Harold Edwards: The air force pilot from Chorley who received honours from all around the world

The sons and daughters of Chorley really have made their names in all corners of the globe, as this Chorley 150 series is showing.

By Stuart Clewlow
Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 7:34 am
Air Marshal Harold Edwards - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow
Air Marshal Harold Edwards - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

Notable among them is Harold Edwards, who became the Royal Canadian Air Force's first Air Marshal.

Harold was born in Chorley in 1892 and his family moved to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in 1903.

Largely through his own efforts, by 1915 Harold had educated himself enough to be accepted into the Royal Naval Air Service and earned his Pilot's Wings in 1916.

Air Marshal Harold Edwards - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

He went off to war and was posted to No.3 (Naval) Wing at Luxeuil-les-Bains, France, where he shot down a German aircraft.

He was later shot down himself and captured.

After two failed attempts to escape, he succeeded on the third attempt; only to be recaptured and returned to a Prisoner of War camp for the remainder of the war.

In 1919, Harold held the rank of Captain in the RAF and volunteered to fly in the fight against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution in South Russia.

We're asking Chorley Guardian readers to nominate 150 reasons to celebrate Chorley to mark the Guardian's 150th birthday

Harold returned to Canada and transferred to the newly formed Canadian Air Force, which was awarded the prefix ‘Royal' in 1924.

He contributed a huge amount to the training and at the outbreak of the Second World War the RCAF was able to be quickly mobilised.

In recognition of his work, he was promoted Air Marshal and assigned the duty of assisting the United States Army Air Force after they joined the war in December 1941.

Suffering ill health, he returned to Canada in 1943.

The cap badge of the Royal Canadian Air Force - Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

He retired from the RCAF on in 1944 and died in 1952, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

During a long and eventful career in the air force, Harold was awarded bravery medals and honours from Britain, Poland, Russia, America, France and Czechoslovakia.

However, perhaps the greatest honour for the pilot born in Chorley, came in June 2012, when he was posthumously inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame for his "outstanding leadership in building Canada's national air force".

Chorley 150 countdown

The Chorley Guardian is featuring 150 stories about Chorley: Inspirational people, perhaps places that we love, or special moments in the life of the borough.

Chorley 150 is a countdown to our 150th anniversary on November 4 and we’re celebrating the community we’re proud to be a part of.

Email [email protected] with your suggestions of subjects you'd like to see included.

Read more from our Chorley 150 countdown: