CAUGHT IN OUR SITE
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Agreement, between Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand was signed in Ottawa on December 17, 1939. This date also marked the 65th birthday of Prime Minister W.L. MacKenzie King and at the end of the day he wrote in his diary
It was certainly a memorable birthday. I suppose no more significant Agreement has ever been signed by the Government of Canada, or signature placed in the name of Canada to [such a] definitely defined obligation.
The agreement had not been an easy one to negotiate. The discussions went on for over two months - from about 10 October when the first meeting was held until the early hours of December 17 when the delegates, with a sign of relief, put signatures to the document in the Prime Minister's office. From beginning to end the negotiations were dominated by MacKenzie King. Realizing how important the scheme was to the United Kingdom he put on a masterful display of diplomatic maneuvering - bullying, threatening and cajoling until he had wrung as many concessions as possible from the British representatives. Yet, politics aside, the signing of the BCATP Agreement was a momentous event. Strategically it was important for three main reasons: it furnished air training fields that were reasonably close to the United Kingdom yet well beyond the reach of enemy aircraft, it provided a uniform system of training and laid the basis for the pooling of Commonwealth air power. Initially, the British hoped and expected that the RAF would be the only operational force - one big air force to which Canada and the other Commonwealth countries would contribute manpower much the same as in the First World War. This wish was not completely realized for King demanded that a token number of squadrons (the exact number to be decided later on) be distinctively designated as RCAF. The negotiations almost collapsed over this issue but King refused to sign the Agreement until the weary British delegates reluctantly gave in.
On "Zero Day" - 29 April 1940, No. 1 Initial Training School, accommodated at the Eglinton Hunt Club in Toronto, opened its doors on schedule to the members of the first group of 221 trainees all classified as A.C. II (Aircraftman II)- at the very bottom of the rank structure entitled to $1.70 a day plus free room and board. Seventeen of these were washed out in training and the rest went on to become pilots, air observers, wireless operator-air gunners and air gunners. One hundred of them, the envy of their comrades, were selected for pilot training, promoted to the exalted rank of L.A.C. (Leading Aircraftman - $2.00 a day) and sent to 15 different flying clubs across Canada for the elementary phase of instruction. Forty-seven who finished their training before the others, came together again as No.1 Course at No.1 SFTS at RCAF Station Camp Borden. On 30 September 39 of them received their wings. Two were killed in air accidents and the others ceased training for one reason or another. On graduation about half of the group were commissioned and the others were promoted to sergeant rank.
Proud to be proclaimed as the first class of pilots to graduate from the training plan the new pilots fully expected to be sent overseas and were naturally disappointed to learn that they were needed in the BCATP as flying instructors, staff pilots or in some other capacity. Such was theexperience of the next two or three classes of pilots nearly all of whom were plowed back into the training scheme. The first class of pilots to go overseas as a body was a group of 37 Australians who graduated in November 1941 from No.2 SFTS at Uplands, Ottawa. Before this, however, a class of 37 Canadian observers had already arrived in the United Kingdom. The first observers to complete their training, they received their wings at Trenton on 27 October, 1940 and after a short period of leave, they embarked on the Duchess of Richmond. Over half of them went to Bomber Command of the RAF and most of the others to Coastal Command. A year later half of them had been killed in action and by the end of the war two thirds of them had lain down their lives for their country.
To Be or Not To Be?
When the Battle of Britain was at its height in the summer of 1940 the BCATP gave the appearance of being a collection of half-finished schools and on many sites where schools were planned but not yet begun there was no activity whatever. Under the circumstances the planners came in for a good deal of criticism and some people, both malcontents and well meaning individuals, were asking if it would not be better to forget about the BCATP or at least curtail it and send some of the flying instructors and other aircrew who were retained in Canada to the aid of Great Britain. Such a proposal was made but the answer came back that the BCATP must not only be continued but it must be expanded and pushed forward as rapidly as possible. The driving force behind this expansion was embodied in the personalities of C.B. "Chubby" Power, the Minister of National Defence for Air and C.D. Howe, Minister of Munitions and Supply. Speaking in the House of Commons on 29 July, 1940, Power reviewed the progress of the plan and the problems that had to be overcome. "We are told," he concluded, "that it is Canada's most important contribution to the common effort and ultimate victory. We are determined that it shall be."
Underthe guiding hand of Air Commodore Robert Leckie, Air member for Training (later Air Marshal and Chief of the Air Staff) the plan moved into high gear. Construction crews worked round-the-clock using floodlights for the night shifts and new schools sprung up like mushrooms. Recruits were often moved in before the buildings were finished, the runways completed or the water supply hooked up and tramped to and from their classes in ankle deep mud. But the training went on at an accelerated pace. By the end of 1941 the pilot output was more than double what had been called for in the original plan.
Draft Dodgers in Reverse
By the summer of 1940 the supply of experienced Canadian pilots needed for flying instructors and for miscellaneous flying duties was nearly exhausted and the RCAF looked south of the border for a fresh supply. As the United States was not at war American pilots had to be "smuggled" into Canada through a clandestine recruiting organization set up by Air Marshall W.A. (Billy) Bishop. In addition, although there was no shortage of young Canadian aircrew recruits, American boys, attracted by the publicity given the BCATP, began crossing the border and lined up outside the nearest recruiting centres in such members that they caused some embarrassment to Canadian authorities. Occasionally they were followed by worried parents who, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, pleaded with them to forget about foreign wars and go back to school. Eventually, President Roosevelt gave his blessing to this mass exodus and ordered that Americans going to Canada to join the RCAF or RAF be granted exemption by the draft board. After Pearl Harbour 1759 American members of the RCAF transferred to the armed forces of the United States, another 2000 transferred later on and about 5000 completed their service with the RCAF.
If any criticism is to be made of the BCATP it is simply that it was too successful. By the end of 1943 it was running like a well-oiled machine and turning out pilots faster than they could be absorbed into operational squadrons. In February 1944, after consulting with British authorities,Air Minister Power decided that the scheme must be slowed down. When the brakes were applied there were still thousands of recruits in various stages of training and they were jolted and jarred like passengers in a railway express that suddenly grinds to a halt. To their dismay and discouragement those anxiously waiting to begin flying training were told they were no longer needed as pilots. Courses just begun were canceled and the trainees given the choice of transferring to another category of aircrew for which there was still a demand, or joining the army or navy or taking their discharge. Student pilots who were well advanced in their training were allowed to continue but understood that they had little chance of being sent overseas and might be released at any time. Only the instructors, freed from their training duties and given priority in overseas postings found reason to rejoice.
Training continued until March 31, 1945 when the BCATP came to an end. The total number of graduates was 131,553 - 49,808 pilots, 29,963 observers and navigators, 14,996 air gunners, 18,496 wireless-operator air gunners, 15,673 air bombers, 1,913 flight engineers and 704 naval air gunners. Of the total 72,835 were members of the RCAF, 42,110 were RAP, 9,606 RAAF and 7,002 RNZAF. It should be noted however, that while the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand sent recruits to Canada
for training they also operated training plans of their own. Among the RAF trainees there were large numbers of allied nationals; about 2000 members of the Free French Air Force, 725 Norwegians, 260 Czechoslovakians and slightly smaller numbers of aircrew from Belgium and Holland received their wings at various units of the BCATP.
As proclaimed by President Roosevelt Canada indeed had become "the aerodrome of democracy."
A Canadian Press story archived by the website of the
Roland Groome Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS)
Below is an article on the service flying training school at Yorkton that appeared in The Leader-Post on Sept. 3, 1940. The references to land ownership and the logistics of setting up a station emphasize the complexity of even one such school, never mind dozens of them across the country. It should reinforce our admiration that those who took on this formidable task.
Formation of a Royal Canadian Air Force service flying training school at Yorkton, Sask., with two relief fields close by, is announced by the department of national defence for air.
This will be No. 11 on the list of service flying training schools. It will be established on a site four miles north of the town. No. 1 relief field, with hard-surfaced runways will be at Sturdy, six miles east of Yorkton.
No. 2 relief field, with grass surface, will be 15 mils east of Yorkton and five miles south of Rhein. Opening date of the new school will be announced later.
