Calgary Wings (Draft PDF version)

Calgary Wings

The Forgotten R.A.F. History –

C.A. Simonsen

This is the forgotten history of RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, during WWII, dedicated to the 30 British lads who never returned home. 

Royal Air Force, No. 37 Service Flying Training School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Click below for the PDF file.

No. 37 SFTS

Draft text version (with no images)

Calgary Wings
The Forgotten R.A.F. History –
C.A. Simonsen

This is the forgotten history of RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, during WWII, dedicated to the 30 British lads who never returned home.

Royal Air Force, No. 37 Service Flying Training School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, – Part One

The British Royal Air Force members of No. 37 S.F.T.S. docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 14:30 hrs. 15 September 1941, with their first train arriving at Calgary, Alberta, five days later. Their new training school was still under construction, with the first 13 British officers and 444 other ranks moving in 30 September 1941. This RAF unit unofficially adopted an indigenous Thunderbird as their new Canadian training flying school insignia, and this image first appeared on stationary and the school newsletter “Wings” cover [above] in November 1941.

The large area surrounding present day Calgary, Alberta, was first inhabited by a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture of peoples who have been radiocarbon dated [human remains] to 10,200 years ago. At the end of the last glacial period, Cordilleran Ice Sheet, 11,650 years ago, this culture began to manufacture distinctive bone and ivory tools with distinctive “Clovis points” and they became known as the Clovis culture. The Clovis people are considered [DNA testing] to be the first ancestors of today’s indigenous cultures in most of North America, reaching to Mexico and South America. The First Nations of present day Alberta came under control of the Blackfoot Confederacy and this included the Blood, Peigan, Blackfoot and Tsuu T’ina indigenous peoples. The first recorded European appeared in 1787, when cartographer David Thompson made contact with the First Nations people and the early white settlers began to arrive in 1873. The North-West Mounted Police arrived in 1875, and the following year Fort Calgary was constructed, named after clear running water on the isle of Mull, Scotland. The Native Thunderbird symbol is a mythical creature still seen as a most powerful spirit which can change into a human form and was believed to be the dominating force of all natural activity, power, protection, and strength. It is clear some forgotten RAF historian carefully did his research long before the RAF selected their British Thunderbird insignia, possibly at RAF Station West Kirby, England, in July 1941.

In the early hours of 17 December 1939, the British and Canadian government representatives signed a document titled “Agreement Relating to the Training of Pilots and Aircraft Crews in Canada and their Subsequent Service.” During the many hours of meetings [which began 5 November 1939] leading up to the signing the BCATP, the United Kingdom government had intimated the possible need to move complete RAF training schools to Canada, but nothing else was discussed. In the spring of 1940, the World War took a turn for the worse and the British faced possible invasion from Nazi Germany. On 4 July 1940, the British High Commissioner in Ottawa ask Canadian Air Minister Hon. Charles Gavin Power if the RAF could move four complete flying training schools to Canada. The British High Commissioner was informed by Hon. Mr. Power the U.K. could move four schools to Canada, then added, “If the British wished to transfer more schools to Canada, room for them would be found, but it must be understood the full cost of these schools must be borne by the United Kingdom.” On receiving this answer, the RAF revised their original request [four] to eight service flying training schools, two air observer schools, one bombing and gunnery school, one air navigational school, one general reconnaissance school and one torpedo bombing school.

The original estimated Canadian cash outlay for building “Part One” of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan came to 441 million dollars and to this total was now added the Canadian cost for construction of fourteen new Royal Air Force special training schools, with an estimate cost of another $50 million.

Canadian cartoonist editorial drawing by Les Callan which was published after the signing of the 17 December 1939 agreement. Repainted and coloured by author. This cartoon in fact projected BCATP history, as the yellow peril [training aircraft] were like wild hornets attacking Nazi leader Hitler. The British also called the plan “Empire Air Training.”

New sites were now selected for hurried construction of the fourteen new RAF schools, [located in Western Canada] to avoid confusion with RCAF training schools under construction in the BCATP. The movement of complete RAF training schools began in earnest in October 1940, and five schools had arrived by the end of the year. In March 1941, the British government again revised the number of RAF schools they would like to move to Canada, nine more service flying training schools [including Calgary No. 37 SFTS], fifteen elementary flying training schools, ten air observer schools and four operational training units. In 1941, Canada constructed and opened thirty-three RCAF training schools in the BCATP, plus constructed and opened seventeen special RAF schools which were operated by the RAF. The RAF schools in Canada were subject to RCAF administration and operational control, while the British had access to Canadian supply, medical, maintenance, and the same services as the RCAF. There was really very little difference between the British RAF special schools and the RCAF schools under construction for the BCATP. The one major division became the British preservation of their national identity in the RAF schools, which were commanded by their own officers and trained in the same custom and traditions as that in the United Kingdom. For administration control the numbering of RCAF training schools was reserved from #1 to #30 and the RAF training schools were allotted numbers #31 and above. During the war the RAF would operate twenty-eight British schools in Canada, twenty-six were for aircrew training, one Radio Direction Finding School #31 RDF at Clinton, Ontario, and the main RAF reception centre, #31 Personnel Depot at Moncton, New Brunswick. By 1942, it had become clear that air training in Canada [BCATP] had far outgrown the size, cost, and organization of the original plan due mostly to the arrival of twenty-eight new RAF special schools. On 5 June 1942, the British partners in the BCATP set down with Canada and deliberated a new agreement, [Part Two] and the plan was extended until 31 March 1945. Canada would bear half of the total cost of the new extended training program, which was estimated at 747.5 million dollars, for a total Canadian cash outlay of 1,188.5 billion. The British contributed 145 million in cash, and 360 million in aircraft and supplies, for a total of 466 million since the beginning of the plan.

The true financial cost of the BCATP will never be known due to the many claims and counter-claims between the various partners. In 1946, a group of accountants produced a balance sheet which seemed to satisfy all the parties involved and that is the best rounded number we have for historians. Canada contributed seventy-two per cent of the air training cost [$1,617,955,108.79]. The United Kingdom paid $54,206,318.22 in cash, and provided equipment to the value of $162,260,787.89 or ten per cent of the overall cost. Australia payment was $65,181,068.00 or three per cent and New Zealand $48,025,393.00 or two per cent of the total cost.
By 30 June 1942, [end of Part One] Canada had spent $212,280,010.00 on the construction of twenty-eight British RAF schools and purchase of additional aircraft for RAF training in Canada. On 13 October 1944, the Hon, C.G. Power released to the Canadian public the first reports, costs, and prospects of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and these figures were staggering to the main stream Canadian taxpayer.

Under the new BCATP agreement, [Part Two] which took effect on 1 July 1942, the RAF schools in Canada would continue in their present form of retaining British identity under the administration of the RCAF. The only change became the RAF and RCAF schools were now all merged with the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and almost all RAF schools were enlarged to take in new trainees from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Free French, Holland, Norway and Poland. These European Allies maintained national squadrons in the RAF and provided individual aircrew for British Squadrons. Now they would be trained in Canada beside the RAF in their operated schools, where a wide variety of English was being spoken in six foreign tongues. When I walk the small forgotten grave sites near No. 36 SFTS Penhold, No. 32 EFTS Bowden, or the largest grave site [43] at Calgary, Alberta, I can historically read the Allies names mixed with their British comrades as they fell from the sky and died during training.

No. 36 SFTS Penhold, Alberta, was officially opened by Group Captain W.B. Farrington, DSO, on 23 August 1941. It was constructed by the Canadian government for the RAF with the purpose of training young British pilots to fly multi-engine Airspeed Oxford aircraft to “Wings” standard. These British pilot trainees had graduated from basic flying on light aircraft at another RAF E.F.T.S. in Alberta, and now they would learn more advanced flying in the Airspeed Oxford twin-engine aircraft. Each course contained 35-55 students on average, and the course ran for twenty weeks. Today twenty casualties are buried in the Red Deer Cemetery and seventeen lost their lives training in the British Oxford aircraft. [above actual accident] Three were non-flying training deaths, 30 January 1942, Cpl. Stan Ryder, plowing snow RAF tractor tipped over killing driver. 24 September 1942, Flt. /Sgt. G.F. Jennings natural death in hospital. 23 July 1944, P/O D.J. Stewart, drown in swimming accident.
At the request of the British government, RAF schools in Canada were the first to close, and this began in January 1944. By November 1944, only two RAF schools remained with 3,800 RAF students in training. The Part Two agreement of the BCATP signed in June 1942 stated the total cost of the Plan would be divided equally between Canada and the United Kingdom. When the books were balanced in September 1945, the U.K. still owed Canada $282,511,039.25 for Part two of the Plan. Counter-claims and dropping of figures reduced the final claim owed to Canada at $425 million for Plans #1 and #2, including the cost of the twenty-eight British RAF schools. On 29 March 1946, the Canadian Minister of Finance introduced Bill No. 208 providing a loan to the British government in amount of $1,250,000,000.00 for postwar Canadian food products. Included in this Bill was a special clause cancelling the $425 million owed for the BCATP. The Bill passed on 7 May 1946, and the BCATP became history. As the Canadian Press reported – “In addition to meeting more than its own appropriate share of the Training Plan costs, the Canadian Government [taxpayer] had played the role of creditor to its British partners on a very large scale.”

Today modern Canadian and British aviation historians continue to state the total cost of the RAF schools moved to or formed in Canada during WWII were paid for in full by the United Kingdom. I believe that claim is false, and in fact the construction of twenty-eight RAF schools, special CN/CP train transportation, bombs, ammo, food, fuel, medical, ground equipment, and the purchase of extra aircraft for RAF training [$104 million] was paid by the Canadian taxpayer, when the British $425 million owed to Canada was cancelled in May 1946.

Calgary New Airport and the Second World War
In 1935, Canadian voters defeated the Federal Conservatives and returned the Liberals of W.L Mackenzie King to power. This proved to be the most aviation minded government Canadians had ever seen and many historical changes took place. In 1936, Minister of Harbours and Railways, Hon. C.D. Howe, moved civil aviation from under the Department of Defence and placed it in a new formed Department of Transportation. Next he began construction of a Trans-Canada Airway, with airports and emergency landing fields spread across Canada, and by 1938 a framework of 94 airfields were nearing completion. A new [fourth] civil airport for Calgary, Alberta, was developed on new land purchased [$31,126.00] in the North-East of the city, with the first ever designed municipal constructed civilian airport terminal and hangar. The new airport opened [two weeks after Canada declared war on Germany] 25 September 1939, titled McCall Field, for WWI ace and Calgary born Freddy McCall. Today this famous original TCA terminal and historical WWII hangar still stands, sadly, forgotten by the passage of time and proper historical background education.

The cover of Maclean’s 1 March 1940, featured a color photo of Lockheed Model 14H2, believed to be CF-TCJ, the TCA pilots are not identified. These pilots and aircraft would continue to transport passengers, freight, and Calgary air mail during WWII.
With the Canadian declaration of war 10 September 1939, the Federal Department of Transport took over control of Calgary McCall Field, which was now selected as a potential BCATP training base site. The Dept. of Transport completed surveys, blueprints, and cost estimates, which were submitted to the RCAF Aerodrome Development Committee for rejection or approval. The final construction site approval came from the Minister of National Defence, [sworn in 23 May 1940] Hon. Charles Gavin Power in Ottawa. Calgary’s McCall Field was first selected to train British fighter pilots for the Royal Air Force, becoming No. 35 Service Flying Training School, construction beginning in late November 1940. Construction continued during the bitter cold winter months when temperatures dropped to 35 below F and gravel had to be steam heated before it could be mixed for cement.

This image was taken in spring of 1941, possibly around April or May, giving a clear air-shot of the original TCA 1938 wood constructed terminal and hangar, which opened 25 September 1939. Seven Trans-Canada Airlines Loadstar aircraft can be seen on the ramp, possible delayed in Calgary due to bad weather over the Rocky Mountains. [TCA only had twelve on strength] The three bottom aircraft are CF-TCY, CF-TDG, and CF-TDF, with CF-TCY surviving today and being restored by the Canadian Museum of Flight in B.C., a rare Canadian historical civil aircraft. Top is the future RAF hangar #1 with British control tower, first used by the RCAF. On 24 January 1941, RCAF Flying Squadron from No. 2 Wireless School [SAIT campus today] Calgary, moved from RCAF No. 3 SFTS [Currie Barracks] to TCA operations hangar. [above]

This image was found and supplied by Karly Sawatzky, BA, SAIT Archives of Calgary.
These eight D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II wireless trainer aircraft were the first WWII trainers to occupy the future RAF hangars, they arrived by rail at Calgary on 18 March 1941. The first Menasco Moth assembled was RCAF serial 4843, [first aircraft in line] and the first to fly at Calgary, [officially recorded by RCAF as Municipal Airport No. 35 SFTS] on 20 March 1941. Menasco T-Moth serial numbers were in production order – 4834-35-36-37-38-40-41 and 42. Eight more arrived on 20 March 1941, serial 4833-4839,4843-4844-4845-4846-4847 and 4848. No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron [formed 6 January 1941] became the first WWII Wireless Air Gunners Course 9X [46 trainees] to train and use Calgary Municipal TCA control tower at Calgary. The airport was now under control of the Dept. of Transport, and the British control tower was not in operational order. The Wireless course began on 28 April 1941, with thirty-five aircraft on charge, 9 RCAF Norseman, 1 old Fairchild, 1 Moth 82C and 24 Moth 82C-4 trainers. These trainer aircraft also became the first to used the new constructed Relief Flying Field located at Airdrie, Alberta, however they would never graduate at No. 35 SFTS. On 12 May 1941, No. 2 Wireless School was ordered back to RCAF No. 3 SFTS at Currie Barracks, as the British government had requested the movement of many more Royal Air Force training schools to Western Canada, and training space for twelve schools had to be found in a short period of time. These future RAF training schools were still under construction as the British staff and trainees began to arrive by train, and they would have to double-bunk in H-huts which were still not fully constructed.
On 22 April 1941, RAF Senior Officers and other ranks of newly formed No. 31 SFTS boarded a train 09:30 hrs at Kirkham, England, arriving at Glasgow, Scotland at 13:00 hrs. They sailed on the S.S. “Royal Ulsterman” on 23 April and arrived at Iceland four days later. They departed Iceland on 29 April in the H.S. California and arrived Halifax, Nova Scotia, 6 May 1941. A special CPR train transported the entire staff to Calgary arriving on 10 May, where they were trucked from the train station to the Calgary Municipal airport and No. 35 SFTS, their temporary training school still under construction.
Two days later RCAF No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron were ordered back to Currie Barracks, [their original base] to complete their wireless flight training, and make room for the arriving British. RAF No. 31 EFTS were never assigned aircraft for training and one RCAF D.H. Menasco Tiger-Moth Mk. II was loaned to them from No. 2 Wireless School on 15 May 1941. This allowed the pilot students to receive aircraft ground instruction until their new trainers were delivered from Toronto by rail. Their first Canadian built De Havilland Tiger-Moth arrived at Calgary, flown from Regina, Saskatchewan, 30 May, and twenty-one more would arrive by CPR rail from de Havilland in Toronto, by the end of June. The first RAF flying instruction at Calgary, Alberta, began on 18 June when Course #22 commenced their first elementary flying school training, containing 93 student pilots, with completion of course slated for 20 August 1941. The RAF staff of No. 31 EFTS at Calgary were 29 Officers, 24 NCO’s and 425 airmen, including the first 93 student pilots. In June the course students flew an average of seven and one half hours, with six pupils flying solo, and six more ready to fly solo. In the month of July 1941, No. 31 EFTS student pilots had twelve Tiger Moth aircraft accidents, fortunately with no loss of life.

The last collision between two Tiger-Moth trainers at Calgary occurred on 11 October 1941, and training was suspended the next day.
The advance RAF party of S/L P. Jackson, P/O J.S. Robinson, and 84 other ranks began the move to their new base at De Winton, Alberta, on 13 October, and the main body of the school arrived three days later. Their new school was still under construction, no telephones, poor sanitation, temporary heating, but they had running ‘cold’ water. The British called this ‘blue pencil’ showers. Not one building at De Winton, Alberta, was 100% completed, including hangars, requiring all aircraft to were flown back and forth to Calgary for normal maintenance and major overhauls. Base construction would not be completed until 13 July 1942.

The historic 1938 constructed first Calgary TCA terminal and hangar remains in use today, while her WWII past is largely unknown to the majority of citizens in Calgary. Author in hangar door under the impact point of the world famous WWII RAF Mosquito “F for Freddie.” Believe it or not, the history of the tragic crash of “Freddie” is not even displayed in the Flight Hangar Museum, and the City of Calgary have never designated this historic aviation hangar as a protected heritage building, which is [2018] privately owned and operated by Condor Aircraft. Knowing the cowboy priorities in Calgary, Canadians can pretty much kiss this Trans-Canada Airlines and WWII RAF British aviation history good-bye.
In March 1941, the British once again revised the number of RAF schools they wished to move to Canada, adding nine more service flying training schools, fifteen elementary flying training schools, ten air observer schools and four operational training schools. This caused many additional construction problems for the Canadian government, RCAF reorganization, doubling the size of some schools under construction, and turning relief landing fields into full size training schools. In June 1941, the RAF Officers and ranks of No. 35 SFTS were reassigned from their intended base at Calgary to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, where they arrived on 21 July 1941.
Their original designated RAF school under construction at Calgary, Alberta, now remained an un-numbered temporary training school of RAF No. 31 EFTS until 4 September 1941, then it was officially renumbered RAF No. 37 SFTS.

When this image was taken, 4 April 1941, [5,500 feet] the base was still designated as No. 35 S.F.T.S and the aircraft seen in front of Hangar #1 are four Menasco Moth Mk. II from No. 2 Wireless School. The RAF organization of British Officers and other ranks of new formed No. 37 S.F.T.S. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, came together at RAF West Kirby, England, on 18 August 1941. RAF West Kirby was constructed beginning in October 1939, a large camp designed to train new RAF recruits in education of the wartime RAF, learning air force parade ground drill, later with rifles, and intense physical fitness training. West Kirby was a basic training unit with no airfield, where discipline was much stricter than a normal RAF training school, which earned the nickname ‘square bashing camp.’
After eight weeks of basic training, the new recruit was posted for special trades training or directly to RAF operations. The new staff of No. 37 SFTS were recalled from leave on 2 September 1941, and it appears around 400 were new British airmen who would learn their air force trade at a far-off place called Calgary, Alberta, in Western Canada.

Of all the new formed RAF training units in Canada the elementary flying training schools went through the most numerous changes in construction, location, and student size, due to their rapid expansion. This sudden acceleration of British student pilots also effected the service flying training schools in not only construction, or finding training aircraft but in finding proper accommodations, and Calgary became a perfect example.

