List of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan facilities in Canada

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British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada
side view of restored single engine military aircraft
North American Yale (W/T) from No. 4 WS
Active 1939–1945
Country Canada Canadian Red Ensign (1921–1957).svg Flag of Canada.svg
Branch Royal Canadian Air Force Air Force Ensign of Canada (1941-1968).svg
Royal Air Force Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Role Aircrew and groundcrew training
Part of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
Aircraft

Airspeed Oxford
Avro Anson
Boeing Stearman
Bristol Bolingbroke
PBY Canso[1]
Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Consolidated PBY Catalina
Cessna Crane
Douglas Digby[2]
De Havilland Tiger Moth
Fairchild Argus[3]
Fairchild Cornell
Fairey Battle
Fairey Swordfish
Fleet Finch
Fleet Fort
Handley Page Halifax[4][5]
Handley Page Hampden
Hawker Hurricane
Lockheed Hudson
Noorduyn Norseman
North American B-25 Mitchell
North American Harvard
North American Yale
Northrop Nomad
Stinson 105

Supermarine Walrus
Westland Lysander
Engagements World War II

This article contains a List of Facilities of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) in Canada. The BCATP was a major program for training Allied air crews during World War II that was administered by the Government of Canada, and commanded by the Royal Canadian Air Force with the assistance of a board of representatives from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.[4]

Schools and facilities were set up at 231 locations across Canada.[6] Many of these facilities were airfields. In December 1939 the Canadian government identified 24 existing airfields that could be used leaving 80 new ones to be built.[4] Classroom facilities with residences were commandeered from Universities, Colleges, and other provincial institutions. Basic training facilities were commandeered from private schools and municipal governments. These "borrowed" facilities were augmented with new construction as required.[note 1]

Planning and operation of facilities[edit]

There were four phases to the acquisition, construction, and operation of BCATP facilities:

  • the beginning as specified in the Riverdale Agreement of 17 December 1939
  • an expansion as a result of the move of RAF facilities to Canada starting in July 1940[note 2]
  • an expansion as a result of the Ottawa conference of May and June 1942
  • closures as a result of the decision to begin winding down in November 1943 and terminate the plan on 29 March 1945

BCATP activities were managed through four Training Commands. Each command was responsible for activities in a region of Canada:

Manning Depots[edit]

Trainees began their military careers at a Manning Depot[7] where they learned to bathe, shave, shine boots, polish buttons, maintain their uniforms, and otherwise behave in the required manner. There were two hours of physical education every day and instruction in marching, rifle drill, foot drill, saluting, and other routines.

Remedial high school education was offered to bring 17- and 18-year-old trainees up to the RCAF academic level. There was also a standard aptitude test — the RCAF Classification Test.

After four or five weeks, a selection committee decided whether the trainee would be placed in the aircrew or groundcrew stream. Aircrew "Wireless Air Gunner" candidates went directly to a Wireless School. "Air Observer" and "Pilot" aircrew candidates went to an Initial Training School.

Trainees were often assigned "tarmac duty" to keep busy. Some were sent to factories to count nuts and bolts, some were sent to flying schools and other RCAF facilities to guard things, clean things, paint things, and polish things. Tarmac duty could last several months or more.

The No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto was the Coliseum Building on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds that accommodated up to 5,000 personnel.

Aircrew training facilities[edit]

Initial Training Schools[edit]

Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf. In 1941 site of No. 5 ITS, Belleville

Pilot and Air Observer candidates began their 26- or 28-week training program with four weeks at an Initial Training School (ITS).[2][9] They studied theoretical subjects and were subjected to a variety of tests. Theoretical studies included navigation, theory of flight, meteorology, duties of an officer, air force administration, algebra, and trigonometry. Tests included an interview with a psychiatrist, the 4 hour long M2 physical examination, a session in a decompression chamber, and a "test flight" in a Link Trainer as well as academics. At the end of the course the postings were announced. Occasionally candidates were re-routed to the Wireless Air Gunner stream at the end of ITS.

