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Compiled by Bill Hillman
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:

November 2013 Edition

Excerpt from the CATP Museum Monthly Newsletter

Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Feature Interview
The Volunteer — Bill Hillman
by Neil McQuarrie
Bill Hillman is a true son of the prairie, the fourth generation of his family to live on the original homestead  in western Manitoba.  Bill’s  great-grandfather settled  there  in 1878, having travelled across the open plains in a wagon along the Carlton Trail. It was a long and arduous trip from Winnipeg since there was no railroad to ease travel to the area.

Bill grew up on the farm, learning that there was work to be done by young and old alike. While attending school in Strathclair he joined the local Air Cadet squadron. This experience, combined with the family stories of his father and uncles serving in World War II (three of his uncles, all members of Bomber Command, perished) fostered in him a reverence for the sacrifice they made.

After high school Bill went to college and returned to teach at Strathclair Collegiate. He had attended Brandon University (at that time Brandon College) where he earned  Bachelor's degrees  in Science and Education, and later a Master of Education degree. It is the measure of the man that, while he was in school and then teaching full time, and working on his university studies, he found time to meet and court (over several years) a lovely and lively young woman from the nearby town of Newdale. 

He and Sue-On were married in 1966. She, like Bill, became a teacher and, again like Bill, a musician, performing as a singer, keyboardist and drummer. It was their mutual love of music and performing that attracted Bill and Sue-On to each other and it has nurtured their life for half a century. Over the years their musical collaboration led to a frenetic life as their three children arrived, their teaching responsibilities kept them at school all week long and weekends were often devoted to touring and performing. Summers were especially busy because then it was possible to concentrate on their music writing, recording and travelling to gigs. Over the years their country, rock 'n' roll and original songs have taken them through Canada, the United States and England.

Bill is an inveterate collector. The Hillman home in Brandon is the repository for his videotapes, movie DVDs and records. Then there are the books, comics and magazines. Much of the furniture is of Chinese origin, gathered during their trips to the Far East. Most of the Hillman interests are shared on their giant website:

He was a professor in the Faculty of Education at Brandon University, responsible for courses in Computer Integration and Journalism when, in 2008, health concerns slowed him down and he retired – but only from teaching! It was his interest in computers, research and writing, combined with his awareness of his family's wartime service that led him to offer to design and operate the museum's Internet Web Site.

The Job — Webmaster
“Drop in for a visit, sometime.”
“How can I do that? I live in Caracas, for goodness sake!”
“Do you have a computer? Are you connected to the Internet?”
“Good. Then click away! 
Our address is
Enjoy your tour.”

It is as easy as that for folks around the world to take a virtual tour of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. The tour has been created by Bill Hillman, our webmaster, and leads the visitor through the various exhibits on display at the museum. In recent years, reflecting the advances in digital photography, he has rephotographed the memorabilia at higher resolution to enhance the experience of the visitor. html ||

After visitors have completed the tour they can explore the extensive collection of pictures and written accounts Bill has put up on the site. They include  copies of  World War II station magazines that were published by the bases during the war, and back copies of “Short Bursts”, the newsletter of the ex-air gunners organization. Sadly, with the passage of time and the deaths of so many of its members, the organization is now defunct, but this record of their contribution lives on.  :: 

Bill has created in-depth and illustrated memoirs of several veterans. He adds monthly accounts of events at the museum through pictures and text, and a web-based magazine which Bill describes as “an eclectic assortment of items gleaned from the Internet, media and contributing readers”. All of this material, including back issues, and the current edition, are displayed at

Bill is a member of the committee overseeing the museum's current major fund raising effort, the RCAF War Memorial Project: a black granite wall  300 feet in length inscribed with the names of over 19,000 fatalities, with a larger-than-life bronze statue representing the fallen. Through the website he provides information about this impressive undertaking.

The website is indeed eclectic, and extensive. Its creation and on-going operation require, as Bill notes, "some technical knowledge, as well as much editing, writing, research, searching for information and photo taking." He also provides links from the museum site to others which he creates and manages. The result is that he receives letters and inquiries from all around the world, many seeking information which he endeavours to supply.

All in all, Bill is a busy man.
So what does he do in his free time? Nothing. He doesn't have any!

As You Were . . .
Tribute Webzines
Navigation Chart to the
Hillman WWII Tributes
Short Bursts
Ex-Air Gunners Association

Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum: RCAFHMCS Prince Robert: Hillman WWII Scrapbook - RCNXII Dragoons - 26 RCA Museum
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