These schools receive prospective pilots direct from elementary flying schools and provide intermediate and advanced flight instruction before the students go to bombing and gunnery schools. The course provides seven weeks of intermediate training in single-engined or twin-engined aircraft equipped with machine guns and bomb racks. Close to 100 aircraft are required for a service flying training school, with an instruction, maintenance and administration staff of about 800 men housed in some 25 buildings.
The airfields selected for Yorkton's training school stretch fanwise in a semi-circle from the city. The main field is three miles directly north of Yorkton on section 23-6-4, of which W.J. Gleason owned the east half and southwest quarter, while Frank Reaman owned the northwest quarter. Seventeen miles northeast of the city, in the Rhein district, is one designated as "R-2", located on section 35-26-2. There, the east half was divided between Gotlieb Lebrecht and the Canada Permanent Trust Company, while the west half was owned by Alex. Reis.
"R-1" is located on section 28-35-3 near Sturdy, about four miles southeast of Yorkton, and this property was owned by J. Skilnich and Milt Kay, the former the north half and southeast quarter, and the latter the southwest quarter. These two, it is understood, will have no buildings on them, but used for landing and take-off purposes during instruction flights.
All but one of these owners have closed deals with the government through the CNR land department, and that one is J. Skilnich. Settlement price for this property will be arbitrated.
At present, the main field and "R-1" are being graded, the contracts for the grading, draining and building the runways having been let to Carter-Halls-Aldinger and the Nelson River Construction Company, respectively, and huge "cats" are hauling the LeTourneau machines which cut down the humps and dump the earth into the declevities One hundred and ninety-one thousand five hundred tons of gravel will be used on these two field in building seven-inch deep bases for each of the many black-topped runways placed so that the ‘planes can always take-off into the wind.
On the main field, 120,000 tons of this gravel will be used, and it will be brought from Sturgis, it is believed. A siding is now being built which will connect with the CNR at a point about one and a half miles south of Young siding. This is being run into the southeast corner of the field and no doubt will be used to haul other materials and machinery onto the property.
With the grading, filling and black-topping has been completed, it is believed the buildings will be commenced on the main field. These will include administration buildings, dormitories, a hospital and others necessary -- 40 in all. These will start, according to the plans, at a point adjacent to the present Gleason homestead and extend eastward from there on the south side of the field. In addition, to these buildings, there will be five hangars. Staff and students accommodated in these buildings will number approximately 1,000.
This property extends eastward from Gladstone Avenue and the road allowance which continues north from it, to highway Number 9 . It is believed that the Gladstone Avenue road will be the one most frequently used by traffic to and from the school; and if this is the case, then some arrangement will have to be reached with the city and the municipality to put it into shape for such traffic. At present it is a good dirt road, but not sufficiently strong enough to stand much traffic and during the wet seasons would certainly be too muddy to use. The highway is in condition to stand all types of traffic and during all-weather conditions so it may be the road mot frequently used.
While nothing definite has been decided on as yet, it is believed that several bus and taxi services are contemplating the seeking of a franchise to operate a service between Yorkton and the school. The townspeople are also beginning to realize that the city must provide for the students and staff members recreational and meeting places while they are visiting Yorkton. Whether the Legion, YMCA or the Salvation Army will establish centres of this sort is not known.
"And by the glorious worth of our descent...
THIS ARM SHALL DO IT"
422 Squadron convoyed ships in the Atlantic, provided a threat to submarines if they surfaced, searched to destroy them to save merchant and navy ships, operated on rescues, and on special missions.
CPR ships and men had made significant countributions to the war effort. CPR passenger liners carried hundreds of thousands of troops, as well as evacuees, prisoners of war, wounded combatants, and equipment and supplies. They sailed all over the world and took part in landings at Spitzbergen, Madagascar, Casablanca, and Sicily. One liner, the graceful Aorangi, acted as a hospital ship and engine repair shop for more than 1200 vessels during the Invasion of Normandy. Another, the plucky Duchess of Bedford, managed to sink a U-boat in the North Atlantic in 1942 -- an amazing feat for a merchant ship! CPR's "Beaver" freighters played a vital role in the early years of the Battle of the Atlantic and delivered over five hundred thousand of tons of equipment and supplies to Britain. In addition to CPR's own ships, the company also managed and operated a number of other ships for the British Ministry of War Transport (MOWT). These included a variety of British "Empires" and new Canadian-built "Parks" which along with the Canadian-built "Forts" and American-built "Liberty Ships" were so essential to replacing U-boat losses. Over the course of the war, 85 CPR marine employees won decorations for gallantry or were mentioned in dispatches. Some were wounded. 236 were killed. Others suffered years of maltreatment in barbaric Japanese prison camps. Certainly these brave men and their gallant ships played a vital role in winning the war, and they deserve to be remembered by us all.
