Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
Wherein we share an eclectic assortment of items gleaned from the
Internet, media and contributing readers.
Please send your ideas and contributions to the
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:

AUGUST 2001 Edition

I am Fritz Ulrich, of Denmark, 
the author of 
Rendezvous with Destiny
If you would like to learn more about my book, 
please double-click at the site below!
Yours Sincerely,
Fritz Ulrich

Rendezvous With Destiny

In Denmark there is a memorial dedicated to 10 American flyers from World War II. This book describes their last mission. 

On the 24th of February, 1944, 867 bombers of the 8th Air Force were heading for targets on German territory. One of these B-17s named "Just Elmer´s Tune" did not make it home to base again; its 13th mission was going to be its last. Several German fighter planes attacked them during their mission and finally they crash-landed in Denmark.

This documentary follows the different crewmembers' destinies that day, minute by minute and during their imprisonment in Germany until the liberation. It was possible for the author to track down the German pilot who shot down "Just Elmer´s Tune" and so it is possible to tell his side of the story too.

On June 27th, 1998, Fritz Ulrich set up a meeting in Berlin where Günther Sinnecker, the German pilot, and Edwin Hays, the tail gunner from "Just Elmer´s Tune", met for the first time face to face 54 years after they had shot each other's plane down.

This story is visualized with some 240 pictures, maps and documents which have been provided from crewmembers of "Just Elmer´s Tune" and from the German pilot. The story is based on interviews and written accounts from the people involved and from research in different archives.

Elmer's Tune

Inside the former Dutch fortress on fortress island
An overview of Third Reich Bunker Art and Frescos still present in our days such as camouflage scemes, instructions and the sometimes well preserved slogans from an other era! With a focus on the remnants of Bunkerart in 'Atlantikwall' bunkers.
Photos and site owned and copyrighted by Jan Bueninck
Churchill Cartoon inside Turm IVGermany Rules the Waves! Take Care: The BCP is very dangerous to enter!

The J.V. Bond Company's WW2 monthly trivia contest page!

Prizes offered every month.
Typical trivia questions at the site:
1.) What was the German word for the German navy?
2.) Who replaced Mussolini and negotiated peace with the Allies?
3.) What was significant about the monastery (abbey) at Monte Cassino?
4.) What nation's fighting men finally took the monastery (abbey) at Monte Cassino?
5.) What was the name of the sex pot who was Tokyo Rose's counterpart broadcasting out of Rome?
Pearl Harbor Theme:
1.) Who was the Prime Minister of Japan at the time of the attack at Pearl Harbor?-Tojo
2.) Why didn't the Japanese sink an aircraft carrier during the attack?-All the carriers were out at sea.
3.) From whom did the Japanese learn to use planes with shallow water torpedoes?-The British.
4.) Who was the Mikado at the time of the attack?-Hirohito
5.) Approximately how long did the attack last?-2 hours.

This site has an excellent BCATP archive section, complete with many photos. A few teasers:
31 DECEMBER 1943
(Central Ontario) 
HQ:  Toronto 
Recruiting  Toronto, North Bay, Windsor, London, Hamilton 
(Manitoba, Western Ontario, Northern Saskatchewan)
HQ:  Winnipeg
Recruiting  Winnipeg, Saskatoon
(Quebec, Maritimes, Eastern Ontario) 
HQ:  Montreal 
Recruiting  Montreal, Quebec, Moncton, Halifax 
(Alberta, B.C., Southern Saskatchewan)
HQ: Calgary
Recruiting  Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
In its original form the agreement provided for 3 initial training schools (ITS), 13 elementary flying training schools (EFTS), 16 service flying training schools (SFTS), 10 air observer schools (AOS), 10 bombing and gunnery schools (BGS), two navigation schools and four wireless or radio schools. Supporting units included flying instructor schools, technical training schools, repair depots, manning depots and recruiting units making a total of 74 schools and depots. The first schools were to be opened in April 1940 and when the scheme was fully developed, it was to be capable of turning out 1,460 aircrew every month. The RCAF which before the war was hard pressed to train 125 pilots a year including 75 for itself and 50 for the RAF was virtually astounded at the size of the proposal.

