Canada 150 Vignette Series
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Vignettes
PART XXIV: Nos. 116-120
By Greg Sigurdson/Bill Hillman
116. No. 2 Bombing & Gunnery School, Mossbank, SK
117. Training at No. 1 Central Navigation School - Rivers, MB
118. The Home Front: The Scrap That Made the Difference
119. A World War II Memory - Stan and Glen Merrifield, Part 11
120. The Home Front - Joe Fossey, Model Builder
Continued in PART XXV: Nos. 121-125
116 of 150: No. 2 Bombing & Gunnery School, Mossbank, Saskatchewan
No. 2 Bombing & Gunnery School in Mossbank Saskatchewan opened on October 28 1940 and remained open for 1509 days until December 15 1944 when the Royal Canadian Air Force closed the school. It was at the BCATP Bombing & Gunnery Schools where bomb aimers, air gunners, air observers and wireless air gunners received training in bombing and gunnery techniques.
One of 20 BCATP Schools opened in Saskatchewan, No. 2 BGS was a large school with five aircraft hangars and various other buildings including H-Hut barracks, other living quarters , a parade square, administrative buildings, motor transport buildings and service buildings for the aircraft. The primary aircraft used for training were the Westland Lysander, Bristol Bolingbroke, Avro Anson and Fairey Battle.
Mossbank was one of the few BCATP schools with an indoor swimming pool, built primarily as a reservoir for firefighting needs. Other recreational activities were facilitated by a bowling alley, recreation hall, several canteens and a theatre on the station. Sport facilities included tennis courts, a skating rink and baseball diamonds. Many airmen and airwomen enjoyed socializing in the Hostess Club, located in the town of Mossbank and operated by the local Masonic Lodge.
Two thousand and thirty nine students graduated air bomber training while 3702 completed air gunner training. Of these aircrew, 3493 were RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force), 1651 were RAAF (Australia), 755 were RAF (Great Britain) and 342 were RNZAF (New Zealand).
While in operation, the Mossbank School won the Air Minister’s Pennant for the best Bombing and Gunnery School in Canada. It received Honourable Mention for July to September 1943, the Runners-up Pennant for October to December 1943 and the Air Minister’s Efficiency Pennant for January to March 1944 and April to June 1944.
The only reminders of No. 2 BGS remaining today is a gunnery backstop, hangar foundations and unusable runways. It is used frequently now by the RCAF Snowbirds to practice their air show maneuvers. A cairn commemorating No. 2 BGS has been raised near the school.
RCAF 135 Squadron formed up and trained at No. 2 BGS and was then stationed at Boundary Bay B.C. as one Canada’s home air defence squadrons, defending Canada against potential Japanese attack during WWII.
117 of 150: Training at No. 1 Central Navigation School - Rivers Manitoba
The following article was published in the introductory issue of Message To Base – Volume 1, No. 1, August 1943, station magazine of No. 1 Central Navigation School in Rivers Manitoba. It explains the unique role this school plays in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan not only teaching new students the art and science of navigation, but teaching others to teach navigation in a number of other BCATP schools.
INTRODUCING G.I.S.G.I.S., which, being interpreted means Ground Instructional School, is the backbone of No. 1 C.N.S.(Central Navigation School). Therefore it was our choice this month ahead of all other sections to feature in the initial issue of M.T.B. (Message to Base). It is our intention to feature a different section each month with a view to familiarizing everyone with the station as a whole.
G.I.S. is the seat of learning for student navigators coming to No. 1 C.N.S. for 20 weeks of instruction, as well as for bomb aimers who come from B. & G. (Bombing & Gunnery) Schools for a final six week course prior to graduation. In addition, there are four specialist courses known as the S.N.I.N.'s, SNIP's, N.I.'s and E.O.'s. SNIN's are graduate navigators who take a one month course here in specialized subjects and instructional technique. From here they are sent to the various Air Observer Schools in Canada to give instruction to student navigators. They are under the supervision of F/L Minton, F/L Murray, and F/O Smith.
