‘Quiet, dignified’: Friends remember WWII ace Stocky Edwards


Dave Mellin counts himself extremely fortunate to have been friends with Stocky Edwards and on Monday raised a brand new RCAF flag to half-staff in his honour.

“You think you’re prepared for it but when it happens it still hurts,” Mellin told CHEK News Monday. “We became very, very close friends and he was just a delightful gentleman and very humble.”

James Francis Edwards died at home Saturday evening surrounded by family and friends.

He was known by most people for his distinguished military career.

In fact, Stocky, as he later become known, was a good junior hockey player but turned down a tryout with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Instead, he became a decorated fighter pilot, flying 370 missions and becoming Canada’s highest-scoring ace in the Western Desert Campaign.

But in later years Edwards didn’t talk about it. Those who knew him said he didn’t like the limelight and once commented to a Saskatchewan publication where he grew up that a lot of it was luck.

“Another inch either way, and it could have been the other guy,” he said.

“He had more bragging rights than anyone I know but he never, never took advantage of it,” said friend Terry Chester. “He was always quiet and methodical and dignified.”

Col. Rhonda Stevens, Wing Commander 19 Wing Comox released a statement upon learning of Edwards’ death.

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of former Wing Commander and Second World War fighter pilot ace James Francis ‘Stocky’ Edwards. The epitome of an officer and a gentleman, Stocky exemplified service before self,” she wrote.

“Stocky remained supportive of the Wing throughout his retirement, attending ceremonies and parades with his wife Toni, and offering friendship to all members of the wing. I consider myself fortunate to have counted him among my friends, and he will be deeply missed, by myself, and all members of 19 Wing. On behalf of 19 Wing, I offer sincere condolences to Toni and the Edwards family.”

“He will be terribly missed,” said Mellin. “He was humble and dignified to the end.”

Dean Stoltz

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