by Cameron Bridge, manager, Nicola Valley Museum and Archives —

Seeing as last week was airport day, we thought we’d take a look at a Merritt Airman, Jim Hardy. James Thomas “Jim” Hardy was born in Merritt in 1922, the child of Ellen and Archie Hardy. The Hardy’s appear to have come to Merritt in 1929 when Archie was awarded the position of district repairman for Merritt and the surrounding area for the B.C. Telephone Company. 

Growing up, Jim Hardy was a member of the local boy scouts, was an actor in the MSS’s version of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, was the captain of his midget hockey team and led his team to a championship, and was also a proficient baseball player. He also had a keen interest in aviation, even from a young age. 

In 1941, on his 19th birthday, Jim Hardy signed up with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Vancouver and on August 28th, 1942 he had earned his wings, becoming what the Merritt Herald said was the “first native born son of the Nicola Valley to earn his wings.” He would spend time in Manitoba as a R.C.A.F. instructor before shipping off to Europe in October 1943. In October 1944, he would be promoted from to Flight Lieutenant as he was stationed flying Halifax Bombers over Germany with the 427 Lion Squadron.

On the night of November 23 and 24, he was piloting a Halifax bomber alongside twelve others. Their mission was to mine the sea, dropping 1500 lb mines over the Kattegat sea between Denmark and Sweden. It appears that on the return to Scotland something went wrong and his plane crashed just offshore from Kingston, Scotland. All seven crew men were lost, and Jim Hardy was buried at the Bellie Churchyard in Morayshire, Scotland. 

In order to preserve his memory, for a number of years after the War, the Jim Hardy Memorial Trophy was awarded to the valley’s champion fastball team. 

The Nicola Valley Museum and Archives is open from Tuesday until Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., if you have any questions about the history of Merritt or the Nicola Valley please stop on by, give us a phone call, or send us an email!