The Allied Merchant Navy of World War Two
This website is a collection of pages dedicated to those who served in the Allied
Merchant Navy during World War Two.
SS Princess Marguerrite on fire after torpedoing
The Role of the CPR Ships in World War II
WOMEN OF THE WAR YEARS
Stories of Determination and Women
Whose Sacrifice Made An Incalculable Difference
to the Success of the War Effort
MRS. F. J. MANNING
I was a war bride of the Second Great War. My husband went overseas in the RCAF and I was pregnant. There was no hospital in the small town where my husband had brought me, so I was invited to my sister-in-law’s to be with her and her husband and enter the hospital there. This was in the northern Ontario town of Sioux Lookout.
During the war, prisoner of war camps were set up to house German prisoners. One of these camps was north of Sioux Lookout and the reason for this setting was that if a prisoner did escape, he would loose himself in the wood or have too far to travel to freedom. The sick prisoners were brought to the hospital in Sioux Lookout.
The time came for my baby to arrive and I entered the hospital. The lower floor of this building housed the German boys. I was taken to the second floor where the Canadian patients were. I remember getting a smiling welcome from these young lads and saw the good look young faces. The nurses told me that they wished me good luck and when the baby was born (a little girl) the news was taken down stairs to the boys. They were told that my husband was overseas and that he was an Airman. I wondered how many of them had a wife and a baby back in their “home town".
I could hear them whistling, and singing and having their own entertainment. To me they were just young men a long way from home and probably no more interested in being in this battle than our own boys.
When it came time to go home, I came down the stairs of the second floor and was met by a group of these young men. They wanted to see the baby and one of the young lads had tears in his eyes and patted me on the arm. I knew right then that these were just human young men. I can still see that incident.
J. SELINA QUIGLEY (nee JONES)
I got married to George Quigley of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan on October 9, 1945 at Kingsland, Hollyhead, North Wales. My maiden name was Jane Selina Jones.
On May 31, 1945 a soldier called at our house and my mother answered the door. She told him she was sorry but she had no more room. Then he took a letter out of his pocket and it was from my brother who was in the army. Mother hurried upstairs and woke my Dad to show him the letter - leaving the poor guy standing outside! When she came back downstairs she apologized and invited him in. Mother used to take soldiers’ wives in when their husbands were billeted at the hotels near our home. My cousin in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan was writing to George and also to my brother. They seemed to follow each other with the army, so George had written to my brother for our address.
I was working in a factory down town so when I came home I was surprised to see a soldier there. After supper I took him out to see the town and then took a couple of days off to visit my relatives. It turned out to be a trip to buy my engagement ring. It really was “love at first sight”. We had to leave the ring at the jewelers to have it made bigger so we didn’t tell my folks that we were getting engaged. A few days later a registered letter arrived and of course Mom brought it to me at work and I had to open it right away - it was the ring and I had to tell them then. George and I officially got engaged on my birthday, June 9, 1945 and we were married in October that same year. My first son was born on September 25, 1946 in the same house in which I was born.
George served with the Canadian Army and was stationed in Holland. On one occasion his ship was torpedoed and everyone had to abandon ship. George was an excellent swimmer so he survived until they were picked up.
My son and I left my home in North Wales on August 21st, 1947. George had returned to Canada but I didn’t leave earlier because my father was very ill with cancer - he died that June and was buried on my birthday, June 9th. My mother came to Southampton, England with us where we caught the boat that took us to Canada. I still remember my mother standing beside the boat - she had just lost her husband and now she was losing her daughter and grandson to a new land. I never saw her again. The boat ride was enjoyable - the water was calm. In Halifax, Nova Scotia we boarded a train for Winnipeg, Manitoba. On the train one bride was crying because she wanted to go back. She had a little boy and she wouldn’t go and eat so the Steward convinced her to go while he looked after her baby.