When the first No. 37 SFTS RAF train arrived at Calgary on 20 September 1941, they found it occupied by No. 31 EFTS, and new arrival staff [458 all ranks] had no accommodation. The new arrivals had to double-up with the 478 staff members of No. 31 EFTS. The second train was halted at RAF No. 39 Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which was still under construction and would not open until 15 December 1941. The officers from the second train were taken to RAF No. 32 SFTS at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for accommodation. What a confusing greeting to Canada after five or six days at sea, and then four days on a train. The fact being RAF training staff and students were arriving in Canada faster than their training schools could be constructed by Canadians.

On 30 September 1941, 13 officers and 444 other ranks moved into RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, a very slow beginning, then came aircraft training changes. Calgary originally had been selected as a service flying training school, equipped with Harvard aircraft for RAF fighter pilot training. In 1940-41, Harvard aircraft in Canada were relatively plentiful and twin-engine Avro Anson and Airspeed Oxford bomber pilot trainers were scarce. The British Oxford [Ox-box] twin-engine aircraft were being shipped from England and took weeks to deliver, thus more RAF pilots were being trained as fighter pilots and an imbalance was taking place. Fully trained RAF fighter pilots arriving back in United Kingdom had to be retrained as bomber pilots at a British operational training unit, and this wasted time and cost money.
On 22 September 1941, RAF Order #228 advised No. 37 SFTS Calgary, would train bomber pilots flying British built Airspeed Oxford trainers, being shipped across the sea from England. These aircraft would arrive three, four, or six a time depending on the ship size that transported them to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The prototype British [Ox-box] Oxford flew on 19 June 1937, with 8,586 manufactured by Airspeed, 4,441 at Portsmouth, 550 at Christchurch, 1,515 built by de Havilland at Hatfield, 1,356 by Percival at Luton, and 750 by Standard Motors at Coventry. The RCAF ordered twelve Mk. I and thirteen Mk. II trainers in 1938, the first serial 1501 [Mk. II] arrived at Trenton, Ontario, 8 May 1939. These first twenty-five aircraft were serial #1501 to #1525, serving at RCAF Camp Bordon, Trenton, Picton, and Rockciffe, Ontario.

Oxford #1521 was taken on charge RCAF at Camp Borden 10 September 1939, had a Cat. C accident at RCAF Rockcliffe, Ontario, on 9 January 1942, off charge 19 February 1945.

The RCAF also purchased 188 Oxford AS. 46 Mk. V aircraft which trained in various parts of the BCATP in Canada. Oxford Mk. V, serial EB623 was taken on charge 19 March 1943, off charge by RCAF 21 August 1945. This aircraft never few training operations and had only 10:10 hrs when sold by War Assets in 1946.

Due to RAF training school construction delays in Canada, combined with a shortage of RAF Bomber Pilots, No. 37 SFTS RAF Calgary will begin twin-engine Bomber pilot training with the British Airspeed Oxford “All Purpose” RAF trainer. The RAF Calgary airport was constructed at a high elevation of 3,606 ft. [1,099 metres] above sea level, which required a longer runway for take-off in twin engine aircraft and the Oxford was not suitable to operate in this high altitude of Western Canada.

The most notable difference between twin-engine training schools in Canada became aircraft types. The RAF schools flew the Airspeed Oxford, 601 which were shipped from England, [March 1941 to November 1943] then arrived by rail at the assigned schools in Western Canada, while the RCAF schools flew the Avro Anson trainer. The higher the British Oxford trainer flew in Calgary the more power it lost due to thin air density, and the RAF knew this, but they needed bomber pilots, so the decision was made to train bomber pilots at Calgary [for eleven months] until 25 September 1942. The first British Oxford AS276 arrived by rail on 7 August, followed by four T1184, V3426, V3434, and AS365 on 20 August 1941.

The first 68 RAF EFTS pilot graduates arrived at Calgary on 13 October 41, and now these British lads came face to face with their first twin-engine Oxford and their new flying instructor. Keep in mind all British schools and many RAF course numbers in Canada began with number 31.

This four-page cartoon appeared in No. 32 EFTS magazine “Three Corners” but the humor would apply to any of the 26 RAF wartime training schools in Canada. Joining up and posted to RAF West Kirby, Cheshire [later Merseyside] England, “Fly with the RAF.”

RAF parade ground drill, “square bashing” spit and polish, with strict discipline.

Intensive physical fitness training and weekends of book study, kitchen duty, or Orderly Sgt.

Canadian RAF Flying Training washed-out, replaced by hours of cleaning duties.

On 21 October 1941, RAF ground school lectures and flying instruction began at Calgary, and the next day RAF No. 37 SFTS officially opened for Airspeed Oxford bomber pilot training, Course #31. This first Course began with 68 students and graduated 53 Bomber Sgt./pilot flying badges, with 13 students granted officer commissions. The Wings parade flying badges were presented by Vice-Marshal G.N. Croil AFC, beginning 09:00 hrs 21 January 1942.

This is an actual RAF photo of a Wings Parade Badge presentation at the Drill Hall of No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta. Today this 1940 constructed Drill Hall survives as the Flight Hangar Museum of Calgary. In 2017, the City of Calgary spent one-million dollars to renovate and make this historic old building fire proof, and you can now rent this very space for a birthday, wedding, funeral, or stag party evening, drinking and dancing around old airplanes. Sadly, you will not find one aircraft, photo, or fact sheet which tells the true history of this British WWII RAF pilot training site, or the 30 British lads who died here. One-thousand five hundred and thirty-five RAF trained pilots received their wings in the Flight Hangar Museum of Calgary.

Image from RAF aircraft in March 1942, showing downtown Calgary and the location of British No. 37 S.F.T.S. Forty-three Mk. I and forty-one Mk. II British Oxford aircraft were delivered directly to the base from Halifax, Nova Scotia, by C.P.R. Railway.

Airspeed Oxford Mk. I, serial number Taken on strength Taken off strength

T1180 2 Sept. 1941 17 Feb. 1945
T1184 [Mk. II] 20 Aug. 1941 17 May 1944
V3379 29 Aug. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
V3393 29 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
V3426 20 Aug. 1941 18 Aug. 1942
Cat “A” accident, 14 August 1943. Mid-air with AS666, LAC Nimmo and LAC Webb killed.
V3434 20 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
V3439 12 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
V3463 19 Sept. 1941 11 Apr. 1944
V3479 3 Sept. 1941 28 Nov. 1942
Cat. “A” accident, 28 November 1942, No. 39 SFTS Swift current, Sask.
X6539 26 Aug. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
X6544 4 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6549 4 Oct. 1941 18 May 1944
X6550 2 Sept. 1941 8 Sept. 1943
X6551 2 Sept. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
X6557 22 Oct. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6589 24 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6590 17 Sept. 1941 10 June 1943
X6593 25 Sept. 1941 11 May 1943
X6881 3 Nov. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
X6883 3 Nov. 1941 3 Oct. 1943
X6884 [Mk. II] 9 Oct. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
X6964 [Mk. II] 2 Feb. 1942 23 Jan. 1945
X6967 [Mk. II] 2 Feb. 1942 12 May 1943
X7143 [Mk. II] 24 Mar. 1942 3 Oct. 1945
X7156 [Mk. II] 14 May 1942 19 Feb. 1945
AP424 [Mk. II] 4 Mar. 1942 23 Jan. 1945
AR969 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS266 [Mk. II] 28 Aug. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS276 [Mk. II] 7 Aug. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS303 [Mk. II] 29 Aug. 1941 17 May 1944
AS321 [Mk. II] 18 Aug. 41 13 Apr. 1944
AS365 [Mk. II] 20 Aug. 1941 11 June 1943
Cat. “A” accident, 1st British bomber student pilot killed at Calgary 5 December 1941, LAC Ernest Thomson 1387318. Flying his first solo, the pilot attempted to land with only one wheel locked in down position, the aircraft stalled and crashed onto nose, killing LAC Thomson. Funeral on 8 December 41, attended by ten RAF officers, firing party, trumpeters and drummer.

RAF crash photo Oxford AS. 10 Mk. II, serial AS365, 5 December 1941

AS373 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 41 29 Oct. 1942
19 January 1942, forced landing Cat. “C” accident, extensive damage, LAC Crampton G.C.
AS382 [Mk. II] 29 Aug. 1941 18 Aug. 1942
Cat. “A” accident, LAC E.C. Dunbavand #1218546 killed at Three Hills, Alberta. [1st Solo flight]
Funeral 16 January 1942.

AS396 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS475 22 Oct. 1941 2 Oct. 1946
AS599 14 Nov. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
AS603 4 Sept. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
AS610 26 Aug. 1941 28 Nov. 1942
AS612 29 Aug. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS614 2 Sept. 1941 12 May 1943
Involved in collision 11 Dec. 1941, pilot 656537 LAC B. Williams.
AS616 22 Oct. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS617 22 Oct. 1941 11 Nov. 1943
Cat. “A” accident at No. 29 SFTS Swift Current, Sask.
AS619 2 Sept. 1941 28 28 Jan. 1945
AS625 18 Nov. 1941 27 Aug. 1943
Cat. “A” accident 8 July 1943, No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Sask.
AS629 25 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS666 17 Sept. 1941 12 Mar. 1943
Cat. “A” accident 14 Aug. 1942, LAC L.R. Nimmo 420814 mid-air.

AS691 12 Nov. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS699 10 Dec. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS701 3 Nov. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS790 [Mk. II] 4 Sept. 1941 22 Feb. 1943
Cat. “A” accident 12 December 1943, No. 39 SFTS, Swift Current, Sask.

AS798 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS802 [Mk. II] 4 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AS834 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1942 25 May. 1945
AS837 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS838 [Mk. II] 18 Sept. 1941 3 Oct. 1946
AS848 [Mk. II] 18 Nov. 1941 17 Feb. 1945
AS853 [Mk. II] 17 Sept. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS859 [Mk. II] 9 Oct. 1941 12 Feb. 1945
AS860 [Mk. II] 9 Oct. 1941 23 Jan. 1945
AS862 [Mk. II] 22 Oct. 1941 22 Feb. 1945
AS927 [Mk. II] 8 Jan. 1942 19 Feb. 1945
AS931 [Mk. II] 6 Nov. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AT442 3 Sept 1941 2 Oct. 1946
Crashed in landing accident 17 April 1942, no injuries.

Cat. “C” accident 17 April 1942, Oxford AS. 10 Mk. I, serial AT442, repaired, continued training until October 1946.

AT444 3 Sept. 1941 2 Oct. 1946
AT446 25 Sept. 1941 19 Feb. 1945
AT447 25 Sept 1941 14 Feb. 1945
AT452 25 Sept. 1941 20 May 1943
Night flying 8 January 1942, hit telephone wires. No injuries.

AT455 25 Sept. 1941 17 May 1944
AT457 3 Sept. 1941 12 Dec. 1942
Cat. “A” accident 10 Dec. 1942 LAC W.J. McCarthy 656512 killed 20:30 hrs second solo flight.
Crashed three miles north of aerodrome, pilot killed instantly. Funeral 13 Dec. 1941.

AT458 17 Sept. 1941 30 Oct. 1945
Cat. “A” accident 14 Sept. 1943, No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Sask.
AT472 17 Sept. 1941 12 Mar. 1942
Cat. “A” accident 26 Aug. 1942

BG303 [Mk. II] 12 Mar. 1942 23 Jan. 1945
BG328 [Mk. II] 12 Mar. 1942 13 Apr. 1944
BG354 [Mk. II] 4 Mar. 1942 1 Aug. 1943
Cat. “C” accident 1 June 1942.
BG355 [Mk. II] 27 Feb. 1942 25 May 1945
BG363 [Mk. II] 27 Jan. 1942 19 Feb. 1945
BG503 [Mk. II] 14 May 1942 11 Apr. 1945
BM679 [Mk. II] 4 Mar. 1942 8 Aug. 1944
BM701 [Mk. II] 27 Jan. 1942 8 Sept. 1943
BM749 [Mk. II] 22 Apr. 1942 19 Feb. 1945
BM752 [Mk. II] 24 Mar. 1942 17 May 1942
BM807 [Mk. II] 10 Apr. 1942 11 Apr. 1944
BM810 [Mk. II] 10 Apr. 1942 28 Nov. 1942
Cat. “A” 14 August 1942, LAC W.J. Webb killed. Mid-air with Oxford AS666, LAC Nimmo.

Six of the thirty RAF pilots killed at Calgary were flying an “Ox-box” Airspeed Oxford when they died.

The British RAF shipped 601 Airspeed Oxford AS. 10 and AS. 46 trainers to RCAF for training in Canada, [March 1941 to November 1943] five were lost at sea [ship torpedoed] serial – AR809, AR810, AR813, AR814, and AR819. Delivered Mk. I aircraft totalled 281, Mk. II, 318, and Mk. V, 2. No. 37 SFTS RAF Calgary received 43 Mk. I aircraft and 41 Mk. II aircraft which are listed above on date of arrival and date off charge by RCAF.

On 28 September 1942, seventy-eight of the above Airspeed Oxford aircraft were flown to RAF No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and one-hundred Harvard II trainers were flown to No. 37 SFTS in Calgary. Another five Oxford aircraft were transferred on 30 September, and the last six departed Calgary by 11 January 1943.

Burnsland Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta, was established in 1923, containing 22,061 burials of WWI and WWII Veterans from the City. The British Union Jack proudly flies over the hallowed ground which contains 43 WWII graves of RAF students and Flying Instructors who never left Calgary 1941-44. Thirty were RAF members killed while training at No. 37 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, with the other thirteen killed training in Tiger-Moth aircraft at No. 31 EFTS RAF De Winton.

The first British issue of “Calgary Wings” with original RAF [First Nations] Thunderbird on front cover, November 1941.

The second issue of Calgary Wings came out in March 1942, featuring a new designed [First Nations] Thunderbird which remained with the British school until closing 10 March 1944. It’s possible this image was even painted on a few aircraft.

The first RAF full page cartoon appeared in the March issue. The citizens of Banff would invite 100 RAF students for a weekend of entertainment every few months.

The British RAF feelings towards Wild West Calgary in March 1942. Population was 87,000.

The first RAF Bomber pilot to solo at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Sgt. Howard from Course No. 31, trained 21 October 1941 to 21 January 1942.
The second RAF Oxford trained Bomber Pilot class of sixty to graduate at Calgary on 5 March 1942, became Course #33. Seventeen from original class were wastage [failed] posted back to No. 31 RAF Personnel Depot at Moncton, New Brunswick.

Course #35 graduated 52 bomber pilots on 21 May 1942, with 13 wasted [failed]. The last bomber pilot graduation class became Course #57 on 24 September 1942. Sixty-eight pilots graduated and all flying training was suspended on 25 September 42. The next day 73 Oxford aircraft were flown to No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and exchanged for 100 Harvard trainers which arrived Calgary on 30 September. No. 37 SFTS Calgary had graduated eight Airspeed Oxford bomber pilot courses [#31, #33, #35, #47, #49, #51, #56, and #57] with a total of 385 bomber pilots returning to England. Now, RAF Calgary would begin training fighter pilots for the RAF, flying Harvard II trainers, a new era begins on 1 October 1942.

R.A.F. No. 37 SFTS Relief Field at Airdrie, Alberta
On 10 October 1939, the Canadian government agreed that after the BCATP was signed [17 December 1939] the new Department of Transport would undertake the initial selection of airfield training sites, which must then be approved by the Aerodrome Committee of the RCAF. The erection of all buildings and training aids on each base was totally controlled by the Aerodrome Committee [RCAF]. Government survey crews from the D.O.T were aided by provincial highway survey parties and by 24 January 1940, a tentative selection of eighty schools for the BCATP was summited to Supervisory Board in Ottawa. A good number of these early training sites originally constructed for the RCAF would now be turned over to the RAF as they arrived in Canada, however I’m sure these original records are long gone.

The RCAF training schools in the BCATP were distributed throughout the four Air Force Training Commands in Canada, while the RAF schools were mostly located in No. 4 Training Command, which took up the southern part of Saskatchewan and the complete provinces of Alberta, and British Columbia. The above map shows the locations of thirteen RAF Pilot training schools in No. 4 T.C. and three more located in No. 2 Training Command, with H.Q. at Winnipeg.
Twenty-six Royal Air Force training schools would train 42,110 British aircrew members from October 1941 until January 1945. Almost half [17,796] graduated from Canadian RAF flying training schools in western Canada as pilots. Another 81 RAF pilots were trained and graduated from RCAF schools in the BCATP. After 1 July 1942, these Canadian RAF schools also trained 2,000 Free French aircrews, 900 Czechoslovakian pilots, 677 Norwegian pilots, 450 Polish pilots and 400 Dutch and Belgian pilots. Each of the British run RAF schools had one Relief Landing Ground [some had two] which was used for day and night flying training. These figures give a small account of the tremendous problems encountered and it is still hard for many historians to grasp that the RAF schools were training in the same air space as many other [five] RCAF schools south of Calgary, Alberta. Seventy-eight years later the RAF Relief landing fields are mostly gone, the buildings removed or torn down years ago, the runways over-grown with trees or just a faint outline in the earth seen from the air by passing aircraft.
Today [2019] it is a complete surprise to find a large percentage of No. 37 SFTS Relief Landing Ground at Airdrie, Alberta, still operates and survives like a war ghost from the past. My historical research of RAF in Canada began in 1985, and the hardest part was finding WWII images, and placing the history of this forgotten British training base in correct order. I know that hundreds of photos survive in England, forgotten in old photo albums, which are rarely looked at by today’s generation. The author would really appreciate any British images or shared history from this past RAF history in Western Canada. The majority of my RAF Airdrie/Calgary history was obtained from four caring Canadians, all of whom are now deceased. Mr. Burt Sharp, an ex-RCAF airplane mechanic who was posted to RAF Relief Field in February 1943, Mr. Harry Cromwell, an Airdrie farmer who owned the land surrounding the RAF Bomb Range, Mr. Archie Penny, an original 1942 RAF pilot, who flew Harvard trainers from Calgary, training at Relief Field Airdrie, and Mrs. Gwen Conroy, an amazing lady who owned and lived on the Airdrie Airport, plus being a qualified Harvard aircraft female pilot. Some of these WWII photos are being published for the very first time, with limited information, corrections are always appreciated, to record and preserve the truth. Many WWII photos were copied and shared by other aircrew members, then passed on and later placed into photo albums. For this reason, a good part of Canadian training RAF history was just forgotten and lost.
In December 1940, the aerodrome Committee of the RCAF selected 640 acres of farm land situated almost 3 miles East of the Village of Airdrie, Alberta, for construction of a Relief Landing Ground for RAF No. 35 SFTS being constructed in North-East Calgary. The construction contract was awarded to the Dutton Bros. of Calgary, Alberta, with the airfield completed in May 1941. Airdrie first became a railway siding of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in 1889, named after a Scottish village, with the first farmhouse constructed in 1901. When the RAF airfield construction began in 1940, the Village of Airdrie had a population of 191 citizens. The runways at Airdrie were first used for training by RCAF No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron using D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth Mk. II trainers based in Calgary, 28 April until 12 May 1941
No. 31 EFTS RAF arrived next, flying Canadian built DH 82 Tiger-Moth training at Airdrie Landing Ground beginning 18 June 1941. No. 31 EFTS moved to De Winton, Alberta, beginning 13 October 1941, and the main party arrived officially three days later. Airdrie Relief Landing Ground officially became the training field of No. 37 SFTS Calgary on 4 September 1941, with British built Airspeed Oxford twin-engine pilot training beginning 22 October 1941, consisting of 68 RAF pilot students in Course #31.