Elementary Flying Training Schools[edit]

DH82C Tiger Moth basic trainer with night flying kit
Student cockpit interior with night light and Morse Code key

An Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) gave a trainee 50 hours of basic flying instruction on a simple trainer like the De Havilland Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch, or Fairchild Cornell over 8 weeks.[2] Elementary schools were operated by civilian flying clubs under contract to the RCAF and most of the instructors were civilians. For example, No. 12 EFTS Goderich was run by the Kitchener-Waterloo Flying Club and the County of Huron Flying Club.[4] The next step for a pilot was the Service Flying Training School.

Service Flying Training Schools[edit]

The 1942 Hangar Line at No. 9 SFTS Centralia in August 2013. #4 on the left, #1 in the distance.
Instructor and student with North American Harvard II aircraft of No.2 Service Flying Training School, RCAF Station Uplands, 1941

Graduates of the EFTS "learn-to-fly" program went on a Service Flying Training School (SFTS) for 16 weeks. For the first 8 weeks the trainee was part of an intermediate training squadron; for the next 6 weeks an advanced training squadron and for the final 2 weeks training was conducted at a Bombing & Gunnery School.[2] The Service schools were military establishments run by the RCAF or the RAF.

There were two different types of Service Flying Training Schools. Trainees in the fighter pilot stream went to an SFTS like No. 14 Aylmer where they trained in the North American Harvard or North American Yale. Trainees in the bomber, coastal or transport pilot stream went to an SFTS like No. 5 Brantford where they learned multi-engine technique in an Airspeed Oxford, Avro Anson or Cessna Crane.

Air Observer Schools[edit]

British P10 Magnetic Compass with dead reckoning navigation tools
Airmens' Canteen, No. 4 AOS

Air Observers were later called "navigators". For recruits in this stream, the training path after ITS was 8 weeks at an Air Observer School (AOS), 1 month at a Bombing & Gunnery School, and finally 1 month at a Navigation School. The Air Observer schools were operated by civilians under contract to the RCAF. For example, Nos. 7, 8, and 9 were run by CP Airlines. However, the instructors were RCAF.[4] The basic navigation techniques throughout the war years were dead reckoning and visual pilotage, and the tools were the aeronautical chart, magnetic compass, watch, trip log, pencil, Douglas protractor, and Dalton Navigational Computer.[11] They trained in the Avro Anson.

Bombing and Gunnery Schools[edit]

This plaque marks the site of No. 1 B&GS Jarvis

The Bombing and Gunnery School (B&GS) offered instruction in the techniques of bomb aiming and aerial machine gunnery to Air Observers, Bomb Aimers, and Wireless Air Gunners. These schools required large areas to accommodate their bombing and gunnery ranges, and were often located near water.[note 5] The Avro Anson, Fairey Battle, Bristol Bolingbroke, and Westland Lysander were the standard aircraft used at B&GS schools.

Air Navigation Schools[edit]

Nos. 1 & 2 Air Navigation Schools offered four-week courses in astronavigation and were the last step for Air Observers. The RAF schools, Nos. 31, 32, and 33, provided the same training as Air Observer Schools.

Wireless Schools[edit]

RCAF Morse Code Practice Buzzer

Trainees in the "Wireless Air Gunner" (WAG) stream spent 24 weeks at a Wireless School[2][7] learning the theory and application of wireless communications. This included signalling with lights and flags as well as radio. Their "WAG" training was completed with four weeks at a Bombing & Gunnery School.

Naval Air Gunner School[edit]

No. 1 Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (Swordfish)

Flight Engineers' School[edit]

The flight engineer was the member of a heavy bomber aircrew responsible for monitoring the fuel, electrical systems and the engines. He also controlled the throttle settings and was the pilot's "assistant". Flight engineers were not co-pilots but they had some flying training and were expected to be able to take over the controls in the event the pilot was killed or disabled.

No. 1 Aylmer, Ontario (Halifax) 42°48′18″N 080°56′45″W / 42.80500°N 80.94583°W / 42.80500; -80.94583

General Reconnaissance Schools[edit]

The General Reconnaissance School trained pilots and air observers in the techniques required for ocean patrol. It was the equivalent to an Operational Training Unit (OTU), and last stop before aircrew were assigned to operations. The topics included DR Navigation, Astro Navigation, Compasses and Instruments, Meteorology, Signals, Reconnaissance, Coding, Ship Recognition, Aerial Photography, and Visual Signals. Flight Lieutenant (F/L) R. E. MacBride from No. 162 (BR) Squadron RCAF trained at No. 1 GR.[15]

Aircrew spent nine weeks at a General Reconnaissance School.

