Richard Bertram Idiens
1910 - 1944
Richard (Dick) Idiens was born in Toronto, Ontario on January 13, 1910, to Joseph and Elsie Idiens but early in his life his family moved to Royston (south of Courtenay) where he attended Royston Elementary School. Later he went to Courtenay High School and St. Michaels in Victoria. When he returned to Courtenay he worked briefly for the Gwilt Lumber Company in Bevan and then with his father as the Imperial Oil agent in the district. In early 1939 he took over the agency when his father retired.
Idiens was one of the founding members of the Comox District Mountaineering Club in 1927 and was Club President in 1938. Many of his early trips into Forbidden Plateau were with the other local hikers and climbers: Geoffrey Capes, Adrian Paul and Sid Williams. In March 1937 with Roger Schjelderup, his sister Mia Schjelderup and Captain H.G. Ash, he attempted to ski Mount Albert Edward, however, they were thwarted by the weather. Eleven months later in February 1938 he returned with another local Len Rossiter, Don and Phyllis Munday, and Rex Gibson and Ethne Gale, where he successfully guided the party to the first winter ascent of Mount Albert Edward.
When World War II broke out in Europe Dick Idiens enlisted with the RCAF in Vancouver on August 29, 1941. On July 23, 1943 he was awarded his Air bomber's Badge and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer. A month later he embarked to England where he did his training with the RAF at Harwell in Oxfordshire. In January 1944 he was promoted to Flying Officer and posted to the 295 (Pathfinder) Squadron on April 9, 1944, as a bombardier. In a letter home to his mother he wrote about how badly he felt at the prospect of being the fellow who would have to drop bombs on people. Also stationed in London at the time was Ruth Masters. Ruth became acquainted with Idiens in the late 1930's when she joined the Comox District Mountaineering Club. "Dick, ... took a carload of us kids to the mountain to work on Mount Becher, looking after the cabin site, and cutting wood for the winter skiing parties. Then he would take us up skiing during December through to Easter." Idiens would visit Ruth on the occasional weekend he had off. Masters said: "I recall the time he took me to the "Windmill", a nightclub, considered rather risqué in those days. One act was a dancer, with the statue of a nude woman poised on a pedestal, on her tippy-toes, with arms upraised, in the background. As the dance wore on, I whispered to Dick, what did he think of the show? "Well," he said, "I don't think much of the dance, but I sure can't take my eyes off that statue." Then I took a better look and realized the statue was a real live woman. They had her plastered over with some white alabaster substance. As she balanced on the pedestal, she had started to tire, and sway!". Unfortunately, Dick Idiens was killed on April 28, 1944, in a crash over England while on a training mission in Albemarles and is buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England. He was thirty-four years old.
Idiens received several special service awards including the Defense Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp and the War Medal. To remember Dick Idiens his friend and fellow hiker Ruth Masters had a lake located on a ridge near the Comox Glacier named after him.
"Bad Weather Foils Climbers." The Comox Argus [Courtenay, B.C.] (April 1, 1937) p. 1.
"Climbed Mountain in Blizzard." The Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (January 27, 1938) p. 8.
Munday, Don. "Mount Albert Edward Climbed in Winter." Victoria Daily Times. [Victoria, B.C.] (February 19, 1938)
"F.O. Dick Idiens Killed in Action." The Comox Argus. [Courtenay, B.C.] (May, 1944.) p. 1.
"Idiens Lake Named After Royston Hero." Comox Echo. [Courtenay, B.C.]
Masters, Ruth. "Remembering a fine young Valley man." Comox Echo. [Courtenay, B.C.] (November 10, 2009.) p. A6.