This cold flying shot was taken on opening day of No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, 22 October 1941. The RAF student pilot [LAC Gafney who took image] was being flown by his RAF instructor Reg Eastwood, in a DH 82 Tiger-Moth trainer aircraft from No. 31 EFTS at De Winton, Alberta, and they would be landing in a few minutes. Twenty-five British Twin-engine Airspeed Oxfords are parked on the first snow fall of the fast approaching Calgary winter. The Daily Diary records 8 hours flying time on 22 October, with RAF strength 51 Officers, 136 RAF Student bomber pilot trainees, and 1,044 other ranks of British training staff. RAF Officer’s and Oxford aircraft are still arriving on a daily basis, with 50 aircraft on strength, and by the end of the month, they completed 444 hrs. 55 min. flying training hours. The Relief Landing Ground at Airdrie, Alberta, had suddenly become a busy WWII British airport.

This is the normal “three corner” design of a WWII Relief Landing Ground of the British and RCAF Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This 1991 image was taken by WWII pilot Ernie Thompson showing the RAF Relief L.G. at [Big Bend] Innisfail, Alberta, used by student pilots from RAF No. 32 EFTS at Bowden. Relief Landing Grounds received a fair share of training accidents and loss of life during WWII training in Canada.

Crash image by Mr. George Frost, Chief RAF Aviation Engineer at No. 32 EFTS, Bowden, Alberta. This DH 82C Tiger Moth #5034 being flown by RAF student LAC Thomas Malan hit the power lines over the Town of Bowden on 27 May 1942, and the pilot survived. The man on right in white shirt with hands in pocket is the one and only Town Constable Ed Shenfield. Up to this point in his police career, he had only investigated, stolen horses, car accidents, and drunken Alberta farmers. That possibly explains the puzzled look on his face, what the hell should I do?

The RAF at Bowden picked their news magazine publication cover from Shakespeare – “Come the three corners of the world in arms” a dark period in England, when King John has been poisoned by a Monk. It also stood for the three corner runways of the training fields in Canada, very fitting.

A copy of the original Dutton Bros, ‘Three Corners” construction map created by the Department of Transportation in 1940. Obtained from Mrs. Gwen Conroy in 1991, at which time she was the property owner of the runway portion of the Airdrie Airport, and resided on her very own private airport.

In the spring of 1944, a south-bound American Douglas Digby lost an oil line over Olds, Alberta, then made a forced landing in the wet field just south-east of the Airdrie Relief Landing Ground. The RAF Airdrie Hangar can be seen on the left under the bomber wing. The American airmen [possibly pilot] in the bomber door has dropped his pants, and ‘moons’ the British camera.

Towed from the soft-wet ground by an RAF Cat Tractor, [seen above] the oil line was repaired and the Digby took off south for the United States. The old USAAF bomber had been serving in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the three corners of Airdrie, Alberta, had saved her return flight home.

This original 1940 constructed RAF Hangar survives 2019 [minus WWII control tower] which is still in private use, owned by a German who immigrated to Calgary, Alberta, in the 1960’s.
Airdrie Relief Landing Ground was constructed at elevation 3,602 ft. [1,098 m] and as you drive or fly directly east, the ground level slowly drops. Four miles directly east of the airport the ground suddenly drops 130 ft. and the lowest section contains a two to three-foot body of water which is one-half mile in length, running north to south. This body of water was never claimed by early western homesteaders, as no farmer wanted to pay taxes for a duck pond. Today it still remains Federal government property, [Crown Land] and for that reason the RAF in WWII decided this would make a very good bomb training range for low-flying aircraft.

This author image is looking directly east at the road located four miles east of the Airdrie airport, and this body of water marsh area contains tens-of-thousands of WWII British smoke bombs, some still unexploded ordnance. Farmer Harry Cromwell owned the surrounding farm land and lived on the far south section of land from the lake area. The lake had no official name, however the local Airdrie farmers called it Wood Lake, reason unknown. In January 1942, the RAF approached farmer Cromwell for permission to build two twenty-seven-foot bomb towers, which would be placed on the east and west side of Wood Lake, near the center of the body of water. In the center of the frozen lake they chipped rows of six holes in a square shape and them pile drove thirty-six half length telephone poles in each hole. Each telephone pole was then painted yellow and red in alternating colors, and this became the target for dropping training smoke bombs. On the assigned training day, the RAF placed one LAC student in each tower, and his duty was to point a gun sight device at the white smoke released where the bomb hit the water near the target. Then the number on a map were recorded and this was repeated again, and again, as each aircraft dropped its bombs. In the evening, the maps from were each tower were connected by drawing lines, which marked an “X” and the location each student bomb landed. A very simple, but effective way of giving each RAF student his bomb marks. The RAF called this training area “Wood Lake No. 1 Bombing Range” and it remained in use until 1946, used by the RCAF in the postwar era. The only known accident at the bomb range occurred on 26 October 1943, when RAF Harvard aircraft FE808 struck the centre of the target area with a wing, but made it safely back to base. Today this forgotten WWII bomb site is not even recorded as a government explosive ordnance site, so please use caution, if you are digging for war junk.
Author map showing location of RAF Wood Lake, No. 1 Bomb Range at Airdrie, Alberta.

Airdrie Relief L.G. bomb training is not recorded in the Daily Diary of No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, while farmer Cromwell believed it began in April 1942. RAF Calgary had a staff of 88 Officers, 1,168 airmen and 221 RAF bomber pilot trainees, with 98 Oxford aircraft on strength, 1 April 1942. Airspeed Oxford bomb training began 21 October 1941 and ceased 25 September 1942. By 28 September, 78 Oxford trainers had been flown to RAF No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and 100 Harvard trainers returned to Calgary by 30th of the month.

North American Aviation, Inc. [NAA] was a holding company for many aviation firms, which came together during the great depression, then General Motors obtained 29 percent of the shares in 1933, and decided to create General Aviation Corp. of NAA, located in the Curtiss-Caproni factory at Dundalk, Maryland. In 1934, General Aviation was renamed becoming the Aircraft Manufacturing Division of NAA, and from this came the prototype [future Harvard] aircraft, NA-16 the first of many. The first BT-9, flew on 15 April 1936, and a production line was set up in the new constructed plant at Inglewood, California. The first Harvard I, serial N7000 was built with British-specified equipment, and flew on 28 September 1938, wearing full British RAF markings. Witnessed by British representatives, the aircraft impressed and 200 aircraft were ordered for RAF training in U.K. Another 200 Harvard’s were ordered in January 1939, which were shipped without engines, assembled at a shadow factory RAF Shawbury, England. In April 1939, Canada ordered 30 Harvard I’s [NA-61] which were built for the RCAF, serial #1321 to #1350. The first three were delivered 20 July 1939, eleven in August, eight in November [Canada had declared war on Germany 10 September] and the last seven arrived at the Alberta border on 1 December 1939, serial #1344 to #1350.

This image appeared in the 11 December 1939 issue of American LIFE magazine, titled – BRITISH WARPLANES ARE TOWED ACROSS CANADIAN BORDER AT MONTANA “PORT OF EXIT.” This North American Harvard I is serial #1338, delivered to the RCAF in Alberta, [above] 21 November 1939. The aircraft flew at Camp Borden, Ontario, until 14 February 1945. Flying the last fifteen Harvard I’s to Canada proved to be a problem as the U.S. Neutrality Act prohibited the flying of aircraft to a Country at war. The Nov. & Dec. Harvard’s for the RCAF were flown to Sweetgrass, Montana, USA, landed at the border, and then pushed across to Alberta, [right side of fence wire in photo] then flown north to Calgary RCAF No. 3 SFTS at Currie Barracks.
From this point in time, [January 1940] the Harvard production line officially became the American AT-6 production line for the remainder of the war. Whatever you wish to call it – U.S. Navy J-Bird, Texan, AT-6, or British/Canadian Harvard, it soon earned the unofficial name “Pilot Maker” and the entire Allied war effort would depend on this single aircraft which produced tens of thousands of WWII combat pilots. The largest customer for the Harvard became the RCAF and the Royal Air Force training at their bases in western Canada. On 18 March 1941, the 1,000th Harvard II rolled off the production line in California, and it became the 570th to be flown directly to Canada. The ridiculous process of flying to the Canadian border had been dropped by the U.S. State Department and now direct flights were made to Canadian RCAF bases. For model builders or aviation painters, it is interesting to see the new Harvard II was painted in full British RAF markings on the NAA final production line at Inglewood, California. For flying in the United States the trainers still required U.S. national insignia under the wings, an unusual mix of fuselage British Roundel with American Star National wing markings.

Jeff Ethell collection 1983.

Harvard AJ987 never made It to Canada, one of two aircraft which crashed in California before delivery to RCAF. In the background is AJ986, flown to RAF No. 39 SFTS [Swift Current, Saskatchewan] and taken on charge 3 February 1942. This trainer had a Cat. C-5 crash on 18 March 1942, was repaired and became one of the [100] delivered to RAF No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, 30 September 1942. In the Royal Air Force, the American built AT-6C became known as the Harvard IIA. In January 1940, the Canadian government bought the rights to produce the AT-6A by Noorduyn Aviation Ltd. in Montreal, Quebec, and these Canadian constructed RAF Harvard’s became the British Harvard IIB trainer. Noorduyn Aviation would build 2,610 Harvard IIB trainers in Montreal, Canada, 1,500 were lend-lease for the RAF. Uncle Sam paid Canadians in Montreal to build the AT-6, then gave them to the British [Lend-Lease] to train pilots in RAF bases in Canada.
On 30 September 1942, one-hundred RAF Harvard II “Pilot Makers” returned to Calgary, Alberta, where the very first RCAF Harvard I, #1321, touched down on 20 July 1939.
By mid-January 1943, all the Airspeed Oxford trainers were gone from Calgary, aircraft strength 102 Harvard II’s and seven Avro Anson.

Part Two R.A.F. No. 37 SFTS Harvard Training follows.

No. 37 Service Flying Training School, Calgary, Alberta, – Part Two

RAF Flight of North American Harvard Mk. II trainers on delivery to No. 37 Service Flying Training School at Calgary, arriving over RAF No. 34 SFTS Medicine Hat, Alberta, where they landed for refueling. Date 25 to 27 September 1942. [RAF WWII Image]

On 21 September 1942, all North American Harvard Mk. II aircraft flying training ceased at No. 39 Service Flying Training School, Swift Current, Saskatchewan. In the next five days, One-Hundred Harvard aircraft, thirty-four RAF Harvard Flying Instructors, and a large number of RAF Ground Staff would be transferred to No. 37 S.F.T.S. at Calgary, Alberta. This large base transfer included four Senior RAF Officers, 62 Junior Officers, and 313 other British ranks, mostly Harvard trained ground crews. The one-hundred Harvard Mk. II aircraft flew west from RAF No. 39 SFTS to RAF No. 34 SFTS [refuel] then north to RAF No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta. The refueling arrival over Medicine Hat was captured on rare color film by an RAF flight member.

The new RAF administration staff at Calgary Headquarters were:
G/C J. B. Stockbridge, [C.O.] S/L G.S. M. Warlow, [S. Adjutant] F/L E.T. Hawley, [Admin. Officer] W/O R. H. Evans, [S. Warrant Officer] Sgt. D. Abery, Cpl. E.A. Palmer, LAC G. Wishart, LAC K. Jennings, AC1 G. Meakes, LAC E. Dickinson, Cpl. E.W. Bryant, LAC E.D.G. Crowe, LAC W. Goodlett, AC1 J. Coppock, LAC V. Gould, LAC P.G. Ross and LAC L. Calver.

The 34 RAF Harvard Flying Instructors, consisted of twenty-one officers, and thirteen NCO’s. The Flying Instructors were composed of four squadrons commanded by F/O R.H. Saxton, F/O E.O. Jones, W/O R.H. Evans, and F/Lt. Peter F. Middleton. [remember that last name] On 1 October 1942, RAF Calgary began training of British Fighter pilots in North American Harvard Mk. II aircraft, using Airdrie Relief Landing Ground. Seven Cat. “A” fatal crashes took place.

North American Harvard Mk. II T.O.S. RCAF Taken Off Strength by RCAF
The dates shown are for RCAF Harvard aircraft Taken on Strength and shortly after they were delivered to RAF No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Sask., which opened on 5 December 1941. All of these one-hundred Harvard MK. II’s were delivered to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, by 30 September 1942. All Oxford aircraft were gone from Calgary mid-January 1943.
2566 23 Sept. 1940 18 Oct. 1960
2586 4 Oct. 40 15 Jan. 1947
2631 26 Oct. 40 1 Dec. 1943, Cat. “A” 21 Oct. 43
2698 2 Dec. 40 1 Oct. 1946
2726 20 Dec. 40 18 Oct. 1960
2937 5 Mar. 41 31 Aug. 1946
3274 2 Feb. 42 4 Dec. 1946
3278 9 Feb. 42 7 Nov. 1957
AJ582 29 July 41 14 Mar. 1945
AJ583 [#46] 29 July 41 21 Jun. 1960
AJ723 9 Sept. 41 21 Oct. 1957
AJ753 16 Sept. 41 21 Oct. 1957
AJ758 16 Oct. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ759 16 Oct. 41 2 Mar. 1943, Cat. “A” 10 Dec. 42

Airdrie Relief L. G. claimed the first qualified Flight Commander F/Lt. E.G. Ford #81636 and his pupil from No. 70 Course, when Harvard AJ759 stalled just after take off.

Recovery of RAF Harvard Mk. II serial AJ759, 10 December 1942.

AJ760 [#73] 16 Oct. 41 23 Oct. 1946
AJ762 16 Oct. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ766 16 Oct. 41 4 Feb. 1943
AJ793 16 Oct. 4 24 Apr. 1944
AJ795 16 Oct. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ796 16 Oct. 41 24 Sept. 43, Cat. “A” 28 Aug. 43

AJ798 16 Oct. 41 27 Nov. 1958
AJ799 [#87] 16 Oct. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ824 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ825 11 Nov. 41 24 Nov. 1946
AJ827 14 Oct. 41 23 Jan. 1946
AJ830 29 Oct. 41 16 Apr. 1945
AJ833 16 Oct. 41 1 Oct. 1945
AJ834 16 Oct. 41 9 Mar. 1945
AJ835 [#91] 16 Oct. 41 21 Oct. 1945
AJ836 16 Oct. 41 12 Mar. 1945
AJ847 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ848 3 Nov. 41 11 Mar. 1958
AJ849 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ850 11 Nov. 41 9 Jun. 1946
AJ851 3 Nov. 41 26 Nov. 1945
AJ852 4 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ853 3 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ854 3 Nov. 41 12 Mar. 43, Cat. “A” 15 Dec. 43
AJ893 30 Dec 41 5 Sept. 1946
AJ894 11 Nov. 41 29 Sept. 43, Cat. “A” 4 Aug. 43
AJ896 11 Nov. 41 10 Nov. 1945
AJ897 11 Nov. 41 21 Oct. 1945
AJ898 11 Nov. 41 2 Mar. 1943
AJ899 11 Nov. 41 16 Feb. 1944
AJ900 [#21] 11 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ901 11 Nov. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ902 11 Nov. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ903 26 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ905 26 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ906 26 Nov. 41 6 Nov. 1946
AJ908 26 Nov. 41 27 Oct. 1955
AJ909 26 Nov. 41 9 Mar. 1945
AJ910 27 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ912 26 Nov. 41 11 Mar. 1943, Cat. “C” 22 Jun. 42
AJ913 26 Mar. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ914 26 Nov. 41 22 Dec. 1954
AJ915 27 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1945
AJ917 27 Nov. 41 18 Oct. 1946
AJ920 26 Nov. 41 1 Oct. 1946
AJ921 26 Nov. 41 4 Dec. 1946
AJ927 30 Dec. 41 29 may 1944
AJ930 [#39] 26 Mar. 42 4 Dec. 1946
AJ948 17 Jan. 42 22 Feb. 1945
AJ949 14 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ951 19 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ954 9 Feb. 42 1 Nov. 1960
AJ955 21 Feb. 42 23 May 1945
AJ956 22 Jan. 42 20 Sept. 43, Cat. “A” 8 Aug. 43
AJ957 14 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ958 17 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ960 14 Jan. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ961 17 Jan. 42 4 Dec. 1946
AJ962 14 Jan. 42 22 Dec. 1954
AJ963 17 Jan. 42 18 Oct. 1960
AJ964 14 Jan. 42 4 Dec. 1960
AJ965 17 Jan. 42 7 Dec. 1950
AJ966 14 Jan. 42 16 Feb. 1944
AJ967 14 Jan. 42 9 Mar. 1945
AJ968 14 Jan. 42 1 Nov. 1946
AJ970 14 Jan. 42 7 Nov. 1957
AJ971 14 Jan. 42 25 May 1951
AJ973 14 Jan. 41 11 Mar. 1946
AJ974 17 Jan. 42 21 Jun. 1955
AJ975 17 Jan. 42 18 Sept. 1947
AJ976 17 Jan. 42 18 Oct. 1960
AJ977 17 Jan. 42 3 Nov. 1950
AJ978 17 Jan. 42 5 Aug. 1948
AJ979 17 Jan. 42 11 Mar. 1946
AJ980 17 Jan. 42 11 Mar. 1946
AJ983 6 Feb. 42 1 Oct. 1946
AJ984 9 Feb. 42 14 Dec. 1960
AJ986 3 Feb. 42 6 July 1955
BW204 [#100] 14 May 42 2 Feb. 1946
FE405 5 Aug. 42 2 Oct. 1946
FE406 5 Aug. 42 15 Jan. 1947
FE407 5 Aug. 42 12 Nov. 1946
FE408 5 Aug. 42 2 Oct. 1946
FE409 5 Aug. 42 2 Oct. 1946
FE411 5 Aug. 42 20 Aug 43, Cat. “A” 6 Jun. 43
FE808 7 Feb. 43 2 Oct. 1946
FE824 9 Feb. 42 2 Oct. 1946

North American Harvard Mk. II pilot training began at Calgary/Airdrie on 1 October 1942. Today it is hard to believe this RAF training was done by hand signals, without the benefit of aircraft radios for air-to-air communications.

