The Patton-Cunnington Airfield Engineering Trophy

The Patton-Cunnington Airfield Engineering Trophy

In 1999, 1 Canadian Air Division initiated a competition among Regular and Reserve Force airfield engineering flights for the successful completion of an airfield engineering project of significant magnitude. The CME Museum provided the trophy that was originally a gift from Vickers-Armstrong Limited to the 1st Battalion Canadian Engineers in September 1940. This unit was performing airfield engineering duties in England at the time. The trophy has been named The Patton-Cunnington Airfield Engineering Trophy in memory of two members of that unit: Lieutenant J.M.S. Patton, GC, RCE and Captain D.W. Cunnington, GM, RCE , who, at great personal risk, removed an unexploded bomb from a Hawker Hurricane plant.

1998/99 Patton-Cunnington Trophy Winner

The winner of the Patton-Cunnington trophy in 1999 was 191Airfield Engineering Flight Comox, BC. The board commented that 191 AEF had planned and deployed in support of an operational mission, operated in the austere field environment of Bosnia, and had constructed some challenging projects critical to the helicopter detachment for OP PALLADIUM. The board noted that a Commander's Commendation had given weight to the evaluation and provided an excellent summary of 191 AEF's efforts:

"For their exemplary work performed from 10 October to 22 November 1998 during an Engineer Technical Assistance Visit in support of deploying a helicopter detachment to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The members of 191 AEF completed numerous construction tasks essential to helicopter infrastructure and operations. The Airfield Engineers demonstrated superb trade skills, hard work and flexibility in all tasks. Their professionalism, excellence and teamwork played a key role in the Canadian Forces first ever deployment of helicopters into Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of SFOR."

1999/2000 Patton-Cunnington Trophy Winner

A Competitive Field of the top candidates was established based on the rated scores. While all AE units represented demonstrated their versatility, professionalism, dedication and hard work, five candidates were clearly at the top of the ratings. Based on the board member's evaluations, the competitive field consisted of 41 AEF, 81 AEF, 86 ASU, 14 AES and 191 AEF.

Further evaluation, discussion and re-ranking the units in the competitive field lead the Board to conclude that this year's winner of the MEAC sponsored Patton-Cunnington Airfield Engineer Trophy is 81 Airfield Engineering Flight, Trenton.

In early 1999, 81 AEF deployed to Kumanovo, Macedonia in support of the NATO Extraction Force assembled to provide protection for the multi-national military observers in Kosovo. 81 AEF was attached to a French Engineer Battalion for 90 days to beddown the Extraction Force. 81 AEF completed three major renovation projects: a communications complex, three barrack block washrooms and an abandoned barrack block. The Flight dealt with numerous challenges as they worked to Canadian standards, with Macedonian materials, all within a French engineer system. It's important to note that 81 AEF was augmented by personnel from many AE units across Canada for this deployment, which contributed to the complexities experienced.

81 AEF also deployed to McGhee-Tyson AFB as part of the Deployment For Training Program engineer exchange with the US Air National Guard (ANG). There, they constructed two Butler buildings, renovated washrooms, repaired helicopter operating surfaces and completed a concrete pad. Three ANG Civil Engineering Squadrons also deployed to work with 81 AEF in Trenton that year.

81 AEF spent the last two months of 1999 completing OP ABACUS preparations as 81 AEF was designated a specialist standby unit for possible transfer to the OP ABACUS Joint Task Force Commander during the Employment Phase of the Operation.

Congratulations to 81 AEF Trenton for their outstanding work!

2007 Patton-Cunnington Trophy Winner

14 Airfield Engineering Squadron (Bridgewater, NS) has been awarded the 2007 “Patton-Cunnington Airfield Engineer Trophy” for “the successful completion of a project of significant magnitude” by the Canadian Military Engineer Association and the 1 Canadian Air Division of the Canadian Armed Forces. The “successful completion of a project of significant magnitude” was the rapid deployment of 18 members of 14 AES to the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan in October 2006 to start and/or complete numerous construction projects in support of the CF. All deployed members of the squadron were in Kandahar for Christmas of 2006 and returned home in late March of 2007.