The SNIP's are graduate pilots taking a two month course in navigation, after which they will be sent to Service Flying Training Schools to instruct student pilots in navigation methods. F/O Watson and F/O Maxwell are in charge of these courses. The N.I.'s come mostly direct from Manning Depots for a 14 week course in navigation, following which they are posted to Initial Training Schools. In charge of them are F/L Weaver and F/L Solin. The E.O.'s are educational officers who come to us from I.T.S.'s for a two month course in navigation. F/L Wellbourne and F/O Tanner are the officers in charge of this course.
There are a large number of student navigators under training at all times, for the most part members of the R.A.F. (Royal Air Force), and in addition, several Air Bomber courses. Each of these courses is supervised by a navigation instructor who is responsible not only for their instruction but also for their general welfare, recreation, and discipline.
The most looked forward to thrill, generally, on the part of the navigation students is flying. It is quite a surprise to many of them to find their practical navigation is confined to the Synthetic Dead Reckoning Trainer for the first four weeks. In these trainers navigators and Air Bombers learn how to put into practice on the ground the navigation methods they will be using in the air. The rooms are in total darkness except for a small light over each table, as in an aircraft, and by use of projections on the screen they are required to pin-point themselves, using Topographic maps. They must also familiarize themselves with all navigation methods. In addition to the normal navigation instruments, the trainers are equipped with drift recorders, altimeters, air speed indicators, compasses and radio loops. Even rough weather conditions can be duplicated in operating the drift recorder. The value of these Synthetic Trainers is their inexpensiveness in comparison to operating an aircraft. They also familiarize the students with navigation instruments, methods, etc. They are a real advantage for the instructors who may watch their students navigate step by step, correcting on the spot any particular faults.
Everyone on the station is familiar with the sight of navigators shooting celestial bodies by means of the Sextant. The Sextant is a very delicate instrument by use of which the altitude of heavenly bodies may be measured. The time to the nearest second that the shot is made must be known. By referring to tables a line of position can then be calculated for use in navigation. To become proficient in the use of a Sextant the student navigators must take some 450 shots in twenty weeks, each one of which must be plotted. In the near future student navigators will be able to navigate under almost perfect air borne conditions in the new celestial link trainers. In these trainers the celestial bodies are represented by projections on the ceiling, enabling the students to shoot them with Sextants.
The big job of supervising these courses is the direct responsibility of S/L McKillop, C.G.I. (Chief Ground Instructor), the assistant C.G.I., F/L Derry, and a large staff of instructors. The instructors have been selected firstly, because of their ability as navigators, and secondly because they possess the knack of telling others. Some of them are former teachers, but the majority come from all walks of life. They are doing a fine job as a body and their work, coupled with the application, industry, and enthusiasm of the students, results in a steady flow of graduate navigators from No. 1 C.N.S. every two weeks year in and year out.
S/L A. F. McKillopp, Chief Ground Instructor, was snapped in a jovial mood.
F/L Arthur Hammond, Adjutant of Training Wing.
Shooting the sun in style.
Such comfort couldn't be duplicated in the air, boys.
Bomb Aimers learning to map read on the ground.
F/O Buckley is seen instructing some student navigators.
No.1 C. N. S.
F / L D. R. Derry, Assistant Chief Ground Instructor,
is shown checking his watch just before taking a sun shot.
Learning how to navigate on the ground via the Synthetic D. R. trainer.
Sgt. Dixon needs no introduction at No. 1 C. N. S.
DIDIT - DA - DA - DA ... and so on far into the day.
Cover page caption:
1st Navigator (monkey on the left): MENTALLY CHECKING COURSE ALTERATION;
2nd Navigator (monkey on the right): WHERE IN THE HELL ARE WE?