To the west of Calgary were the foothills and towering Rocky Mountains to explore, and to the east the flat prairie and desolate Red Deer River badlands to Drumheller.

On 30 June 1942, the original part one of the BCATP was terminated and phase two began dated 1 July 1942 until 31 March 1945. This became a turning point in the history of the BCATP with many major changes related to a large expansion for RAF’s Bomber Command. In England, RCAF and RCAF squadrons were being equipped with four-engine Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster bombers and aircrew training numbers must increase. In January 1943, total aircrew production in Canada was 39,354 compared to 19,423 in all other Dominions, Canada was training 45 per cent of all Commonwealth aircrew. This would increase as RAF schools were enlarged and began training students from Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Free French, Holland, and Norway. In August 1942, five new buildings, [red] were constructed for increased training [including Wood Lake Bomb Range] at Relief Landing Ground RAF Airdrie. A large percentage of these graduating students became RAF Mosquito Fighter/Bomber pilots.

The original RAF administration building constructed in summer 1942, is still in use today, the left section in original WWII condition, used for storage.

Inside the original WWII RAF 1942 administration building, Airdrie, Alberta.

The location where the first [1940] RAF H-Hut building once stood.

This is the original 1940 constructed RAF Motor Transport building, located at the entrance to the main gate. This is where the 1941 Ford [Marmon-Herrington] 6X6 crash fire truck, medical ambulance, [RCAF 30-632] Dodge Station Wagon Transport vehicle [RCAF 31-162] Crash Tender Recovery Truck, [RCAF 33-741] RCAF Tractor [20-247 CL] refuelling tender [RCAF 34-276] and mobile radio control tower vehicle [RCAF 31-129] were parked and maintained for over three years. These emergency vehicles were on 24-hour standby during night and day flying training at Airdrie landing ground. The right side building addition was constructed in August 1942, for increased vehicle space.

The RAF Airdrie Relief L.G. 1941 fire-crash truck, [Marmon-Herrington Ford 6X6] aircraft fire-rescue suit, and the mobile radio control tower truck, RCAF #31-129 with wind sock. The mobile radio tower vehicle was painted bright yellow, with complete top a bright red, with a large white letter “T” painted on roof for trainee pilots to see. Image taken in front of hangar doors, east side of building summer 1943.

RAF Medical Officer “Doc” Al Walton beside ambulance and mobile radio control tower truck.

The RAF mobile control tower airmen sending lamp signals to the Harvard pilots, [no aircraft radios] with the Airdrie hangar and main control tower in the background. The bright red painted roof clearly shows in this image. RCAF and serial number 31-129 in black are stenciled on yellow driver/passenger doors.

RAF Doc Walton [left] and “Meathead” RAF Service Police Sgt. Crawford, south side of hangar, summer 1943. The Air Force Police Sgt. wears an RCAF Sweat-Shirt, lettered North Atlantic Squadron. The Airdrie L.G. Camp Commander was F/Lt. F.R. Britton.

14 November 1942, Harvard AJ758 nosed-over at Airdrie, pilot LAC F.S.T. Chesterfield. Night landings were made by coal oil goose-necked flare pots which were spaced beside the runways.

Cartoons can become real, mopping hangar floor 1943. The same Airdrie hangar floor today.

RAF 1942-44 Practice Smoke Bomb Loading Range Airdrie, Alberta.

In August 1942, the RAF began construction of three concrete buildings for the purpose of storage and arming of RCAF 25-pound white smoke practice bombs. This original construction bomb-assembly building blue-print copied from Mrs. Gwen Conroy collection 1991.

Bomb building #6 contained the gun powder, building #7 contained the 25 lb unarmed smoke bombs, and the third building was where RAF ground crew members primed the smoke bombs, [seen above]. Four smoke bombes were then attached under each wing of the Harvard II trainer and the training could begin. I believe this bomb dropping course lasted one week but no records can be found. The RAF total inventory, unused bombs, and student records were ordered buried on the airport property in April 1944, by the British rear party before they departed for U.K. That’s another story of time capsule war junk.

When each No. 37 SFTS Course graduated and their new pilots received their wings, these pilots had also qualified in a one-week bomb training at Airdrie Wood Lake No. 1 Bombing Range. The RAF Harvard carried four 25 lb. smoke bombs under each wing, as seen in above photo taken at Airdrie in early January 1944. These are seven RAF members of Course #90 which began with 59 students on 20 September 1943, graduated 56 new fighter pilots on 14 January 1944. The Course had twenty-seven members of RAF, six from R.A.A.F. and twenty-three from R.N.Z.A.F. The course lasted 117 days in which 113 days permitted full pupil flying conditions, class rated Average, discipline Very Good. Thirty-four pilot cadets received over 70% in their final graduation marks. RAF cadet 51513 P/O J. Brown was killed in flying accident 26 November 1943. 1314739 LAC R.W.G. Sadler failed due to medical reasons. 1604059 LAC R.L. Mitchell failed due to being mentally unsuitable, bad temper. 1624942 LAC G. Bradley and 1582558 LAC D.B. Holland both failed due to lack of natural flying ability. Fourteen of the new pilots were granted officer commissions with all [except six] posted back to home country, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Six students were selected for Flying Instructor Training [top course marks] and remained in Canada posted to No. 1 Flying Instructor School, Trenton, Ontario. Each student pilot made four flights over the Airdrie bomb range at Wood Lake, dropping two smoke bombs on each pass. That means this course dropped at least 448 smoke bombs in Wood Lake, where they remain today, beside a few unexploded ordnances.

One rare photo taken from the mobile radio control tower vehicle showing a Harvard taking off and the three cement bomb storage/assembly buildings on the right of the aircraft.

This unknown British/Australian/New Zealand RAF future fighter pilot has dropped all his eight smoke bombs and now for a little aviation fun. What an impressive photo that needs no words, taken in late 1943 or early January 1944, over Wood Lake No. 1 Bomb Range Airdrie, Alberta. Pilot graduates RAF 17,796 – RAAF 4,045 – RNZAF 2,220 and most earned their Wings over southern Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

The WWII RCAF and RAF practice smoke bombs which were used at Wood Lake, Airdrie, Bombing Range, 1942-46. When the RAF left on 10 March 1944, the RCAF moved in and continued to use the bomb range until late 1946. After release from the Harvard aircraft the 25 lb. bomb striker head would hit the water or ground causing the striker rod to be driven back igniting the gun powder which gave off a large white smoke. The smoke travelled up the round tail tube showing the location the bomb landed. These bombs were painted solid white, and some had red rings painted on round shaped tail fin or rear section of the bomb casing. It is estimated over 10,000 of these smoke bombs remain in Wood Lake, Airdrie, today, some still armed and dangerous.

Each evening the RAF instructors aligned the recorded map numbers and drew two lines which made an X on the location the bomb was dropped. This very simple bomb record was the modern computer for the war years [1942-44] at Airdrie, Alberta, Wood Lake Bomb Range.
The two RAF constructed bomb towers base measured twelve feet wide at front and back, the sides measured thirteen feet in width. The structure was twenty-seven feet high in the middle with a roof that sloped down four feet on each side. The front side facing the lake contained three joined windows, ten feet width by four feet high, located on the second floor, which was reached by a single set of stairs running up the inside rear wall of the building. The two side walls each contained a four foot by five-foot window, on the second floor, allowing the airmen to look left or right to observed the arriving Harvard aircraft. The right side on the main floor wall contained a single seven and one half-foot high door for entering the building. The front of the building main floor contained a small hatch door which only opened outwards, locked from the inside. The rear wall of the structure contained no openings, doors, or windows.

This RAF tower was used by the RCAF from April 1944 until the fall of 1946. Farmer Harry Cromwell then purchased the tower from the RCAF for $125.00, pulling it by his tractor to his farm property, where it was placed over his water well. Seventy-three years later this WWII RAF Airdrie Bomb tower survives and it is still being occupied. The far right wall is today [2019] home to wild honey bees, who have taken over the space between the walls. This is possibly the only surviving original RAF WWII aircraft bombing range observation building in Canada. Nobody cares, and no Canadian Museum wishes to preserve RAF bomb range history.

By July 1942, the Canadian aviation industry still struggled to get the Avro Anson II into full production, with most of these new aircraft were assigned to pilot training schools, the navigator training schools continued to fly the ancient Mk. I, III, and IV aircraft. In early October 1942, No. 37 SFTS RAF Calgary received on strength six new RCAF Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft [three more arrived in November 42] for navigational student pilot training, and staff transportation. On average only six or seven Anson’s were serviceable per training day.

Anson #11300 28 Dec. 1940 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 18 May 43. Off strength 17 Aug. 1946 – 406:15 Hrs. flying time.
Anson 7402 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 13 Feb. 45, Off strength 10 May 1945.
Anson 7403 11 May 1942 Calgary 25 Sept. 42, Off strength 14 May 1947.
Anson 7404 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 20 May 43, Off strength 15 Jan. 1947.
Anson 7405 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident 1 June 43, Off strength 17 Aug. 1946.
Anson 7407 11 May 1942 Calgary Oct. 42, accident Calgary 10 Dec. 42, crashed Vulcan 9 Jan. 45, 439:15 hrs. Off strength 22 Feb. 45.
Anson 7409 12 May 1942 Calgary Nov. 42, Night crash 30 Nov. 1943, Off strength 16 Aug. 1946.
Anson 7410 12 May 1942 Calgary Nov. 42, accident 10 June 43, Off strength 27 Jan. 1947
Anson 7411 12 May 1942 Calgary Nov. 42, accident burst tire 13 June 1943, Off strength 12 Nov. 1946.

The RCAF Anson II had cabin heating, a square astrodome fitted with heat jets, and two navigator desks with a complete set of instruments. This allowed for training of four students on each flight, as noted above in Daily Diary Anson serial 7411 crash report. Below is a nice flying shot of Avro Anson 7411 in the farm country around Airdrie, Alberta, fall of 1943. This also records the correct RAF roundel wing markings locations used at RAF Calgary, Alberta.

Permanent RAF Staff Officers’ and NCO’s at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, October 1942.

P/O Baker, F/O Bates, S/L Best, W/C Blake, F/O Booth, P/O Bower, Sgt. R.N.G. Bray, F/O Bromfield, P/O Brown, F/O John Brown [killed 24 Nov. 43] F/O Bryant, F/O Casley, F/O A. S. Carter, F/O O.S.D. Carter, F/O A. Chadwick, F/O F.F. Clarke, F/L Clelland, F/O Cooper, P/O P.D. Corlette [killed 7 Jan. 43] P/O Darke, S/L Davies, F/O Deane, F/O De Verteuil, F/Lt. E.G. Ford [killed 10 Dec. 42] F/O Gale, F/O Greig, P/O M.J. Gubbims, F/O Hames, W/C Hancockes, F/O Hicks, S/L Jackson, F/O Jeffery, F/L E.O. Jones, F/L H. B. Jones, P/O Jackson, F/L Korer, P/O Lattin, F/O Leeming, F/L Luck, F/L Mason, F/O Maxwell, F/L McArdle, F/Lt. I.F. McDermott, F/O McKelvey, Sgt. G.F. Lambert, F/L Peter Middleton, F/L M. V. Morgan, F/O Morgan, F/O Muirhead, F/L North, F/O Norminton, P/O Offen, F/O Osborne, F/L Ossulston, P/O Passey, S/L Palmer, F/O A.I. Philips [killed 12 Oct. 42] P/O Potter, P/O Ray, S/L Reuss, P/O Ridgeway, F/Sgt. K.W. Rosewell [ killed 8 Jan. 44] F/L Ross, F/L Samuel, F/O Saward, F//O Saxton, F/L Scott, F/O Seldon, P/O Severn, P/O Stephens, G/C J. B. Stockbridge, F/O Smalley, Sgt. S.D. Timms, P/O Walkden, S/L Warlow, F/L Werner, F/L Wheeler, F/O J.K. Williams, and F/L Wright. Thirty-four of these seventy-nine RAF officers and NCO’s were Harvard II aircraft Flying Instructors.

The majority of these British Harvard II Flying Instructors remained at Calgary until closing 10 March 1944. The Flying Instructors of the BCATP [both RCAF and RAF], were the unsung heroes of the Second World War, chosen from the best pilots of their class and not always keen for their frustrating and often dangerous student training job. They received eight weeks special training and were rated in four main categories: A1, granted to only the most experienced instructor with exceptional flying ability. A2, was for a very good instructor, B1 and B2 was awarded to an outstanding or more capable flying instructor.

Peter Francis Middleton was born at West Yorkshire, England, 3 September 1920, joined the RAF in 1940, and became a flying Instructor the following May 1941. I do not know his rating, possibly one of the few A1 instructors. Posted to Canada RAF No. 39 SFTS, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, promoted to F/Lt. 9 March 1942. Arrived RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, 28 September 1942. F/Lt. Peter Middleton led the RAF student/pilots from course No. 80 [60 students began 3 May 1943] and No. 82 [68 students began 1 June 1943] in the official 58th opening parade of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, 5 July 1943. I feel he was selected by his Commanding Officer [Group/Captain D. Iron, O.B.E.] for his special Flying Instructor leadership abilities.

Many RAF WWII parade images are preserved in the archives of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede; however, the author cannot afford the cost for long-time usage on my free Preserving the Past Aviation Blog site.

Sixty-eight years passed before a small forgotten part of RAF history would repeat itself at the Calgary Stampede Parade, 8 July 2011. A most gorgeous Royal British [cow-girl] watched the Calgary Stampede Parade, seated beside her new RAF helicopter pilot husband Prince William, known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine [Kate] Middleton was the granddaughter of F/Lt. Peter Francis Middleton. On this same spot in July 1943, a young RAF Flying Instructor Peter Middleton led 128 British student Harvard fighter pilots on their one and only appearance in the Calgary Stampede. Twenty-two Australians led the first RAF July 1942 Stampede parade. F/Lt. Middleton departed Calgary at 19:00 hrs, 10 March 1944, on a special CPR officers train headed for eastern Canada, and back to U.K., where he flew de Havilland Mosquito Mk. VI aircraft with No. 605 Squadron at Manston, Kent, England. Capt. Middleton flew postwar with British European Airways, and much more family history can be found on the internet. Capt. Middleton [90 years] passed away 2 November 2010.
In learning to fly the Harvard the RAF student pilot made a great jump from the RCAF Tiger Moth or American PT-27 Stearman [March to November 1942] aircraft they flew around 70 hours as an elementary trainer.

The RAF service flying schools were equipped with a Harvard cockpit drill trainer, such as above taken at RAF No. 34 SFTS Medicine Hat, Alberta, December 1943. [PMR 81-138 Ottawa] This was where the students began by making themselves familiar with the layout and many functions of instruments and controls in the new Harvard cockpit. Next came four hours of dual instruction and the pre-take-off drill which had to be memorized perfectly, H-Harness/Hatches, T-Trim, M-Mixture, P-Pitch [prop], F-Flaps, C-Carb/heat, G-Gas, and S-Switches. After three or four flights the Flying Instructor decided when the student was ready to make his first solo flight and take full control of the tremendous 600 h.p. Pratt and Whitney Wasp engine. A few good RAF students never returned from their first solo flight. Harvard manoeuvres were repeated again and again until the student obtained a degree of proficiency, then he was slowly given more freedom and encouraged to get the best performance out of the massive, heavy, rugged, Harvard II trainer. Cross-country flights by day and night raised the discomforting thought of engine failure and a forced landing in an inhospitable section of vast farm and ranch lands in Western Canada. As the weeks passed the RAF students gained confidence and experience and now two-hour sessions of aerobatics were introduced. The night landing flights were very primitive by todays standard, as simple coal oil goose necked flares lined the runway, smoking and flickering for the returning pilots. With all these hurdles and obstacles safely passed, graduation day arrived and the proud pilots received their coveted Wings. The American Harvard trainer aircraft truly earned the title “Pilot Maker.”
The above history came from letters and phone calls received from Archie M. Pennie a British pilot who trained in Harvard’s at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, beginning 7 December 1942. Archie took his basic RAF training at Heaton Park, Manchester, England, and sailed for Canada on the troopship H.M.T. Letitia, arriving at Halifax in early August 1942. He still had his RAF ship pass which read – “C” Deck, Mess #21, Hammock #86. At RAF No. 31 Personnel Depot, Moncton, New Brunswick, LAC A.M. Pennie was assigned training at No. 32 EFTS Bowden, Alberta, and after five days on a train, arrived at Bowden, which was in full prairie harvest mode. He joined 61 other students in Course #64, beginning 14 September 1942. At the elementary flying training school student pilots came face to face with their first aeroplane and the RAF instructor who would teach them how to fly it. Due to a shortage of Tiger-Moth Trainers, No. 32 EFTS at Bowden flew sixty-six American PT-27 Stearman biplane aircraft from April to 14 November 1942, and LAC Pennie was a member of the last RAF course to train in these freezing open cockpit biplane aircraft. RAF personnel had flown to the Stearman Aircraft Company, at Wichita, Kansas, on 17 October 1941, and ordered 300 American biplane trainers [lend-lease] which were designated PT-27 for the British. The first PT-27 arrived at No. 32 EFTS Bowden on 2 March 1942, and all of these aircraft would be modified to Canadian weather conditions in the following months. The pilot canopy modification and cockpit heating system never arrived from Wichita, and all open cockpit training was halted by the RAF on 14 November 1942. The 60 British pilots in Course #64 were issued with leather face masks, which they wore to complete their flying training in the freezing skies around Bowden. On 28 November 1942, the British RAF made the decision to return the remaining PT-27 open cockpit trainers [287 survived] to Great Falls, Montana, in the coldest months of Alberta winter weather. RAF Course #64 graduated 54 student pilots on 6 November 1942, one was killed in training, and seven failed the course. Thirty-five RAF students were posted to RAF No. 36 SFTS at Penhold, for bomber pilot training in Airspeed Oxfords, while the remaining nineteen were posted to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary for fighter pilot training in the Harvard II trainer. Archie Pennie was one of the nineteen students selected for pilot training at Calgary, and each of these student pilots were ordered to fly a Stearman PT-27 trainer from Bowden to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary on 6 December 1942.

