Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
2023.05 Edition
BCATP Researchers Greg Sigurdson and Bill Hillman 
celebrated Canada's 150th Birthday in 2017 
by creating 150 illustrated vignettes for Brandon's BCATP Museum site. 
When the museum suddenly changed their Website 
all this work was trashed, 
along with all of my +20 years work (2,000 Webpages) 
created as a volunteer Webmaster and host for their site.
Fortunately I had paid for all their Web hosting charges on my personal server, 
so I'm gradually giving the pages new life, 
but after having to change countless thousands of links. 
Canada 150 Vignette Series
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Vignettes
PART XI: Nos. 51 - 55
By Greg Sigurdson (1955 - 2023) and Bill Hillman
51. A WWII Memory:  Sam & Glen Merrifield

52. Canada Yanks in the RCAF
53. Boundary Bay, British Columbia
54. Aircraft of the Plan: The Avro Anson
55. Canada Day -- 150th Birthday
Many of the illustrations may be clicked for full screen size.

051 of 150
A World War II Memory - Sam & Glen Merrifield

Our first installment of this wartime memory was published in our Canada 150 Vignette No. 48. It followed brothers Stan and Glen Merrifield from tennage life on the farm in Shoal Lake Manitoba to their completion of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan training. At that time, we had no intention of going into their experiences overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force. A second reading of the rest of the story brought us to the conclusion that it was loaded with wonderful insights into all facets of life as airmen in a foreign country during World War II. We decided to serialize the story (25000 words) into 14 installments to be published in our Canada 150 Vignette serices. This is the second installments and it explores Stan and Glen's voyage to England to join the  No. 3 Bomber Group the Marham Aerodrome in Norfolk England.

We loafed around until the 27th of September when we were taken with our worldly belongings to docks and put on the Duchess of Athol, a CPR boat; there was one more air force man who was an Air Commodore. All the other passengers were civilians and included the actors, actresses and film crews returning to Britain after filming scenes of "49th Parallel".
We were put into cabins which held four people and in addition to Glen and myself, our cabin had Dick Lewington and Teddy True both of whom had been in our class and both of whom had lived in England. Dick until he came to Canada and Teddy as a child while his father was with the Canadian Diplomatic Service. One evening we saw some of the film shot in Canada, mostly at Banff, but while they tried to fill in the story it is not a highlight in my memory.

The currency used on the boat was the British Sterling and the first thing we had to do was to change our Canadian money into Pounds. As I recall the exchange rate was four dollars and eighty cents for each Pound. Glen was given a five Pound note in part payment for his money. At that time such notes were printed on one side only of a tissue like material which had to be folded over to bring it down to the size of an ordinary note. He treated it with a certain amount of scepticism and was not long in spending a part of it to get change in one pound notes which looked and felt more like the money we were used to handling.

I have no recollection of what the eating arrangements were but I believe that we ate in the same dining facilities that the other tourist class civilians used. In any event we fared much better than we would have had we been on a troopship. We were not in a convoy and as a result, we were given duties doing submarine lookout, which involved standing at the front of the deck just below the bridge keeping a lookout for submarine periscopes. The shifts were for two hours and came around every two days, with two men on each shift. The only thing spotted was in our last day out when the Air Commodore who was checking up on us, spotted what turned out to be a deflated barrage balloon floating past some distance from the boat.

The trip took eight days and after landing in Liverpool on October 5 we were taken to Padgate, a depot near Warrington, Lancashire. We were there until October 11, 1940 and were introduced to the British way of doing things which was to make your bed in a specified manner and to keep the floor area under and around it highly polished. In the early evenings we would go into Warrington to the cinema or pubs on the bus, however, when the air raid sounded, which was most evenings, the busses stopped where they were until the all-clear sounded. This meant that we were obliged to walk back from town to be in by the prescribed time.

Glen, myself and Jack Duller were all sent to Marham Norfolk and it was a long tedious day making the trip by train with two train changes before we arrived in Kings Lynn, Norfolk about nine o'clock in the evening. From there we went to the Airdrome at Marham by bus which was returning after having taken people to the base city for the evening.

We arrived in time to be given beds in the barracks room occupied by signals people being all air force except one who was an army signalman called Stiffy Hardwick who maintained the equipment at the transmitter station. While some of the others were newly in the air force, several of.the others in the signal section were permanent force men with three or four of them having gone through Cranwell, the RAF signal school, as boy apprentices who joined up at the age of fifteen or sixteen and had therefore had several years training. They were known as Trenchard's Brats. Trenchard being the first head of the RAF after it was changed from RFC. Many had been through France and Norway and were the backbone of the fine technical standard of the RAF at that period. As boys, they spent part of each day learning airforce trades and the rest of the day with general school activities befitting boys their age. These general school activities were shortened to Gen, an abbreviation that became the word used for any information on any subject.

Marham was a permanent air force base and had red brick buildings. At one end of the square were the headquarters offices with the signals section at the rear and all was surrounded by a high brick wall heavily banked on the outside with earth. The canteen movie and other recreational facilities for the enlisted men were at the other end of the square. There were three barracks blocks along each side of the square. The facilities for the officers were back off the square but I do not recall in which direction.

