Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
2023.12 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 XVIII: Nos. 86-90
By Greg Sigurdson (1955 - 2023) and Bill Hillman

86. No. 1 Flight Engineer School, Aylmer Ontario
87. Frank Bollman – Oral History Video
88. The Cessna Crane
89. A WWII Memory -- Fran Pengelly WD
90. The Battle of Britain 30th Anniversary
Continued in PART XIX: Nos. 91-95
Many of the illustrations may be clicked for full screen size.

086 of 150: No. 1 Flight Engineer School, Aylmer Ontario
RCAF Station Aylmer
The Ontario Police College now occupies the site that was formerly the location of the Royal Canadian Air Force Station Aylmer.

Between 1941 and 1961 thousands of aircrew and ground support personnel received their training here. Man of these graduates went on to give their lives in supreme sacrifice for democracy and freedom during the Second World War and the Korean War.

It is to these courageous spirits who hailed from Canada, The United States and all parts of the British Commonwealth that this resored and relocated wind tee is dedicated.

Lest We Forget

The Commonwealth Air Training Plan opened a school in Aylmer Ontario first as No. 14 Service Flying Training School  on July 3 1941. It was open 1139 days until August 15 1944 when it was moved to Kingston Ontario. This school operated North American Harvards and Avro Anson to provide advanced training to Royal Canadian Air Force pilots. North American Yale aircraft were used for navigation instruction. Twelve flying instructors and 26 students were killed while being posted at No. 14 SFTS.

Aylmer was also the site of the Women’s Division Service Police School. The station magazine was known as The Aylmer Airman.

In the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force, air crews for heavy aircraft such as the Short Sterling, Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax substituted a Flight Engineer for the Co-Pilot. The Flight Engineers monitored the aircraft fuel, electrical systems and engines and made adjustments to keep the aircraft operating at peak levels. The Flight Engineer also controlled the aircraft's throttles at takeoff, in flight and upon landing. The Flight Engineer was not a total replacement for the Co-Pilot but did receive enough flying training to maintain the aircraft in straight and level flight and land the aircraft in case the Pilot was incapacitated. No. 1 Flight Engineer School utilized Halifax aircraft and two types of twin engine bombers to provide training to students.

Prior to the formalization of training for Flight Engineers at No. 1 Flight Engineers School in Aylmer, the RCAF relied on Royal Air Force Flight Engineers and BCATP Aero Engine Mechanic graduates trained on the job. As such, some Flight Engineers were trained at No. 1 Technical Training School by taking the 16 week Aero Engine Mechanic course and then going into on-the-job training in their aircraft in an Operational Training Unit. We ran across a reference to No.1 Flight Engineer School at Arnprior Ontario but were unable to find any information on training at this location.

No. 1 Flight Engineers School opened at Aylmer on July 1 1944 and was open for  273 days until closed on March 31 1945. It offered a 16 week course which together with seven weeks of training in Great Britain completed the training. The students in the attached photograph shown in the No. 4 Course at No. 1 FES have the iconic white flashes in their caps. This would seem to indicate that this training was at a level of Pilots entering Elementary Flying Training School. Over 1900 Flight Engineers graduated from No. 1 FES.

The following is an excerpt from Grant Armstrong’s on-line autobiography:
"After graduating I reported back to Montreal Command which sent me to Mont Joli Quebec in charge of aircraft servicing. Mont Joli was solid French speaking so most of the time was spent in camp. About 4 months later I was transferred back to the Engineering School as staff instructor. I was there about a year when the need for Engineers was no longer required. The Engineering School was then changed to a School for Flight Engineers, now needed for the Bomb Carrier aircraft now in heavy demand, and moved to Aylmer Ontario. I was put in charge of Aircraft Maintenance. Two 4 Engine and two 2 Engine Bombers arrived. The Flight Engineer Trainees had to practice with all aspects of an actual operation which required periodic running the engines at full power. The noise in camp wasn't tolerable and due to having only two pilots I was given the authority to taxi the required aircraft to the end of the runway each morning and back after the classes were finished. Then we had to service the aircraft for the next day. I also had a Harvard for the pilots, on administration, to get their flying time in. As the war was winding down I got married while in Aylmer."
After World War II, Aylmer was the location of a number of RCAF schools including No. 2 Manning Depot from 1949 to 1950. The station closed in 1961 and was repurposed as the Ontario Police College.
photo Course No. 4 -

087 of 150: Frank Bollman – Oral History Video
Frank Bollman was born and raised in Moline Manitoba in 1922. He was one of those farm boys who wanted to be a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force and joined up in 1942.