LAC Archie Pennie stands beside an American PT-27 at No. 32 EFTS Bowden, Alberta, 6 December 1942. In a few minutes [the engine is running] he will put on his leather face mask and fly this open cockpit trainer to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, the outside air temperature is -50 degrees F. LAC Pennie will begin fighter pilot training in the Harvard II at Calgary, Alberta, the following day, Course #70, with 64 pupils, another twelve will be added during the training, two will be killed in flying training accidents.
Flying Students at Calgary shared a small room with a double bunk bed, and Archie described his upper bunkmate as a nineteen-year-old, very keen, bright-eyed lad, quick to learn. On 7 January 1943, LAC A. Leder # 1397463 [Pennie’s bunkmate] and his RAF flying instructor P/O P.D. Corlett were flying two-and one-half miles east of Conrich, Alberta, when they collided with another Harvard flown by a pupil from course #68, LAC D.A. McAuley. The two aircraft AJ912 and AJ953 were destroyed and three members of No. 37 SFTS were killed instantly.

Archie Pennie graduated on 2 April 1943, received his wings, was promoted to F/Lt. and selected for Flying Instructor training in Canada. In April 2010, I donated all of my RAF Bowden research, photos, and letters from F/Lt. Archie Pennie to Dave O’Malley of Vintage Wings in Ottawa. Please go to Vintage Wings of Canada to read three excellent stories on this WWII RAF Flying Instructor [night] P/O Archie M. Pennie #157698, who flew 252 hrs, training RAF students in night flying, No. 34 EFTS, RAF Assiniboia, Saskatchewan. Canada provided a safe training site for the British students, an abundance of healthy food, bright lights for study and entertainment, and as would be expected, many fell in love with Canadian girls and married. The normal training time spent in Canada averaged around eighteen months and a staff posting lasted two years. Generally, most of the RAF student trainees looked forward to receiving their wings and then returning to the United Kingdom, where over half would be killed in flying accidents or WWII combat. A large number of RAF airman who survived the war returned to Canada, and I have interviewed a few in southern Alberta. Archie Pennie returned to eastern Canada after the war, married and resided in Ottawa, for the rest of his life.
No. 34 RAF Assiniboia, Sask., closed 30 January 1944, taken over by RCAF and re-designated No. 25 EFTS, closing for good 28 July 1944. In 1958, Archie Pennie returned to visit his old RAF base and it was totally gone. On 18 March 1959, he published his story “Assiniboia Revisited.”

Archie was very proud to know his old training base at Airdrie, Alberta, had somehow survived the passage of time, also troubled by the fact WWII RAF history of Calgary, Alberta, was not being preserved by the old Aero space Museum of Calgary.
Nineteen single-engine Harvard II pilot training courses were held at No. 37 SFTS Calgary
Course #60 [students were in Harvard II aircraft mid-training when they arrived at Calgary 25 September 1942] seven failed, graduated 57 pilots, 6 November 1942.
Course #62 [in training when they arrived Calgary] five killed in October 42, LAC Darling, LAC Buckley, F/O A.I. Philips, F/Sgt. R.F. Warner, and LAC H.C. Cormack, graduated 53 pilots, 5 December 42.
Course #64 graduated 51 pilots, seven failed, 30 December 1942.
Course #66 graduated 56 pilots, two failed, 5 February 1943.
Course #68 began 9 Nov. 42, graduated 54, six failed, 5 March 1943.
Course #70 began 7 Dec. 42, graduated 56, two ceased training, two killed, 2 April 1943.
Course #72 began graduated 60 pilots, six failed, one killed, 30 April 1943.
Course #74 began 8 Feb. 43, graduated 55 pilots, one ceased training, 28 May 1943.
Course #76 began 8 Mar. 43, 63 pupils, 34 failed medical reasons, 25 transferred to Course #78, six posted away, graduated 35 pilots, 25 June 1943.
Course #78 began 5 April 43, 31 transferred to Course #80, graduated 55 pilots, 23 July 1943.
Course #80 began 3 May 1943, one killed, five discontinued training, graduated 55 pilots [45 RAF], 20 Aug. 1943.
Course #82 began 1 June 1943, one killed, twelve discontinued training, graduated 53 pilots, [first class of all RAF Sergeants], 17 Sept. 1943.
Course #84 began with 55 pupils 28 June 1943, one killed, three discontinued training, graduated 46 pilots, 15 October 1943.
Course #86 began 60 pupils 26 July 1943, graduated 60 pilots, 12 Nov. 1943.
Course #88 began 23 Aug. 1943, 62 trainees, one killed 51513 P/O John Brown 24 Nov. 43, four failed, graduated 56 pilots, 10 December 1943.
Course #90 graduated 56 pilots, 14 January 1944. This course consisted of twenty-seven RAF, six RAAF, and twenty-three RNZAF.

At the request of the British government, Canada allowed their RAF schools to be the first closed. This British closure began with RAF No. 41 SFTS Weyburn, Saskatchewan, which officially closed on 22 January 1944. Their last two courses totaling 117 students in training, were transferred to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, where they graduated 105 pilots. No. 41 SFTS had received 1,425 students for instruction in twenty-five courses, graduating 1,036 Harvard II pilots, for return to wartime England. Over half will be killed in action.

Course #92 at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, [This course with 61 pupils was posted from No. 41 SFTS Weyburn, Saskatchewan, on 15 January 1944]. They graduated 52 pilots at Calgary, 11 February 1944.
Course #94 at Calgary contained two groups of students. Course #94A began 15 November 1943, with 69 students, 64 graduated on 10 March 1944, one RCAF, thirty-four RAF, one RAAF, and twenty-eight RNZAF, four students were wastage and transferred out, New Zealand student LAC W.D. Shaw was killed 31 December 1944. This became the last RAF fatal flying training accident at No. 37 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, during WWII.

No. 94B Course graduated the last 53 pilots from No. 41 SFTS Weyburn, Sask. 10 March 1944. This became the very last graduation course at No. 37 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, and the last Wings Parade at the Drill Hall, today home of the new Flight Hangar Museum of Calgary. It is a pity, each new generation of Calgary citizens can party and dine in this very same space, where 1,535 pilots [Australian, New Zealand, and British] received their wings, yet there is no memorial to their sacrifice.

Nineteen RAF Harvard II [fighter] pilot courses were completed at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, 1 October 1942 until 10 March 1944, with 1,150 RAF students receiving their Wings. Calgary averaged a graduation of 60 students per Harvard II course, plus first graduated a further 385 twin-engine Airspeed Oxford bomber pilots for England. That’s 1,535 RAF pilots [including Australian and New Zealand students] who returned to United Kingdom to fight Nazi Germany.
On 10 March 1944, two special CPR trains departed Calgary for Halifax, Nova Scotia, the beginning of their return trip home across the sea. The first train with NCO’s, ground crews, and airmen, departed Calgary at 19:00 hrs, the second train with RAF Officers, and Station Commander Group Capt. J.B. Stockbridge and family departed Calgary CPR main station at 20:00 hrs.

This forgotten plot of land in Calgary will forever be a part small part of RAF Britain.

Thirty members of RAF No. 37 SFTS were killed in southern Alberta, Canada, and they rest in Burnsland Cemetery, where the Union Jack flag flies. Twenty-seven were killed in aircraft training, [one student from New Zealand and twenty-six British], twenty were killed flying the Harvard II, while one walked into a spinning Harvard propeller.
LAC John Broadhurst #573151 Killed 8 January 1944, Harvard AJ889, Drumheller, AB. Last member killed at Calgary.
P/O J. A. Brown #51513 Killed 24 November 1943, Harvard 2739 mid-air with Harvard 2566.
LAC Cornelius C. Buckley 15396504 Killed 5 October 1942, Harvard AJ836.
F/O G.A. Clegg Killed 7 January 1943, Harvard AJ953.
P/O Peter D. Corlett Killed 7 January 1943, Harvard AJ953.
Cpl. C.A. Crapper Died natural causes, 11 March 1942.
LAC Hubert C. Cromack 1125880 Killed 12 October 1942, Harvard AJ854.
LAC John C. Darling 1560163 Killed 5 October 1942, walked into Harvard Propeller.
LAC Edward C. Dunbavard 1218546 Killed 14 January 1942, Oxford AS382.
LAC Mosttn V. Eckert 1350866 Killed 28 August 1942, Harvard 8127.
F/Lt. E.G. Ford #81636 Killed 10 December 1942, Harvard AJ759.
LAC H.N. Hall #1512542 Killed 10 December 1942, Harvard AJ759.
AC1 L.A. Keeble #1426377 Fell out of boat, 17 July 43, in [ice cold] Bow River at Banff, body recovered 8 August 1943.
LAC A. Leder #1397463 Killed 7 January 1943, Course 70, Harvard AJ953.
Sgt. Charles A. Lockett #988641 Killed 12 October 1943, Harvard 2631.
LAC Jack Major #1339948 Killed 28 August 1943, Harvard AJ796.
AC1 N.J. Mann #1234015 Died from auto accident, Airdrie, blizzard 6 February 1943.
LAC Henry T. McCarthy 656512 Killed 10 December 1941, Oxford AT457.
LAC D.A. McAuley #1483473 Killed 7 January 1943, Harvard AJ953.
LAC James McNaught #1566353 Killed 5 March 1943, Harvard AJ986, mid-air, student bailed out. Too low, hit ground before parachute opened. The Flying Instructor safely landed the damaged Harvard back at base.
LAC Laurence R. Nimmo 1389540 Killed 14 August 1942, Oxford AS666.
F/O Anthony Phelps Killed 12 October 1942, Harvard AJ898.
Sgt. Kenneth H. Rosewell #1586791 Killed 8 January 1944, Harvard AJ889, crashed Red Deer, River, Drumheller, Alberta. Second last member killed at Calgary.
LAC J.G. Rynn #1459936 Killed 12 October 1943, night flight Harvard 2631. Ex-Scottish Army Major who transferred to RAF.
LAC William D. Shaw NZ4216082 Killed 31 December 1943, Harvard AJ966.
F/O Iain A.L. Stewart #49623 Killed 1 August 1943, Harvard AJ894.
LAC W.I. Stonebridge 1331534 Killed 10 August 1942, Oxford AS610.
LAC Ernest C. Thomson #1387318 Killed 5 December 1941, Oxford AS365. First student pilot killed at Calgary.
F/Lt. Robert F. Warner Killed 12 October 1942, Harvard AJ898.
LAC William J. Webb 1331223 Killed 14 August 1942, Oxford BM810.


Air Observer Schools – The Last Flight

At the end of the war, BCATP schools published a souvenir edition and I have two Air Observer Schools, which contain hundreds of photos, etc.

The Air Observer Schools were designed to train the Navigator and Air Bomber while flying in an Anson with a Flying Instructor pilot. This was a most important part of forming a WWII Bomber aircrew, the beginning.

I have selected just a few images to show the readers.

Clarence Simonsen

The Last Flight

The Point of it all
The Training Story

The Training Story 2

get in your details

aircraft recognition

practice bombs

bombing up




Ansons and Cessna Cranes




night flight


navigation instructors
late for briefing

The course at Initial Training School lasted four weeks, and here is where a recruit was selected for a trade, the top trades being pilot and navigator. The most important was finding a target in Europe and bombing it. There were seven I.T.S. in Canada numbered from 1 to 7. Some Leading Aircraftmen (LACs) were tested and selected for Air Bomber trade.

After I.T.S. Leading Aircraftmen would be posted to a bombing and gunnery school for six weeks, which was followed by another six weeks at Air Observer school where Leading Aircraftmen learned to read maps, night and day training. In July 1942, Bombing and Gunnery School training was increased to twelve weeks. The RCAF had ten B&G schools in Canada, and this training should be twelve weeks’ total. The RCAF had ten Air Observer schools, and this training should be six weeks. Then came graduation to the rank of Sergeant. and then they were posted overseas.

The story of one bomb aimer will be continued here


Coming soon…

A teaser from Clarence Simonsen with this message…

The Bear sending Wireless Signals was an “Official” WWII Walt Disney painted for the No. 3 Wireless School at Tuxedo Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, for Entry Course #13 [arrived 19 March 1941] graduated 1 August 1941. The four classes were 45 students in each, all New Zealand pupils, #13 A to D.

I will finish this story when I find the time, however you can put out a teaser?

This is rare Disney which possibly appeared on a Fleet Fort.

No. 2 Wireless School (Updated Text Version)

The update is here with these images… 


Research done by Clarence Simonsen

No.2 WS 1

Calgary, Alberta, 16 Sept. 1940 – 14 March 1945

The Training of RCAF Wireless Air Gunners During WWII

Just before midnight on the 16 December 1939, a small group of V.I.P.’s joined Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King in the signing of an “Agreement Relating to the Training of Pilots and Aircraft Crews in Canada.” Mackenzie King had dragged out the negotiations for days and in fact the delegates from United Kingdom and New Zealand had already departed for home, their signatures would be added later. Our Canadian Liberal Prime Minister wanted the document signed on 17 December, which was his birthday, as certain numbers, the things he saw in clouds, calendar dates, and even the straight line on the hands of the clock held special messages to Mackenzie King. On paper the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan official began on 29 April 1940, but in fact it would take ten to twelve months to construct new airfields, train flying instructions and ground personnel, plus find all the necessary equipment including the required RCAF aircraft. The overall administration and control of the plan remained with the Canadian government, with special advisory boards from Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, who met monthly and had a voice in the total operation. The large scale of the B.C.A.T.P. provided hundreds of new challenges to both the RCAF, civilians aviation agencies, and many branches of the Canadian government. The Department of Transport picked 231 sites across Canada for the construction of 107 major training school airfields, while other municipal airports were leased, then modified to meet the demand for new training standards. While the BCATP training programme was constantly being adjusted, the overall general pattern remained the same. From the RCAF recruiting center the new trainee was sent to a manning depot where his skills for aircrew training were determined, then he was off to the initial training school or posted to an air force station ground school for trades training. The new RCAF would contain a large number of miscellaneous schools, Air Armament, School of Cookery, Repair Depots, Equipment Depots, Radio Direction Finding, etc. The RCAF conditions of aircrew training in the BCATP were patterned after RAF training in United Kingdom, where all trainees were enlisted with lowest rank of aircraftsmen class II. At the initial training school, the prospective pilot was given pre-flight instructions and a series of tests to determine his suitability as a pilot or observer [navigator]. The British placed the pilot and observer as the elite among the aircrew and they were the only two positions which advanced to rank of leading aircraftsmen during training and upon graduation promoted to sergeants. The RCAF amended this British training and by July 1940, all wireless/air gunners attained the rank of leading aircraftsmen during training and were promoted to sergeant on graduation. Elementary flying training began in June 1940, and the first class of 34 Canadian pilots graduated 5 November 1940. Four special aircrew Wireless Schools were selected in Canada, No. 1 at Montreal, Quebec, 16 February 1940, No. 2 at Calgary, Alberta, 16 September 1940, No. 3 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 17 February 1941, and No. 4 at Guelph, Ontario, 7 July 1941. Following is the history of No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary, Alberta, formed officially on 16 September 1940.


No.2 WS 2

Secret Organization Order No. 43, dated 14 August 1940, with the first RCAF officers arriving in Calgary on 22 August. The Staff and students of the Institute of Technology had moved to the Stampede Grounds and training continued under the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Bleachers.

No.2 WS 3

This is the Wireless Student Airmen’s [wet] 1st Canteen constructed on the west side of the main campus admin. building. This building would be moved and extended to double size, with a second building constructed [Dry] canteen operated by the YMCA of Calgary. SAIT Archives.

No.2 WS 4

The first 177 RCAF Wireless Operator trainees arrived at Calgary on 16 September 1940, and this formation training was conduced totally in the classroom, as no flying squadron or trainer aircraft had been assigned. All personnel trained under the BCATP in 1940 were Canadians, except for thirty-seven Australian student pilots, who graduated Course No. 6 at No. 2 SFTS, Ottawa on 22 November 1940.

Many historians credit this group as the first Australians to arrive in Canada when their ship docked in Vancouver on 27 September 1940. They were in fact the first Australian student pilots to arrive in Canada and their official greeting made all the headlines in 1940.

No.2 WS 5

RCAF promotional image of the first 40 Australian student pilots to arrived in Canada, 2 October 1940, PL1831. Making snow balls for the first time was possibly their last bit of fun before training and then fighting the air wars over Europe. Thirty-seven of these Australian students graduated and received their wings in Canada on 22 November, then departed Halifax for United Kingdom on 14 December 1940.

The BCATP would train 9,607 Australians and 7,002 New Zealand students in Canada during World War Two, with a large majority of Wireless Air Gunnery training taking place at No. 2 W.S. in Calgary, Alberta. Australian Wireless Air gunners trained in Canada reached 2,875, followed closely by 2,122 from New Zealand. Today hundreds of photo albums in New Zealand and Australia contain our Canadian RCAF Calgary, Alberta, forgotten past preserved in thousands of photos. On 26 September 1940, 71 Royal Australia Air Force and 70 Royal New Zealand Air Force Wireless Air Gunners stepped off a CPR train from Vancouver and marched three miles north to their new home at the Institute of Technology located on a ridge north of the city. This mixed group became the vanguard of hundreds of R.A.A.F. and R.N.Z.A.F. Wireless Air Gunner students to be trained at Calgary, Alberta. On 22 November 1940, 173 New Zealand and Australian W.A.G. students arrived by train, followed by 143 more students on 24 December 1940.

This SAIT image records a group of Wireless Air Gunners at the old CNR train station [St. Mary’s Parish Hall, 141-18th Avenue, S.W. which survives today] in downtown Calgary. They arrived in groups of 70 to 140 students and after forming up, marched uphill three miles to their new training school.

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After the long up-hill march from the Calgary train station, the new entry course was greeted by the main gate [south entrance] to No. 2 Wireless School. [Images Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Archives – Karly Sawatzky, BA, Archivist]

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The new constructed RCAF buildings, wet [left] and dry [right] YMCA canteens front, Drill/Sports Hall behind, and Link Trainer/firing range far left. This image was taken looking directly north some date after March 1942. Home Sweet Home for the next twenty-eight weeks. SAIT Archives.

The first official [Red Cross] parade occurred on 29 October 1940, marching on the downtown streets of Calgary, comprising five squadron flights from No. 2 Wireless School containing 3,000 men, in which two flights [over 100] were from Australian and New Zealand.

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The first course was laid out for RCAF Wireless Operators Gunners [Ground] which lasted eight weeks and these students never left the classroom or flew in any aircraft. Most of these Canadians completed training in U.K. and were absorbed into RAF Bomber squadrons overseas, where a high percentage were killed flying early active operations.