The airdrome was in Three Group and contained two Bomber Squadrons flying Wellington aircraft powered by Pegasus Engines. Since our work was in the signals cabin, there was no need for us to get out among the aircraft and we never even walked over to the hangars during the eight months we were there. Glen said he did and was asked his business as security was much tighter in the early part of the war. As well as wireless operators, the signal cabin was staffed by teleprinter operators who also resided in the same barracks as we did. During the day shift, they were busier than we because they were constantly sending and receiving messages whereas the wireless operators had only to tune in on the air ministry frequency every hour on the hour and only rarely was there a message to take down, always in code.

On nights when there were operations there was a full complement of operators listening on five or six frequencies. The aircraft maintained radio silence until they had dropped their bombs after which they sent an 'X' signal code saying so. They again called once they had crossed the enemy coast and nothing more unless they were in trouble. Once they were back in England and close to the landing field they switched to the command set and spoke to the control tower. On nights when there was no ops on there was only a wireless operator and a teleprinter operator on duty along with a watch Corporal. We would take turns staying awake for two hours and we could operate the teleprinters well enough to acknowledge receipt of a message and the teleprinter operators could read enough Morse code to know if there was or was not a message. If there was a message to come they would awaken the operator to take it. When not awake, we slept on the coconut matting on the floor using our ever present Gas Masks for a pillow.

Our Signals Officer was a Flight Lieutenant by the name of George Reece and the English chaps referred to him as the Wolfe of the signals cabin. He was a taciturn individual and I think the only time I had a conversation with him was when we were leaving the station at which time he wished us good luck. Our presence at the station was a cause for some concern because we three Canadians were leading aircraftsmen while the English chaps who were better trained than we, were only AC2' s or AC1 's. Our pay was also a great deal more than theirs, however, we had assigned some of our pay home to be saved for us and the net result was that on paydays we received about the same amount of cash as the others did.

There was a General Duties kid in our barracks, an AC2, whose daily pay was only sixpence which at the rate of exchange was only twelve cents compared to our two dollars. This lad always needed some extra pocket money and was more than glad to polish the area under our bed for sixpence, which was done once a week the evening before the inspection of the barracks.

I don't think we had a day off as such but because we were on shift work, a change in shifts could result in a 32 hour respite when there was ample time to run into Kings Lynn on the camp bus which left daily about noon and returned about eleven in the evening. This gave us time to do some sightseeing, have our tea and see an early showing of a movie before going back to camp. One of the teleprinter operators that I frequently was on shift with was Jimmy Corbold who came from Bury, St. Edmunds where his mother ran a pub and on two or three occasions,I went home with him by the usual method of hitch hiking.

Jack Duller brought a silver grey shirt overseas with him which he wore on dress occasions. He was frequently accosted by the authorities who he convinced that it was permissible Canadian issue. One of our Corporals purchased a car and one night four of us went off to a dance at Downham Market. During the war, all automobiles had shields on their headlights to restrict the amount of light given and thereby reducing the field of vision to a few feet. Coming home the driver mistook a white line on the edge of a tank barrier at the side of the road and on a curve, for the line on the road, with the result that we crashed into the barrier and wrecked the car. Except for a few bruises and some cuts to the Corporal's face, we came off very well. We were taken to the home of a local ARP Warden who attended the cuts and then drove us home. During the dance while I was dancing with the daughter of the master of ceremonies, we won a spot dance and my prize was a pair of gold plated cuff links which had been purchased by the donor for her son who was an aircrew member of the RAF and had been killed before she was able to give them to him.

Every three months we were entitled to a seven day leave and at least one forty eight hour pass. If one took them together and began leave just after a shift change, it added up to ten days. Every other leave entitled us to a railway warrant to any place in the British Isles, which gave us free transportation. When the time came around for our first leave, we thought that Glen, Jack Duller and I could all go together but somehow that was rejected and we had to go separately.

Both Glen and I went to Glasgow which was not being bombed as frequently nor as heavily as London. The Fitzroy Hotel on the end of Sauchihall street had been converted into an overseas service mans facility and I was able to get a room for a very nominal sum during my stay.

Sometime in April, Jack Duller contacted pneumonia and was sent to a Military Hospital in Ely. At or about the same time, Glen was either on leave or on a course and learned that the powers that be intended forming  all Canadian Squadrons and he was able to get the name of someone to contact to request a posting to such a squadron. The result was that on the 12th of May 1941 we bid good-bye to Marham Norfolk and went to Driffield, Yorkshire. Jack was still in hospital and while he was also posted he did not arrive until 405 Squadron had moved to Pocklington some weeks later.

Glen here. . . . the name I was given was F/Lt Hammond c/o Air Ministry, London. After our successful posting I passed this information on to all Canadian lads I met who would want the same treatment One later told me he got holy hell for doing an end run around his CO and the establishment and writing Air Ministry. All I can say is I am one LAC who did it and got results and no brickbats.

052 of 150:
Canada Yanks in the RCAF
Canada’s Yanks: Air Force, Part 16
July 1, 2006 by Hugh A. Halliday
In April 2017, the Commonwealth Air Training Museum in Brandon Manitoba received a request for assistance from the office of Tim Ryan, representative for Ohio in the United States Congress. He is the co-sponsor of a bill to recognize the legacies of 12000 Americans who joined the fight for democracy in WWII prior to the United States’ entry into the war. The bill is known as: “American Patriots of WWII through Service with the Canadian and British Armed Forces Gold Medal Act of 2017.”