Peruse our 11 pages of post-war River Base at:
Click for full-size collage
118 of 150: The Home Front: The Scrap That Made the Difference
Legion Magazine, November/December I998ln 1982, the first blue box hit the curb in Kitchener, Ont., and shortly thereafter the initiative for recycling waste material spread across Canada. As the three Rs -- Reuse, Recycle and Reduce -- became catchwords of the environmental movement, Canadians underwent a change in attitude. Many materials previously thought of as trash were recycled rather than thrown away. In fact, what happened in the 1980s was strikingly similar to the recycling fervor that occurred much earlier during WW II.
Canadian Reflections – The Scrap That Made a Difference
By James M. Whalen
Early in 1941, the federal government launched the National Salvage Campaign to encourage patriotism of Canadians on the home front. But, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the situation changed because the supply of raw materials from the Pacific was disrupted. This left North Americans short of rubber, tin, vegetable oil and other resources.
Similarly, a shortage of Canada's own raw materials gradually developed due to the lack of manpower to provide them. As the demand for primary goods for war production increased, the federal government encouraged Canadians to conserve and salvage various materials for conversion into airplanes, tanks and other weapons. Although scarcity in Canada during wartime was not nearly as severe as in Europe, the shortages led the Canadian government to ration tires, gasoline, alcohol and some foodstuffs.
The National Salvage Campaign operated under the Department of National War Services with a few paid organizers, including a headquarters staff of about a dozen, in Ottawa, and about 20 provincial officers. But, it mainly relied on an army of volunteers who formed voluntary committees throughout Canada to salvage needed materials. The Department of National War Services co-ordinated the work of these committees and advised each group on what was wanted and the prices paid for various materials. The same department promoted salvage campaigns and informed the public about collecting scrap by issuing pamphlets, posters, radio and newspaper advertisements. To encourage the salvage effort, it used catchy slogans such as: Dig In and Dig Out the Scrap, and Get Into The Scrap.
Salvage committees were required to register with National War Services under the War Charities Act. Any profits they made had to be spent on concerts, entertainment, recreation, hospitality, information centres, canteens and on other war charities.
In several urban municipalities across Canada, voluntary organizations joined together to form citizens' committees to co-ordinate all war auxiliary services. One subcommittee of the citizens' group supervised salvage on a block plan, that is, a particular town or city was divided into zones or blocks each with a leader. Salvage items were then collected by following the regular municipal garbage collection, much like the current recycling pick-up
In March 1942, Charles LaFerle became the director of the National Salvage Campaign. He had successfully co-ordinated the salvage efforts of the Toronto Citizens' Committee, and believed that the block plan was the soundest and most economic way of proceeding. As an example, he pointed out that the Winnipeg Patriotic Salvage Corps, by using the block plan, had collected over one million pounds of scrap materials in a single month. ''The Winnipeg Corps is one of the strongest, most aggressive and most enterprising of the 1,750 voluntary salvage groups operating throughout the Dominion," he said.
Besides volunteer citizens' groups, others such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides. Salvation Army and The Canadian Legion salvaged materials Religious groups, service clubs, women's groups and social service agencies, as well as women at home and school children, also contributed. Several individuals used their own vehicles to pick up scrap at a time when both gasoline and tires were rationed.
Not surprisingly, the determination of some people to assist in the war effort bordered on the extreme. For example, shortly after the National Salvage campaign began. Mrs. M.E. Beaddie of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire in Vancouver, and the secretary of that organization's Memorial Silver Cross Chapter, suggested to her member of Parliament that the copper plaques presented to mothers and spouses of men killed in WW I be returned to the government for scrap. "As each plaque represents a life," she wrote, "we should be very glad if they could ... help save the lives of our husbands and sons."
In declining the offer, the Hon. Jan Mackenzie emphasized that the salvage value would not warrant giving up what "must be among their most treasured possessions."