He trained as an aero-engine mechanic and served at a number of BCATP schools across Canada.

He met his wife June while on station in British Columbia and married her in 1946, both moving to Moline to resume farming with his family. Frank had a successful career as a farmer and retired in 1984, moving to Brandon with his wife June.

He was a volunteer with many organizations during his lifetime, of which he enjoyed his time with the Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Brandon working with his workshop buddies rebuilding a number of derelict aircraft from the Plan for static exhibition as the museum.

Frank's wife June, a member of the CATPM Ladies Auxiliary, pre-deceased him. Frank died in 2013 at the age of 91 years.

The museum's Kathy Shepherd researched and conducted this 2000 Oral History Video.

088 of 150: The Cessna Crane
The Cessna Crane was a stalwart aircraft of the advanced flying training schools of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. To the United States Army Air Force and Navy, the Crane was known as the Cessna Bobcat. To those pilots who loved this aircraft, it was the "Bamboo Bomber" because of the prominence of wood in its construction. The civilian version of the Crane was known as the Cessna Model T-50.

First built in 1939, 5422 were completed when production wound up in 1944. The T-50 was produced as an economical twin engine with a tubular steel frame and fabric skin which cost much less money to operate than other, bigger aircraft of the time like the Beech 18. The T-50 included retractable landing gear and wing trailing edge flaps which were both powered by the aircraft’s electrical system. The wings had a laminated sruce spar and plywood ribs. Initially it was powered by two Jacobs R-755-9 radial piston engines.

The Crane was adapted for the USAAF in 1940 as the AT-8 Bobcat for use as a multi-engine advanced trainer. Changes were made after 39 were produced and the improved version was dubbed the AT-17.

Eight hundred and eighty two Cessna Cranes were produced for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The RCAF received 182 AT 17A Cranes (variant with metal propellers and reduced weight) and 640 designated as Crane 1s (variant with minor equipment changes) under terms of the Allied Lend-Lease Agreement. They were primarily used at Service Flying Training Schools to provide advanced flying techniques to pilot destined for operational service in multi-engine aircraft such as those used for transport duties, coastal patrol and Bomber Command. A number were produced for the Canadian Queen Charlotte Airlines which was taken over by Pacific Western Airlines in 1955.

Maximum speed for the Cessna Crane is 195 mph with a cruise speed at 175 mph and range of 750 miles. Its ceiling is 22,000 feet.

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Schools using the Cessna Crane
No. 3 SFTS, Calgary Alberta (Anson and Crane)
No. 4 SFTS, Saskatoon Saskatchewan (Anson and Crane)
No. 10 SFTS, Dauphin Manitoba (Harvard, Crane)
No. 11 SFTS, Yorkton Saskatchewan (Harvard, Crane and Anson)
No. 12 SFTS, Brandon Manitoba (Crane and Anson)

089 of 150: A WWII Memory -- Fran Pengelly WD

Reflections on my life as a W.D. in the R.C.A.F.
by Frances (McDowell) Pengelly

I was 15 years old when World War II broke out. I was going to high school in Delburne, Alberta a small town in central Alberta. I was the eldest child in the family living on a farm just outside the village with my parents, 2 sisters and one brother.

One of the things we as a family did was to turn on Winston Churchill's broadcast each day to hear about the progress of the war. Anyone whoever listened to this broadcast could never forget it, Sir Winston had a very compelling voice and you just couldn't turn the program off. This of course was on radio as there was no television at that time.