Asked and given, the CATP Museum forwarded a letter in support of this bill to the Congressman. In addition to recognition for their service to the Commonwealth armed forces, the honorees will be eligible for a medal to be struck if the bill passes. This motivated us to see if there was a story for the Canada 150 Vignette project from this act of remembrance. We found a good one written by our good friend Hugh Halliday who wrote this article for the Legion Magazine in July 2006 telling the story of those Americans who came north of the border to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. We present this interesting and informative story below. We offer special thanks to Hugh Halliday.

Canada declared war on Germany on Sept. 10, 1939. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) had been expanding in anticipation of this; now it fairly exploded, doubling in size within four months. Meanwhile, on Dec. 17, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand signed an agreement creating the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Canada was about to become a vast air force training centre, with schools from the Atlantic to the Pacific and students from around the globe. Many of those trained would be American citizens.
Initially, the RCAF did not seek out Americans; there were more than enough Canadians volunteering. Moreover, with the United States still neutral, there would be diplomatic problems if American citizens were enlisted, much less courted. However, U.S. nationals began to arrive, motivated by everything from love of adventure to political convictions.

As more BCATP schools opened, the RCAF found itself short of trained pilots. It began looking for experienced Americans to perform non-combat duties. This led to the formation of the semi-secret Clayton Knight Committee, the brainchild of aviation artist Clayton Knight and the RCAF’s Director of Recruiting, Air Marshal Billy Bishop VC.

The committee opened its first office in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the spring of 1940; other bureaus were established in Spokane, Wash., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Kansas City, Cleveland, Atlanta, Memphis and San Antonio. Various devices were used to create the fiction that the Clayton Knight Committee was a private advisory unit. In practice it was recruiting Americans on American soil in violation of the Neutrality Act. Moreover, although its goal was to direct trained pilots to Canada, increasingly the committee gave information to untrained Americans who wanted to join the RCAF. These raw recruits constituted 85 per cent of the Americans ultimately enrolled in the RCAF.

One problem was the Oath of Allegiance to King George VI. An American taking the oath could be deemed to have forfeited his U.S. citizenship. In June 1940, Canada waived its Oath of Allegiance for foreign nationals, who henceforth were asked only to take an Oath of Obedience. In other words, they were to follow the rules of military discipline for the duration of their RCAF service.

Training centres began to resonate with American accents; some courses were comprised of 50 per cent of American students. Many more claimed to be Texans than was actually the case; girls who would not have been attracted to somebody from Rhode Island, might find a man from Texas more interesting.

As of Dec. 8, 1941, approximately 6,129 Americans were members of the RCAF. Just over half–3,883–were still undergoing training, but 667 were on operations overseas while others were engaged in flying duties in Canada itself, instructing, flying anti-submarine patrols, etc. With America’s entry into the war, RCAF recruiting there ceased and American volunteers began heading for USAAF (United States Army Air Force)  offices instead. Americans residing in Canada were still being enrolled, however. Ultimately, the RCAF calculated that more than 8,860 U.S. nationals joined that force.

Within a month of Pearl Harbor, talks were underway for the transfer of Americans from the RCAF to U.S. flying services. In May and June 1942, a board of Canadian and American officers travelled across Canada by special train, affecting the release of 1,759 Americans from the RCAF and enrolling them simultaneously in American forces. Transfers continued throughout the war. The RCAF calculated that 3,797 Americans switched back to their own national forces. That left 5,263 Americans who elected to stay with the RCAF throughout their service careers.

Many of the Americans had very distinguished battle records, but there is no question as to who gained the greatest fame. Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., who was born in China of missionary parents, wrote the moving poem High Flight while training with the RCAF. He was killed Dec. 11, 1941, when his Spitfire collided with an Oxford aircraft in England. The original manuscript of High Flight is in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

An estimated 234 American members were decorated. The earliest of RCAF Americans to be honoured was Sergeant George E. Mitchell of Diamond Springs, Calif. He graduated as an air gunner in March 1941, and was promptly sent overseas where he joined 7 Sqdn., flying Stirlings. In June 1941, while serving as rear gunner, he shot down a Me.110 as it attacked his aircraft. Mitchell was awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal in November 1941; unhappily, he was killed in action on April 6, 1942.

Some of the RCAF’s most highly decorated aircrew were American nationals. These included Squadron Leader David C. Fairbanks of Ithaca, N.Y., who earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses while flying Spitfires and Tempests, shooting down 16 enemy aircraft in the process. Following the war, he threw in his lot with Canada, joined the Toronto branch of de Havilland and became an executive with that company.

Also much decorated was Russell E. Curtis from Albion, Pa. He enlisted at Niagara Falls, Ont., in October 1940, earned his wings the following July, and wound up flying Wellington bombers with 104 Sqdn. in North Africa. In December 1942, he was awarded the DFM in recognition of great skill and knowledge. The citation noted that on two occasions he brought aircraft safely back to base in spite of flak damage in one instance and engine failure coupled with bad weather in another.

Following his tour with 104 Sqdn., Curtis was commissioned and sent back to England. In July 1944, now a flight lieutenant, he began a second tour, this time with 428 Sqdn., flying Lancasters. In August 1944, he and his crew were detailed to attack Dortmund, Germany. During the bombing run the aircraft came under heavy anti-aircraft fire and was hit. Curtis sustained a compound skull fracture. Despite the severity of his injury, he bravely remained at the controls and pressed home his attack. Not until the task was accomplished did he ask for assistance. He afterwards collapsed and was placed in the rest position. Other members of the crew took over the task of flying the Lancaster home; eventually it was landed by the bomb aimer. Six members of the crew were decorated for their roles in the incident; Curtis received a Distinguished Service Order.

