Canada 150 Vignette Series
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Vignettes
PART XXV: Nos. 121-125
By Greg Sigurdson/Bill Hillman
121. Oral History of Jack Stacy (Video)

122. RCAF Drama on Main Street -- Moose Jaw
123. The First Steps for a RCAF Wireless Air Gunner - Pt. I
124. The First Steps for a RCAF Wireless Air Gunner - Pt. II
125. 50 Facts About Britain's War Effort
Many of the illustrations may be clicked for full screen size.

121 of 125: Oral History of Jack Stacy

Jack Stacy   ::   Avro Lincoln Bomber
Jack Stacy was a Founding Member and Past-President of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.
He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and after completing training at No. 2 Manning Depot in Brandon and No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School in Macdonald Manitoba, he was stationed in in Yorkshire England where he flew with a Halifax crew as a mid-upper gunner.
Jack gives a great accounting of  operations on a Halifax aircraft and as an air gunner.
Jack died in May 2009 at the age of 84 years.
His Oral History Video can be seen at:

122 of 150: RCAF Drama on Main Street -- Moose Jaw
DOWNTOWN PARADE – We’re told that this photo was taken in downtown Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan during World War II. The Westland Lysander (numbered V9312) and three airmen in front of it indicate that the RCAF had something to do with this ceremony. In front of them is a statue, which appears to be a rendering of either William Lyon Mackenzie King or Winston Churchill, but it would seem premature to be honoring either man prior to war’s end.

The troops facing the statue and aircraft appear to be soldiers – with the exception of the NCOs and officers, each man appears to be wearing putties and holding a rifle complete with bayonet. Each man is also wearing a wedge cap, but these were standard issue in both the air force and army. There is a band to the right of the troops.

Recognizable business names on the street include James Richardson and Sons, Malden Coal, Sterling Shoes and the Park Hotel. A Sweet Caporal Tobacco sign hangs from one of the businesses.

If anyone has any idea what drama this picture is capturing or if you disagree with our speculations – perhaps you were there or also have photographs and the history of this story – drop us a line, we’d love to know.

If you have a photo related to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan or the RCAF during World War II, please give us a call. We’d love to have these precious artifacts as a donation for current and future generations to savor. If you can’t part with it permanently please consider lending it to us for a very short time so we can make copies.

This artlcle first appeared in the Commonwealth Air Training newsletter CONTACT. We were unsure of the location of this ceremony but new information found on the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford, England web site ( states that Lysander V9423 arrived in Canada on October 18, 1942 to serve at No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School in Mossbank Saskatchewan. This gives credence to the idea that this ceremony took place at Moose Jaw which is a scant 37 miles from Mossbank by air. The Aircraft Restoration Company is bringing V9423 back to life. Take a look at their web site – they are doing some great work.

More information about he Lysander at:

123 of 150: The First Steps for a RCAF Wireless Air Gunner
Excerpted from The Long and the Short and the Tall by Robert Collins,
published in the Legion Magazine, December 1986.
Robert Collins
Never in my life have I been in such a motley crowd - or felt so totally alone. I am surrounded by 750 naked and half-naked men. Skinny men, plump men, Greek gods. Men in boxer shorts, dirty shorts and no shorts. Men with body odor that would fell an ox. Men brooding silently on their bunks. Men shouting, laughing, punching biceps, breaking wind, cursing, telling world-class dirty jokes that would leave the wise guys propped up outside the pool hall back home mute with awe and admiration. Apart from a nodding acquaintance with an acne-ridden Toronto youth across the aisle, who proudly informs me that he's had syphilis three times - I am very careful not to shake hands - I know none of them.

It is 10 p.m., Sept. 11, 1943, bedtime at No. 2 Manning Depot in the bowels  of the Brandon, Man., Winter Fair building, commonly known as the Horse Palace. What madness made me leave my safe and gentle Saskatchewan home for this barn full of rude, nude, raucous strangers?

I have been in His Majesty's Royal Canadian Air Force precisely 36 hours and here at manning a mere six. But already my mother, father and brother, and the farmhouse where I have lived for all of my 19 years, seem lost forever. Where are those long-awaited pleasures of being an airman? Where are those handsome, laughing fellows from the recruiting posters, in tailor-made uniforms with wings on their chests, beneath the seductive words "WORLD TRAVELLER AT 21?" The posters never mentioned the Horse Palace.

In peacetime this building housed prizewinning horses and cattle. The troughs for flushing away their manure are still in the grey cement floor a few inches below my head. Is the air force trying to tell me something? So far, we have moved in herds like Old Reddy and Whiteface and the other cows back home. Nobody has made me feel welcome or wanted. By turns, I am scared, confused, exhilarated. We 1,500 new and fairly new recruits are bedded down on two floors, among infinite vistas of double-decker metal bunks. We are a cross-country sampler: the air force ships its basic trainees to wherever there's room in one of the four mannings - Brandon, Toronto, Edmonton, or Lachine, Que.