In September 1941, the Red Cross conducted its own national campaign for scrap aluminum which was needed for the manufacture of bomber and fighter planes. Homemakers, school children and others contributed to this drive. Movie theatres across Canada assisted in a novel way. In exchange for a scrap of aluminum, a child earned free admittance to a matinee. In Sydney Mines, N.S., for example, children left some 1,500 worn out aluminum pots and pans at the cinema's box office.
Scrap dealers often purchased the salvage collected by voluntary organizations and sent it to smelters and mills for reprocessing. It was a logical way to proceed because dealers knew how to sort and prepare materials for disposal. In order to deflect criticism that they were profiting from the war effort, the scrap dealers, most of whom were Jewish, formed the Canadian Secondary Materials Association in 1942. The association co-operated with the government in monitoring the operations of its own trade.
Besides the Department of National War Services, several other government or Crown-owned wartime salvage bodies evolved - four within the armed services alone. But, the most important ones were Crown corporations such as Wartime Salvage Limited and the Fairmont Company that regulated collections, set prices, found markets and, at times, purchased certain essential materials for war production. In order to understand the importance of some of the salvaged materials during the war, let's take a closer look at the following items: Iron and steel. oil, fat and bones, rubber and waste paper.
Early in the war, the public learned that scrap iron and steel could be reused to produce tanks, airplane engines and ships. A parliamentary committee on war expenditures reported in January 1943 that each soldier "requires an average of 4,900 pounds of steel in the form of carried or supported equipment."
Iron and Steel
In fact, the demand for steel was so crucial that by September 1942, the federal government made it illegal to retain more than 500 pounds of steel that was not in use. Consequently, most industries scrapped surplus or obsolete machinery and equipment.
Unwilling to rely on volunteers alone, Wartime Salvage Limited, the Crown's scrap metal purchaser, established sites throughout Canada for the deposit of scrap iron and steel. For example, it negotiated with grain elevator companies in Western Canada to purchase scrap metal from farmers, voluntary associations and junk dealers "on the spot" for $7 a ton. Wartime Salvage then paid to ship it by rail to the foundries and mills mainly located in Central Canada.
Similar subsidies provided for the shipment of scrap metal from other non-industrial areas of Canada. But, in 1943 and 1944, nearly 200,000 tons of scrap metal came in from Western Canada alone.
Private industry, as well as government and volunteers, gave farmers a chance to co-operate. Dealers for International Harvester - a farm implement company - for example, encouraged farmers to donate their old plows, binders and tractors for war purposes. Otherwise, farmers received the going scrap rate of $7 a ton.
Through the promotional work of the Department of National War Services, the response to the iron and steel drive was overwhelming. By March I944, iron and steel supplies were sufficient and an organized effort to collect this metal was no longer necessary.
In December 1942, a year after the main supply of vegetable oil for North America was disrupted by war in the Pacific, the government's Oil and Fat Administrator launched an appeal for animal fat and bones. Promoted by the Department of National War Services, and addressed to women in particular, the campaign even featured a Disney animation entitled Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Firing Line. As Mickey Mouse and Pluto proudly carried a can of fat to the butcher, the narrator claimed that: "A skillet of bacon grease is a little munitions factory" because fat provided glycerine for making explosives.
Oil, Fat and Bones
Domestic uses to which fat was directed included soap making and commercial baking. Along with fat, industry wanted bones for the manufacture of airplane glue and fertilizer. Although the government paid about four cents a pound for rendered drippings, and one cent a pound for fat, not enough was collected because it was just too messy for most homemakers to bother with.
Vegetable oil was not the only commodity to be cut off from North America after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Crude rubber supplies were also severely affected. Consequently, Canada restricted its rubber reserves and reclaimed worn out rubber goods. In 1942, tire rationing for the general public was applied to everyone except owners of essential vehicles. The shortage led Canada and the United States to establish Polymer Corporation to develop synthetic rubber.
