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First World War (1914-1918)
Canadians in the Royal Naval Air Service

Among the Canadians serving with the Royal Navy were those in its aviation branch, the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). They included aces and future leaders of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The dangers they faced included the enemy, the elements, and their own unreliable aircraft.

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Service Dress Cap, Royal Naval Air Service
HMCS Rainbow in Drydock, Esquimalt

At the start of the First World War, HMCS Rainbow was Canada's first line of naval defence on the west coast.

Rainbow steamed out of Esquimalt harbour on 3 August 1914, a day before Canada went to war. Heading south, its mission was to help protect the British sloops HMS Algerine and HMS Shearwater, which had been operating off the Mexican coast, against modern German cruisers known or suspected to be in the area. Obsolete, under-equipped, and with only half its crew, Rainbow would have stood little chance had it encountered any of these German ships.

George Metcalf Archival Collection
CWM 19801226-342_19

Service Dress Cap, Royal Naval Air Service
Service Dress Jacket, Royal Naval Air Service
Flying Helmet, Royal Naval Air Service
Medal Set, Air Vice Marshal Raymond Collishaw
Wristwatch, Flight Lieutenant Henry Botterell
Medal Set, Captain Arthur Brown
Propeller Fragments, Flight Lieutenant Harry Wambolt
Memorial Plaque, Flight Lieutenant Harry Wambolt
Model, Felixstowe F2A
Flight Commander Wilfred Austin Curtis
Telegram Confirming Flight Lieutenant Harry Wambolt's Death
Letter to Flight Lieutenant Harry Wambolt's Parents