Nor was Curtis unique among Canada’s Yanks. Flight Lieutenant John H. Stickell of Gilson, Ill., and Flt. Lt. William J. Senger of St. John, N.D., both earned the DSO and DFC. Stickell was also mentioned in dispatches. Both were bomber pilots flying Stirlings. Stickell began with 214 Sqdn. in May 1942 but was posted to 7 Sqdn. in August that year. Senger arrived at 7 Sqdn. in October 1942; his first operational sortie was flown as Stickell’s co-pilot. Eventually, both transferred to the United States Army Air Force, Stickell in March 1943, Senger in October 1943.

Sergeant Charles E. McDonald of Shreveport, La., was one of a kind. He enlisted in the RCAF in September 1940, earned his wings in April 1941, and was duly posted overseas, flying Spitfires with 403 Sqdn. On Aug. 21 he was shot down over France and taken prisoner. Yet his war was only beginning. On Aug. 11, 1942, with three other prisoners, McDonald escaped from Stalag Luft III. Aided by the Polish underground they assumed new identities that enabled them to cross Germany and occupied France, pass over the Pyrenees Mountains to Spain, and eventually reach Gibraltar. From there, they returned to England. During his long journey he witnessed Allied bombing raids on Berlin.

McDonald was awarded the Military Medal, a decoration normally associated with army personnel but awarded infrequently to airmen who escaped captivity. He was the only member of the RCAF ever to receive this honour. Late in the war he transferred to the USAAF, saw action in the Pacific, and went on to fly Sabres in Korea. Unhappily, McDonald was killed in a flying accident in November 1953.

Not all awards were for “gallantry in the face of the enemy.” On Jan. 28, 1943, Sgt. Clinton L. Pudney of Buffalo, N.Y., was air gunner in a Halifax bomber engaged in a training flight in Yorkshire, England. The aircraft hit high ground, crashed and burst into flames. Three crewmen were killed; all others, except Pudney, were too badly injured to extricate themselves. Pudney had sustained lacerations and lost blood, but he returned several times to the burning wreck until he had rescued four comrades. He then struggled two miles over rough moors to summon help. Pudney was awarded a George Medal. Tragically, he died after his aircraft was hit by lightning on June 16, 1943.

Roughly 800 Americans were killed while serving with the RCAF, including 148 in Canada itself. Most of these–117–involved training accidents, but 31 were killed on operations such as transport, ferry work and anti-submarine patrols. The first of Canada’s Yanks to die–on March 31, 1940–was Leading Aircraftman Edward E. Hood of New Bloomfield, Pa., killed in an automobile accident while on strength of RCAF Station Trenton, Ont. The second fatality (and first flying casualty) was LAC Chester M. Wood of New York City. He was under instruction at Trenton when his Fleet Finch went into a spin and crashed on June 16, 1940. Flt. Lt. James L. Mitchell of Venice, Calif., was the first to die on operations; his Hudson disappeared on a trans-Atlantic delivery flight on Jan. 9, 1941. At least two American members of the RCAF died in flying accidents in Britain before July 30, 1941, when Sgt. George R. Menish of Salina, Kansas, was killed in action flying a Blenheim light bomber with 139 Sqdn., the first of many combat casualties sustained by Americans in the RCAF.

Of the Americans killed in Canada, whether in training or on operations, most bodies were returned to their hometowns for burial. A few, however, were interred in cemeteries close to the places where they died, chiefly because of the presence of family or close friends in Canada. Those killed overseas and whose bodies were recovered were buried in the countries where they fell–Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany–to name the most frequent nations. The men with no known graves are commemorated on the various memorials dedicated to those who vanished.
Most of the American fatalities were in their early 20s, but some were “old men” by aircrew standards. Flying Officer David F. Langmack of Lebanon, Ore., was 39 when he died in a Lysander crash at Suffield, Alta., Sept. 22, 1941. Flt. Lt. Charles Lesesne of Sumter, S.C., was 34 when he was killed in action with 425 Sqdn. on March 31, 1945.

Although Canadian authorities strove to keep RCAF personnel together in Canadian formations, approximately 50 per cent of RCAF strength overseas was scattered through RAF units, and the American members of the RCAF were similarly dispersed. Most saw action in the North African and European theatres, but some ended up on secondary fronts. Two Americans serving in the RCAF were killed in Burma; Flt. Lt. Lloyd D. Thomas of Detroit earned a DFC flying Hurricanes with 5 Sqdn. before being killed by Japanese ground fire on April 18, 1944. Pilot Officer O.A. Keech of Alexandria, N.Y., was killed March 4, 1944, while dive-bombing in a Vultee Vengence aircraft of 84 Sqdn. Others died in even more remote places and in unusual ways. Warrant Officer Charles R. Dixon of Mount Vernon, N.Y., was serving in a meteorological flight in the Sudan. On March 10, 1943, while taxiing an obsolete Gladiator biplane, he blundered into a fuel dump and touched off the fire that killed him.

Among those with unusual stories was John Harvey Curry of Dallas. He enlisted in the RCAF in August 1940, trained as a pilot, and wound up in North Africa with 601 Sqdn. In March 1943, as a flight lieutenant, he was awarded the DFC for having destroyed seven enemy aircraft; the citation described him as “a source of inspiration to his fellow pilots.” However, his greatest exploit was still to come.