There are easterners among us - a rare exotic species. I've never really known an easterner. Will they be snobs? bullies? smarter than me? For the moment that's irrelevant. What matters is that I and five other pieces of human raw material who shambled off the train this Saturday afternoon are the greenest of all.

We have no uniforms yet-the depot stores are closed. Not only are we visibly new, but our clothes betray our backgrounds. Mine - a cheap and sombre brown suit, the only one I own, and a salt and pepper cloth cap say rural hick. Or so I think, which is all that matters tonight.

Earlier this evening, in our telltale civvies, we stepped timidly into the vast mess-hall. I had never before been to a cafeteria or even a summer camp. I  had eaten en masse only at rural schoolhouse socials or at my mother's dinner table with 10 or 12 other men at threshing time. In those places, the menfolk sat stuffing their faces while the womenfolk eagerly served them.

Here, we tentatively followed the leader to trays, plates, cutlery, down a long line of steam tables and kettles where indifferent airmen in white ladled out - what? Stew maybe. Plentiful and probably nourishing, but bland and anonymous. Fleetingly, I longed for my mother's roast chicken, served on her dinnerware with the little primroses around the edges that I'd eaten from all my life. I read the derision in the mess crew's eyes: Better get used to it, airman, your mommy ain't waiting on you now.

We huddled at long trestle tables in the perpetual din - loud voices, clashing cutlery, shouts from the kitchen - not quite finishing our food. The uniforms around us gulped their meals like boa constrictors they never seemed to chew - and we didn't want to be different. Afterward, just time to get blankets and sheets - You bastards are lucky; the army don't get sheets! Then, into this sea of humanity, the Horse Palace. Everything is huge, chaotic, astonishing. And as on all first days in life - first day at school, first day at camp, first day at the office - we know, we are certain, that all the others are watching us, measuring us, laughing at us.

Now, thank God, it is bedtime. Surely tomorrow we'll get uniforms and blend in. The Lights are out. The great echoing room is subsiding, like a large beast that bas turned around three times in the weeds and curled up for the night.

In my whole Life I have never slept in a room with more than one other person - the cubicle of a bedroom I shared with my younger brother, Larry, with only the sighing of wind through the poplar tree belt, or a coyote somewhere far out in the stubble, or the welcome boom of thunder that  meant the end of drought, or on winter nights the eerie hum of frost-caked  telephone lines, singing, singing, singing.

Gradually my nerve ends stop jangling and then, a piercing cry: "F- - - the East!" And instantly, as though on cue: "F- - - the West!" Others take up the chorus, a cacophony of ribald shouts ricocheting off the cement floor, the high ceiling, the metal bunks.

What's going on? Sure, I know there is East-West rivalry. All of us from Saskatchewan routinely hate Toronto, knowing with sweet certainty that it is rich, privileged, and scornful of us stubble-jumpers. We graduates of the Depression remember the boxcars of free Ontario food and clothing with mixed gratitude and resentment. Charity from the East! None of us can forget the carloads of Maritimes dried codfish, sent with good intentions - and the texture and taste of salted boot leather. But even so. And that word!  Even my father, a virtuoso swearer with a wide repertoire, never used the F-word. My mother, a devout church-goer, never said anything stronger than "darn." Even at school the word was used only sparingly, by really bad boys, the kind your mother said you mustn’t' play with. And then only in huddled dirty talk behind the horse barn, the rest of us listening wide-eyed while the girls, ears straining, hovered watchfully on our periphery, hoping for something incriminating to report to the teacher.

But now a weary voice, maybe a corporal's, cuts through the racket. "Awright, you bastards!" The room settles down with sighs, snorts, chuckles, mutterings and comfortable grunts. Now I understand. This is a nightly ritual, our bedtime story. For the first time I feel a hint of belonging to something. Nothing dramatic or heroic like standing shoulder to shoulder to fight Hitler. Most of us are here for patriotic reasons but we would never admit it in the company of strangers. We are far from the hated enemy and may never lay eyes on him.

No, our adversaries, for now, are the system that already has turned us into numbers and is about to mould us into marching machines, and the corporals and sergeants who will strive to maintain their proud reputations as mean sons of bitches.

Already I sense the adversarial system from the non-commissioned officers strutting around this bam and from the cynical gibes of recruits who've been here three or four days. Already we are united against It and Them, and against our loneliness and apprehension. It is a scrap of comfort at the
end of a bewildering day.

This concludes Part 1 of Turning the Page, the recollections of Robert Collins on the start of his journey to become a Wireless Air Gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. The conclusion of his story will appear in the next CATPM Canada 150 Vignette as Part 2.

