AIR TRAINING PLAN MUSEUM
The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum is an aviation museum located
at Brandon Municipal Airport, Brandon, Manitoba. It is dedicated to the
memory of the airmen from the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, who
trained at World War II air stations across Canada. The museum in stage
1 of redevelopment, which will see it restored to include the main hangar,
medical building, chapel, H-hut aircrew barracks, motor pool building,
canteen and interpretive center.
The museum contains several World War II aircraft, displays of navigation,
pilot, bombardier, ground crew and transport equipment, various artifacts
and a gift shop. The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum is on the Canadian
Register of Historic Places.
Part of a Wikipedia Series:
BRITISH COMMONWEALTH AIR TRAINING PLAN
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP; "The Plan"), known
in some countries as the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS), was a massive,
joint military aircrew training program created by the United Kingdom,
Canada, Australia and New Zealand, during the Second World War.BCATP/EATS
remains as one of the single largest aviation training programs in history
and was responsible for training nearly half the pilots, navigators, bomb
aimers, air gunners, wireless operators and flight engineers who served
with the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal
Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) during
from the Wikipedia entry
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan illustrated that the Commonwealth
still had some military meaning during the Second World War and was one
of Canada's major contributions to the early war effort. The BCATP was
an impressive and uniting national achievement. Canada became, during the
Second World War, one of the great air training centres contributing more
than 130,000 trained aircrew to the Allied Cause. The federal government
paid three-quarters of the total bill, an amount in excess of two and a
quarter billion dollars.
On the third anniversary of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan,
in a message ghost written by Lester B. Pearson, serving at the Canadian
legation in Washington, US president Franklin D. Roosevelt enthused that
the BCATP had transformed Canada into the "aerodrome of democracy", a play
on his earlier description of the United States as "the Arsenal of Democracy."
Various aircraft, transport and training artefacts may be seen at the
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum,
located in Brandon, Manitoba.
As Canada was the main participant, the legacy of the plan there included
a strong postwar aviation sector and many new or improved airports across
the country, the majority of which are still in use. The classic BCATP
airport consisted of three runways, each typically 2,500 ft (760 m) in
length, arranged in a triangle so that aircraft could always land (more-or-less)
into the wind – that was critically important at a time when most light
training aircraft (such as the North American Harvard) were taildraggers,
which are difficult to land in strong cross-winds.
The BCATP provided an enormous and continuing economic boost, particularly
in the Western provinces that were still recovering from the decade long
depression.The final report of the BCATP Supervisory Board calculated that
“more than 3,750 members of the RAF, RAAF, RNZAF and Allied nationals under
RAF quotas married Canadian girls,” many of whom remained in Canada to
The Commonwealth Air Training Plan (CATP) Museum is a non-profit, charitable
organisation in Brandon, Manitoba, founded and operated by volunteers.
The museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the British
Commonwealth Air Training Plan and serves as a unique memorial to those
airmen who trained and served, and especially those who died, while serving
their country in the air war of 1939–1945. This is the only museum in the
world dedicated solely to this goal, located in Manitoba where so much
of the training was carried out. The collection includes 14 aircraft on
display with the museum's Auster, Harvard, Cornell and Stinson HW-75 airworthy.
The Commonwealth Air Training Plan may also be regarded as the precursor
of post-war international air training schemes in Canada, many of them
involving personnel from other NATO powers.] These include the NATO Air
Training Plan (1950–1957) that graduated 4,600 pilots and navigators from
10 countries. Later bilateral arrangements with individual NATO powers
(1959–1983), the Military Training Assistance Plan, which has trained aircrews
from developing countries since 1964 and NATO Flying Training in Canada
(NFTC), since 1998, a partnership of the Canadian Forces, Bombardier Aerospace
Corporation and participating air forces.
THE BATTLE BRITAIN
The airmen who Churchill dubbed “the few” comprised 2,353 pilots and air
crew from Great Britain and 574 from overseas. All flew at least one authorized
operational sortie with an eligible unit of the Royal Air Force or Fleet
Air Arm from July 10 to October 31 and were awarded the Battle of Britain
clasp to the 1939-45 Star. Five hundred and forty-four lost their lives.