The trophy was presented on 20 November, in Halifax, to Major James Fera, Commanding Officer of 14 AES, and CWO Bill Bolch, squadron Chief Warrant Officer, at the national Airfield Engineer Training Symposium.

John MacMillan Stevenson Patton, GC, CBE

John MacMillan Stevenson Patton, GC, CBE (29 August 1915- 13 May 1996) was the only Bermuda-born British person to be awarded the George Cross. He was raised in Burlington and Hamilton, Ontario.

At the height of the Battle of Britain when the Hurricane was the principal British fighter aircraft, Lieutenant Patton was a chemical engineering officer in the 1st Battalion, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, recently arrived in Britain and based at Boxhill, near Dorking, Surrey. On 21 September, at 8.30am when he was leading a team clearing debris at the bomb-damaged Vickers-Armstrongs aircraft factory at Brooklands near Weybridge, a lone Luftwaffe Junkers Ju88 attacked the Hawker Hurricane factory on the South-West side of Brooklands. Two of the three bombs dropped failed to explode and, despite having no previous experience or training of bomb disposal, Patton soon attended the scene. One unexploded bomb was buried under part of the factory floor but another had passed through the main building and ended up on an adjacent hardstanding. Patten decided that the unexploded bomb had to be removed as soon as possible before it damaged the vital factory, so with the help of four others (including his adjutant Captain Douglas W C Cunningham and Vickers Home Guard Section Leader A H Tilyard-Burrows ), he rolled it onto a sheet of corrugated iron and secured it to the back of a 15 cwt truck. While Patton sat on the tailgate of the lorry to watch over the bomb, the driver towed the bomb out onto the aerodrome where it was then rolled very carefully into an existing bomb crater where it subsequently exploded harmlessly the next morning. Patton was awarded the George Cross for his bravery (Cunningham and Tilyard-Burrows were awarded the George Medal) and subsequently served in India and Burma fighting against the Japanese.

After the war, he received Canadian citizenship as a result of his participation with the Royal Canadian Engineers. He was also made an Honorary Member of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Association.

(from Wikipedia)

  • Brigadier-General Douglas Wightman Cunnington, GM, CD

    D.W. Cunnington was born in Calgary in1916 and attended Calgary High School. He entered the Royal Military College in 1933. On graduation in 1938, he was appointed as a lieutenant to the RCE and subsequently graduated from Queen's University with a degree in engineering.

    By 1940 he was commanding A Company, 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion, Royal Canadian Engineers in Southern England. On one particularly challenging mission, he assisted Lieutenant J.M.S. Patton in the defusing of an unexploded German bomb. For this he was awarded the George Medal (GM).

    Serving with the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, he commanded the 1st Fd Sqn in Italy in 1943. In early 1944, based on his field experience, he was brought back to England to advise CRE 3rd Canadian Infantry Division on preparations for the Normandy invasion. Although he entered D-Day as a staff officer, he quickly returned to the field that same day taking command of the 16th Fd Coy when its CO was badly wounded in the assault. In September 1944, he was posted from Normandy to attend the US Army Command and Staff Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Still with the US Army, he participated in the landings on Okinawa as an observer.

    After the war, Major Cunnington was instrumental in selecting Chilliwack, BC as the location for the new Royal Canadian School of Military Engineering and served as Commandant of RCSME from February 1953 to July 1956. Other assignments included Commander of the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in London, England, Commander of Canadian Base Units in the Middle East, Chief Engineer (1958 to 1962), and Director General, Senior Appointments, Canadian Forces Headquarters, Ottawa ON. Brigadier Cunnington retired from the Canadian Forces in 1971 and accepted the position of Director, National Headquarters, St. John Ambulance. He retired from that job in 1982. He died in 1991.