Read all monthly issues of SHORT BURSTS
The monthly AG and WAG Magazine from 1983-2008

124 of 150: The First Steps for a RCAF Wireless Air Gunner - Pt. II

In the first installment of "Turning a Page," Robert Collins recounted his early experiences with enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force and training in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. His story continues with an emphasize on the thoughts of him, as a young, naive farm boy, and his family facing the prospects a son might encounter in the war.
September 11, 1943 – No. 2 Manning Depot, Brandon Manitoba – A kaleidoscope of thoughts and memories whirled through my mind. Why was I here? That was easy. Partly because, a generation before, a short, feisty, Belfastborn, English-raised patriot named John Douglas Collins - my father - had left his newly acquired Saskatchewan homestead the moment WW I was declared, joined Lord Strathcona's Horse, gone overseas with the first Canadian contingent, and the following spring marched into the front lines of France, sans horse, like the rest of his regiment.

That autumn he was carried out, sick and bloated: from the late-spring Battle of Festubert; from a summer of ice and mud and relentless shell-fire; from poison gas and the inhuman trenches. After a long convalescence in  England they sent him home, with orders to work outdoors if he wanted to stay alive. He went back to farming his 320 acres. He was a literate man with a profound distrust of things mechanical.

He'd have been ill-suited for farming even with good health. Now a friend met him at the train, looked at his face, aged and wrinkled before its time, and wept. "My God, Jack," he said. "What have they done to you!"

My father's war never really ended. Physical ills and bad memories plagued him. He rarely talked about it, and never with the affection and nostalgia of many veterans. But once, when my brother and I were small, we coaxed him to show us how a cavalryman rode. He was in his 50s, cursed with lumbago, but he vaulted on our bemused saddle-horse and, sitting straight as an arrow, cantered her around the farmyard to our total delight, and his.

Sometimes he would snap us a salute and we'd snap one back, everyone laughing. And once, shortly before he died in the Vancouver veterans hospital in 1957, of age and the residual damage of the war, he confusedly barked out military commands from 42 years before. That day, no one laughed.

Despite what the war did to him, his patriotism never wavered. He believed in the Royal Family and the Empire as fervently as he despised Mackenzie King, the Liberal party and socialism. When WW Il broke out, he wanted to enlist, which would have been laughable had be not been deadly earnest. He was far too old and frail to serve even in the Veterans Guard.

He, and we, listened to the radio war news several times a day. We sat hushed and reverent when Winston Churchill's fighting speeches crackled through from London. Once Churchill visited Ottawa, spoke to Parliament, and derisively told how the boastful Hitler had threatened to wring England's neck like a chicken's. "Some chicken!" Churchill's voice rang over the airwaves, and in our living room we joined in the gales of laughter  from the MPs and senators. And then, with his impeccable timing, " ... Some neck!" I would gladly have risen up and marched to battle beside Churchill that day.

I clipped maps from the Regina Leader Post, charting every rise and fall of Allied fortunes. My father never urged me to enlist; I think he dreaded it. But I owed it to him. I knew that if I joined up he would be burstingly proud. And he was. It was not just my father's influence and example. My family and most of our neighbors were caught up in the drama and adventure of WW II. We were certain that it was a just war. Hitler had forced it so we were going to beat him. There was urgency and camaraderie in the air. You gave blood to help a wounded soldier. You dropped coins into milk bottles on grocery store counters to buy "Milk for Britain." We salvaged everything. Old pots and pans, toothpaste tubes, and the tin foil from cigarette packages, for their aluminum; leftover fat , for the glycerine in high explosives. My school friend Mac Smart and I canvassed local farms for rusting and abandoned machinery, lugged backbreaking tons of it into a truck, and sold it to make guns or God knew what, loyally donating the money - about 6,000 cigarettes' worth - to the cigarette fund, an endless tide of nicotine for our fighting men. Food, gasoline, beer and hard liquor were rationed. This didn't matter much: We grew most of our food, rarely drove our 1929 Chev, and never let booze pass our lips, mother abhorring it and father abstaining because of his health. But rationing made us feel closer to the war afar.

The radio, newspaper and magazines brought that distant war to Shamrock. I saw photos of overalled women in munitions factories, their curls tied up in head scarves, never dreaming that I was witnessing women's liberation. Advertisements showed little girls with fingers to lips, cautioning: Please! A War Worker Is Sleeping. The radio played Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet and When the Lights Go On Again and we sang along, although I'd never seen a milkman or a blackout.

All around us young men and women were trickling into the forces. Big, husky Roland Hook, from a couple of miles south, joined the army and the fighting in Europe. Handsome, swarthy Earl Brown joined the air force and lost his life on a mission not so long after our school played softball against his. My cousin Dora enlisted in the RCAF Women's Division. My high school friends, the inseparable Henry twins, separated to join the navy and the army.

With my father's health failing, I could have opted to be an essential farm worker, exempt from military service, as many friends did. But I would have been a terrible farmer. I was a bookish, skinny, unathletic scarecrow, not much good at anything except school. I loved the land but I wanted to be a writer.