Operational Training Units[edit]

RCAF officers watching U.S. P-51 Gunnery Practice at an OTU

The Operational Training Unit (OTU) was the last stop for aircrew trainees. They spent 8 to 14 weeks learning to fly operational aircraft (Hawker Hurricane or Fairey Swordfish, e.g.). The instructors had experience in actual operations, and often were posted to OTUs after their operational tour.

Central Flying School[edit]

The Central Flying School was located at Trenton, Ontario.

Central Navigation School[edit]

The Central Navigation School was located at Rivers, Manitoba (Anson). 50°00′37″N 100°19′06″W / 50.01028°N 100.31833°W / 50.01028; -100.31833

Instrument Navigation School[edit]

The Instrument Navigation School was located near Deseronto, Ontario.

Flying Instructor Schools[edit]

Relief landing fields[edit]

RCAF Grand Bend. The 1942 Hangar as seen from the Taxiway, Control Tower on top. R1 for No. 9 SFTS Centralia. (2013)

Every principal airfield (e.g. EFTS or SFTS) had one or two relief airfields located within 10–15 km. The No. 1 Relief Airfield is called "R1" in RCAF Station diaries. Some of the relief fields were paved, some were just grass, and some had hangars, barracks, and maintenance facilities. For example, trainees at No. 14 SFTS Aylmer moved to their R1 at Yarmouth Centre for the last four weeks of their course (radio, bombing,and gunnery).[5]

Site of RCAF Burtch, built for No. 4 Wireless School in 1941. (2016)
Site of RCAF Cayuga, relief landing field built in 1941-1942. (2018)
H-Hut at RCAF Cayuga, abandoned relief airfield. R1 for No. 16 SFTS Hagersville. (2014)
Building Plan for RCAF North Junction, R1 for No. 10 SFTS Dauphin.(1941)

Groundcrew training facilities[edit]