Meanwhile, Fairmont Corporation, a Crown corporation that controlled crude rubber supplies, began buying scrap rubber and stockpiling it. Simultaneously, National War Services promoted the salvaging of rubber on a massive scale. While tires for warplanes, army vehicles, and for essential purposes continued to be produced from high quality rubber, scrap rubber was mixed with crude rubber to make items for domestic use.
Voluntary salvage committees helped fill the rubber shortage by taking used tires and tubes, rubber hoses, floor treads and bathing caps to gasoline stations that served as reclaim centres. Carloads of scrap rubber arrived at processing plants in Central Canada from across the country because Fairmont Corporation partially paid the transportation costs.
The post office conducted a very successful scrap rubber drive in rural areas of Quebec and Ontario in the summer of 1942. In a fortnight, letter carriers collected over 1,900 tons, including some bumper pads that over-enthusiastic children tore off docks and wharves much to the dismay of cottagers.
Canadians were thankful in February 1944 when Polymer Corporation -- the synthetic rubber company -- came into production. While synthetic rubber did not replace natural rubber entirely, it nonetheless meant that the salvaging of reclaim rubber became unnecessary.
In the fall of 1941, waste paper shortages occurred in Canada because laborers who normally cut pulpwood were enlisting for military service. Fearing a shutdown of the pulp and paper industry, National War Services informed the public and voluntary salvage committees about the critical need. Wartime Salvage, which controlled the use of waste paper, as well as scrap metal, set prices and directed supplies to mills that agreed to pay part of the delivery costs.
By August 1942, the overwhelming response to the call for waste paper resulted in a surplus of about 1,500 tons. The oversupply was difficult to dispose of because the United States stopped buying our waste paper. As the market for old newspapers and cardboard collapsed, Wartime Salvage bought the surplus from volunteers and sold it to the mills at a loss rather than harm long-term paper salvaging efforts.
As expected, the market for waste paper changed once again. By December 1943, Wartime Salvage wanted a minimum of 19,000 tons a month. National War Services promoted the collection of waste paper throughout Canada and got good results. Nonetheless, waste paper continued to be desperately needed. In April 1944. the government increased the demand to 20,000 tons a month stating that "a shortage may jeopardize our whole war effort."
Well before the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of Normandy, the minister of National War Services, General L.R. LaFleche, made it quite clear that the public would have to collect a lot more paper for the war effort. "We will need paper containers to be thrown overboard for landing operations, to carry medical kits, blood plasma, emergency rations and gas masks. We need paper parachutes to carry food to isolated men, containers to make liners for such solvents as naphtha and benzene."
Consequently, the response to waste paper drives late in the war was outstanding. For example, a civil service campaign in Ottawa netted 458 tons. But that was little as compared to a three-day campaign held in Toronto in March 1945 when volunteers collected an incredible total of 1,400 tons.
Even though waste paper shortages continued after VE-Day, the federal government soon quit the salvage business. However, the government continued to pay part of the transportation costs for waste paper up to the end of 1945. With the war over, waste paper was still needed especially for housing, but supplies of pulpwood and lumber were still short. The mills became so desperate for supplies that for several months they relied on their own organization to oversee waste paper collections.
The war on waste on the home front officially ended in September 1945 when the Salvage Division of National War Services closed. Curiously enough, during the 4 1/2 years of the division's existence, its headquarters staff in Ottawa occupied one of the federal government's newest and most prestigious buildings -- the Supreme Court of Canada, while the judges remained in dilapidated quarters.
* * *
The irony of the situation was not lost on Jean-Francais Pouillot, the member of Parliament for Temiscouta, Que., who frequently raised the subject in the House of Commons. and in March 1944 remarked: "There is no other country in the world where a beautiful and sumptuous building built for the Supreme and Exchequer Court is serving as offices for recuperation and salvage bodies, while the old building that would be fit for recuperation and salvage bodies is serving as the location for the highest court in this country."
