Canada 150 Vignette Series
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Vignettes
PART XXIII: Nos. 111-115
By Greg Sigurdson/Bill Hillman

111.  Frank McManes Oral History Video
112. The Poster as Propaganda
113. A WWII Memory: Sam and Glen Merrifield Part 10
114. Commonwealth Crossword
115. A WWII Memory - June Bollman
Many of the illustrations may be clicked for full screen size.

111 of 150: Frank McManes Oral History Video
Frank McManes and his wife Shirley were charter members of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. He, like many other young men of the prairies, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II.

He began life as a farm kid in the Great Depression. Frank’s family farm was located at Alexander Manitoba, 20 miles west of Brandon. He was 21 years old when joined up and completed his training in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, graduating as an instructor.

He eventually made it overseas where he flew as a Typhoon pilot. He retired from the RCAF at the end of the war as a Flight Lieutenant with a Distinguished Flying Cross. After he returned to Canada, he took up farming at his home and became an instructor at the Brandon Flying Club for many years.

Frank’s oral history is a two part video available on YouTube at:

Part 1 -
Part 2 -
Frank passed away in 2007 at the age of 87 years.

112 of 150: The Poster as Propaganda

LEGION Magazine - NOVEMBER 1988
by Dave Mcintosh
Posted in military canteens and other public places in Winnipeg in 1942 was the following message: "People who invite you to parties do not expect as payment the details of our equipment, movements, orders. If they do report them, and we will throw a party for them. Military information is one subject where it is not more blessed to give than to receive."

Such warnings were as familiar as ration books to those who lived through WW II, and though the advice in Winnipeg was a little on the wordy side, you couldn't miss the point. In that respect, it was typical of that venerably ubiquitous genre, the war poster.

The first Canadian military posters, or broadsides, were used for recruiting in the 1885 Riel Rebellion. In WW I, posters were produced either officially or on its own initiative by the Canadian advertising industry for the Patriotic Fund, Red Cross, YMCA, Knights of Columbus, Salvation Army and other groups. Later, a war poster service was established In WW II, the production and distribution of posters was more haphazard, at least in the early stages, and surprisingly little information survives about the artists, who commissioned their work and how the posters were issued.

No government department took control until mid-1940, when the office of the Director of Public Information was established under the ministry of National War Services. It was succeeded by the Wartime Information Board, which acted for the departments of National Defence and Munitions and Supply, National Salvage Office, Canadian Food Board, and other agencies. The National Film Board became responsible for design and distribution.

In 1940, the National War Finance Board launched campaigns for victory bonds, stamps and certificates. There were national and local contests for poster designs. ln 1941, A.J. Casson of the Group of Seven artists beat out 110 rivals in a V-bond poster contest. Posters contributed enormously to bond drives. They appeared not only in newspapers, magazines and other literature, but on billboards and lamp posts and in factories, offices and street cars. It would have been difficult to avoid them. Those shown here were small enough to insert in letters and cigarette cartons. Some appeared on blotters and letterheads.

The poster generally considered to have been most effective was "Let's Go, Canada," showing a soldier charging with fixed bayonet. Despite that, Canada's wartime posters were relatively gentle. Directed not at the enemy but at the home front and encouragement of Canadian servicemen overseas, they were intended as a cheerful spur.

The first WW I poster, for the Naval Service of Canada, shows the cruiser Niobe and advertises "great attractions for men and boys." You can see that one, and about 4,000 others, at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The person in charge of the collection is F. Fagan at 1(613) 992-7946.

With thanks to Beatrice M. Turner of London, Ont.
To see a couple of interesting articles and a large number of WWII posters issued by the Government of Canada to sell Victory Bonds and distribute the war message via propaganda as assembled by Bill Hillman, please go to the CATP Museum web page at:

Click for full-size

113 of 150: A World War II Memory -  Sam and Glen Merrifield Part 10

Glen and Sam Merrifield along with their friend Stoney Stonehouse, continue to spin tales of the life as Royal Canadian Air Force ground crew working with 405 Squadron during World War II. They find themselves continuing their war from St. Eval, an isolated RAF station in the southwest  of England.