This didn't make me a Grade A candidate for soldiering. Nor was I brave, but bravery or lack of it was almost incidental. Given the mood, it took more courage to stay home. One neighbor - a kind, polite, hard-working fellow several years older than I who kept a watchful eye over me in my first year at grade school - went to jail rather than abandon his religious principles about war. I knew he was not a coward, but others didn't. It caused a flurry of oohs and ahs over the party line. The war was duty but also high romance, and the RCAF was the newest, most glamorous of the services.

Everything exciting seemed to be happening in the air. My father's nightmare in the trenches had soured me on the army. The navy seemed a bad bet because I couldn't swim. But the air force! Harvard and Anson and Tiger Moth trainers from airbases at Mossbank and Moose Jaw sometimes flew over our fields. I craned my neck at them, awed and wistful.

Most important, my special pal Roy Bien was already a wireless air gunner. To me, it was the ultimate in glamor: He manned the guns in battle and at other times operated that fascinating instrument, the wireless radio. He was  three years older but we had often walked home together from grade school. I worshipped him – the way he danced, played the guitar and yodelled, got the girls. When he came home on leave with the WAG's white half wing on his blue chest, I was consumed with envy. It had to be the air force.

All of this was impossible to put into coherent words. Not yet 18 when I finished Grade 12 - the end of high school in Saskatchewan - I mumbled to  my parents: "Guess I'll be joining up soon." My father nodded. "I guess we knew you would." My mother, looking fixedly at her sewing, said quietly:  "What would you do, son?" "Something like what Roy's doing." None of us said much more at the time. My mother's face was taut and troubled. It was  not that we expected me to die in battle. It was simply that our little foursome was breaking up. We had done everything as a family. Even in the depths of the Depression, there had been a comforting sameness and unity to our lives. Now nothing would ever be the same again.

That summer my father had a chance for local work, managing Shrunnck Lumber yard. The wheat and oats that summer of 1942 were the best we'd seen in years. He took the job and I promised to stay on long enough to help harvest the crop. An early autumn snow caught the stooks I had made before we could thresh them. Through the fall and winter I ran the farm and all its livestock reasonably well, with my mother's and brother's help. In the spring we belatedly threshed, then arranged to rent the place to neighbor Tommy Hawkins.

Then it was definitely time to go to war. Roy Bien had just gone overseas. Armed with air force recruiting literature, I hitched a ride to Moose Jaw, 60 miles from home, with Tim Adams, the gentle, cultured Englishman who ran our village post office. Mister Adams, as we boys were taught to address him, knew everything about the world, or so I thought. For my first night in a hotel he recommended the respectable Harwood. Its advertisement tantalized with " 110 rooms, 35 with bath, every guest room with own private toilet; soft water" for $1.50 single.

The next morning I presented myself to the RCAF in the Hammond Building on Main Street. They languidly filled out forms and instructed me to report to No. 5 Recruiting Centre in Regina two weeks later. Those two trips set a new record for personal travel: Until then I'd been on a train and in a city only once.

The Regina recruiters were equally unmoved by my presence. By 1943 the air force had plenty of applicants, and I was no bargain. My medical exam proved me basically sound, although more like a famine victim than the handsome hunks in the recruiting posters: 5 ft. 11, 125 lb. with a 31-in. chest and sparrow's ankles. Then they handed me the color-vision test-pages of bewildering colored dots that revealed certain numerals to the medically fit. I saw no numbers, or the wrong ones. I was blue-green color-blind! "Definitely unsafe," said the medical officer, for aircrew or ground duty involving colored wiring or lights.

I was stunned, flabbergasted, desperate. I could not be like Roy Bien. I could not even learn radio, which was part of my dream. The air force was yanking everything out from under me. I'd had no inkling of faulty color vision. I could tell red from green from blue! But because they said I couldn't, the only options were cook or airframe mechanic. A cook? I could  never face Roy again.

Yet it had to be the air force. Airframe mechanic was OK; it meant tinkering with all parts of a plane except the engine. As a farm tinkerer I reckoned I could cope with that. They gave me a mechanical aptitude test. I scored 30 out of 100. A corporal gazed at my score in disbelief. "Sure you don't wanna be a cook, kid?" he said.

But Fit. Lt. W.C. Cumming was more charitable when he saw my high school marks. My wonderful Grade 12 teacher, Richard Schmalenberg, had coached and  inspired me to a strong finish: a 78.4-percent average including, predictably, As in literature and composition and, unpredictably, more As in the subjects I hated trigonometry, chemistry and geometry. Cumming also liked my classification test score. The CT, which assessed "basic intellectual suitability," covered 80 points of mental ability, ranging through perceptual alertness, numerical sense, ability to follow directions, verbal sense and reasoning ability. ln the 30-minute time limit I scored 71 out of 80, about 20 more than the average graduate.