With the return of peace in 1945, salvage operations soon reverted to a prewar basis -- a multi-million-dollar business conducted mainly by scrap dealers and as a fund-raiser for a handful of charitable organizations. Less than a decade later, the public fervor for conserving and reusing scrap materials had all but vanished. In a 1994 article in National Geographic magazine, writer Neil Grove observed: "As the postwar economy boomed and memory of sacrifice faded, our cast-offs graduated to a country dump."
This is exactly what happened here in Canada and attitudes did not change until recently. Unlike the early 1940s, it is environmental concerns. not the necessities of war, that are forcing us to again practise recycling.
While making his rounds in rural Ontario, a mailman collects items for wartime recycling.
Scrap rubber was often mixed with crude rubber to make items for domestic use,
while quality rubber had more specific wartime applications.
SALVAGE POSTER GALLERY
Click for larger full-size images
A World War II Memory - Stan and Glen Merrifield, Part 11
In this installment of Brothers Two, Dressed in Blue, Glen and Stan Merrifield along with friend Stoney continue service with 405 Squadron based at the Gransden Lodge aerodrome near Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. Here the squadron became a member of the elite No. 8 Pathfinder Group in Bomber Command.
On March 1, 1943 we returned to Topcliffe where our stay there was short, twelve days, but during that time we suffered a very heavy loss on our first operation after returning to Bomber Command. I can find no record but my hazy memory tells me we lost 4 out of 11 Halifaxes on that raid. Whether the crews were not as sharp because of the long hours spent on antisubmarine patrols or whether the aircraft had too many hours in the air, or whether luck spurned us, we shall never know. Bomber Command Diary shows we flew 55 sorties with 6 Group and lost 4 aircraft, 7.3%. On March 13, we were moved to Leeming Bar, another peacetime drome and here Hutch and I had a semi private room in a brick building containing ablutions with warm water. Paradise at last. It was here that the squadron picture was taken in front of and atop the Halifax Aircraft. This would cover about 90% of the squadron members, the balance being on leave or on duty elsewhere.
405 Squadron group picture with a Handley-Paige Halifax aircraft.
It was from Leeming that I first ventured to Ireland on a leave with Dick Lewington of 407 Squadron. We crossed to Belfast where we rented civilian clothes and crossed the border into neutral EIRE. There we were able to thumb our noses at the swastika flying at the German Embassy. We were able to get all the meat and good food that our money could buy. We stocked up on chocolates and ladies nylon stockings and were successful smugglers on our way back to Ulster on the train. While at Leeming we met Nelson Cobb, a pilot, who had gone to public school with us in the early thirties. Nelson was lost flying on operations after we had left Leeming. Our stay at Leeming was also brief and on April 17, 1943 we moved to Gransden Lodge to become part of the famous #8 Pathfinder Group where we would finish the war.
Our stay at Topcliffe and Leeming was the only time we spent in #6 Group RCAF, a total of 47 days. We were however Canada's oldest and most experienced Bomber Squadron. We had trained many air and ground crews since our formation which allowed Canada to form the many squadrons needed to have its own Group in Bomber Command.
John Fauquier, now a Group Captain with Six Group returned as 405 Squadron Commander. Sam takes up the story from his 1980 anecdote.
Gransden Lodge airdrome was in three different counties with the living quarters being incorporated into and at least quadrupling the size of the village. It was a couple of miles from the huts to the technical side and we were all issued bicycles which resulted in gravel rash being the prevalent injury because a drunken bicycle is not the best vehicle to use in coming home from the pub.
At the bottom of a small valley between the huts and the technical site was a mansion inhabited by Queen Maria of Yugoslavia whilst her son King Peter was attending university in nearby Cambridge. The grounds had a guard mounted at all times and when they were not on duty, the members of the guard attended at the local pubs. Except for the rare occasions when the local boys came home on leave, these guards had been the only service people in the area and were accorded the key to the village. Understandably, when our squadron arrived at the newly built airdrome, their noses were somewhat disjointed and within a very few days some good sized donnybrooks resulted.