Stoney (friend Russ Stonehouse) says "Remember the North Africa Campaign and how 405 was taken from Bomber Command to replace the RAF Liberator Squadron at Beaulieu to do Coastal Command work in support of Montgomery's" push in North Africa. How we had to chase ponies off the runways to get aircraft in the air. No hangars to do major overhaul etc.. Then the night the Canadian Army Ambulance rolled in from Poole (outside Bournemouth) rifled two barrels of beer from the Sgt's Mess and took off. About one of the slickest commando raids of the war. Naturally all Canadians from the squadron were accused of the operation. Also how the pubs in the village of Brockenhurst (near Beaulieu) would not allow us into the lounge of the pubs because all we had to wear was battle dress. Our dress blues in most cases were still at Topcliffe and the billeting at Beaulieu was not all the best and we just did not worry about No. 1 Blues. At Beaulieu we were always in dutch with the Service Police because our I. D. Cards had our Squadron number etc. blacked out as the squadron was on special duty and we were not to identify our squadron as such. (Real top secret but Lord Haw-Haw knew where we were) Oh how we abused that little privilege around Bournemouth.

During our stay in Beaulieu I had my leave over New Years which was spent in Edinburgh for the third "Hogmenay" in a row in Scotland. My dancing partner on that leave had to be in Dalkeith, eight miles away, for a family get together New Years morning and we wished to welcome in the New Year at the large Palais de Dance in the city. The problem was the scarcity of taxis, and the cost, and the bus system which stopped at 11 p.m. You guessed it ... we walked. Rather than walk back alone I called in to the local police station and they put me up in a cell I caught the bus back to the city in the morning.

Our Halifaxes had depth charges and an added gas tank in the bomb bays for these coastal command stooges but often when extra penetration and time in the air was required we used St Eval as a forward base. The following 1981 anecdote entitled "St Eval Cough" follows:

St Eval Maps and Tower
St Eval was a Coastal Command Station on the Bristol Channel. While we were doing our Coastal Command assignment from Beaulieu we used St Eval as a forward base to get a deeper penetration into the Bay of Biscay. This particular time four aircraft went to St Eval and as we readied for takeoff the next morning, with our skeleton ground crew watching, the aircrew member setting the detonation switches tripped the one for the engine fire extinguishers. Well that aircraft did not get away that morning and all day long we ran the
engines and they coughed and coughed and coughed. When the other aircraft returned and it was time to return to Beaulieu that evening they were still coughing. The S/Ldr (I forget who he was) put the faulty crew in his aircraft and taking a volunteer F/E and Nav. decided to try to get the aircraft home. St Eval is built atop a cliff. The main runway has a drop of a couple of hundred feet onto the water .As that aircraft with the engines still missing on occasion charged down the runway and dropped off the end it seemed a long time until it appeared again out over the water. It was well beyond the call of duty. Brave lads. Typical 405 press on types. Got home. The rest of us flew home in good aircraft.

From Beaulieu our aircraft left about 4 a.m. to be in position over the Bay of Biscay before daylight. We were assigned in our turn to be on takeoff duty to cover any minor repairs needed. Because there were no Hangars or buildings out on the drome it was a cold unpopular job which became worse due to the problems discussed in the next anecdote called the "New Forest".

Beaulieu Airdrome where we operated for four months for Coastal Command was in the heart of the New Forest and electric power was in short supply. We had electric lights in the messes but not in the huts or ablutions. Our nearest ablutions were more than a quarter of a mile away and that's a long way when your taking short steps. Now we were lucky as a chemical toilet left by the contractors who were building the drome was in the woods near our Nissen hut. The New Forest is famous for its wild ponies but we also had a large old sow pig with a litter who grunted around in the woods near our hut. Dysentery struck and went around like wildfire and the chemical toilet was a welcome neighbor. The toilet was in a small shelter with no door but a change in direction in the entrance for privacy purposes. This cold rainy dark night one of our guys headed for the head - if navy terms are allowed - but the old sow was sleeping in the entrance for protection from the storm. The fellow stepped on the sow. The sow stood up. The guy went sprawling and between the mud and the brown stuff he was so dirty and smelly we wouldn't let him back into the hut until he had walked the distance in the rain to clean up at the regular ablutions.

