Commander Hilary George Nares  (1890-1974)

The younger son of Llewelyn Arthur Nares, he was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and in civilian life was the Manager of the Bond Department of the firm Osler, Hammond & Nanton.  He joined the navy in 1915, in a group of 30 Manitobans who had ventured overseas on the hope of joining the Royal Naval Air Service. He was one of the lucky candidates that passed the tests and was accepted as a probationary flight Sub-Lieutenant in the RNAS. He was taught to fly and earned his wings, becoming a full flight Sub-Lieutenant. Then he was given instruction as to the piloting of seaplanes. His first posting was to the Isle of Grain, located in the estuary of the Thames River, flying anti-submarine patrols in the mouth of the great river. 

On 24 December 1916 he was attached to HMS Manxman, a ferry boat which had been converted into one of the first aircraft carriers in the Royal Navy. The Manxman was part of the First Battle Cruiser Squadron which included HMS Lion and HMS Tiger. The Manxman, which displaced 2,048 tons, carried 8 seaplanes and could steam at about 19 knots. But when her boilers got dirty her top speed would drop to near 15 knots. She was always steaming well back of the main force, but she would keep up just the same. Her purpose was to launch and recover seaplanes which would do reconnaissance patrols ahead of the fleet. While serving in the Manxman, Lieutenant Nares was ordered to fly in search of German forces that were plying the North Sea. Once airborne, Hilary knew that he wouldn’t be able to land back on the ship, as this was not possible at the time. He either had to return to dry land or put it down “in the drink”
next to the ship, and hopefully be recovered back onboard. This was typical duty for any naval pilot serving in this time. Hilary Nares thought nothing of going solo with his Sopwith biplane out over a grey sea, armed with a Colt 45, nary a landing strip in sight, and looking for enemy forces.
While flying one particular patrol, in search of a German zeppelin that had been sighted off the coast of Denmark, his luck would run out. He was forced to land his plane in the North Sea when the single engine of his Sopwith caught fire. The plane sank below him and he floated in the cold water for nearly two hours before a British destroyer picked him up. Under the circumstances, he
was lucky to be rescued.  

He served as Commanding Officer of the Winnipeg Division twice, once from 1931-1933 and again for a year during WWII.  He went on to become Canadian Naval Aide in Washington and Liason Officer to the US Navy Pacific Command.   The newspaper article, from which the photo was taken, was reporting on his having received the "Legion of Merit" award from the US consul at Vancouver.   He received this award, which is the second highest within the gift of the US, for "extraordinary fidelity and exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service".  This related to his work as Assistant Naval Attaché from March to August 1942 and as Acting Naval Attaché from then until February 1943. 

After WWII, he lived in lived in Kelowna and Penticton (BC) from 1948 until he passed away in February 1974.

 


Hazel Muldrew

He married Hazel Florence Muldrew and had two sons, Ramsay Arthur Nares (b.1917)  and George "Peter" Nares (b.1923), who were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

(We are very grateful to Mark Nelson of the Naval Museum of Manitoba who has provided us with much valuable information.)