It is also fair to say at that time, discipline on the squadron left something to be desired with people wearing whatever they damn well pleased. One morning the Tannoy (public address system) blared forth calling all squadron personnel to the maintenance hangar and there to greet us was Johnny Fauquier who had only recently returned to the squadron. Standing behind him was a man with so much brass on his cap that we knew he was right out of London and drew an awful lot of water. Johnny began by telling us how pleased he was to be back among so many familiar faces and thanked us for past services rendered. He then launched into a lecture on cooperating with the members of our allied forces and we quickly realized why the brass was present – King Pete had complained at the top about his mother's guard's treatment. As a parting shot, Johnny looked at the assembled array of sweaters, sweatshirts, tennis shoes and what have you and said "I don't ask you to shine your shoes and buttons but you damned well better wear them".
Now let us have Stoney's version... The years we were issued with bicycles to commute to the drome so as not to tie up a lorrie. But naturally we used the cycles for pleasure trips as well. Who remembers Wally Hunter and the night he fell off his bike returning from Biggleswade (he fell off for reasons I don't think need to be spelt out) and ended up in sick bay during the wee hours of the morning. The M.O. was so cheesed off with the accident and the hour that he put Wally on charge for driving in a blackout under the influence and he was grounded for a week by confinement to camp. I guess we all remember King Peter of Yugoslavia and his exile at Gransden Lodge. He figured Canadians were the most friendly folk in the world. We even got down to first name status with him, and call to him when passing his home. "Hi Pete have a nice game of croquet". Squadron Leader Weiser got over friendly one night returning from ops and crash landed in the field just behind King Peter's home. Johnny Fauquier was our C.O. for a time at Gransden and I guess we all remember the famous muster parade that Fauquier called. Fauquier never calls a muster parade we are on our way, this time to North Africa or who knows where? But what a let down. We were nicely told we are operating with the elite PFF (Pathfinder Force) and should as Canadians just act a little better. In short refrain from being a nuisance to King Peter of Yugoslavia and be nice to the Station Group Captain, give him a salute when you meet him "he likes it that way".
Gransden Lodge was quite a spot, we were handy to; A Land Army Camp, A rest Camp for factory workers, and a Gypsy Camp. The thing was that they were all out of bounds but you always saw such people in the local villages in the area. I remember in the village of Potton seeing a gypsy gal wheeling a big whip on to some male gypsies who were fighting in the street. How she could handle and herd those guys around. Fauquier should have enlisted her as disciplinarian for 405 Squadron.
Remember in our conversion from Halifax to Lancaster Bombers and the night training trips that were done over England and the night Fauquier came in and overshot the runway a little too much and ended up in the soft field at the end of the runway. Man was he angry with himself.
Stone has brought up about the conversion so it is a good time to put in an 1980 anecdote I wrote about "Handley Page Pride".
When we went to PFF (Pathfinder Force) in April '43 we were the only PFF Squadron flying Halifaxes. Now Don Bennett our AOC (Air Officer Commanding) suggested we would be better with Lancasters but needed the Squadron Commanders agreement. Now John Fauquier was a Halifax Booster and the Handley Page Corporation would do almost anything to keep us flying their aircraft. Every time John started to waver the Handley Page Rep. on our drome had stories of the wonderful marks of Hallys that were worth trying before the final decision was made. So we'd make a squadron change to the newer type. Not much to say but a hell of a lot of work for us to do. We W/T (Wireless Technician) mechanics had to do all the "super secret" mods on our drome, only the "secret" mods were done at the maintenance units after they left the factory. We also had to strip the mods from the aircraft being sent to main force. A changeover was 21 a/c so it was a lot of work. Bennett outfoxed Fauquier by sending a Lancaster to our drome and leaving it sit within John's view. Finally John tried it, he got home an hour ahead of the others from Berlin. We got one more changeover – this time to Lancasters.