George met me in Winnipeg and we stayed the night at a hotel. The next day we proceeded to Ashville, Manitoba, and my new home on the farm. It was hard to get used to as there was no electricity. We had “outdoor plumbing”, a wood stove in the kitchen and a tin heater in the front room. It was so cold in the wintertime that we couldn’t sleep upstairs so we made a bedroom in part of the front room. We had cattle; pigs, chickens and I raised turkeys and geese. When my husband went to work at threshing time, I had to learn to milk the cows - I made it! Then it was our turn to have the threshers and my husband told me I had to give them eggs, bacon, sausage and fried potatoes for breakfast. Where I came from we didn’t fry potatoes for breakfast, so I sure learned a lot. Our neighbours were very friendly.
In 1949 tragedy struck - we lost our three year old son in a fire when a barrel of gasoline accidentally ignited. I found this tragic loss very hard to accept. Our daughter was 14 months old at the time. We had three more girls and another son after that. Two of my daughters are currently in the Armed Forces. On November 8, 1974, I lost my husband to cancer. George was well liked and respected in the community. Then on December 27, 1975, I lost my home in a fire that was caused by what was thought to be a faulty Selkirk chimney. I lost absolutely everything. It was very hard starting over again.
I have been home to Wales three times to see my brother, sisters and friends. Out of five brothers and sisters, I have only one brother still living - he is 80 years old and I’m 77. I lost one brother during the war when his ship was torpedoed.
Like many of the war brides in this area, I belong to the War Brides Association in Brandon. I left the farm and now live in the town of Gilbert Plains, Manitoba.
After I completed my training I returned to the U.K. to marry my dream girl and I am still married to the same girl and live in Torbay. Devon. in the U.K. I am delighted to have found your website,a computer makes it a small world!!!. I often wonder what became of the airfields I trained on and whether they still exist, I spent many happy months training in Alberta, and your website bought back many memories.
Back to the R.C.A,F. and the details of the Oxford, you see the pilots who preferred multi engines trained on Oxfords and the fighter boys on Harvards. When I trained in 1942/43 we crossed Canada by C.P.R and I remember we whistle stopped at Winnpeg and outside the station was the C.P.R locomotive No 1. I wonder if its still there, and then on to Calgary, in Alberta I trained at De Winton and Penhold.
I have been trying for ages to try and find someone on line to whom I can talk to re my stay in Canada but no luck , perhaps as you like surfing you may be able to help. When I qualified at Penhold they wanted me to stay in Canada as an instructor, and the bait was a fortnight in Hollywood with Lynn Barry the top film star at that time, but I came home to the U.K. got married and eventually flew Lancasters on Bomber Command.
I see you are a guitarist, Iris my wife"s favorite is
Elvis Presley the king.
Thats about it for now, please keep in touch,
The photos are now at:
Look under the "David Mukanic Collection".
If you can add anything to our notes on the aircraft's
markings and, especially, their units, we'd be very grateful. Our chapter
e-mail address is email@example.com
-Will Chabun, CAHS Regina
THE FINE PRINT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE:
This message comes from the e-mail site of the Roland Groome Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS) in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Our chapter commemorates the name of pioneer aviator Roland Groome, who held
the first commercial pilot's licence in Canada (1920) and owned the first registered aircraft in this country: Canadian-built JN-4(Can) Canuck G-CAAA.For more information on the CAHS, surf to:
BREAKING NEWS! Our chapter has its own website at:
Jerry L. Neff, Programmer/Analyst
State Center Community College District
1525 East. Weldon, Fresno, CA. 93704
I have visitted your Museum web site, Display 22-Manning Depot ~ Photos hoping to find photographs on-line, because there is no way of me visiting your museum, much as I would like to. Is there a link where I could view the photographs on-line?
I do recall from my youth, photos of my father while in Canada. I will try to find these again and send them to you, I believe you could copy and then return them.
Many regards and thank you for a good web site
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