I was pretty young and as soon as Canada entered the war some of the young men in our area enlisted, this was a much talked about event as we personally either knew these young men or knew someone who did know them. It was a very exciting time for us young people. I'm sure very few of these young men ever thought about the consequences of war it was just the exciting thing to do. As time went on and the war grew to have tragic overtures I'm sure people thought more about it but in the beginning it was just something to do. It wasn't long until some of our high school classmates were enlisting. Some were very disappointed if they were rejected, some accepted d this but others felt very differently. We had one young man commit suicide as he felt so strongly about being rejected, this was a boy I could remember all through my years at our school. I can remember when the first boys from our area were sent overseas and also when the first casualties were reported back to our district.

I was quite upset when my boyfriend David Pengelly enlisted in the Air Force but he was 19 years of age and excited to join. Dave had been gone six months or so and I got a job in the local Bank of Montreal as a clerk keeping track of the ledgers and doing small jobs. I was a good math student and really loved the work. I moved from my parents’ home to a small apartment of my own in the Village.

I'm sure my bosses weren't very happy with me but I didn't ask permission before I applied to join the Air Force. Propaganda definitely played a part on my enlisting. In November the recruiting officers were back in town and as of November 19, 1942 I was on leave from the R.C.A.F.(W.D.) until December 14, 1942 when I was officially given the number W3***** with the rank of A.W. 2 (air woman second class). I reported to Ottawa where I was outfitted with clothing and took my basic training. That was my first Christmas away from home but I was so busy I didn't mind.

We learned to march while here, the biggest problems were sore feet from not being accustomed to those heavy shoes so blisters were the order of the day. I had no trouble marching as I was always a good walker. We girls took 27 inch strides but we had a terrible time when we would be on parade with the men, they took a 30 inch stride and it always made us look stupid when we couldn't keep up with them. I'm not sure how long I was at Ottawa but think it was until sometime in February. We were assigned to different occupations at this basic training camp.

I was posted to Trenton, Ontario to become a clerk accountant because of my training in the bank. We were there for the accounting course, I think about 3 months when we got our first postings. We spent time in regular classrooms but we also spent considerable time in the drill hall becoming proficient marchers. We were also given time off and there were good facilities for amusements, bowling, cards, table tennis to name a few. I'm sure there were some station dances but I don't remember them. There would be concerts at times and we were all required to attend church parades, these of course you were given the choice of religious ceremony depending on your affiliation. At the end of our training we were required to write an exam and if you were successful you were given the next posting. I was sent to No.1 'Y' Depot in Halifax, N.S. This was the embarkation depot where all the air force personnel reported before going overseas. There were two sections in the accounting department, one was Pay Accounts and I believe the other was more or less keeping track  of inventory. I was always in pay accounts, we kept track of the pay ledgers and on pay parades checked off the names of the airmen and women who were being paid. The individuals would line up and as they approached us would give their rank, name and number so we could check their name off to be sure they were receiving the correct pay envelope.

The Senior Accounting Officer would have the money on hand and if the names and numbers corresponded with our records the money would be counted out and handed over to the recipient. Since I was a payroll clerk as such I got to see anyone from Delburne or elsewhere when we gave them their last pay packet  before they left for overseas,

Halifax was very interesting, this was the first time I had been near the sea and I loved it. The street cars in Halifax were very interesting to ride on, we'd nearly have a fit going down some of the steep hills we were sure the street cars were going to go flying off course. Service personnel would sing all the wartime songs as you travelled to and from the downtown area. The ships in the harbour were fascinating to a prairie girl and I walked many miles sight-seeing. There was lots to do on the airbase, I went to several dances but it was all jitter-bugging and I had never learned so was mainly a spectator. I was in Halifax for ten months and then was posted to No.1 G.R.S. (General Reconnaissance School) at Summerside, P.E.I. In the beginning of my Air Force career I made no close friends as we were busy with course work etc. but when I moved to Summerside life was quite different.