No names, no pack-drill. Big Smitty, the large headed man in the front row, near the center of the Leeming Squadron picture was our Engineering Officer. He endeared himself to the boys on Beaulieu when the RAF Station Group Captain complained about the problem caused in the area because of the arrival of the Canadians. Smitty, a F/Lt, although badly outranked, told him we were Bomber Command types and did not want to be on his damn station but now we were there he was bloody well going to look after us and be thankful we were pulling his ass out of the fire as his other squadron was useless.

The food at Beaulieu hit all time low. However I guess the unfinished drome facilities had something to do with it. A WAAF with no hair, who served us meals, did not help, although often she wore a scarf over her head. As we are on the subject maybe this is a good time to throw in the anecdote I wrote on food in early 1980's.

Early in the war, when we were at the permanent dromes with their brick buildings and compact layout we went to our billet and picked up our pint mug and irons (knife, fork and spoon) as we went to and from the airmen’s mess. Later at places like Grandsden Lodge facilities were widely dispersed and we all carried our mugs and irons in a shoulder strap bag as we bicycled around the drome from location to location. The airmen’s mess worked on a four meal ( ?? ) per day system, breakfast, dinner, tea and supper. About 50% went to breakfast and 5% to supper. The other two meals were well attended. Breakfast was usually a bowl of porridge, the milk and sugar already mixed in, and a plate with a piece of boiled cod fish or some unpalatable item, with a slice of bread (often no margarine) and a pint mug of tea with the milk and sugar already mixed in. When we fogged in with no operational meals for several days the eggs (bacon and eggs were the ops supper favorites) went to the airmen’s mess. Word spread like wildfire and the breakfast attendance went up to nearly 100%. Now these eggs (we never saw the bacon) were fried in large pans and cooked right through. Rubbery as hell but to us a real treat. Might happen four or five times a year. Most guys missed breakfast because it gave another half hours sleep and they could get a cup of tea (called a cuppa) and a bun (no butter or jam) at the NAAFI wagon that drove around the drome at mid-morning.

Dinner at noon was the main meal of the day and was usually beef, sliced very thin, and potatoes, gravy and a vegetable. Mostly the vegetable was Brussel sprouts, hence the name of the book, "Boys, Bombs and Brussel Sprouts". Dessert was usually a custard about ½ inch thick above a 1/8 inch layer of jam on top of a crust. You got a square about two inches each way. During garden season a large help yourself bowl of lettuce would be available. The standard large pint of tea washed it down. When newcomers to our hut enquired how I got the scar on the base of my neck some smart ass usually replied that I got stabbed by a WAAF as I reached for a second helping. They did not deny us from meanness, just so it would cover a fair share for all. Some went through a long line up for seconds but if the servers recognized you they would turn you away.

Tea was around 4:30 and was a light meal, say two sardines on a slice of toast, something like that. Two slices of bread on top of which one WAAF plunked a spoon of margarine and another a spoon of jam was the best part. The ever present pint of tea helped. Now the real artists came to the fore and to watch a good knife man move the jam to a corner, spread the margarine, and then rework the jam to produce a good looking piece of bread was a delight to witness. This had to be done on a bare board table with no side plate or napkins to help.

Supper was about 8 p.m. and was attended by very few for the following reasons; It was always soup made from the left overs of the previous day with plain bread and a cup of tea.
On a dispersed drome it was often a mile away from your billet, often through the rain. The time was in the middle of the evening, when you were in town, or at the local pub, or in the middle of the poker game in the hut.

Parcels from home sometimes provided small snacks which could be enjoyed in the hut with the local purchased bread which was not rationed. Usually the people at supper had missed tea due to travelling back from leave or other reasons and was only considered when starvation threatened. The bread was always dark and it was against the law to sell or serve fresh bread. Newspapers reported butchers who went to jail for putting meat in their sausages and not just soy bean flour. All things considered we were better off than civilians and very little grumbling was heard. Food off the camp was hit or miss and even the good restaurants with the fancy menus ran out very quickly and served spam & chips or fish & chips to 95% of their customers. Special spots like London's Beaver Club, where a half hour line up for one doughnut was common, provided treats and were always a point of call. Rural areas, especially Scotland, were better off and milk to drink was sometimes available. It reads tough and points up how spoiled we are now when you remember how well we fared in those days and how healthy we were.