Curry was promoted to squadron leader and given command of 80 Sqdn. On March 2, 1944, while strafing enemy vehicles in Italy, he was shot down by ground fire. He force-landed in snow-covered mountains, but was unhurt. With the help of friendly Italians, he avoided capture and linked out with other Allied evaders. Curry and one soldier decided to strike south through rough terrain to reach Allied lines. They began their trek on March 12, suffering from hunger and cold along the route, and contacted Indian Army troops about noon on the 18th. For this feat of endurance and courage, Curry was made an Officer, Order of the British Empire.

Not all the Americans were aircrew nor were all the awards for flying duties. Flight Sergeant George F. Sullivan of Boston enlisted in Montreal in November 1940 as a mechanic. Late in 1941 he joined 409 Sqdn., an RCAF night-fighter unit in Britain. Sullivan remained with the unit throughout the war. In June 1945, he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work in keeping the unit active by maintaining a minimum of six serviceable Mosquito aircraft even during the most intensive operations and under the most adverse conditions.

There is a scene in the movie Captains of the Clouds when Billy Bishop is presenting pilot’s wings to a 1941 RCAF graduating class. One of the men is identified as Groves. As Bishop pins on the wings a short conversation ensues:
Bishop: “And where are you from, son?”
Groves: “Texas, sir.”
Bishop: “One of our most loyal provinces.”
Groves: “We think so, sir.”
Bishop: “Well, I think so, too. And we thank you for coming up here and helping us.”

The scene is a poignant reminder of a time when thousands of Americans joined a foreign air force, determined to fight Hitler without waiting for the U.S. to become directly involve

053 of 150: Boundary Bay, British Columbia

Number 4 Training Command of the Royal Canadian Air Forces had a number of training units located in various locations in British Columbia including Vancouver, Boundary Bay, Comox and Abbotsford, all on the mainland, and Patricia Bay near Victoria on Vancouver Island across the Georgia Strait from mainland BC.

RCAF Station Boundary Bay is located 40 km. south of Vancouver. It was the location of a number of training and operational units and was open between April 1 1944 and October 21 1945 for 578 days. The first RCAF unit to locate there was No. 18 Elementary Flying Training School which was open from March 10 1941 to May 25 1942 for a total of 410 days. This school was originally located in Vancouver (RCAF Station Sea Island) as No. 8 EFTS before moving to Boundary Bay.  De Havilland Tiger Moth aircraft were used to train students. The school was sponsored by the Aero Club of BC and operated, with civilian instructors, as the Vancouver Air Training Co. Ltd. As a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Island, No. 18 EFTS personnel and equipment were transferred to No. 33 Royal Air Force Station Caron Saskatchewan effective May 25 1942 to avoid the RCAF’s perception of a possible Japanese attack of Canada. In Caron, civilian staff took over instruction from RCAF personnel.

With this move, room became available to provide fighter protection to Vancouver. Three RCAF operational fighter squadrons were posted to Boundary Bay. No. 133 Squadron operated with Hawker Hurricane aircraft and Numbers 14 and 132 Squadrons operated with Curtiss Kittyhawks

Training continued at Boundary Bay with the opening of No. 5 Operational Training Unit on April 1 1944.  The Operational Training Unit was the last installment of training for air crew who spent eight to 14 weeks learning to fly operational aircraft such as the Hawker Hurricane,  Fairey Swordfish or larger multi-engine aircraft. Instructors were generally posted to the OTU after completing one or more operational tours.

Consolidated B-24L Liberator --India Air Force
At No. 5 OTU aircrew were trained to fly the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, an aircraft held in high regard by the Royal Air Force for operations in Asia and the Pacific Ocean. Nearby ocean and mountains provided a good simulation for what aircrews could expect to experience in the war with the Japanese Air Force. No. 5 OTU also provided training in the North American B-25 Mitchell aircraft as a good step toward flying the more powerful and complicated Liberator. Bristol Bolingbrokes saw duty towing targets for gunnery practice, the Curtiss Kittyhawk provided fighter affiliation exercises and the Noorduyn Norseman was used as a utility aircraft.

Mitchell -- Canada Air and Space Museum
When it was decided that Liberator aircrews required more air gunners, a satellite to No. 5 OTU was established in Abbotsford BC. Training would start in Boundary Bay and crews would graduate after completing the supplemental training in Abbotsford.

No. 5 OTU wrapped up operations at Boundary Bay on October 31 1945. Boundary Bay operated as a demobilisation centre for the RCAF until the base was closed in 1946. After World War II, Boundary provided a home for the Royal Canadian Corps of Signal operating radio equipment and gathering signals intelligence. In 1968, Boundary Bay’s name was changed to Canadian Forces Station Ladner, in compliance with new protocols called for with unification of Canada’s military forces. Transport Canada opened Boundary Bay Airport to ease air traffic needs at Vancouver International Airport.

Wikipedia - Canadian Forces Station Ladner -
Photo credit
By Mike Freer - Touchdown-aviation - Gallery page -- Air/Consolidated-B-24L-Liberator/1139882/LPhoto, GFDL 1.2,

054 of 150: Aircraft of the Plan - The Avro Anson
By far the aircraft adopted in greatest numbers by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was the Avro Anson. 8,138 were produced by Avro in Great Britain and another 2,882 were produced under license by the Federal Aircraft Ltd in Canada. As for total numbers built, it was second only to the Vickers Wellington in the Royal Air Force.

