Carman’s local aircraft restorer and engineer, Bob Diemert, received a sterling silver commemorative coin in June featuring an illustration of the Hawker Hurricane to honour his contribution to Canada’s aviation history.
Diemert said he wasn’t expecting it.
“It came out of the blue. I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “It just arrived in the mail.”
The coin is one of two designed by Joseph Green, president and chief designer at Beaverworks Mint. The second coin was presented to Chris Ball, featuring the Mk IX Submarine Spitfire.
Green created these coins to commemorate the Canadian contribution to the Battle of Britain and World War II as a whole, picking two of the most famous aircraft from WWII to feature on these coins: the Hurricane and the Spitfire.
During the Battle of Britain, the Canadians all flew Hurricanes, said Ball.
“What [Green] wanted to do was to commemorate the Canadian contribution to the war. Now, the problem with that was that all the Canadians flew in one squadron . . . but they all flew Hurricanes,” he said. “As far as I know, there were no Canadians involved in the Battle of Britain flying Spitfires.”
This presented a problem for Green’s vision for the commemorative coins since he wanted to include an illustration of the Spitfire that would have been used during the Battle of Britain.
The coin presented to Ball depicts the Mk IX Spitfire, which he pointed out to Green was not the model used during the Battle of Britain. It was the Mk II Spitfire which was flown at that time.
“Green sent me the Spitfire coin which is now being classified as a misprint,” said Ball. “I will eventually be given the real thing when he comes up with the Mk II Spitfire.”
Ball was impressed by Green’s work.
“Joe Green had these sterling silver coins minted with great precision and accuracy and artistry. Absolutely beautiful job,” he said.
It is because of Diemert’s aviation history, especially his connection with the 1969 Battle of Britain movie, that Diemert received the coin, he said.
“There’s a picture of my Hurricane on [the coin], the one I flew in the Battle of Britain movie,” said Diemert.
Diemert flew his restored Hurricane as a stunt pilot in the movie for the opening scene. Diemert
Bob Diemert told the story of how he landed the impressive role which was never intended for him.
“The RAF had two [Hurricanes] and I had the only civil owned one, so they had to have my airplane to make the movie,” he said. “When they found out that I had a Hurricane, they wrote me and said they wanted it for the movie, and I said sure, fine, send me the contract, which they did.”
Soon Diemert discovered that the movie directors didn’t want him to fly the plane for the filming.
“I said, I didn’t build it for someone else to fly it. You can’t have it. Oh, consternation in the ranks, because without it they couldn’t make the movie,” he said. “And when I got over to England, I found out I was the only one who knew how to fly a damn airplane.”
Now, Diemert’s contribution to the movie and to the history of aviation in Canada is famous. Diemert was one of the first who started the Warbirds by restoring his Hurricane.
“The Hurricane was the first Warbird restoration done anywhere in the world,” said Diemert.