A Preview of our Upcoming Series:
CANADA 150 VIGNETTES
An Article from Pearce Alberta
Shared by Greg Sigurdson
010/150 Commonwealth Air Training
Canada 150 Vignette
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Stations
found an interesting account of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
activity in Pearce Alberta on a great website --
It has a selection of excerpts from the daily reports
written for the various schools that were located there during World War
II. It is the story of a BCATP school where no one seemed sure about what
its purpose should be.
Pearce first played host to No. 36 Elementary Flying
Training School which opened on March 30 1942. It was open for 137 days
to the Royal Air Force which used de Havilland Tiger Moth and Boeing Stearman
aircraft for flying training. For all of the Canadian wartime training,
the Stearman was used only by three RAF elementary schools, all located
in Alberta. On May 31 1942, the school had 69 Stearman and 14 Tiger
In anticipation of opening, the school became home
for 32 officers and 304 airmen, all RAF, who arrived on March 17 1942.
On arrival, personnel were given the opportunity to exchange a maximum
of 10 British pounds to Canadian dollars. They were also allowed pay advances
in the amount of $50 for officers, $25 for Warrant Officers, $15
for Flight Sergeants and Sergeants and $10 for Corporals and below. Students
did arrive with the officers and airmen in March and another 90 students
arrived from Moncton New Brunswick in early April.
The short-lived station magazine for No. 36 EFTS was
There were three fatalities as a result of one mid-air
collision at No. 36 EFTS. After operating for four short months, the school
was relocated on July 14 1942 to another RAF school due to the high winds
at Pearce which students could not cope with in light aircraft.
No. 3 Air Observer School succeeded No. 36 EFTS at
Pearce on September 12 1942. It was open for 267 days. The school,
under the command of the Royal Canadian Air Force, was operated by a private
company known as Prairie Flying Training Ltd. which provided staff pilots
and ground crew for the RCAF. Instruction was provided by RCAF staff. The
first 43 trainees arrived with 12 staff and six officers on September 12
1943 for one Bomb Aimer and two Navigation Courses. By December 31 1942,
the school was home to 14 RCAF staff officers, 2 RCAF WD officers, 2 nursing
sisters, 69 RCAF staff airmen, along with 83 trainees of which 68 were
RCAF, 11 were RAF, 2 were Royal Australian Air Force and 2 were Royal New
Zealand Air Force trainees.
On January 22 1943, a Wings Parade was given to honour
Course 65 which graduated 10 RCAF, 11 RAF, 2 RNZAF and 2 RAAF Air Bomber
grads. There were no wash outs. On April 15 1943 another Wings Parade was
given in honour of the Course 66 Navigators of which 25 were Royal
Australian airmen and 1 was from the RCAF. There was one wash-out.
All of the graduates were posted to No. 1 Y Depot in Halifax Nova Scotia.
No. 3 AOS was originally located in Regina Saskatchewan.
With the move to Pearce, Regina was reclassified as No. 3 AOS Detachment.
Pearce did not have the facilities that other Air Observer Schools had
and could not accommodate a full complement of students. As such, Regina
continued to train a portion of the classes.
As of December 31 1942, No. 3 AOS in Pearce operated
a total of 19 Avro Anson, 2 Cessna Crane and 1 Stinson aircraft.
Open for less than one year, the writing was on the
wall again for the school in Pearce. On April 3 1943, two courses
were moved to the Regina detachment leaving only one at Pearce. The last
course to graduate at Pearce was in April 1943. By the time No. 3 AOS closed
down in Pearce on June 6 1943, all of its personnel had been dispersed
to other schools and No. 3 AOS Regina Detachment closed when three remaining
Pearce finished out the war as No. 2 Flying Instructor
School which had been moved from Vulcan Alberta on April 26 1943. It was
in operation for 646 days and closed on January 31 1945.
Pearce Stearman from the Glenbow Archives