The Avro Anson’s namesake was Admiral George Anson who had a distinguished naval career with the Royal Navy in the first half of the 18th century. He was a wartime commander in the numerous conflicts of that time and as a captain who lead his crew on a voyage to circumnavigate the world.

The first Anson of the initial order of 174 flew in 1935. The last Anson in service to the Royal Air Force was a trainer and communications aircraft which was retired in 1968.  In Britain, this aircraft was produced for the RAF, Fleet Air Arm and RCAF until 1952. The Avro Anson, was a marvelous warplane in the 1930s but was deemed obsolete in this role by the time World War II started in 1939, however it assumed a useful role as a training aircraft and on coastal patrol during the war.

The Avro Anson is a twin engine single wing aircraft noted for its working versatility. Production of the Anson was based on the Avro 652 airliner. The Anson’s initial purpose was as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft in support to Fleet Air Arm’s larger and most costly flying boats. The Anson was capable of carrying heavy loads for a long range.  Early models had wooden wings made of spruce and plywood, a welded steel tube fuselage frame and were mostly clad in fabric. Its nose was moulded magnesium kept to a minimum size so as to not impede forward visibility.

In a first for the RAF, the Anson had a retractable undercarriage which was initially mechanical and hand operated requiring 144 turns of a crank to raise or lower the landing gear. With the gear tucked into the fuselage, the Anson was capable of an extra 30 miles per hour. The first Ansons were powered by two Armstrong-Siddley Cheetah IX radial engines.

These Ansons were crewed by a pilot, navigator/bomb-aimer and wireless air gunner. In 1940, requirements increased the crew to four members. The bomb-aimer was located laying on his stomach in the forward section of the nose with access to a bombsight, driftsight, other instruments and a landing light. The pilot sat behind the bomb-aimer with modern instruments and controls making the aircraft instrument flight rules (IFR) capable. Behind and to the right (starboard) was room for an additional passenger. The navigator was located behind this jump seat with a chair and table complete with instruments including a compass, Bigsworth chart boards, and wind and speed calculators. The wireless operator sat behind the wings with a table and radio. This crew member had access to a winch witch could be used to extend and retract an aerial behind the aircraft.

The pilot had control of a single .303 calibre Vickers machine gun pointed ahead of the aircraft. The WAG had access to an Armstrong –Whitworth manual gun turret with a single Lewis machine gun. The Anson could carry 300 pounds of bombs on its wings.

Anson trainers included dual controls allowing for a pilot trainee and no gun turret with the exception of those used for gunnery training. They were equipped with a Bristol hydraulic gun turret similar to that in the Bristol Blenheim

Ansons with maritime responsibilities were equipped with an internal inflatable dinghy and automatic distress signals.

At the beginning of World War II, the RAF had 824 Ansons in active service with 10 Coastal Command Squadrons and as trainers with 16 Bomber Command Squadrons in No. 6 Operational Training Group.  Lockheed Hudsons eventually replaced the coastal patrol Ansons. Ansons provided training for pilots, navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners.

The Royal Australian Air Force flew 1028 Ansons, mostly Mark 1s. The Royal New Zealand Air Force flew 23 Anson navigation trainers.

The Anson flew in the Royal Canadian Air Force until 1952 as a trainer and for the RCAF Eastern Air Command in maritime patrol with two 250 pound bombs. The RCAF utilized Mark II Ansons with Jacobs engines and hydraulic landing gear and the Mark V for navigator training equipped with Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior engines and wooden fuselages. One Mark V! was built in Canada for gunnery training with two Wasp Junior engines. A total of 23 variants of the Avro Anson were produced in Great Britain and Canada.

The Avro Anson  ~  Avro Ansons at 3 5AOS Winnipeg

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan schools using the A.V. Roe Anson aircraft
Service Flying Training Schools
No. 3 SFTS Calgary Alberta
No. 4 SFTS Saskatoon Saskatchewan
No. 5 SFTS Brantford Ontario
No. 7 SFTS Fort MacLeod Alberta
No. 8 SFTS Moncton New Brunswick
No. 9 SFTS Summerside PEI/Centralia Ontario
No. 11 SFTS Yorkton Saskatchewan
No. 12 SFTS Brandon Manitoba
No. 13 SFTS St. Hubert Quebec/North Battleford Saskatchewan
No. 14 SFTS Aylmer Ontario
No. 15 SFTS Claresholm Alberta
No. 16 SFTS Hagersville Ontario
No. 17 SFTS Souris Manitoba
No. 18 SFTS Gimli Manitoba
No. 19 SFTS Vulcan Alberta
No. 33 SFTS (RAF) Carberry Manitoba
No. 37 SFTS (RAF) Calgary Alberta
No. 38 SFTS (RAF) Estevan Saskatchewan
No. 41 SFTS Weyburn Saskatchewan
Air Observer Schools
No. 1 AOS Malton Ontario
No. 2 AOS Edmonton Alberta
No. 3 AOS Regina Saskatchewan
No. 4 AOS London Ontario
No. 5 AOS Winnipeg Manitoba
No. 6 AOS Prince Albert Saskatchewan
No. 7 AOS Portage la Prairie Manitoba
No. 8 AOS Ancienne-Lorette Quebec
No. 9 AOA Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Quebec
No. 10 AOS Chatham New Brunswick
Bombing & Gunnery Schools
No. 1 BGS Jarvis Ontario
No. 2 BGS Mossbank Saskatchewan
No. 3 BGS Macdonald Manitoba
No. 4 BGS Fingal Ontario
No. 5 BGS Dafoe Saskatchewan
No. 6 BGS Mountain View Ontario
No. 7 BGS Paulson Manitoba
No. 8 BGS Lethbridge Alberta
No. 9 BGS Mont-Joli Quebec
No. 10 BGS Mount Pleasant PEI
No. 31 BGS (RAF) Picton Ontario
Air (Central) Navigation Schools
No. 1 ANS Trenton Ontario/No. 1 CNS Rivers Manitoba
No. 2 ANS Pennfield Ridge New Brunswick/Charlottetown PEI
No. 31 ANS (RAF) Port Albert Ontario
No. 32 ANS (RAF) Charlottetown PEI
No. 33 ANS (RAF) Hamilton Ontario
General Reconnaissance Schools
No. 1 GRS Summerside PEI
No. 31 GRS (RAF) Charlottetown PEI