We guys on the ground crew often wondered how many of our a/c went down because of Jerry and how many went down because we did not maintain them well enough. Now we did our very best but still wondered. When we did our four month stint on Coastal Command I think we only lost one a/c so that gave us some evidence we were doing pretty well. (WE later held the Bomber Command Maintenance record on several occasions). We were flying Halifaxes at the time and they were a bit dicey with front turret... it got taken off later... improved the a/c a lot. This particular day an a/c came home on three engines and the idea was prevalent that if you got a dead engine on a Hally down you'd never get it back up. This pilot asked for permission for a right hand circuit so he could keep the engine up. This was not the normal way and coming around he stalled, and plowed in with the depth charges exploding and the awful results, right there at the drome with us all watching. This shook up the newer crew members and nobody believed the Halifax Co. representative who said it need not have happened. Well S/Ldr Lloyd Logan took up a Hally with a F/E to assist and he threw that a/c all over the sky. One engine out, two out, every combination of up, down and sideways. He beat up that drome so low you could count the rivets on his a/c. Quieted the boys down. Good show.

The road to Brockenhurst where we caught the train to Bournemouth or Southampton was a little used road through the New Forest and we biked it all the time with no lights on our bicycles. This night for some foolish reason the local cop stopped two of our lads on a small bridge just outside the town and demanded identification so they could be charged for no lights after dark on their bikes. As they fumbled in their pockets, stalling for time, two more lads arrived and they picked up the 'Bobby' and threw him over the bridge rail into the water and then threw his bicycle over the other side, and hightailed it to camp. This ride sobered them up and they became concerned later and reported their misdemeanor to the Squadron authorities who sent them on a swiftly arranged leave. As a result the week the "Bobby" spent surveying faces at the airmen’s, sergeant's and officer's messes did not reveal the culprits.

One more story about Beaulieu. During our time there a movie film was made about Bomber Command. I think that was the title "Bomber Command". We were all to be sent to the local village for special showings of this movie. Whether this was to show Bomber Command to Coastal Command or not, I do not know, anyway there wasn't all that much to be learned by we who had spent years in the Command. We were sent 25 or 30 at a time in the back of a 5 ton truck which dropped you off at the cinema and picked you up immediately following the show. Now the dysentery was still around at this point and Norm "Roxy" Lawson, a Winnipeger, asked Don McLaren, a Montrealer to get him some "Ant purgative" during his trip to see the show. Now Don had to really hustle to accomplish this and not get left behind by the truck. We were trucked there because it was on the far side of the drome with no regular bus service. I'm sure it was the only time I was ever in that town. McLaren gave his order, paid his money, grabbed his package and ran like hell to catch the truck. When he arrived at camp he gave Lawson his package and change. Lawson opened it to find he had a package of condoms. What else would a Canadian go into a pharmacy for????? Our time in Beaulieu mud ended on March 1, 1943 when we returned to Topcliffe.

Photo credit:

114 of 150: Commonwealth Crossword
From the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum newsletter CONTACT, Volume 15 Number 2, April 1998, we give you the Commonwealth Crossword, a test of your knowledge of the vernacular or the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Unfortunately, we are unable to give you an interactive online version of the puzzle, but this page should print well for you. If not, drop me a line at and I will send a MS Word copy. Answers are at the bottom of the page.

1. Canadian Flyers.
8. Charles, Prince of _____.
10. Engine Lubricant.
11. That thing.
13. Direction aircraft goes on take off.
15. First home for a BCATP trainee.
21. _____  and Pa Kettle.
23. Opposite of stop.
24. Used to start a frozen engine.
26. Where the Cornells and Tiger Moths are (Abbr.)
27. To _____ or not to be _____.
28. Leave a lover.
30. _____ Maria.
31. Home of fuel and fire tenders, jeeps and staff cars..
32. Tiger Moth replacement.
33. #1 American in the Pacific (Abbr.).
34. Power behind old-style locomotives and ships.
35. To slip by, i.e. time.
37. British Flyers.
38. What Allied flyers did to the Luftwaffe.
39. Pa Kettle's wife.
40. Something you don’t want on your dress uniform.
42. This and good food gives BCATP trainees healthy bodies.
43. Twin engine favourite of BCATP trainees.
45. That man.
46. A favourite dessert in the mess.
47. Sun or 'x.'
48. James Cagney was one of these ________Of The Clouds.

