boyhood friends of Stocky. They were buddies from their days in Boy Scouts. 

For me to imagine that these three young men grew up together in rural Saskatchewan went on to be high-scoring Spitfire pilots. Gosling died in action over Italy on July 19, 1943.  

I will treasure the memories of my friendship with Stocky Edwards. He is a Canadian legend and was a true generous man of the highest order. Lest We Forget.