This first class of 185 RCAF Wireless Operators [Ground] graduated on 22 November 1940, the very same date the first Norseman #2464 arrived at No. 3 Service Flying Training School, which had just opened 28 October 1940. This BCATP No. 3 SFTS, RCAF, was called Currie Barracks Airport, which is today the campus of the University of Mount Royal, Calgary, Alberta. On 25 November 1940, an entry class of 185 Wireless [Ground] students boarded a train for Halifax on their overseas draft. They had never trained in any aircraft or received any gunnery training until they arrived in United Kingdom. On 4 December 1940, F/O G.V. Richardson RCAF, escorted 48 New Zealand and Australian trainees to No. 1 Wireless School in Montreal, Quebec, where they could finish their aircraft training. Calgary had no training aircraft or flying squadron. The first training aircraft began arriving from No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal in late November, with more Norseman and Fairchild training aircraft arriving at No. 2 SFTS Calgary on 6 January 1941, allowing the Wireless School Flying Squadron to be officially formed. The first W.A.G. student aircraft training began on 17 March 1941, using old and new Norseman trainers, class #8Q containing 43 trainees.

Norseman #2464 was taken on charge by the RCAF on 15 November 40, and became the first to arrive at No. 2 W.S. Calgary on 22 November 1940, followed by #2461, #2462, #2463, and #2465 on 24 December 1941. Norseman #2466 and #693 arrived 6 January 1941, followed by #2467 on 7 January and #698 on 17 January 41. Norseman #680 arrived on 24 March 1941, and the school now had ten trainers on strength. These aircraft were all ferried from No. 1 Wireless School located at Montreal, Quebec.

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In February 1943, reporter Lawrence Earl interviewed Robert Noorduyn at his plant in Montreal, Quebec, and sections of this interview are now contained in the following history.

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Robert Bernard Cornelius Noorduyn was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1893, and after receiving his formal education in his homeland, he learned of the Wright brothers’ experiments and the history of flight coming from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. He began experimenting with model airplanes and attended an engineering college in Germany in 1912, where he soon saw the coming world war, and got out of the country before he could complete his course. Noorduyn’s mother was born in England, a distant relative of Winston Churchill, who first schooled her son in English, and now this nineteen-year-old decided to emigrate to United Kingdom. He fully understood that the answer to many aviation problems could be ironed out by building, flying, and studying tiny model aircraft in flight. At the Olympia Airplane Show of 1912, he ran into another Fellow-Dutchman Anthony Fokker, whose aviation career would parallel that of Noorduyn’s in many ways. In 1913, he entered and won first prize in a British model airplane contest, topping a lad named Dick Fairey, who later became Sir Richard Fairey a most famous aircraft manufacturer of British aircraft. One year later he was employed by Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and the British Aerial Transport Company Ltd, where he became associated with the design of commercial aircraft. His first airplane flight took place at Hendon, in a Caudron which was powered by a 35 horsepower engine, just enough to keep the flimsy craft from falling from the sky. In 1920, he learned to fly and soon had earned two-hundred hours of flight in ten different aircraft. In the fall of 1920, he was approached by friend “Tony” Fokker and ask if he would like to come to the United States to form a branch of the Fokker aircraft organization.
“As a matter of fact, Noorduyn admits, these are the reasons he bothered to ask me in the first place. I’d been working for the Allies in WWI and he’s been working for the [German] enemy. I was acceptable and he wasn’t. Not only that, but I had learned English before I learned Dutch, because of my mother, and Fokker hardly spoke a word of English.” For eight years, he ran the American Fokker company known as “Atlantic Aircraft Corporation” since the name Fokker [associated with German aircraft] was not well liked in the United States. This is where Noorduyn obtained his first aircraft design experience with the development of the trimotor transport aircraft, which was his brain-child. This gave American commercial aviation its first push in commercial aviation and Henry Ford, quick to see the new trend, developed a similar aircraft of his own. Historians today forget about Dutch/Canadian Bob Noorduyn.

In 1929, a rift cropped up between the two flying Dutchmen and Noorduyn left the Fokker Company, which folded just eight months later. In a few weeks, Noorduyn was offered the job of assistant manager of Bellanca Aircraft Corp. and three years later moved to Pitcairn Aircraft Inc.

“In 1933, he had a shot at designing auto-gyros for Pitcairn, but all the while he off-and-on kept thinking of air transportation in Canada. It was almost a virgin field and one filled with possibilities, he was sure. Noorduyn liked to tackle new adventures, so in 1934, he rented an office on the top floor of the Canada Cement Building in Montreal, Quebec. He then sat down at his desk and tried to figure out what kind of plane Canada needed most of all. He soon realized it would be no simple job to work out a type to fit the huge exacting Canadian conditions. There were the troubles of geography, the wild, often mountainous, almost always forest and lake country. Then came the problem of the intensely cold winter climate. He decided – his aircraft would have to be as tough as a rhino, plus adaptable as a duck.”

The actual work on the aircraft began in the spring of 1935, at Carterville, Quebec, with forty men working on the new design. The first flight took place on 14 November 1935. The first Norseman Mk. I CF-AYO was delivered to Dominion Skyways Limited, Rouyn, Quebec, on 18 January 1936. The next three aircraft were constructed as Mk. IIs [CF-AZA, CFR-AZE, and CFAZS] all powered by a 420 h.p. Wright Whirlwind R-975-E3 engine. It now became uncomfortably clear that the new bush plane was under powered and a new engine must be found or the company would collapse. Fortunately, the new American powerful 550 h.p. Pratt and Whitney engine [Wasp SC1] was found and purchased from the U.S. company and the Noorduyn company survived. In 1937, Noorduyn offered the new plane to the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the answer was – “Sorry” said the brass hats, “The Norseman just isn’t a military type aircraft.” [Noorduyn words in 1943] Noorduyn snapped back – “Not in the same way bombers and fighters are military types. But, every air force, if there’s a war, will need plenty of transport planes for behind-the-lines duty.” At the very same 1937 meeting, Noorduyn explained to the Canadian government officials that the RAF in England and the RCAF in Canada, were minus advanced training aircraft. He suggested that his company in Montreal could build advanced RCAF trainers and the answer was “No”, “we don’t need any today, thank you.” Noorduyn in 1943 – [I was resigned at their lack of political and aviation foresight and went ahead obtaining a license from United States North American to construct the Harvard trainer in Montreal. In January 1940, a contract to build the North American Harvard was awarded, and Noorduyn Aviation had 142 employees, with a monthly payroll of $17,000. By December 1942, Noorduyn Aviation had 8,710 employees and a monthly payroll of $1,258,198].

On 18 August 1938, the 16th constructed Norseman CF-MPE was delivered to the RCMP and this was followed by the first order of eight RCAF aircraft, the first four as bomber trainers. The full detailed history of the Norseman can be found on a number of websites and a few very good publications.

I now wish to give a brief overall history of the eighteen Norseman which were taken on strength No. 2 Wireless School Calgary, and flew at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, during WWII.

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The 19th constructed Norseman RCAF #693 – delivered to Hudson Bay Air Transport, Flin Flon, Manitoba, flew until February 1939. Taken over by RCAF 1 April 1940, operated at No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal, until January 1941. Taken On Strength No. 2 W.S. Calgary – 7 January 1941, Wireless Trainer, off strength 22 May 1941. Taken on strength at No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School, Lethbridge, Alberta, flew until December 1944. Taken Off Strength by RCAF on 14 February 1946. It was still registered and flying in 2004 as CF-BFT.

The 21st constructed #679 – taken on strength RCAF 27 June 1938, RCAF MIKAN #3545910 photo.

No.2 WS 13Norseman #679 taken at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, 27 June 1938, where she flew on floats until January 1941. Delivered from No. 1 Wireless School Montreal, assigned to Calgary on 6 January 1941. Off strength Calgary on 29 November 1943, delivered to No. 3 Wireless School Winnipeg, flew until April 1945. Sold 31 October 1945, postwar CF-SAH.

The 22nd constructed RCAF #680 – taken on strength RCAF 30 June 1938, assigned to No. 2 W.S. Calgary – 24 March 1941. Re-assigned to RCAF [Experimental Station] Suffield, Alberta, in early November 1943, based at R.A.F. No. 34 SFTS at Medicine Hat, Alberta. The RCAF were conducting secret spraying of “Mustard Gas” from 500 to 900 feet off the ground and Norseman #680 carried the five-man decontamination party. They flew to every experimental test which involved Canadian Army troops wearing gas masks. You can still find evidence that toxic accidents did occur at Suffield, recorded in Daily Diary. She flew three years at Suffield, and earned the nose art name “Memphis Belle” for all her dangerous toxic test flying. Flown to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, 27 October 1944, placed into storage. Taken Off Charge RCAF on 8 February 1947, sold and flew as CF-FJB.

Today RCAF Suffield is still being used as a British Army [leased] training ground, and live-firing is taking place day and night.

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The 26th constructed RCAF #698 – Taken On Strength RCAF – 22 May 1940, taken on strength Calgary – 17 January 1941. Cat. “B” accident 8 March 1941, engine caught fire. This was the longest serving Norseman aircraft taken on strength at No. 2 W.S. Calgary, where she served for 51 months.

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Norseman #698 landed at [No. 35 SFTS] TCA hangar, North Calgary, on 8 March 1941. Twenty minutes after landing the aircraft engine burst into flames, burning the complete port wing and fuselage skin. Disassembled and returned by truck to No. 10 Repair Deport on 17 March 1941.

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Repaired, reskinned, and repainted #698 returned to No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron on 16 June 1942, looking like a new Norseman. This photo with W.A.G. trainee LAC Clegg was possibly taken in early February 1945, and 698 was still at Shepard on 30 March 1945. [51 months] These wireless school wing red stripe markings were possibly used on all Shepard Norseman aircraft. Taken Off Strength RCAF 1 March 1946.

In total fourteen new Mk. IVW [Wireless] Norseman were taken on strength [recorded Daily Diary] at No. 2 W.S. Calgary, Alberta, production number #30, #34 to #41, [eight] followed by #50, #64, #65, #69, and #71.

Norseman RCAF #2457, Taken On Strength RCAF – 25 September 1940, assigned No. 3 Training Command, had Category “C” accident St. Hubert, Quebec, 6 June 1941. Repaired and assigned No. 4 Training Command 20 February 1943. Major overhaul at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, 28 September 1943. Assigned and taken on strength No. 2 W.S. on 31 December 1943, flown at RCAF Shepard until she overshot landing 11 April 1944. Six wireless students were injured in this accident, and the propeller began to throw oil, forced landing at Lethbridge, Alberta. Repaired and assigned to North West Air Command 7 July 1944. In Reserve Storage on 9 December 1946, shipped to Norway on 5 August 1953, became R-AS. Fate unknown.

Norseman RCAF #2461, T.O.S. RCAF 26 October 1940, transferred to No. 4 Training Command 18 December 1940. Taken On Strength Calgary 6 January 1941 – to Winnipeg, No. 3 W.S. on 7 May 1941. Category “C” accident at No. 34 E.F.T.S. Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, 18 April 1942. Category “A” accident 24 May 1943, at No. 2 W.S. Calgary. 23 July 1943, Taken Off Strength. reduced to spare parts.

Norseman RCAF #2462, Taken On Strength RCAF – 26 October 1940, Taken On Strength at Calgary, 6 January 1941. Category “C” accident at Calgary on 28 July 1941. Overhauled at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, 12 July 1943 and 16 November 1944. Storage 1 August 1945, sold and damaged in take-off Beaver Lake, Saskatchewan, 17 March 1947. While awaiting repairs, was lost in hangar fire 2 August 1947.

Norseman RCAF #2463, Taken On Strength RCAF – 7 November 1940, Taken On Strength at Calgary, 6 January 1941. Category C-1 accident on 11 November 1941, engine and nose section burnt, F/O J.M. Limpp. Category “B” accident Calgary, 29 April 1942. Overhauled at Edmonton 23 March to 17 June 1943. Returned to No. 2 W.S. Calgary on 26 January 1944. Assigned to No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mossbank, Saskatchewan. Off Strength RCAF 16 April 1945.

Norseman RCAF #2464, Taken On Strength RCAF – 15 November 1940, first Norseman aircraft delivered to No. 2 W.S. Calgary, Alberta, on 22 November 1940. Category “B” accident on 23 July 1941, repaired on 24 January 1942 and placed into storage 7 May 1942. Never flew at Calgary again, mostly in repair or storage until 1 March 1946. Registered at Sioux Lookout 29 August 1962, crashed and burned 4 January 1963.

Norseman RCAF #2465, Taken On Strength – RCAF 13 December 1940, assigned to No. 4 Training Command, Taken On Strength – Calgary 6 January 1941. Category “B” accident at Calgary on 9 June 1942, when pilot F/O C.H.H. Moss ground looped, port leg collapsed and major damage to port wing. Engine back fired, causing fire at Calgary 16 February 1943, aircraft destroyed [Cat. “A”] by ground fire. Taken off strength by RCAF – 9 April 1943, spare parts to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary.

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Norseman RCAF #2466, T.O.S. RCAF 12 December 1940, Taken On Strength Calgary 6 January 1941. Norseman appears in Wireless graduation photo taken at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, in 1944, class number unknown. [SAIT Archives photo] Taken Off Strength at No. 2 W.S. Calgary on 30 May 1941, assigned to No. 2 Training Command – 11 June 1941. Returned to No. 2 W.S. Calgary on 5 November 1942, until December 1944. Flown to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, and modified with a D.D.T. tank for test spraying grasshoppers and gophers at her new posting in southern Alberta.

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Norseman 2466 was next assigned to RCAF Experimental Station Suffield, Alberta, Taken On Strength – 18 January 1946, replacing old Norseman #680. Norseman 2466 received the nickname “Chuff Box.” On the 23 May 1946, she was test spraying gophers at Suffield when her engine gave out, and the gophers got their revenge.

Daily Diary for RCAF Station [Experimental] Suffield, Alberta, 23 May 1946.

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Image in RCAF Experimental Station Suffield, Alberta, Daily Diary, 23 May 1946. Taken Off Strength by RCAF on 17 June 1946, used for spare parts.

Norseman RCAF #2467, Taken On Strength RCAF – 20 December 1940, Taken On Strength Calgary – 7 January 1941. Major overhaul at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, 14 January to 19 April 1943. Category “B” accident 15 October 1943, sent to Edmonton for repairs, returned to Calgary 8 January 1944. Placed into storage 12 April 1945, sold Waite Fisheries, Big River, Saskatchewan 28 March 1946, registered as CF-DFF. Registered to Northern Air Lines, Big River, Saskatchewan 15 June 1949, crashed on take-off Cowan lake, Saskatchewan, 7 April 1951.

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Photo taken at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, 1943-44, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Archives, archivist Karly Sawatzky BA.

Norseman RCAF #2491, Taken On Strength RCAF – 21 June 1941, flew at No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mossbank, Saskatchewan, until Category “B” accident on 15 October 1941. Repaired at Edmonton, Alberta, and assigned to No. 4 Training Command on 21 January 1943. Assigned to No. 2 Wireless School, Taken On Strength Calgary – 17 February 1944. Flown at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, until late March 1945, then storage at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta. Placed into Reserve Storage 1 May 1947, then sent to North West Air Command July 1947. Struck Off Strength 23 April 1953, transferred to Royal Norwegian Air Force as R-AV. Today this Norseman survives in Norway painted in Royal Norwegian Air Force colors. Flying photo SAIT Archives – Karly Sawatzky, BA

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Norseman RCAF #2492, Taken On Strength RCAF – 1 July 1941, assigned No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School. Mossbank, Saskatchewan. On 23 July 1943, went for a major overhaul and returned to No. 4 Training Command, assigned to No. 2 W.S. Calgary, Alberta, 13 December 1943. Flew at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, for almost one full year, transferred to No. 2 Air Command on 1 December 1944. Reserve Storage 12 April 1945, reassigned North West Air Command, RCAF Station Edmonton, Alberta, 5 April 1950, off strength 31 July 1952.
Norseman RCAF #3524, Taken On Strength RCAF – 25 October 1941, assigned RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Category “B” accident on 9 January 1943, shipped to Edmonton, Alberta, for repairs. Assigned to No. 2 W.S. Calgary, on 17 February 1944, along with Norseman #2491. Flew at RCAF Shepard until late March 1945, to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary. Off strength RCAF – 5 June 1953, transferred to Royal Norwegian Air Force as R-AW.

Norseman RCAF #3527, Taken On Strength RCAF – 17 December 1941. Assigned to RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, where it had a Category “B” accident on 29 May 1942. Shipped to Edmonton, Alberta, for repairs. Appears on No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron RCAF Shepard Daily Diary for month of November 1944 until 30 March 1945.

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SAIT Archives – Karly Sawatzky, BA

Norseman #3527 appears in this Wireless Air Gunners graduation photo at RCAF Shepard hangar, November 1944. Off strength RCAF Shepard 30 March 1945, flown to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta. Taken Off Strength RCAF – 13 April 1947. On 31 March 1945, all ten Norseman trainers were gone from RCAF Shepard, returned to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary.

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In total eighteen Noorduyn trainers were taken on strength and flew at No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron RCAF Shepard, Alberta. #2477 and #2468 were transferred from Winnipeg, 22 December 1944, used for air experience training three months.

The Daily Diary records in August 1944, the Norseman radio installations were T1082/R1083, which were outdated and not used for wireless training. The Norseman was mainly used for navigation training and giving six students their first ‘air experience’ which lasted one-hour and was to determine if any became air-sick. This twist and turn flight test weeded out the weak stomachs [failure] before any classroom training began. This saved RCAF training time and money.

An RCAF Wireless Air Gunner flying instructor and his Marconi radio receiver and transmitter. These two radios were mounted side by side in the front of the rear cockpit in the DH 82C-4 Menasco Mk. II Tiger Moth aircraft.

On 6 January 1941, three additional obsolete Canadian built Fairchild RCAF FC-71 aircraft arrived at Calgary from Montreal. In 1929, American Fairchild [logo above] formed Canadian Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. at Longueuil, Quebec, where a more rugged style bush plane was constructed. In 1930, the RCAF ordered thirty-four of these FC-71 aircraft, and a few were operated by the air force until 1946. The No. 2 W.S. Daily Diary makes no mention of these aircraft ever being fitted with wireless equipment, however it is possible the FC-71 was part of the early training at Calgary, Alberta. Fairchild FC-71 serial 637, 643, and 646 were taken on charge 6 January 1941, and shown above is RCAF image of #643. The last and fourth Fairchild #640 was taken on charge at Calgary on 8 January 1941. The career of these four obsolete aircraft was very short [longest five months] at Calgary. Fairchild #637 was taken on charge by RCAF 5 April 1930, and off charge at Calgary, 28 April 1941. #643 on charge RCAF 12 April 1930, off charge Calgary, 5 May 1941. #646 on charge RCAF 25 June 1931, off charge Calgary 28 April 1941. #640 on charge RCAF 14 March 1930, off charge at Calgary, early February 1941. All four were sold to civilian airlines by October 1941, and remained flying in Canada for a number of years.