More than 100 Canadians are deemed to have participated in the Battle
of Britain, and 23 lost their lives. A Royal Canadian Air Force squadron
fought during the Battle; No. 1 (Canadian) Squadron, whose pilots were
from both a regular force unit and an auxiliary unit, became operational
on August 17, 1940. It was known as “Canadian” to distinguish itself from
the RAF’s No. 1 Squadron but in February 1941 it was designated 401 Squadron.
Three members of No. 1 (Canadian) Squadron received the Distinguished
Flying Cross for their efforts during the Battle of Britain: the commanding
officer, Squadron Leader Ernie McNab; his second-in-command, Flight Lieutenant
Gordon Roy McGregor; and Flight Officer “Dal” Russel.
Canadians also fought in the RAF’s 242 “All-Canadian” Squadron, which
was heavily, although not exclusively, Canadian. It was led by RAF Squadron
Leader Douglas Bader during the Battle of Britain. (S/L Bader has gone
down in Air Force history for losing both legs in a flying accident in
1931; he successfully re-enrolled in the RAF at the outbreak of hostilities
and serving until 1946 – including being shot down, taken as a prisoner
of war and even escaping from captivity once.)
Many more flew with other RAF squadrons – as well as Bomber and Coastal
Commands providing support to operations to prevent the German invasion.
An untold number served as ground crew, keeping the fighters flying.
“Ground crews who serviced No. 1 (Canadian) Squadron’s Hurricanes, sometimes
under fire and routinely under pressure, received belated recognition in
June 1942,” says Halliday, “when Flight Sergeant John R. Burdes was awarded
a British Empire Medal and Flight Sergeant Cecil M. Gale was mentioned
“The citation to Gale’s award read, in part: ‘Working under trying conditions,
he has maintained the squadron aircraft in a capable manner. Owing to the
intense operational activity during the latter part of August and September,
the flight maintenance crew was called upon to work to the limit. Flt.
Sgt. Gale carried out his duties, often working from very early morning
until late into the night, with a result that sufficient aircraft for flight
use were available at all times.’”
Replacing experienced pilots throughout the Battle had been a significant
challenge, especially in the early days of the Battle. Later in the Battle
replacements became less of an issue, but the pilots became exhausted and
replacements were less experienced.
The last 10 days of August, according to the Official History of the
RCAF, “had cost Fighter Command 231 pilots or almost one-quarter of [Fighter
Command’s] initial strength, and 60 per cent of those casualties were experienced
flyers who could only be replaced by inexperienced graduates of Operational
Training Units and as time wore on less and less experienced pilots were
taking to the air. …as pilots gained practical experience they were likely
to be killed, wounded, or mentally exhausted by the strain, or else promoted
into other squadrons.”
The Battle of Britain would not have been won without the contribution
of another Canadian: Max Aitkin, Lord Beaverbrook.
Churchill appointed Lord Beaverbrook, a newspaper tycoon, Minister of
Aircraft Production in May 1940. In a series of moves and innovations that
upset the senior leadership at the Air Ministry, Beaverbrook dramatically
increased the production of fighters for the war effort. “He rode roughshod
over all the happy dilatory routines of peace,” says Stokesbury. “Factory
managers and senior air force officers alike came to hate him, but without
him, or someone equally acerbic, it is hard to see how the British would
have lasted through the summer. He provided a steadily increasing flow
of aircraft, so that in spite of loses of well over 100 per cent of strength,
the RAF still ended the battle stronger than it went into it.”
In the month before Beaverbrook’s appointment, 256 fighters were produced.
In the critical month of September, as RAF losses reached their height,
Beaverbrook’s system produced 465 fighters.
And now, with the Nazi’s plan to invade Britain in tatters, another
key Canadian contribution to the war in the air would begin to show its
“As the Battle of Britain ended, the first young pilots, observers and
gunners were emerging from the schools of the [British Commonwealth] Air
Training Plan in Canada,” says Leslie Roberts. “Soon their tide would be
in full flood.”
Canadians who served
See the list at:
Draft Dodgers in Reverse
Ref: Canadian Wings
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