This was an active flying base so we had planes flying in and out above us all the time. You soon got used to the noise and sometimes wouldn't even bother to look up. I lived in quite a large barrack block, the barracks were in the usual 'T' formation, near the front there was generally a Corporal or Sergeant in charge of the barracks.

On our side there would have been at least 60 girls, there were double bunks with an open isle between. I generally chose an upper bunk, my best friend was below me.

Now that I look back our friends were mostly the ones that were very close to you in the barrack block, a lot of them in the accounting section but we also had vehicle drivers, cooks, domestic duty girls etc. The nurses all had senior rank so they were in the Officers’ Quarters. The ablutions were in the cross-section of the 'T', we all did our own laundry except the majority of us sent our shirt collars to the Chinese laundry. Our shirts had detachable collars so these came back white, white and stiff as a board. We had many a sore, raw neck but they did look nice. As I recall we were given a small clothing allowance to buy our own undies but everything else was supplied. This may be a good time to explain our pay, we were given 90 cents a day but of course this was in addition to room and board. This actually was considered excellent pay, an example of pay before I joined the bank was helping at a farm home. I would walk 3 miles to get there and would work 8 or 9 hours and would only receive 75 cents for the day’s work. I can't remember what I received at the bank. After a period of time in the Air Force or after satisfactory work we were given an extra 5 cents per day. Reclassification to another rank gave you more money.

I sat near the counter at work and nearly always waited on anyone who came to make enquiries. Wing Commander Scott was in charge of our Department, Flight Sergeant Pullam was my immediate boss. There was a Sergeant and 2 Corporals in our office, these were all men and there would have been approximately10 or 12 of us girls. The D.R.O.'s were the daily news postings that we received each day and from these we changed the pay amounts, reclassification etc. to the records for which we were responsible, I always enjoyed my work.

One of the highlights for me was going for a plane ride, arrangements were made for anyone that was on the air-base to have one free ride if we so chose. One of our male Corporals, Cpl. Glenn Johnston (a very nice older, married gentleman) and I went on the same plane. The pilot flew us to Charlottetown and back, I sat next to the pilot and this crazy guy decided I should see the steeple on the church in the small village of Kensington. He dove down and me with my weak stomach, my stomach came up and I knew I was going to be sick. I quick opened the window and stuck my head outside, it was raining but that didn't stop me from being sick. The rule in the air force was that if you were sick you washed the aircraft, fortunately the rain washed everything off so I was saved the chore of cleaning the plane. My treat of a special ride didn't sit too well but I was glad I went. I know I spent several hours in a link trainer but I have no idea why unless it was just to give us an idea of what real flying was like.

There was no segregation between the men and girls in the mess  half and we were treated as equals in all circumstances. I can't remember anyone discriminating between us. The Officers had their own area for eating and sleeping and of course the order of the day was to always salute an officer wherever you met them providing you were both wearing your hat. We wore uniforms whenever we were on duty, when in the barracks we were free to wear whatever we chose unless there was to be an inspection. We spent hours polishing badges, shoes etc. and our bunks had to be properly made up at all times. A lot of girls (and men) had difficulty tying their tie so if they got it correct they generally just tied a slip knot and put it around their neck and pulled the knot so they didn't have to start from scratch. We had ironing boards in barracks but very seldom used them, our uniforms held their press very well so they must have been made out of quite good material.

One day my girlfriend Peggy MacEachern and I hitch-hiked to Charlottetown a distance of less than 100 miles. It took us all day, we rode in wagons, old vehicles, anything that moved. We came back by bus, there were just so few vehicles in P.E.I. at the time. I think we stayed at the Y.W.C.A. and we definitely toured the Parliament buildings.

Periodically we were given a 48-hour pass, I was too far from home to ever get home but some of the girls that lived closer would get home. We had one barrack mate that would bring back cooked lobsters, I had never been exposed to such a thing but it was interesting. She would bring these back and we would hammer them with some tool to break them open and then the feast would begin. I wasn't a very good participant until I acquired a taste for them but now I enjoy. The town of Summerside was about six miles away but there was good bus service from the base. Sometimes we would go into town but most often we were content to stay on the base. We had badminton, bowling, pool and various other activities. There were always picture shows and a few dances.