Although the British were in some doubt as to the ability of the Canadians to carry the scheme through it was agreed that it would be administered by the RCAF for MacKenzie King would have it no other way. However, all four partners were to be represented on an advisory board chaired by Air Minister C.G. Power and each had a voice in its direction. It was also realized from the start that a great deal of assistance would be required from outside the RCAF. The United Kingdom sent additional instructors, technical staff and administrative officers who played an important part in getting the plan under way. The Canadian Flying Clubs, who were already doing some elementary training for the RCAF before the outbreak of war, took over the entire program of elementary flying training and various air line companies accepted the responsibility of organizing and staffing the air observer schools though the RCAF provided the instructors and carried out the training. The Department of Transport assisted in selecting the sites, which had to be approved by the air force, and also supervised the construction of airfields arid runways while the Department of Munitions and Supply had the task of providing the aircraft which came from factories in Canada, Great Britain and the United States. In short, the BCATP took shape as a great national enterprise. The main burden of responsibility fell on the RCAF. To enable it to meet its heavy training commitment the force was greatly expanded and a new Ministry, the Department of National Defence for Air was created under C.G. Power. To direct the plan Air Commodore R. Leckie a Canadian serving with the RAF, was brought back to Canada. In the First World War Leckie was the most outstanding flying boat pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service. From 1935 to 1938 he was Director of Air Training in the RAF and at the time of his appointment to the BCATP was stationed in Malta as Commander of the RAF in the Mediterranean Theatre. He was perhaps the one man who could command the respect of the RAF and the RCAF and was thus a key figure in the success of the plan.


In 1940 the RAF was supporting a training organization in the United Kingdom that was approximately equal in size to the BCATP. However, after the fall of France arrangements were made to transfer most of the RAF schools to Canada where they would not be exposed to interference from enemy fighters and bombers. Five schools were transferred before the end of 1940, twelve more in 1941 and one in 1942 making a total of 26. These schools were moved en bloc complete with staff and sometimes with aircraft and other equipment. The 26 units included six elementary flying training schools, ten service flying training schools, four operational training units, three air navigation schools, one general reconnaissance school, one bombing and gunner school and one naval air gunners' school. At the request of the RAF the six elementary schools were operated by Canadian flying clubs - an arrangement which released the RAF staff for duty elsewhere. In addition to the flying training units the RAF operated No.31 Radio Direction Finding (Radar) School at Clinton and No.31 Personnel Reception Depot at Moncton.


In June 1942 the BCATP Agreement was renewed providing for a greatly expanded program Many of the schools were enlarged, some being doubled in size, and all the RAF schools, at first administered separately, officially became part of the BCATP. As a result the output of aircrew rose rapidly reaching its peak in October 1943 when 5157 received their wings. This number included pilots, navigators, * air bombers, wireless operator-air gunners, air gunners (ironically called "straight" air gunners to differentiate these from wireless operator-air gunners), naval air gunners and flight engineers.

Well before this, of course, graduates of the BCATP were to be found on every battle front - in the United Kingdom, over Western Europe, in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. They flew with Guy Gibson on the famous dam busting raid and with Johnny Fauquier "King of the Pathfinders" in the Pathfinder Group. Those who stood at the top of their class were sometimes assigned to fly bombers to the United Kingdom. Older air line pilots regularly employed on ferrying duties, having thousands of hours in their log book, and inclined to feel that ferrying aircraft across the ocean was a man's job, looked with disbelief at these "damn kids" flying the Atlantic.

As the war went on training methods improved, courses were lengthened and the instruction was raised to a highly professional level. The accident rate which at one time caused great concern, was reduced from 1.563 per 1000 hours declined over the same period from .089 per 1000 hours to .034. Most of the accidents occurred at the SFTS level and very often resulted from unauthorized escapades such as low flying.


The training schools of the BCATP were organized into four training commands, No.1, headquarters at Toronto, No. 2, Winnipeg, No.3 Montreal and No.4 with headquarters first at Regina and after October 1941 at Calgary. In theory each command was supposed to be self-sufficient with its own recruiting centres, schools and repair depots but in practice recruits often began their training in one command and finished it in another. The training structure was never the same for any length of time. In order to keep in step with operational requirements new schools were constantly being added, and some existing ones disbanded, relocated, enlarged or renumbered. No.1 EFTS at Malton, for example, was disbanded in July 1942 to make room for the expansion of No.1 AOS also at Malton. The staff of No.1 EFTS was moved right across the country to take over the operation of No.31 EFTS at De Winton Alta. Below, the training structure is shown as of 31 December 1943 when the plan was at its peak. Not included are the operational training units and a few other schools located in the coastal areas. As of this date, 31 December 1943, the BCATP had on hand 10,906 aircraft.


