On August 9, 1974 nine members of the Canadian Armed Forces serving as peacekeepers under the auspices of the United Nations were killed when their CC-115 de Havilland Canada Buffalo aircraft was shot down by a Syrian missile while on approach to Damascus airport. The Syrians declared it a case of mistaken identity.
The incident marks the largest single-day loss of Canadian lives during peacetime operations ever.
In 1993 the British Columbia government proclaimed August 9 as Peacekeepers’ Day and in 2008 the federal government followed suit, renaming it National Peacekeepers’ Day.
To mark the event this year, an RCAF Buffalo from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based at CFB Comox on Vancouver Island, the only place where Buffalos are still operational, performed flyovers above a number of memorial events organized by local Royal Canadian Legions that were held to honour the lives lost. The Buffalo went on to perform a flyover above the provincial capital, Victoria.
The Buffalo’s days in service as Search and Rescue aircraft are limited, although their retirement has recently been postponed. The aircraft meant to replace them, the CC-295s manufactured by Airbus in Seville, Spain, are being delayed at the factory due to production interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Top photo credit: Cpl Pierre Létourneau