Site of No. 1 TTS St. Thomas, Ontario

Support facilities[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For example, Wireless Schools required a shooting range. At No. 4 WS in Guelph, an "armament building" was constructed on the Ontario Agricultural College grounds.
  2. ^ After the Fall of France the British government decided to move RAF assets out of the United Kingdom to Canada together with their RAF personnel. The first unit to move was No. 7 Service Flying Training School from Peterborough, England which sailed for Canada on 29 August 1940. No. 7 re-opened on 7 October 1940 at Kingston, Ontario as No. 31 SFTS. All the RAF schools moved to Canada were given numbers with "31" or above to distinguish them from the original BCATP schools. Starting in 1942 some of the RAF schools were "Canadianized" and taken over by the RCAF. An example of this is the Elementary Flying Training School at De Winton, Alberta. It began as a transplanted RAF school run by RAF personnel. It opened on 18 June 1941 as No. 31 EFTS. On 13 July 1942 it was taken over by the Toronto Flying Club under contract to the RCAF. In the body of the article RAF schools are marked with an RAF ensign.
  3. ^ Headquarters was at Prudential House, 55 York St. in Toronto
  4. ^ No. 6 was opened at the original site of Havergal College, 354 Jarvis St. in Toronto
  5. ^ For example, the aeronautical chart for 1 B&GS Jarvis shows a 140 square mile main range over Lake Erie, and 3 or 4 small "target zones" on land near the shoreline. These ranges start at Grant Point and end at Turkey Point.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wikene 1979, pp. 47–54.
  2. ^ a b c d e Scherer 1941, pp. 4–8.
  3. ^ Hewer 2000, p. 16.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Hatch 1983
  5. ^ a b c McIntyre 1979, pp. 67–86.
  6. ^ Forsyth, Bruce. "A Short History of Abandoned and Downsized Canadian Military Bases." Archived 2013-09-04 at the Wayback Machine. Canadian Military History by Bruce Forsyth, 1998. Retrieved: 24 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b Lougheed 2002.
  8. ^ Ziegler 1973.
  9. ^ a b c Dunmore 1994,
  10. ^ a b History of Moncton
  11. ^ Stewart 1979, pp. 38–43.
  12. ^ (Anon). "Un peu d'histoire". Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  13. ^ (Anon). "History of SAIT - World War II Effort". Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  14. ^ (Anon). "Manitoba School for the Deaf/Wireless School No. 3". Manitoba Historical Society. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  15. ^ Milberry 2010.
  16. ^ a b c d "Map: Toronto-Ottawa, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 9 March 1943.
  17. ^ "Map: Swift Current-Regina, June 1942.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Anon (2009). "Abandoned Aerodromes". Canada Flight Supplement Effective 0901Z 12 March 2009 to 0901Z 7 May 2009. Ottawa: Nav Canada. p. A35. 
  19. ^ a b c d e "Map: Toronto-Windsor, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 21 January 1944.
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Map: Banff-Bassano, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 24 March 1944.
  21. ^ a b c "Map: Indian Head-Brandon, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 20 October 1944.
  22. ^ "Map: Brandon-Winnipeg, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 30 March 1944.
  23. ^ a b "Map: Neepawa-Gypsumville, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 11 October 1944.
  24. ^ a b c d "Map: Ottawa-Montreal, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, September 1942.
  25. ^ a b "Map: Indian Head - Brandon, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, April 1942.
  26. ^ a b "Map: Medicine Hat-Maple Creek, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, January 1942.
  27. ^ Cite error: The named reference Maitland was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  28. ^ "Map: Parent-Three Rivers, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 23 February 1944.
  29. ^ a b c d "Map: Broadview-Dauphin, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 9 January 1945.
  30. ^ Staff writer (c. 1942). Pilots Handbook of Aerodromes and Seaplane Bases Vol. 2. Royal Canadian Air Force. p. 16. 
  31. ^ a b "Map: Campbellton-Moncton, Air Navigation Edition."Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, June 1942.
  32. ^ "Map: Campbellton-Moncton, Air Navigation Edition." Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, 24 February 1944.
  33. ^ "Map: Cranbrook-Lethbridge, Air Navigation Edition." Hydrographic and Map Service: Canada Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch, July 1941.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dunmore, Spencer. Wings for Victory. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1994. ISBN 0-7710-2927-6.
  • Hatch, F. J. Aerodrome of Democracy: Canada and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan 1939–1945. Ottawa: Canadian Department of National Defence, 1983. ISBN 0-660-11443-7.
  • Hewer, H. In for a Penny, In for a Pound: the Adventures and Misadventures of a Wireless Operator in Bomber Command. Toronto: Stoddart, 2000 ISBN 0-77373-273-X.
  • Lougheed, E. C. "No. 4 Wireless School At Guelph, 1941-1945.". Archival and Special Collections, University of Guelph, RE1 UOG A1642, 2002.
  • McIntyre, "Mac", M.). "The Aylmer Story 14 S.F.T.S.". In Wilkinson, Les. I'll Never Forget ... Canadian Aviation In The Second World War. Willowdale, Ontario: Canadian Aviation Historical Society, 1979. ISBN 0-920610-00-5.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force. Toronto: CANAV Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9210-2223-7.
  • Scherer, J. L., F/O RCAF. "Canada's Part In The War". Flying Aces Magazine (New York: Magazine Publishers, Inc.), April 1941.
  • Stewart, G. "Night Intruder". in Wilkinson, Les. I'll Never Forget'...'Canadian Aviation In The Second World War. Willowdale, Ontario: Canadian Aviation Historical Society, 1979. ISBN 0-920610-00-5.
  • Wikene, I. "Canso & Catalina In The R.C.A.F". in Wilkinson, Les, ed. I'll Never Forget ... Canadian Aviation In The Second World War. Willowdale, Ontario: Canadian Aviation Historical Society. 1979. ISBN 0-920610-00-5.
  • Ziegler, M. We Serve That Men May Fly. Hamilton, Ontario: R.C.A.F. (W.D.) Association, 1973.

External links[edit]