The only other thing of note while I was stationed in Summerside was in the winter of 1944, we had terrific snow storms and the snow banks reached up to the telephone wires. We were just a bunch of kids and had lots of fun climbing the big snowbanks and sliding down. I don't know what we used for clothes as we pretty well only had our uniforms. We must have had a few civilian articles of clothing.

Dave came back to Canada in May of 1944 and we met in Moncton and were there for 'D-day, June 6, 1944, when the allies invaded Europe so we listened for war news. I booked into the 'Y' and got a room at the hotel for Dave. We had corresponded all the time Dave was away and sometimes we wrote nice letters and sometimes we found things to quarrel about but eventually things worked out and we took up our relationship as it had been before enlisting. We spent most of the time in Moncton sitting through picture shows at the theaters. At this time we decided we would get married in September at Summerside.

Dave went on to Debert, Nova Scotia for his new posting and instructing on Mosquitoes and I went back to Summerside. Back in those days one had to have permission to marry if you weren't 21 years of age. I had been away from home for over two years but the law still applied. Can't you hear what young people today would say about that. My Flight Sergeant said he would forge my Dad's signature but I just couldn't cheat so wired my Dad for permission. The Women's Division Commanding Officer helped by taking charge of and getting the hall and the goodies for the reception. I booked the minister and the church and Dave didn't meet Rev. Jarvie until he came over the day before the wedding. Sgt. Hap Pullam gave me away, F.O. Alexander Gibbard, Dave's friend was to be best man but he got posted back overseas just before the wedding so one of my co-workers, Cpl. Jeffrey filled in. I changed my name from McDowell to Pengelly and life continued as before.

A posting came through for me to go overseas that fall. They asked me if I wished to go and of course I was gung ho so I went to Lachine, Quebec in preparation to going overseas. Dave was furious, he would ask to go back overseas if I went, not very fair as he had been over and why shouldn't I go. Anyway it was taken out of our hands, about that time the war had progressed and was winding down so the Air Force decided married women would be discharged. This was later rescinded and married women could stay in but by that time I had already received my discharge. I reported to Halifax where I received my discharge papers on February 2, 1945.


Canadian Womens Auxiliary Air Force (WD) on parade at Havergale College, Toronto
November 1941 durings meetings to set up the RCAF CWAAF.
Front row: Flying Officer Kathleen Walker Canadian (Commander CWAAF), HRH Princess Alice,
Squadron Leader Hedges (Commanding Officer). Seniour Staff Offcer Elizabeth Bather (RAF)

090 of 150: The Battle of Britain 30th Anniversary

A Battle of Britain Memory
From the Legion Magazine, September 1970
By Strome Galloway

On Sunday, September 20, the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Britain will be marked with ceremonies by Canadian Forces servicemen to honour those airmen who died In the great aerial battle over England in 1940. The Battle of Britain was the name Winston Churchill gave to the 114 days of aerial dogfights in the skies over Britain and the English Channel from July to October 1940. The destruction of 1763 German aircraft, 120 by Canadian flyers, resulted in one of the first major victories for the allies.

It was September 1940 – thirty summers ago. The Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force were testing their strength and their courage, their skill and their luck in the skies over that "green and pleasant land" which men call England, In the end the Battle of Britain, for so this testing was called, was won by the fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force, nine tenths of whom were Englishmen.

Some 95 Canadian aircrew took part in the battle. Of these, 26 were with the RCAF's No. 1 Fighter Squadron, 16 with the RAF'S No. 242 Squadron and the remaining 53 with miscellaneous aircrews in Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands. I was one of the few Canadians who might be called "participating spectators". We were army types who provided the ground and antiaircraft defences at RAF airfields. One of these airfields was RAF Station Odiham, in Hampshire.