One of the FC-71 Fairchild aircraft at No. 2 W.S. Calgary, airmen unknown. This was possibly #643, the last to be taken off charge at Calgary on 5 May 1941.

On 18 and 20 March 1941, sixteen de Havilland Tiger Moth DH 82C-4 Menasco trainers arrived at Calgary, assigned to No. 2 Wireless School for student radio trainers. These had been selected in production and serial number order beginning with RCAF serial #4833 and ending with #4848. Eight were constructed 11 March 1941, one on 13 March 41, and remaining seven constructed on 17 March 1941. From the outside these aircraft looked the same as the RCAF primary pilot trainer D.H. 82C Mk. II, but they were under-powered and loaded down with the Marconi T-1154 transmitter, R-1155 receiver, 5J27 battery, radio loop antenna, and other radio training equipment. The Marconi radios were mounted side by side in the front of the rear open cockpit of the D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth Mk. II. This caused many problems for the wireless students in both learning and operating in very close cramped conditions.

WAG Larry Dubois at No. 4 W.S. Guelph (collection Eddy Dubois via Pierre Lagacé)

Three of these aircraft would be lost in Cat. A crashes, #4833, [two killed] #4837, [two killed] and #4848. The following production list records the first sixteen D.H. Menasco Moth II trainers [yellow] to arrive with No. 2 Wireless School at Calgary, Alberta, 18 and 20 March 1941.

The de Havilland Aircraft Co. Ltd. was formed at Stag Lane, Edgware, Middlesex, England, in 1920, and their history until 3 September 1939, [war declared] was mostly the production of commercial type aircraft. In 1935, they designed a most notable aircraft, the D.H. 82A Tiger Moth which was powered by one British 130 h.p. D.H. Gipsy-Major Series I, four-cylinder in-line, inverted, air cooled engine. Maximum loaded weight was 1,825 lbs., with top speed of 107 m.p.h. at sea level. The full detailed history can be found in hundreds of magazines, books, and websites. This famous WWII trainer was also produced by six associated companies, including de Havilland Aircraft Canada Ltd, and today over 300 survive in museums around the world, with 43 located in Canada. The Canadian production of the Tiger Moth DH 82A begin in 1937, with an order of 25 for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The first RCAF Tiger Moth #238 was a British D.H. 82, taken on strength 28 February 1928 and flew until 9 February 1944. The next 25 production aircraft were all designated D.H. 82A and ran from serial #239 to 258, and then serial #275 to #279. A few of these early Canadian built Tiger Moth trainer aircraft served in the RCAF until postwar 1947. These British open cockpit aircraft were not designed for Canadian weather conditions and new modifications were drafted in Toronto. The de Havilland Aircraft of Canada, Station “L” at Downsview, Ontario, [Toronto] redesigned this British primary trainer for Canadian winter conditions with heated cockpits and a large sliding canopy. They also moved the under carriage forward, [9 ¾ inches] to prevent nose over accidents, and installed a heavy duty main landing gear, plus a strong rear tail wheel. These Canadian manufactured aircraft were now officially called the D.H. 82C Tiger-Moth Mk. II Primary Trainer, used to train student pilots who would graduate to the much more powerful AT-6 North American Harvard [pilot maker] aircraft.

The new Canadian redesigned D.H. 82C, [Tiger Moth Mk. II] in fact evolved from the first 25 RCAF de Havilland D.H. 82A aircraft flown in all parts [and weather conditions] of Canada during the early months of WWII. The Toronto de Havilland Plant would manufacture 1,548 Tiger Moth aircraft in various designations, including 136 known as the D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Pirate Moth Mk. II Wireless Trainer. These are the rare forgotten Canadian constructed Moth II trainers which were equipped with an American manufactured engine and only flew at four RCAF Wireless Schools in Canada, No. 1 Montreal, Quebec, No. 2 Calgary, Alberta, No. 3 Winnipeg, Manitoba, and No. 4 Guelph, Ontario. Today their history is mostly forgotten, and many historians and websites just include them as a Tiger Moth. I feel some of this forgotten history is partly due to the embarrassment that Canada could not manufacture aircraft engines, and had to depend on the delivery of British Gipsy Moth engines from Great Britain. This flow of aircraft engines and spare parts from across the Atlantic was not as regular as the Ottawa Supply Branch planners had wished, and new [less horse-power] engines had to be purchased from the United States. The American name “Menasco Pirate” now took its place in Canadian World War Two Wireless School aviation history.

On 1 August 1940, Maclean’s Magazine featured a two-page article on the de Havilland plant in Toronto [censored] and the production of the RCAF elementary trainer DH 82C Tiger-Moth.

This Canadian production photo of fifteen D.H. 82C Tiger Moth Mk. II’s were taken on strength by RCAF, serial 4065 to 4080 between 23-26 July 1940.

This image was possibly taken in mid-July 1940, showing the Canadian de Havilland workers installing a British 130 h.p. D.H. Gipsy-Major Series I engine into a Canadian manufactured Tiger-Moth Mk. II trainer aircraft. What this article did not explain, and what the wartime Canadian public would never learn, was the fact Canadian factories were equipped to construct training aircraft, but no aero-engines could be manufactured or produced in Canada. This would cause chronic shortages of aircraft, aero-engines, and spare parts, which had to be shipped across the Atlantic from United Kingdom, causing serious interruptions in the Toronto production lines. D.H. 82C Tiger Moth Mk. II production began at de Havilland [Toronto] in mid-March 1940, and the first Tiger Moth II, serial 4001 [manufactured #331] was taken on strength by the RCAF on 10 April 1940.

The Maclean’s article contained 17 photos and the last image displayed the only Tiger Moth serial number 4086, taken on strength by RCAF 30 July 1940. These aircraft were all powered by the British manufactured 130 h.p. Gipsy-Major engine which was shipped from U.K. to Toronto. On 14 January 1941, DH 82C serial 4325 was fitted with the very last British built Gipsy-Moth engine and production ceased, they had no more British aircraft engines. This was the most widely used RCAF BCATP elementary trainer for pilots in WWII, and production must continue as soon as possible, so the RCAF [Canadian government] looked south to USA and purchased the American manufactured Menasco D-4 “Pirate” engine.

The original 1930 Menasco A-4 Pirate 90 h.p. engine, which was modified and later became the D-4 Pirate with 125 h.p. which was purchased by the Canadian government in January 1941.
The government purchased 136 American manufactured Menasco D-4 Super Pirate 125 h.p. engines and these were placed in the production line aircraft which became D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II trainer aircraft. The first Menasco Moth II serial 4810 was taken on charge by the RCAF 21 January 1941. Testing revealed a reduction in engine power, opposite rotation of propeller, reversal of cowling openings and a reduced fuel capacity. Student pilots had enough to worry about and introducing a new RCAF Tiger Moth [American engine] trainer could possibly confuse and cause the loss of pilot lives. The 136 Menasco trainers, Moth I [10 built serial #4935 to 4944] Moth II [125 built serial #4810 to #4945] and Moth III [1 built, serial 4934] were now assigned to Wireless schools as radio trainers. That’s why No. 2 Wireless school Calgary received sixteen new aircraft beginning 18 March, which had their American engines installed at de Havilland, Toronto, between 11 – 17 March 1941.

On 24 January 1941, No. 2 Wireless Flying School [Calgary] and their first early training aircraft were moved from RCAF No. 3 SFTS [Currie Barracks] to the TCA operations hangar located at No. 35 SFTS which was under construction for the Royal Air Force coming to North Calgary.

No. 35 Royal Air Force Service Flying Training School was still under construction located at the original north Calgary municipal airport, and the Wireless Menasco aircraft would now commence wireless student training sharing the hangar used by Trans-Canada Airlines. On 4 September 1941, No. 35 was transferred [number only] to the RAF training school at North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and North Calgary became No. 37 SFTS until closure on 10 March 1944.

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This image of R.A.F. No. 35 SFTS Calgary was taken at 5,500 feet on 4 April 1941. No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron are now based in the white hangar with black roof located in the center of this photo, the home base for Trans-Canada Airlines. Below is a 1940 close-up of TCA hangar.

No.2 WS 42No.2 WS 43

The first Menasco D.H. 82C-4 Tiger-Moth Mk. II aircraft arrived by rail at No. 10 Repair Depot, south Calgary. [today Mount Royal University] They were assembled, test flown, and ferried to No. 35 SFTS where the Flying Squadron Daily Diary recorded the date of each first flight. [above] The Menasco Tiger Moth aircraft continue to arrive at TCA hangar in north Calgary, and the first flight dates are recorded in the Daily Diary.

4 April 1941 – #4840 assembled and first flight.
6 April 41 – #4841 assembled and first flight.
6 April 41 – #4842 assembled and first flight.
8 April 41 – #4843 assembled and first flight.
10 April 41 – #4844 assembled and first flight.

This image was taken at No. 35 SFTS [RAF] Calgary and marked on the back – “T-Moth Class # 1, Course #8, 1941.” [SAIT Archives, Calgary]

Eight Menasco Tiger Moth aircraft appear in this image and Course #8 became the first class of Wireless Operators to graduate in this new wireless trainer. Course Entry #8 completed training on 4 April 1941, and graduated on 25 April 41. This photo was taken after 5 April 1941, when the Flying Squadron had on charge eight Menasco Moth Mk. II trainers – serial #4833, #4834, #4835, #4836, #4837, #4838, #4840, #4841, and #4842.


30 April 1941 – The Moth 82C [Mk. I] at Calgary were serial #4938 and #4939.
On 12 May 1941, No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron are ordered to return to No 3 SFTS at Currie Field, [Mount Royal University today]. The Royal Air Force officially open ‘re-numbered’ No. 37 SFTS Calgary on 22 October 1941. This RAF flying image was taken a few days later showing the snow covered airfield, and the view as seen from a Tiger-Moth D.H. 82C Mk. II pilot trainer aircraft.

The top photo of No. 37 SFTS Calgary was taken by R.A.F. student pilot LAC Gafney [right] from a Canadian built D.H. 82C Tiger Moth Mk. II trainer being flown by his RAF Flight Instructor F/L Reg Eastwood [left]. They had flown from RAF Station De Winton, Alberta, and were making their first landing at the newly opened RAF school at North Calgary. For a short period of time No. 2 W.S. were loaned two of these D.H. 82C Tiger Moth aircraft, both returned to RAF #4304 on 6 June 41 and #4305 on 15 May 1941. That’s D.H. 82C, Tiger Moth #4304 behind LAC Gafney.

Around the middle of May 1941, Mr. Dave Smith, the former Y.M.C.A. director in Calgary, began to publish a twice weekly news sheet, which he posted on the main bulletin board at the Institute of Technology, where the wireless classrooms were located. This sheet contained local RCAF wireless news, advertised special events at the base or in the City of Calgary, and also contained some air force humor. The news sheet was titled WAG Signal and this became the official unit newspaper on 9 September 1941, when 900 copies were published and distributed, Vol. 1, #1.

This front cover was designed in March 1941 by LAC Frank Raymond Scott, R80514, from Toronto, Ontario. Scott had arrived with the RCAF student WAG trainees of Entry Class 16, which would graduate in October 1941. His art combined the Wireless earphones with the Bren Gun they would later train with at a gunnery school. Two ‘sparks’ lightning flashes and four DH.82C-4 Menasco Tiger Moth II trainers complete his insignia artwork. Flight Sergeant Wireless Operator Air Gunner Frank Scott, 21 years old, was assigned to RAF Squadron No. 102 [Ceylon] and his Halifax bomber was shot down in action 5 October 1942. The crew of seven were all killed, RCAF pilot F/O Lynds McRae was from Westlock, Alberta, the remainder of the crew were RAF. Out of respect, his drawing symbol remained part of the spirit of No. 2 Wireless School until the end of the war. F/Sgt. Scott is buried with his crew in the Brussels Town Cemetery, Evere-les-Bruxelles, Belgium.

This first issue of WAG also contained three cartoons by F/Sgt. Frank Scott, one with a little horse named Midget, [or Midge] who became the official mascot of No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary, in early January 1941.

In November 1940, the Calgary Herald newspaper sponsored the Sunshine Club, helping down and out families during Christmas. The President of a Turner Valley oil field company donated his family pet, a Shetland pony named Midget, as an extra prize. LAC Lloyd Willigar was an RCAF trainee from Parrsboro, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, who walked downtown to enjoy a movie at the Palace Theatre. He purchased a single ticket from a pretty young Calgary lady in the lobby of the theatre, with the last 25 cents he had, then sat down to enjoy the movie. At the end of the movie, Midget appeared on stage and the ticket draw was made. LAC Willigar won and became the new owner of a female Shetland pony. Unable to ship his prize home to Nova Scotia, he asks his C.O. for help and “Midge” becomes the new official mascot of No. 2 Wireless School. I’m sorry but the Stampeder Football horse “Quick-six” was not the first famous mascot in [Cowtown] Calgary.

SAIT Archives

Midge is treated like one of the RCAF staff and must perform her official Wireless School duties, leading every Wireless Air Gunner graduation parade.

Midge lead her first major V.I.P. parade on 1 February 1941, when the Inspector-General came to Calgary and there was no snow on the ground. That’s 16th Avenue behind the troops, which today is six lanes at this location. Then spring arrives in Calgary and the 14 and 16 March 1941 graduation parades have plenty of wet white stuff.

Midge and her RCAF handler Corporal George Bury [above] lead both of the wintery March graduation parades, where 106 W.A.G. students graduated on 14 March, followed by another 70 on 16 March 1941.

LAC L.E. Willigar began training in Entry Class 14, December 1940, graduating on 15 August 1941. Midge proudly leads the parade where her owner F/Sgt. Willigar graduated.

After the graduation parade, F/Sgt. Willigar had his photo taken with Midge and the second station mascot a dog. After four weeks’ air-gunnery training, F/S Wireless Operator Air Gunner Lloyd Willigar, 20 years of age, is posted overseas to RAF No. 101 Squadron. On 18 April 1942, his Wellington bomber serial X3655 is shot down and all five aircrew members were killed in action. On 19 May 1942, just four weeks after her master’s death over Germany, Midget gave birth to a stillborn colt, a double blow to the wireless school members. Images from SAIT Archives, Karly Sawatzky, BA.

In the spring of 1942, No. 2 Wireless School are given the honor of leading the world famous Calgary Stampede Parade, and right behind her commanding officer, Midget and her handler Corporal George Bury, will lead the marching troops. The aero technicians at No. 2 Wireless School construct a special Stampede “Aircraft” float which will follow the matching wireless student troops in downtown Calgary on 10 July 1941. The special guests of the Calgary Stampede featured acts will be American trick riders Monty Montana. On the eve of the Calgary Stampede famous parade, [9 July 1941] “Monty Montana” and his troupers attend the grounds of No. 2 Wireless School and give a special presentation of his act for the wireless students. A good time is had by all and many photos are taken with Monty and the wireless Stampede float. The young boy in the photo is one of the American trick riders, the wireless officer is unknown.

Above is the free domain image of No. 2 Wireless Air Gunners Calgary Stampede float and the forty Australian WAG trainees [Entry class 46B] who marched in the wild west parade.

This class wrote their final exams on 24 December, graduated on 30 December 1942, and were posted for gunnery training in the New Year. On 31 December 1942, 1,165 wireless students were in training at No. 2 W.S. Early in 1942, the standard of wireless air gunners had been increased to twenty-eight weeks and they had become specialists in radio work. Next came six weeks of gunnery training which had been extended from the original four weeks. Next the class sailed to U.K. from Halifax, and over half of these lads would never return to Australia. I believe that most of these WAGs served with RAF bomber command, where the heaviest aircrew losses took place in 1943 and 1944.

On the evening of 10 July 1942, thirty members from the Blackfoot Nation entertained the wireless air gunners.

SAIT Archives – names unknown.

Evening of the 10 July 1942, the Blackfoot Nation entertains the wireless operator students. SAIT Archives.

On 29 March 1944, Midget was reported “Missing” and a vast search was conducted to find the most loved mascot. She was located ten miles south of the institute buildings and returned home to continue her RCAF duties. For the complete well research history of Midget please read the online story – “A Pony Name Midget” by Timothy Allan Johnston.

On 12 May 1941, No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron was reorganized and moved back to RCAF No. 3 SFTS, [Mount Royal University today] where slowly the 24 new D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II aircraft became the main wireless trainer. They also had one D.H. 82C-2 Menasco Moth Mk. I on strength, #4938. Total training personnel in No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron was 19 Officers, 104 other ranks and 45 students [entry class 10A]. Training was delayed as the apron to the new hangar at Currie Barracks was not yet cemented.

D.H. 82C-2 Menasco Moth I, serial 4938, [under wing serial] taken on strength RCAF – 11 June 1941, LAC Eddie Dewitt. Only ten Menasco Moth Mk. I aircraft were constructed, RCAF serial numbers 4935 to 4944, which had a lower C-4 Pirate engine compression ratio. This rare trainer arrived at Calgary 14 June 1941, made a forced landing on 5 September 1941, pilot F/O H.T. Cain. The trainer was damaged Category “C” and had to be dismantled by No. 10 Repair Depot and transport by truck back to Calgary for repairs. Damaged in a Category “B” accident at No. 3 SFTS [Currie Barracks Airfield] on 6 January 1942, during test flight.

S/L F.R. Sharpe, the C.O. of No. 2 RCAF Squadron at No. 3 SFTS had borrowed this D.H. 82C-2 Menasco Tiger Moth Mk. I for test flying. [Possibly just wanted to get a D.H. 82C-2 Menasco Moth Mk. I aircraft in his log book.] On landing he nosed over causing damage to the port wing, engine cowling, and propeller. Another Category “C” accident occurred on 16 June 1942, repaired and returned to squadron. This old DH 82C-2 was still on strength at Shepard on 29 February 1944. All Menasco Moth aircraft were off strength by mid-March 1944.

The American Menasco Pirate C-4 [military designation L-365 engine] 125 h.p. weight 300 lbs.
One rare Menasco aircraft [D.H. 82C-4 Tiger-Moth Mk. II #4861] survives today in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. [Most visitors just think it is a British Tiger Moth]

On 10 November 1941, [D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II serial 4833] crashed while on a route wireless training flight from No. 3 SFTS Calgary with pilot and wireless student being killed. This crash has appeared in many publications and can be found on at least four websites. This is the Daily Diary for that date, with the original records for No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary, Alberta.