The PFF statistics for Halifaxes are 29 raids, 330 sorties, 12 lost. For Lancasters 288 raids, 2549 sorties, 50 lost. One more 1980 anecdote before we leave the Hallys, this is
In the Wimpeys (Wellingtons) intercom and T/T failures were common. You could DI (Daily Inspection) a kite and find all in order and a couple of hours later have several or all intercom stations U/S (unserviceable). (somehow the Americans never took to the much used RAF term). The wiring was very poor quality and the junctions were twisted wire under bolts set in small plastic blocks. The power was supplied by 1 1/2 volt lead acid accumulators in series and a 10 volt dry storage battery. The latter was designed to sit on a shelf in a solid firm home radio. The problem arose when the engines were run up to check the mag drop and the engine at full throttle caused the aircraft to bounce and shake for minutes at a time. Very poor. We did not have gear or materials to do much more than hasty repairs. When we got the Halifaxes they had alternators and breeze cables, very good, and intercom and R/T failures all but disappeared.
Now when John Fauquier came to Command our Squadron for the second time we were on Halifaxes but he remembered the Wellington days. We were his blue eyed boys and he gave us the credit for the wonderful improvement. Lucky wizards not talented wizards.
Now our feeling for the squadron CO was different when John was with us. After all we considered him just a "jumped up" Flight Lieutenant and would do anything for him and we did. Early in the war parts and spares were very scarce but by now we had a good supply through pirating and other unmentionable practices. As a consequence we were able to install a command R/T (radio telephony) set in the trunk of John's car so he could be part of the conversations between the aircraft and the control tower. He gave us 10 pounds and instead of splitting it we established a section fund. We bought parts to build a record player and amplifier and a good stock of records. For the balance of the war any donations we were given for repairing private radios went into this fund.
Lancaster KB-7000, the Ruhr Express was the first Canadian-built Avro Lancaster
to participate in the air war over Europe in World War II.
Its first two missions were with the 405 Squadron.
120 of 150: The Home Front - Joe Fossey, Model Builder
To: Katie McKay/Stephen Hayter ~ Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum ~ Box 3, Group 520, R.R #5 ~ Brandon MB R7A 5Y5
From: Joe Fossey ~ 305 Duckworth St. ~ Barrie Ontario ~ Canada L4M 3X5 ~ October 4, 2000
I read with interest, your request for history information on C.A.T.P. in Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame "Flyer" Autumn 2000 issue. We have visited the Wetaskiwin museum several times.
As a young boy. I grew up with a successful interest in building and flying model aircraft. In 1942-43 I was in Grade 8 attending public school in East York (East Toronto) and 14 years of age. All boys were required to take a Manual Training course in woodworking to improve their life skills. Girls were required to attend Home Economics classes for the same reason.
Manual training classes across the country at that time were organized to help the war effort by making many hundreds of scale model aircraft of all types and countries for aircraft identification programs in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Our school was assigned the Bristol Beaufighter Mk.I as the aircraft type to be produced. If memory serves me correct the approximate 16 inch wingspan solid basswood model would be in 1/20 scale.
Our manual training instructor Mr. McClellan was a splendid teacher and a wonderful craftsman. I remember to this day the lessons learned to make the best quality models possible. All
components had to pass a rigid multi template inspection before assembly was permitted and then painted flat black in colour before shipped for Air Force final inspection and acceptance.
As result of my previous model building experience, this was an easy and fun assignment for me. I built at least 4 complete models while helping some classmate friends to finish theirs. In B.C.A.T.P. training, the models were flashed down a wire and Aircrew members were given only one second to identify the aircraft as friend or foe. This was critical to their survival.
In May 1943, successful students received a certificate from R.C.A.F. for recognition of Wartime Service. (copy enclosed) I still have mine framed in my study as a treasured memento.
From there we went to Air Cadets, but that’s another story.
WWII Aircraft Recognition Manual
Click for full-size preview posterContinued in PART XXV: Nos. 121-125
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