"An above-average rural lad-intelligent, co-operative,'' Cumming wrote on my form . " While MAT (mechanical aptitude) score is low, CT is high and has a good academic record. Believe he is well worth a try." So I was accepted. Still smarting, I begged a different color test for a week later. At home during the interim, my peaceable mother turned into a tiger. How dare the air force say her boy was defective! But back in Regina the  results, retested with pin-point colored lights, were the same. "Go home and finish the harvest; you'll be needed there,'' the recruiters said. "Report to Brandon manning pool in the fall."

Being an intelligent, co-operative rural lad, I did. I stooked more grain,  pitched more sheaves and wondered, with mingled glee and fear, what was ahead. Then, one crisp September morning, I left my mother in tears beside the big flat stone that was the back doorstep of our farmhouse. She who had stayed cheerful through a life of hard times. She of that strong, stoic, God-fearing, Pennsylvania Dutch stock named Hartzell. She who'd grown up on a hard-scrabble North Dakota farm, won a scholarship to university but never had a chance to use it, begun teaching at 18 to help support her mother, and met Jack Collins, the love of her life, during a class-room stint in Saskatchewan. All through the awful years of the Depression, all through dust and grasshoppers and no crops and no money, I'd seen her cry only once before.

I left my father at Shamrock's depot, a carbon copy of all the little dull-red clapboard CPR depots across Canada. He was an articulate man, and never ashamed to show emotion, but this moment was too painful for both of us. We gripped hands, hard. He squeezed my shoulder once. We murmured words. The train jerked away. I looked back, with an ache in my throat. He stood rigid on the wooden platform, his shoulders a little slumped, his normally cheerful face set grim and valiant.

In Regina the next day - by chance, it was my 19th birthday - I stood with a handful of others before the Red Ensign and intoned: ''I, Robert John Collins, do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty." Now I was R2*****, Collins, R.J. The next morning I boarded the 8:55 CPR main-line train for Manitoba, clutching two military meal tickets entitling me to breakfast and lunch. When I laid out a ticket after my first meal in a dining car the steward sighed noisily and raised his eyes heavenward: Oh Lord, why have you sent your humble servant this miserable wretch? ''You shoulda given me that before you ordered," he scolded. This traveller was just another dumb recruit, he realized the chances of a tip were nil.

Then getting off at Brandon, a whole province away, clinging to my father’s worn black club bag, I gravitated uncertainly to a sign at the end of the platform - AIRFORCE RECRUITS ASSEMBLE HERE. A corporal scooped me up with five other lost souls. "A wright, you men, follow me.’’ Bored with his menial task and not bothering to try marching the likes of us, he led us in a straggle to Pacific Avenue about half-mile straight up Tenth Street. Passers-by scarcely gave us a glance; this little city was teeming with airmen. In minutes we crossed Victoria Avenue to the ornate front of the arena and winter fair building - two stories and a great arched roof with long deep windows, my first of many homes away from home.

As we timidly past the armed sentries into the enormous maw, a few airmen chanted "You'll be sorr-eee!" We smiled weakly sensing correctly that it was a mandatory warning for all newcomers. It was a clear I'd hear often in the years ahead but it seemed especially apt this night.

Later, nearing sleep. I have one brief memory of humanity amidst the chaos. As we readied ourselves for bed, we newcomers fumbling through the unfamiliar routine - Which way to the john? Does anybody brush his teeth? Where do you hang your clothes? Does anybody wear pyjamas? - a young man with a long, lean face and prominent nose dropped to his knees before lights out, folded his hands, bowed his head and silently prayed. My heart went out to him. I had not been taught to pray beside my bed but I would never have had the guts to do this before this crowd of noisy profane strangers. There were a few sidelong glances, grinning winks, a surreptitious whisper or two, but no one baited him. His courage of conviction that first night was a good thought to go to sleep on.

A graduating class outside against the brick walls of No. 2 Manning Depot

125 of 150: 50 Facts About Britain's War Effort
For more than five years, military security prevented Britain from revealing anything like a full picture of her war effort. To have given away detailed figures on manpower, production, food and other matters might have enable~ the enemy to piece together some of the secrets of Britain's survival, and to use this information in preparing further attacks on the island which had defied ·the Nazi plan for world conquest. Britain is still subject to attacks; but the Allied position is now secure, and many facts and figures of Britain at war can be neither of aid nor of comfort to the enemy. On November 28; 1944, the British Government lifted ,the curtain. For the first time, the world was able to look into the military camps, the factories and the homes of Britain.

The picture revealed is, in a sense, only a working diagram. Tables of statistics and pages of charts do not normally convey a living picture. Yet in these tables and charts there are overtones of pride, enterprise and courage. Here is the Britain which, in our own way, fought on in the fields, the streets and the hills, and never surrendered. It is strange that dry statistics should have this power. The reason may lie in the unusual character of Britain's war effort. For Britain, this has not been a war of soldiers only. Every man  woman and child in the island has felt the force of the war, and there are very few for whom it has not meant a drastic·or complete change in the life they lead, the work they do, the food they eat, the clothes they wear. Indeed, it goes deeper than this. To Britain, the war has brought about, for all its people, a change in their approach to life. In the grim years which followed Nazi Germany's .first triumphs, the ordinary men and women of Britain learnt what it meant to face the imminent possibility of an invader setting foot on their soil and destroying their life and liberty. At such a moment, a people knows what it is fighting for; and it knows that every personal sacrifice it makes to keep up the .fight is a thousand times worthwhile.

This is, therefore, a record of a whole people at war. It starts with manpower, for the fighters have not been only those in uniform. Every man and woman of Britain has been fitted into the right war job. The record of those in uniform - given here in brief figures - speaks for itself. The record of the remainder is no less dramatic.

Next comes production, and here, behind the charts and tables, the reader sees not the normality of a production line, but the relentless struggle to keep the wheels rolling against all the obstacles of bombing, blackout and fatigue; the constant search for new methods of achieving the impossible; the patching-up of old machines; the tireless initiative in using substitute buildings - tiny workshops, huge underground caves.  And side by side with the old industrial Bdtain is the new Britain: the vast new plants established during the war itself; the spacious hostels for war workers in the heart of the country; the intense interest  in human welfare; the integration of education and culture, music and literature into the lives of the men and women who have been mobilized, under strict discipline, into a vast production army.

The figures relating to civilian life are the obverse of the medal. No one could have foreseen how a whole people could lower its living-standards, give up so much of the comforts of food, clothing and home life, and yet  remain cheerful and optimistic. These are the same people who, returning from long hours at the war plants, waiting in line for a crowded bus, and shopping for goods that are almost impossible to find have faced over and over again a renewed bombing, a further evacuation, a home destroyed. It was no false promise that Mr. Churchill made in 1941:

"We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire.
Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials
of vigilance and excertion will wear us down.''

Finally, there is the cost of the war to Britain. Measured in terms of human lives lost, it is grim enough; but there is in addition the cost to those who remain. How is Britain to evaluate the physical devastation at home the loss of her resources abroad, or, in another field, the permanent effects on the·children: who  have grown up for nearly six years under the privations of war?

Yet, in the final analysis, this is not how the war will be evaluated in Britain. It has been a struggle in which a whole people gave everything needed in terms of possessions and comfort to defend the one thing they would not sacrifice - their freedom. Set over against tragedy and devastation is the triumph of achievement, the fulfillment of purpose. It is with renewed confidence in herself and her future that Britain faces the rebuilding of a new world.


1. As early as mid-1941:, ninety-four out of every hundred males in Britain aged 14 to 64 had been mobilized in the Services or industry. The remaining six per cent are almost elderly,schoolboys, students, war invalids, sick and retired persons.

2. Out of 16,000,000 women in Britain aged 14 to 59, more than 7,000,000 were ,in the Services or industry by mid-1944. The remainder were almost all married women with domestic responsibilities.

3. Britain has made all men aged 18 to 51-married or single subject to drafting for the Forces. Women can be drafted to the Forces or directed into industry. Out of 32,000,000 men and women  of working age in mid-1944, 22,000,000 - that is, more than two out of every three - were in the Forces or industry.

4. Britain has put into her Armed Forces more than one out of every three men aged 14 to 64. The number of men actually serving in June, 1944, was 4,500,000. If the number of killed, missing, prisoners of war, and discharged persons are included, the total who are serving or who have served is more than 5,500,000 more than one out of nine of the entire population of Britain.

5. Fifty-seven per cent of all men in Britain aged 18 to 40 have served or are serving in the Armed Forces.

6. Britam's total of 4,500,000 men in the Armed Forces in June, 1944 - almost one-tenth of the entire population - does not include the men in the Merchant Navy; 225,000 men in whole-time Civil Defense; 1,000,000 men of the Armed Forces killed, missing, prisoner or discharged; and 1, 750,000 men in the  Home Guard.

7, As early as 1943, more than half of all British women aged 18 to 40 were in the Services or industry. By mid-1944, 900,000 British women were doing part-time work in industry and 350,000 were doing part-time  Civil Defense work.

8. Three out of every four persons employed in British manufacturing industries (excluding mining) in mid-1944 were on Government work. Almost all the remainder were on essential work for the home market. Only fqur per cent of this labor force was engaged in production for export.

9. Between mid-1943 and mid-1944, personnel employed in British munitions industries was reduced by 181,000. In the same period personnel in the Forces increased by 224,000 in spite of heavy military casualties.

10. Casualties to Britain's Armed Forces totaled more than one out of every ten men in the first five years of the war. One out of every twenty-six men enlisted in the Forces has been killed or is missing.

I1. More than 57,000 British civilians were killed and almost 79,000 injured by enemy action up to the end of August, 1944. Of the total killed, 23,757 were women and 7,250 were children.


12. Britain has herself produced seven-tenths of all the munitions and merchant vessels produced or used by the British _Commonwealth and Empire since the outbreak of the war. Of the balance, one-tenth has come from the rest of the Commonwealth and Empire and two tenths from the United States.

13. Between September, 1939, and June, 1944, Britain built 722 major naval vessels, with a displacement of 1,333,961 tons; 1,386 Mosquito naval craft; and 3,636 other naval vessels. Output in this last category, which  includes landing craft, increased from 200 in 1940 to an annual rate of 1,814 in the first half of 1944.

14, In 1940, Britain produced 1,486 naval guns; in 1941, almost 4,000; in 1943, more than 20,000. Torpedo output was almost 1,000 in 1940; in 1943, it was more than 7,000.

15, By June, 1944, Britain had produced more than 25,000 tanks and nearly 1,000,000 wheeled vehicles for the Services. Artillery equipmerits totaled 13,512; anti-aircraft equipments, 21,618. More than 2,000,000 rifles and nearly 4,000,000 machine guns and sub-machine guns were made by Britain in this period.

16, Britain's output of rockets increased from 14,000 in 1940 to 3,138,000 as early as 1942. Output of ammunition up to June, 1944, included 161,000,000 rounds of gun ammunition; 388,000,090 rounds of 22 mm. ammunition; and 8,285,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition.

17. British factories delivered 102,609 new aircraft between September, 1939, and June, 1944, including 27,720 bombers, 38,025 fighters, and 6,208 naval planes. For every six aircraft delivered in 1942, four additional aircraft were put back into action through repairs. British workers have done more than 60,000  major repair jobs to aircraft and more than 113,000 to,aero engines.

18. In the first six months of 1944, Britain was delivering heavy bombers at the rate of 5,778 a year, and fighters at the rate of 11,310 a year.

19. Britain produced more than 200,000 aero engines and almost 1,000,000 tons of bombs between September, 1939, and June, 1944.

20. Output of iron ore in Britain in 1943 was fifty per cent above the pre-war average;. timber output was eight times as great; magnesium production was almost twelve times as great. Almost 6,000,000 more tons of metal scrap were collected in the years 1939 to 1943 than would have been collected at the pre-war rate.

21. Britain has plowed up fifty per cent more land during the war an increase of 6,500,000 acres. The net output of human food has increased by at least seventy per cent in terms of both calories and protein. Production of wheat, barley, and potatoes has increased in every case by more than one hundred per cent.


22. In maintaining vital supply routes, Britain, up to me end of 1943, lost 2,921 merchant ships totaling 11,643,000 gross tons, a loss equal to two-thirds of her entire merchant fleet tonnage at the outbreak of the war. 29,629 merchant seamen in United Kingdom shjps have lost their lives and 4,173 have been interned by the enemy.

23. By the end of 1943, Britain had produced 4,717,000 gross tons of new merchant ships. In addition, a vast repair program has absorbed more than half of the manpower available for merchant shipping. At one period, more than 2,500,000 tons of merchant ships were in hand for repairs.

24. As part of Britain's Reverse Lend-Lease to the United States, British ships transported to the United Kingdom, in one year alone, about 865,000 uniformed Americans, including 320,000 carried in the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary.

25. To meet the shipping shortage, Britain cut down her imports of dry cargo to less than half of the pre-war figure. Imports of food and raw materials in 1943 were down to fifty per cent. Imports of "finished goods" - averaging 1,150,000 tons a year up to 1943 instead of a prewar 7,000,000 tons - were almost exclusively munitions.

26. British imports of dairy produce in the first half of 1944 were only sixty-five per cent of the pre-war average for six months; sugar imports were down to forty-six per cent; fruit and vegetables to twenty-eight per cent. Imports of maize and other animal feeding-stuffs which totaled 5,000,000 tons a year before the war, fell to one and one half per cent of the pre-war figure.

27, British imports of steel ingots in 1942-urgendy needed for war production and economical of shipping space were almost thirty times the pre-war figure: On the other hand, imports of iron ore were cut down to one-third, and metal scrap to almost nothing. Timber imports were cut from almost 10,900,000 tons to less than 2,000,000 tons. Raw cotton imports were cut to less than three-quarters; newsprint to less than one-quarter.

28. British exports in 1943 were less than half the pre-war amount by value, and less than one-third by quantity.

29. By mid-1944 only four per cent of all persons in British manufacturing industries (excluding mining)  were engaged in production for export, as compared with fifteen per cent before the war. Exports of spirits were sixty per cent of the 1938 figure; woolen and worsted goods, fifty per cent. Pottery exports were cut to forty-three per cent; cotton piece goods to seventy-seven per cent. Iron and steel exports had virtually vanished.