There were seven OTU's in the BCATP. They were located in the Western Air Command, headquarters at Vancouver, and Eastern Air Command, headquarters at Halifax, and were ad ministered jointly by these formations and the Director of Operational Training at AFHQ. In July 1942 No. 12 Operational Training Group was formed to administer the four OTU's, plus two general reconnaissance schools and No.3 Air Gunners' School, in Eastern Air Command but no corresponding group was formed in Western Air Command. From time to time the OTU's were required to fly operational patrols. These were generally uneventful but in July 1943 a crew from No.31 OTU, flying a Hudson, attacked a U-boat and were credited with having damaged it. On the whole, however, the OTU's in Canada were second in importance to those in the United Kingdom where the vast majority of BCATP graduates received their operational training.



Freedom is Not Free
Slide Presentation


Reg Forbes and John McNarry display the new flag


I was pleased to find my father's poem, JUST A COMMON SOLDIER, on your web page.  Dad wrote this in 1985 for his newspaper column and it was reprinted in his 1991 book RHYMES AND REFLECTIONS. (See AS YOU WERE ~ February 2000)

It has made its way around the world, but is unfortunately sometimes not credited.  We would appreciate it if you could add his name to your page.  It's A. Lawrence Vaincourt, from his book RHYMES AND REFLECTIONS.  You can also find the complete text at:

Thanks for your help.
-Randy Vaincourt

ED: Our sincere thanks for this information, Randy. The poem was submitted by one of our readers via e-mail. The only author information accompanying it  was: "anonymous." Your dad has done a memorable piece of work here and it has prompted many appreciative responses. WGH

An excellent website, very easy to use and very well presented.  So glad I managed to find your site as I had an uncle (Walter Hurdle) who did his training at No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, MacDonald.

Sadly during one of his missions in England his plane was shot down and he was killed.  He was engaged to a girl who lived in Boniface, Manitoba.

My uncle came from New Zealand.

Lorna Russell (nee Hurdle)
New Zealand

In the book, "They shall grow not old", there is a crew man from 428 Squadron, Arthur O'Rourke that went missing on May 28, 1943. He is listed in the book as being on the Runnymede memorial as his body was not found. Going through E-Bay today (July 21, 2001), there is a death certifcate for sale with with crew man's name on it. It would appear to me that some where in the UK, this brave soul is buried. If you would like any other info, please respond.
Richard Koval

Hmmm - had a look through your Dad's photo's - interesting 'cos I was in the R.A.F. and stationed in Hong Kong for 2+ years, but much later of course (early 70's). How the place has changed!!!

Looked at your home site - my you are busy people - do you get time to eat & sleep???

Had a drive through Brandon whilst looking for the CATP museum - quite pretty - although I prefer Portage - which was like a picture on a candy box! Manicured lawns, no litter or graffiti - was it real or did I dream it?

Ian Cooper

John Shields has sent the following letter and photos concerning his father:
I am searching the wartime history of my late father, John I. S. Shields. I have received his Service Record from the M.O.D. and find he was stationed in Canada from 19-02-1943 to 31-07-1944.  His RAF service number was 1558749. The unit he was attached to while in Canada was No.31PD, 31OTU, 31SFTS and 31ANS. If there is any information someone could supply regarding these units I would be most grateful.

The ship HMS Dauntless was a minesweeper that JIS Shields sailed on from Liverpool, 19-2-43

Berthing Cards and Canadian National Railway Pass.
The rail pass shows the station names where he boarded and disembarked.

JIS Shields ariving in Canada

Canadian Philip Johnston and JIS Shields 

The snow storm pictures at Port Albert were of the gate and guard house one of which shows a Goderich snow plough.

Be sure to read our sister monthly e-zine publication:
Short Bursts Monthly Online E-zine
This month's edition is at:
Liberator B-24d
Liberator B-24d
Range: 2850 miles
Bomb Load: 8000 pounds
Maximum Speed: 303 mph
Ceiling: 32000 feet
Production of the Liberator was the highest of any
bomber in the USA: 18,188 models.
1694 in various versions were ordered by the RCAF.

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