055 of 150: Canada Day -- 150th Birthday
It is Canada Day – Happy 150th Birthday to the great citizens of Canada who are privileged today to be living in peace in a truly wonderful country. As the intention of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Canada 150 project is to celebrate the achievements of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in World War II, we harken back to another significant Canada Day, or in this case Dominion Day – July 1 1942, the Diamond Anniversary of Canada’s Confederation – i.e. Canada's 75th birthday.
At that time, World War II was well underway with the three biggest Allied countries, USSR, USA and the United Kingdom with over 12,000,000 citizens serving in their armed forces while the Axis countries, Germany and Japan, had 10,000,000 citizens under arms. Our research shows that by 1945, over one million Canadians served during the war  so it might be safe to say that in 1942, Canada had half-a-million citizens in uniform.

We present the following analysis of Canada and Dominion Day 1942 and a collection of news events from that same year – mostly related to the ongoing struggle between the Allied and Axis countries.

On July 1 1867, when the participants of the Charlottetown Conference signed the articles of Confederation, the agreement became known as the Constitution Act of 1967 and in addition to setting the template for making a country, it contained a provision to celebrate this achievement on a yearly basis. It was to be called Dominion Day. This holiday occurred every year until 1982 when the Canada Act was passed and Dominion Day was changed to Canada Day which also has been celebrated every year since. This year we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, our sesquicentennial.

Unfortunately, not a lot of information can be found on the web about Dominion Day 1942 so we take the liberty to present some speculation and interpretation on what might have beem happening that day.

July 1 1942 was a Wednesday. Dominion Day, as does Canada Day, calls for a statutory holiday. Strictly speaking, a Canadian statutory holiday only pertains to employees employed in federally regulated jobs (e.g. banks, railroads, television stations) but the provinces generally follow Canada’s lead for this holiday.  The terms include closing of all federal offices including banks. Most employees are entitled to take the day off with full pay. Some businesses and government services such as police, fire and essential care require employees to work whereas these workers must receive 1.5x or 2x their regular wages and may also be given another day off.

How does this square with 1942 and the war… we are certain that Dominion Day did occur that year but we have no idea if it was considered a `big’ thing at the time or just another day off, I have to say that I was aware enough to know it was Dominion Day between the years 1960 and 1982 and I can’t remember anything special happening at that time. Surely the newspapers and radio offered features on the Dominion Day and its significance to the population, Surely most communities offered events for citizen to attend – civic speeches, outdoor concerts, parades etc. The following information is from the official Canada Day website which gives some idea what Dominion Day in 1942 may have been like.

"From 1958 to 1968 : The government organizes celebrations for Canada’s national holiday every year. The Secretary of State of Canada is responsible for coordinating these activities. A typical format includes a flag ceremony in the afternoon on the lawns of Parliament Hill and a sunset ceremony in the evenings, followed by a concert of military music and fireworks."

Pretty tame by today’s standards but something that was appreciated by those who attended. Local governments probably offered similar but scaled back events.

The idea of a paid-day off is a sticky one for a country actively fighting a war. Obviously, active combatants (technically federal employees) were not likely given the day off but maybe were given a rousing `pep talk’ from the boss and s slight upgrade in `chow’ that day. Excluding funerals, we doubt there were many intentional 21 gun salutes during World War II. Rear echelon military personnel in Canada may have had time off during Dominion Day such as with a suspension of the training schedule in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

One also must ponder the idea of a paid-day off of workers in Canada’s vast arsenal. Were Canada and her partners sufficiently armed in 1942 to allow a day off from work for workers on Dominion Day. Our country was 1034 days into World War II with 1159 days to go – almost halfway. I think at that time, things were starting to turn, but a lot of workers likely were getting the extra pay and a special lunch for that day.