2. The man in charge.
3. You better do this right or the bombs fall short.
4. These give extra lift when taking-off or landing.
5. A stabilizer on a fish, submarine or aircraft; a fiver; neighbour to a `Swede,’
6. A sharp-shooting radio-operator.
7. Something that isn’t true.
8. _____light or Dick & Jane’s dog.
9. Abbreviation for a German Aircraft type (look around this page).
12. The first flying love for most BCATP trainees.
14. Wise aircrew don’t leave a disabled flying aircraft without one of these.
17. Opposite of yes.
18. To learn through repetition, e.g. marching.
19. A special animal.
20. London’s river.
21. The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum’s book.
22. Not forward but _____.
25. Adolph’s girlfriend.
27. Canso or PBY is a flying _____.
28. All-terrain four-wheel drive vehicles – our’s is RCAF blue.
29. South American version of a camel.
32. Where BCATP Cranes come from.
34. Where BCATP pilots get their advanced flying training.
36. It’s blue on the bottom of Hurricanes and Spitfires.
41. Next to beer or gin, favourite beverage of the RAF.
42. At the wing’s parade, the CO will _____ your wings on your tunic.
44. and/_____.
46. Favourite dessert in math class.

115 of 150: A WWII Memory - June Bollman
As the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum has a project to gather names and stories of those who took part  in the World War II years, may I add a short story.

Before the war, I took a business course in New Westminster B.C. which led to a position of keeping records of inventory in a store, which was a learning experience.

Then World War II comes into being and the public was encouraged to help in any way they could. I applied for a position at the Canadian Pacific Repair Depot which was on an island in the Fraser River near New Westminster.

The Canadian Pacific Repair Depot was an RCAF organization. This depot took up the message to help the war effort and accept Air Force planes to be repaired. The depot hangar was close to the Fraser River so there were not runways to bring planes in for repair. The planes were brought in on a barge and unloaded on a ramp and towed to the hangar.

Many elementary training planes were repaired here. It was very handy for the PBY and other aircraft that were on patrol at the west coast at that time.

I was assistant to keep records of the inventory of aeroplane repair parts. Records were recorded on the cards in an office. The parts were in the work shop area. New equipment coming in were recorded in the office. When parts were used – said records were forwarded to the office.

The office worked on two shifts – that is 8:00 to 4:00 and the evening shift 4:00 to 12:00 pm midnight. I worked two weeks on one shift then changed to the other shift. In this office there were the manager and his secretary. The secretary had a typewriter and not electric.

As more planes came in for repair – more staff was hired. The office was instructed to teach the new employees. Soon I was assigned to day shift which was a promotion. Again in this office there were no computers so all the information was hand printed on the file cards. All parts have numbers – for example – a wing could have four numbers while the nuts and bolts could have six or eight numbers.

The noise was most evident with the rivetting, sawing and drilling from the work shop and the hangar. If the electric power was shut down – there was silence – no drills and hammers etc. Also no worrying about losing records on computers.

Frequently there would be a fire alarm and it meant everyone was to evacuate immediately. We did not know if it was practice of a true fire. Even at that time – smoking was not allowed anywhere in the building. Each area had to gather in a certain area outside to be counted. At one drill – a lady was missing and causing a concern – she soon appeared in a hurry and explained that she was caught with her pants down!

After the war – the repair depot did not have as many planes to repair and so my position and many others were eliminated. I heard a few years later that the depot was closed and all buildings removed. I returned to the same store in New Westminster where I had been before the war.

In review – I had met Frank K. Bollman at a dance and we saw each other whenever possible as he was stationed in Boundary Bay. When the war was over he returned to the home farm at Moline (Manitoba) and his Father retired to live in Brandon. We were married and continued to farm on his Father’s land. We have two children – Raymond and Elaine and that is another long story. Now we live in Brandon and Frank is involved with the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.

June Bollman
June passed away in August 2010 at the age of 87 years.

Click for full-size promo collage poster

Continued in PART XXIV: Nos. 116-120

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