Two years before, General Erhard Milch, Inspector-General of the Luftwaffe had opened officially the modem Hore-Belisha luxury air station at Odiham as the RAF's special guest. To commemorate the event a life sized oil portrait of the Nazi air chief had been hung over the mantelpiece in the main ante-room of the officers' mess. In August 1940, with the war almost a year in progress, the portrait still hung in Its place of honour. Meanwhile, Milch,who had been appointed Director of Aircraft Production in Germany and was soon to be promoted to Field Marshal was doing everything in his power to destroy the RAF and thus help in the conquest of Britain.

One incident in the Battle of Britain occurred during a heavy raid on the Odlham area on September 7. The village was hit with some loss of life. The airfield also received a few bombs. The raid was brief, taking place shortly after dusk. The power went off, windows were shattered, the blackouts in the mess were knocked out of their frames. But it only took a few minutes to get things in order once the raiders had passed.

When the lights came on again, and the spilled whiskies, scattered newspapers and magazines had been replenished or retrieved, a young RAF pilot suddenly noticed that the portrait of General Milch had been knocked askew by the  force of the blasts. I watched this slim youngster, wearing the up-to-then rarely seen DFC ribbon, rise out of a deep leather chair and cross the thick blue carpet to the fireplace. There, with gentle hands be straightened the crooked picture and then returned to his seat. A faint crackling of applause condoned his action. Then English heads bent down again deep into The Times, or Country Life, or Flight magazine.

Twenty-five years later I recalled this incident with Lieutenant-General Adolf Galland, then a Bonn businessman, and formerly Hitler's chief of Fighter aircraft during the Battle of Britain. Galland was one of Germany's greatest aces, totalling 70 "kill's" before being promoted to the job of directing all ighter activity over Britain in that fateful summer. Galland was responsible only to Hermann Goering, and in-extremis to Der Fuehrer himself. No other warlords interposed themselves.

When the Nazi air armada began to disappear under the British aerial counterattack, Goering stood on the  coast of occupied France gazing across the English Channel. Watching his  vaunted Luftwaffe being knocked out of the skies, he turned to Galland, suggesting with sarcasm that he must need something more to win the battle. "What do you want, Galland ?" he queried. "Perhaps a squadron of Spitfires, Herr Relchsmarschall", replied Galland in biting tones.

Despite his saucy answer, which undoubtedly wounded Goering's pride in his beloved Messerschmitts. Galland remained at his post. He soon became the first officer of the entire Wehrmacht to receive from Hitler's own hands the Oak Leaves with Swords badge to augment his already rare Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Galland survived the war. In its very last days he left his desk and took to the air again as a fighter pilot, personally shooting it out once more with his country's aerial opponents as he had done in Poland and in the West five to six years before. His war memoirs, "The First and the Last" proved a bestseller during the 1950's. Today, an aircraft sales executive, he flies himself from appointment to appointment using a light aircraft and through the same skies where he once fought so gaily, then so desperately, many years ago.

When I recounted the incident of General Milch's portrait to "Dolfo" Galland, to use the nickname he gained during his days with the Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War, he smiled and in his best English said, “Only in England, of course, is such chivalry possible."

Incidentally Galland will be a guest at the British Commonwealth Aircrew Reunion being held in Winnipeg this month. The event, bringing together flyers of all ranks who flew in any war for any British Commonwealth country, is being organized by a unique band of Winnipeggers called the Wartime Pilots and Observers Association. Other fighter aces of World War II attending are Britain's Air Vice-Marshal J .E. Johnson and Douglas Bader, the celebrated legless ace of the Battle of Britain who dined with Galland after being shot down and taken prisoner during the early part of the war. Another guest will be Air Commodore J. E. Fauquier of Toronto who knocked out Germany's V-I rocket sites at Peenemunde.

General Adolf Galland (second from left), 
director of Goering's fighter assaults during the Battle of Britain, 
is shown with the author (light uniform)
at a social event in post-war Germany.

Garlland flew a modified version of the BF 109 with additional armament.


Click for full-size promo collage poster

BCATP Vignettes are Continued in PART XIX: Nos. 91-95

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