We welcome any comments where we have gone wrong or coaching if you have anything extra to add. Here are some significant 1942 events:.
- The First Battle of El Almein (Africa) started
- The first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses arrived in Britain
- The Declaration by United Nations is signed by China, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union and 22 other nations, in which they agree "not to make any separate peace with the Axis powers"
- United States and Philippines troops fight the Battle of Bataan against Japanese forces.
- Operation Typhoon, the German attempt to take Moscow, ends in failure.
- Heinkel test pilot Helmut Schenk becomes the first person to escape from a stricken aircraft with an ejection seat.
- American film actress Carole Lombard and her mother are among all 22 aboard TWA Flight 3 killed when the Douglas DC-3 plane crashes into Potosi Mountain near Las Vegas while she is returning from a tour to promote the sale of war bonds. Lombard’s husband Clark Gable, stricken with grief, joined the American Army Air Corp as a private and graduated officer’s training as a Second Lieutenant Air Gunner who flew combat missions in Europe.
- The Holocaust: Nazis at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin decide that the "Final Solution (Endlösung) to the Jewish problem" is relocation, and later extermination.
- The first American forces arrive in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland.- Japanese warplanes bomb Darwin, Australia. - Battle of Los Angeles: Over 1,400 AA shells are fired at an unidentified, slow-moving object in the skies over Los Angeles. The appearance of the object triggers an immediate wartime blackout over most of Southern California, with thousands of air raid wardens being deployed. In total there are 6 deaths. Despite the several-hour barrage no planes are downed.
- U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, his family, and key members of his staff are evacuated by PT boat, under cover of darkness, from Corregidor in the Philippines. Command of U.S. forces in the Philippines passes to Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright.
 - The Nazi German extermination camp Sobibór opens in occupied Poland on the outskirts of the town of Sobibór. Between April 1942 and October 1943, at least 160,000 people are killed here.
- The Holocaust: the Nazi German extermination camp Treblinka II opens in occupied Poland near the village of Treblinka. Between July 23, 1942, and October 1943, around 850,000 people are killed here,[5] more than 800,000 of whom are Jews.
- Japanese forces begin an all-out assault on the United States and Filipino troops on the Bataan Peninsula. The Bataan Peninsula falls and the Bataan Death March begins.
- Navy cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire are sunk southwest of the island.
- The Japanese Navy launches an air raid on Trincomalee in Ceylon (Sri Lanka); the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (95) and Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire are sunk off the country's East Coast.
- Disney's Bambi was released in theaters everywhere.
- Award of the George Cross to Malta: King George VI awards the George Cross to the island of Malta to mark the Siege of Malta, saying, "To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta, to bear witness to a heroism and a devotion that will long be famous in history" (from January 1 to July 24, there is only one 24-hour period during which no bombs fall on this tiny island).
- Tokyo, Japan, is attacked by the Doolittle Raid, a small force of B-25 Mitchell bomber aircraft commanded by then-Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle.
- April 25 – The Princess Elizabeth registers for war service in the U.K.
- The Reichstag meets for the last time, dissolving itself and proclaiming Adolf Hitler the "Supreme Judge of the German People", granting him the power of life and death over every German citizen.
- A national plebiscite is held in Canada on the issue of conscription.
- The Battle of the Coral Sea (first battle in naval history where 2 enemy fleets fight without seeing each other's fleets) ends in an Allied victory.
- Anglo-Soviet Treaty of 1942 to help establish military and political alliance between the USSR and the British Empire is signed in London by foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and by Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov.
- Bombing of Cologne – British RAF Bomber Command's "Operation Millennium", its first 1,000 bomber raid, with associated fires make 13,000 families homeless and kills around 475 people, mostly civilians; 3,330 non-residential buildings are totally destroyed.
- June 4–June 7 – WWII: The Battle of Midway: The Japanese naval advance in the Pacific is halted.
- June 7 – WWII: Japanese forces invade the Aleutian Islands (the first invasion of American soil in 128 years).
- On her 13th birthday, Anne Frank makes the first entry in her new diary.
- July 1–July 27 – WWII: The First Battle of El Alamein.
- Twenty-four ships are sunk by German bombers and submarines after Convoy PQ 17 to the Soviet Union is scattered in the Arctic Ocean to evade the German battleship Tirpitz.
- July 13 – WWII: U-boats sink 3 more merchant ships in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
- The Germans test fly the Messerschmitt Me 262 (using only its jets) for the first time.
- August 17 – WWII: First raid by heavy bombers of U.S. Eighth Air Force against occupied France.
- Dieppe Raid: Allied forces raid Dieppe, France.
- Battle of Stalingrad begins: German troops reach the suburbs of Stalingrad.
- Prince George, Duke of Kent, brother to King George VI and King Edward VIII, dies in a flying accident over Morven in Scotland at the age of 39.
- The first A-4 rocket is successfully launched from Test Stand VII at Peenemünde, Germany. The rocket flies 147 kilometres wide and reaches a height of 84.5 kilometres, becoming the first man-made object to reach space.
- A U-boat sinks the ferry SS Caribou off Newfoundland, killing 137.
- October 23 – Award-winning composer and songwriter Ralph Rainger ("Thanks for the Memory") is among 12 people killed in the mid-air collision between an American Airlines DC-3 airliner and a U.S. Army bomber near Palm Springs, California.
- October 23–November 4 – WWII: Second Battle of El Alamein: British troops go on the offensive against the Axis forces.
- The Alaska Highway is completed.
- British sailors board U-559 as it sinks in the Mediterranean and retrieve its Enigma machine and codebooks.
- Operation Torch: United States and United Kingdom forces land in French North Africa.
- Guadalcanal Campaign: Aviators from the USS Enterprise sink the Japanese battleship Hieyi.
- British forces capture Tobruk.
- A national plebiscite is held in Canada to decide the issue of conscription. Most English-Canadians are in favour, while most French-Canadians are not.
- The Official Food Rules is published, for the first time. It eventually becomes known as the National Food Guide.
- Dieppe Raid
- A German U-boat sinks the ferry SS Caribou, killing 137.
- About 22000 Canadians of Japanese descent are stripped of non- portable possessions, interned and evacuated as security risk

BCATP Vignettes are Continued in PART XII: Nos. 56-60

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