30. One out of. every three houses in Britain has been damaged or destroyed by enemy action. Out of 13,000,000 houses, 4,073,000 were damaged, 255,000 rendered uninhabitable, and 202,000 totally estroyecl up to the end of September, 1944.

31. One-quarter of the 4,500,000 houses in Britain damaged or desuoyed by enemy action were damaged in the robot attacks after D-Day.

32. By 1940, the quantity of foods and services purchased by civilians in Britain, including food, rent, fuel and travel, had fallen to eighty-eight per cent of the 1938 figure; by 1941, it had fallen to eighty-two per cent; by 1943, to seventy-nine per cent. The goods still supplied have largely deteriorated in quality.

33. The only staple foodstuffs in Britain in unrestricted supply are potatoes, other vegetables, and bread. Except during the home season, fresh fruit is very scarce. Ordinary consumers received an average of two and one-half eggs a month in 1943.

34. Total consumption of meat per head in Britain in 1943 was twenty-two ounces per week - a fall of twenty-seven per cent from the pre-war average. Fresh fruit averaged twelve ounces a week - a fall of fifty-six per cent; butter, two and one-third ounces a week-a fall of seventy per cent.

35. Landings of fish in Britain during the war have averaged less than one-third of the pre-war figure, because two-thirds of the British deep-sea trawler fleet and nearly three-quarters of her steam-drifter fleet have been requisitioned for naval purposes.

36. The milk allowance to non-priority consumers in Britain has averaged two pints a week during the last three winters. Special allowances of milk for children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and invalids have helped to maintain minimum nutrition standards. Children have been given basic supplies of orange  juice, and canteens have received special allowances of food for workers in heavy industries.

37. British clothes rationing-introduced in 1941 - allows each only one pair of boots, shoes or slippers in about thirteen months; and each housewife, one pair in eight months.A woman can buy five or six pairs of stockings a year - none fully fashioned, and all inferior in quality.

38. Pottery, glass, kitchen goods and other hardware purchases in Britain in 1943 were down to one-third of the 1938 quantity; furniture and furnishings to less than one-quarter. Supplies available in 1943 would allow only one civilian in eight to spoon or fork a year, or one in twelve to buy a table-knife.

39. The average load carried by British passenger trains is two-and-a-quarter times as great as before the war. Despite rigid curtailment of the use of trains for normal passenger use, congestion has increased because of evacuation and dispersal, the special services provided for industrial workers, and the extensive traveling by British and Allied Forces.

40. The net ton-miles of freight trains in Britain have risen by forty per cent since the outbreak of the war; for merchandise alone the figure has almost doubled. In addition to the immense services provided in advance of D-Day, British freight trains have had to carry loads diverted from coastal shipping. Women have replaced men to a great extent throughout the railroad system.

41. Busses in Britain had their mileage reduced by forty per cent as early as 1941, yet passengers carried have increased in some cases by as much as fifty per cent. The number of automobiles licensed fell from 2,000,000 before the war to 700,000 at the beginning of 1944. No gas is allowed except on proof of essential need.


42. In five war years, total Government expenditure in Britain has been about $93,000,000,000. Expenditure in 1943 was nearly six times the expenditure in 1938.

43. In meeting the cost of the war in 1943 - $23,000,000,00 –Britain raised half the sum needed by taxation and other revenue; almost one-third-$7,000,000,000 - by private savings; and almost all the remainder - $3,238,000,000 - by the sale of assets abroad and disinvestment at home.

44. The number of income tax payers in Britain rose from 4,000,000 in 1938-9 to 13,000,000 in 1943-4.  Income tax is at a standard rate of fifty per cent.

45. In Income Tax alone, a married man with two children in Britain pays $304 out of an income of $2,000 a year, or $1,204 out of $4,000 a year. In the higher brackets, Iricome Tax and Surtax take $5,528 out of an income of $12,000, or $27,128 out of an income of $40,000. In the case of incomes over $80,000, Income Tax· and Surtax rise to ninety-seven and one-half per cent on the part in excess of $80,000.

46. In addition to Income Tax, all businesses in Britain pay an Excess Profits Tax of one hundred per cent. Indirect taxes in Britain have more than doubled. On a pint of beer, the duty is twelve and a half cents. A pack of twenty cigarettes costs forty-seven cents, of which thirty-five cents is tax. Purchase tax on a wide range of goods varies from sixteen per cent to one hundred per cent.

47. Private savings in Britain have totaled about $30,000,000,000 in five war years, equivalent to $630 per head of population. By far

50 Facts About Great Britain runs out of facts at 47 – no explanation given. Perhaps due to war shortages, 50 Fact books were cut by six percent to 47 facts.


Continued in PART XXVI: Nos. 126-130

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