The following story of this Cat. “A” crash appeared in WAG Signal for November 1941.


Many Alberta school teachers joined the forces and served their country during WWII. For Mrs. Walsh the war came to her school door step, and she acted with great courage in attempting to save the life of the burning RCAF wireless operator student LAC Gravell.

Menasco Tiger Moth II serial 4833, crash site is not forgotten; and the original school house still survives as a private rural residence near Airdrie, Alberta. Memorial donated by Royal Canadian Air Cadets from No. 878 Squadron Banff/Canmore, Alberta. Dedication made on 12 November 1995 by Sgt. Daniel James Fitzgerald, preserving our RCAF Wireless School Calgary past. Author photo 28 September 2018.

The Canadian built Tiger Moth Mk. II, D.H. 82C was designed as a pilot trainer aircraft and this allowed for crew weight of two, pilot 160 lbs. and student 160 lbs. Engine was 300 lbs. combined with fuel and oil 166 lbs., two parachutes and harness of 46 lbs. The stall speed of the D.H. 82C Tiger-Moth was 43 m.p.h. [69 k/m]. The Wireless School D.H. 82C-4 “Menasco” aircraft were under powered and carried two Marconi [receiver/transmitter] radios, battery, plus radio equipment which added over 150 lbs. to the aircraft weight. It is believed this heavily loaded, under powered trainer, stalled and the pilot was attempting to regain control when they crashed and the trainer fuel tank burst into flames.

The year 1942 saw a number of profound changes in the training schools of the BCATP, including Calgary wireless classroom time instruction. [above] The first fifteen months [16 September 1940 to 1 January 1942] had stressed quantity and now this switched to quality in training, as the wireless operator air gunner had suffered from inadequately training instructors and lack of proper radio equipment. In June, the second part of the BCATP new agreement was signed and the termination date was now extended two years from March 1943 until March 1945. The twenty-six RAF schools operating in Canada [totally financed by United Kingdom] were now officially incorporated into the BCATP and many existing RCAF schools were enlarged for greater and better training. This included a second new hangar and H-hut construction for 40 personnel at RCAF Station Shepard, Alberta, where No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron would be officially moved to on 1 December 1943. [The move began by ground and air on 25 November 1942] By October 1942, the BCATP demand for a higher standard of trained wireless air gunners increased their programme to twenty-eight weeks, and the student failure rate suddenly increased to over seventeen per cent from five per cent average in June 1942. The following cartoon appeared in November 1942 issue of WAG Signal, artist LAC D.J. Smith, showing a wireless operator student throwing his Marconi radio from a D. H. 82C Menasco Tiger Moth Mk. II trainer, flying near Calgary, Alberta.

The wireless operator air gunners were increasingly becoming the aircraft specialist in radio work as well as a gunner in defending the aircraft from enemy attack. The total training in radio and gunnery now extended to thirty-four weeks and many students could not develop the adequate skills to pass the wireless course. This is again featured in a WAG Signal cartoon by LAC D.J. Smith one of the very students taking the course, and he fully understood the huge challenges facing all trainees. From 16 September 1940 until 23 July 1942, Calgary No. 2 Wireless School graduated 2,382 students with 503 failing the course. All student wireless air operators beginning with entry class #8, 4 April 1941 until March 1942, completed their air training in the D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Tiger Moth Mk. II trainer. The first Fleet fort arrived 8 January 42, and by April 1942, nine new Fleet Fort 60K trainers were on strength at Calgary and slowly the under-powered Menasco Tiger Moth Mk. I and Mk. IIs would be replaced.

In March 1942, the RCAF decided all Flying Squadron Wireless [Air] Training flying operations would move twelve miles south from No 3 SFTS [Currie Barracks] to RCAF Relief Field, Shepard, Alberta. Construction of a second hangar began, providing the wireless school aircraft a free training airspace which was not the case at north Calgary RAF No. 37 SFTS or RCAF No. 3 SFTS at Currie airport. The British were flying Airspeed Oxfords and Harvards at No. 37 SFTS, while RCAF No. 3 SFTS flew Cessna Cranes, Harvards, and Avro Ansons. To add to this air traffic training, the RAF operated an active bombing range at the Relief Field at Airdrie, Alberta, where hundreds of smoke bombs were being dropped every day by the Harvards which flew north from Calgary. RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary was also a main emergency stop for over 8,000 American aircraft being ferried north on the Northwest Staging Route [Amber Highway No. 2] to Alaska which opened in fall of 1942. [7,926 U.S. aircraft were delivered [lend-lease] over Calgary to Russia by August 1945]

This August 1942 air image of No. 2 Wireless School, [Institute of Technology] was possibly taken from a Norseman aircraft as the Menasco Tiger Moth did not have the space to carry a large camera. The students were bused from this location to No. 3 SFTS [Currie Barracks Airfield] and then later [1 December 1942] to RCAF Shepard, Alberta, where they completed ten days to two weeks of wireless air operations training in Norseman, Menasco Tiger Moth, Yale, and finally in late 1944, the Harvard aircraft.

1. Main RCAF Guard House and Jail.
2. Flower bed entrance to school.
3. Officers Mess, location well removed from NCO’s and student quarters.
4. Hospital annex building added in July 1942.
5. Main Hospital.
6. 16th Avenue, two lanes, Trans-Canada today.
7. No. “A” Workshops.
8. RCAF Parade Square.
9. Main Administration and Wireless training classrooms. [Called Castle]
10. Power house.
11. Two main storage buildings.
12. Two RCAF canteens, [top] wet, beer and liquor, [bottom] dry, serving soft drinks, cigarettes, candy, and reading material, operated by Salvation Army, March 1942.
13. Drill Hall, Sports events, graduation, and special events like dancing.
14. Link trainer on west side, skeet range located on east side.
15. RCAF Motor [Pool] Compound.
16. NCO’s Mess.
17. NCO Quarters.
18. Visiting Officers Quarters.
19. Dental building.
20. Seven H-Huts for student Airmen’s Quarters.

The wireless YMCA lounge in building #12, dry canteen, bottom in photo – east side

Number “A” workshops lunch and dinning area, building #7.

This free domain image was taken in 1968, [City of Calgary Planning] looking North-East to the old Calgary International Airport, ex-No. 37 S.F.T.S. used by the Royal Air Force from 1940-1944. The large area of the SAIT campus is shown [foreground] with the original castle style building used by No. 2 Wireless School from 16 September 1940 until March 1945. Each day hundreds of aircraft passed over Calgary from all directions, which presented an airspace problem for wireless aircraft training.

This is an original 1943 RCAF issued map showing the seven training bases surrounding Calgary, Alberta. While all bases were RCAF property, four were constructed and used mostly by the Royal Air Force from 1940 until fall 1944, including the RAF Headquarters located at No. 37 S.F.T.S. Calgary. This was also home base to Trans Canada Airlines, plus the major flying route of all lend-lease American aircraft headed for Alaska and Russia. The U.S.A.A.F. 7th Ferrying Group, 383th Air Base Squadron [sub-detachment from Edmonton] began operations on the west side of Calgary airport 20 July 1942, the British R.A.F. had been located on the east side since 22 October 1941.

This Ferry Route Information card was issued to all American and Russian ferry pilots beginning October 1942, and continued under the new formed Alaska Wing Air Transport Command created 1 November 1942. The RAF and RCAF training areas are marked in yellow, the area south to Lethbridge was used by No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron to train wireless students. The American ferry pilots were cautioned in regards to the large numbers of training aircraft flying around Calgary. Major deliveries of American lend-lease aircraft to Russia began on 12 October 1942, and by the end of the month the following aircraft had flown over Calgary to Edmonton, Alberta. Fifteen B-25s, fifty A-20s, sixty P-39s and twenty P-40s. Calgary was not a refueling stop and only used in case of emergency landing for repairs. The accidents of American aircraft in Alberta was censored and few Canadians had any idea what was occurring overhead. Two Bell P-63 King-cobra fighters crashed at Bow City, south of Calgary and one pilot was killed, while Lt. A. J. Neal force landed his A-20 on a farm south of Calgary airport. Forced landings were many in 1942-43, including American aircraft.

RCAF Station Shepard, Alberta, 1941 until 14 April 1945.

RCAF Station Shepard was originally constructed as a Relief Aircraft Training Field, to be used by No. 3 S.F.T.S. [Currie Barracks] Calgary. The original buildings were constructed for a Skelton staff of RCAF ground crew and mechanics. Two buildings at the entrance #1 were for motor vehicle storage, #2 was a single H-Hut living quarters, #3 power house, #4 was the combined Mess kitchen, Mess dining, and wet canteen with small lounge. #5 a single regular size hangar with control tower on south-east corner. No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron returned to No. 3 SFTS [Currie] on 12 May 1941, and air operations training at RCAF Shepard began in July 1941.
On 8 January 1942, a new trainer aircraft arrived at Calgary, Fleet Fort 60K, [Mk. II] serial 3575. In the next thirteen months, 56 Fleet Model 60K Fort training aircraft would arrive on charge at No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary, Alberta. Fleet Fort trainers on charge March 42 – nine, April 42 – twelve, May 42 – thirteen, June 42 – eighteen, July 42, – nineteen, August 42 – twenty-one, September 42 – twenty-three, October 42 – twenty-eight, November 42 – thirty-six, and May to June 1943 – forty-seven, the peak number on charge by any RCAF squadron.

The original prototype Fleet Fort 60K serial 3540, Al Mickeloff, Canadian Warplane Heritage.

Constructed by Fleet Aircraft of Canada at Fort Erie, Ontario, this became the only aircraft totally designed and constructed by Canadians during World War Two. The Fleet Fort became the first all-metal monoplane constructed by Fleet and unfortunately it had a very short career with the RCAF. This prototype first flew on 21 March 1940, by test pilot R.E. Young, at the plant in Fort Erie and then was flown by the RCAF to Trenton, Ontario, 20 May 1940, where more flying was conducted by air force pilots from Test and Development Establishment Rockcliffe, Ontario. Registered as civilian CF-BQP [18 May 1940] this never shows up on the RCAF Daily Diary records in Ottawa, and it appears the Fort remained at Trenton, [Central Flying School] where it was taken on charge by the RCAF on 7 June 1941, assigned serial number 3540. It was tested by the National Research Council beginning in July 41, then returned to No. 6 Repair Depot, Trenton, Ontario, on 27 May 1942. In July 42 it was disassembled, placed on a flatcar and shipped to No. 10 Repair Depot at Calgary, Alberta. On 20 August 1942, Fleet Fort #3540 was reassembled and equipped with radios by No. 10 Repair Depot, then used as a ground instructional airframe [A-182] at the flying school hangar located at No. 3 SFTS at Calgary. This was the first contact the new wireless air operator students had with the new Fleet Fort, before their flying air operations training began.

These SAIT Archive images were taken at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta, around 20 August 1942. The man in the bottom image is George Ryning. [SAIT Archives]

Fleet Fort 3540 has been assembled and test flown, next delivered across the airfield to No. 3 S.F.T.S, where the Flying Squadron had their training hangar. Fleet Fort #3540 served as a ground wireless trainer, with radio equipment installed in the rear cockpit, however it is unknown if it was ever flown at No. 3 SFTS or at RCAF Shepard, Alberta. On 25 November 1942, No 4 Training Command issued movement orders to No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron, to effect they would move to a new training field at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, and air operations would officially begin on 1 December 1942. The advance party of 40 airmen began the move to Shepard on 26 November and the complete movement of aircraft, and equipment was completed on 29 November 1942. The ground airframe #3540 was no longer required and it was returned to No. 6 Repair Depot, Trenton, by rail flatcar. On 19 December 1942, Fort #3540 was Struck Off Strength by the RCAF and reduced to spare and produce.

In November 1979, Warplane Heritage acquired the airframe of #3540, one Jacob’s engine, and three Fleet Fort wings from a private collector in Western Canada. A group of retired Fleet employees led by Bruce MacRitchie volunteered to restore this rare RCAF aircraft to flying.

On 16 June 1993, Fleet Fort #3540 was registered as C-FORT, and on 8 August 1993, with Bruce MacRithie at the controls, she took to the skies again. For the complete personal history of this Fleet Fort please visit the Canadian Warplane Heritage Website and better yet, stop in and view this rare gem of forgotten RCAF Western Canada [Winnipeg-Calgary] wireless training. The image is used with permission of Al Mickeloff, Warplane Heritage, Hamilton, Ontario. Records checked from C.W.H. researcher Larry J. Doyle and card data files from Chris Charland. This very small part of No. 2 W.S. Calgary, Alberta, ground trainer, flies in Ontario today, thanks to the efforts of many kind caring Canadians from Warplane Heritage.

Initially, the RCAF did not want the Fleet model 60K but for some reason 200 were ordered into production. Production of the RCAF Fleet Fort was delayed at Fort Erie, when the first constructed aircraft serial 3561 crashed on 5 June 1941. It would not be repaired and taken on strength by the RCAF until 28 March 1942.

The second production Fort # 3562 was completed on 3 June 1941, taken on charge by the RCAF, then flown to Rockcliffe Test and Development by S/L F.E.R. Briggs on 30 June 1941. Test pilot S/L Briggs and F/L W. Richards would later be killed in an aircraft test dive [Cessna Crane #7919] accident at Rockcliffe on 13 September 1941.

This RCAF official photo was taken at Rockcliffe, possibly 30 June 1941, where aircraft testing took place until 25 July 1941. Pilot testing at both Rockcliffe and RCAF Uplands, [August to October 1941] found the aircraft unsuitable for RCAF combat pilot training and the original contract was now cut back to 100 production aircraft.

Fort 3571 was used for redesign and intense flying testing to correct all “bugs” [Prototype Wireless Trainer] for wireless operator training. Testing completed 9 February 1942, departed for Calgary. Fort 3573 was used to redesign radio and battery fittings and air testing. Testing completed May 1942, lost in Rockcliffe hangar fire 21 August 1944.

For three months, [August to October 1941] pilot trainer testing was conducted at No. 2 S.F.T.S Uplands, [Ottawa] where the RCAF decided the 100 Fort aircraft would be modified for training of wireless operators and assigned to No. 2 Wireless School at Calgary, Alberta, and No. 3 at Winnipeg, Manitoba. Fleet Fort Mk. I, #3562 remained on charge at the Test and Development Est. at Rockcliffe until 15 November 1942. [Daily Diary] In early December 42, she was dismantled, loaded onto a flatcar and shipped by rail to No. 8 Repair Depot, arriving on 30 March 42. [Daily Diary] Assembled and taken on strength at No. 3 W. S. Winnipeg, [Tuxedo Park] 9 September 1942, where she flew 439:25 hrs training until 2 March 1945.

No. 2 SFTS Uplands Harvard training was interrupted from 13 July to 1 August 1941, while shooting of the film “Captains of the Clouds” took place. Only limited early morning pilot training took place, as the RCAF authorities felt the American movie publicity was well worth the wartime disruptions.

On 1 July 1941, No. 2 S.F.T.S. at RCAF Uplands [Ottawa] had on strength eighty-two North American Harvard trainers. Many of these aircraft would star in the making of the Warner Brothers film “Captains of the Clouds” starring James Cagney.

The final thirty-six aircraft flying formation scene for Captains of the Clouds was shot on 1 August 1941. In the same month, five Fleet Fort 60K aircraft were taken on charge at RCAF Uplands, serial 3563, 3564, 3565, 3566, and 3567, however the date of aircraft arrival is not recorded in the Daily Diary. They were possibly flown by trainees of Course #33, 3 July to 25 September 1941.

These five Fleet Fort trainers remained on charge at RCAF Uplands until at least 9 October 1941, where #3565 had a Cat. B accident while training. Off charge RCAF 11 March 1942, #3565 was never assigned as a wireless trainer. While these Canadian designed aircraft flying characteristics were very good, the Uplands Flying Instructors thought a student pilot could not make the required transition from this intermediate trainer to a Hawker Hurricane fighter. The North American AT-6 Harvard, J-Bird, Texan, or what ever name you wish to describe it, proved to be the safest, most reliable, powerful, challenging, and best machine for transition from elementary trainer to front line fighters during and after WWII. This North American incredible trainer, soon earned the title, the greatest of all global “pilot makers” and it is still around today training pilots and thrilling crowds with the thunder drone of its engine. The poor old Canadian Fleet Fort did not stand a chance to replace the AT-6 Harvard, which Fleet originally designed it to do. The RCAF wisely decided to convert all of the Forts to wireless operator trainers, and the prototype became Fort #3571, which arrived at Test and Development Est. Rockcliffe, Ontario, on 26 November 1941. Fort #3572 and #3573 followed to Rockcliffe where they were used for major design and installation of the radio equipment. The history of the first thirteen Fleet Fort 60K production aircraft records on where and how they were converted into a wireless operator training machine follows. Six of these Forts later served at Winnipeg, and one at Calgary Wireless training schools.

1. Fort #3561 – completed 2 June 1941, crashed during test flight at Fort Erie on 5 June 1941. Repaired and delivered to RCAF, taken on charge 28 March 1942. Placed on flatcar and arrived at No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, 6 April 1942. [Assigned No. 3 W.S.] Assigned to No. 17 SFTS [Souris, Manitoba] on 23 November 1942. Off charge 3 March 1945.

2. Fort #3562 – completed 3 June 1941, first aircraft allotted to Test and Development Est. at Rockcliffe, Ontario, 30 June 1941, test pilot S/L F.E. R. Briggs. Used for testing until mid-November 1942, then assigned to No. 3 Wireless School, Tuxedo Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, arrived No. 8 Repair Depot, 30 March 1942. Assigned No. 3 Wireless School training on 9 September 1942. Off Strength 3 March 1945.

3. Fort #3563 – completed 15 July 1941, assigned to RCAF Uplands in August 1941, used for testing and to prepare pilot’s notes for all Fleet Fort flying operations. Left Uplands 9 October 41, after only flying 57:45 hrs. Believed to have flown training at No. 3 W.S. Off Strength 5 February 1945.

4. Fort #3564 – completed 22 July 1941. Arrived RCAF Uplands in August 1941, flew until 9 October 41, shipped by rail to No. 8 Repair Depot, arrived 26 March 1942. Assigned No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg, 17 September 1942, flew training 1566:20 hrs. Off Strength 2 March 1945.

5. Fort #3565 – completed 2 August 1941, delivered RCAF Uplands August 1941, flew until 9 October 41, Cat. B accident 9 October 1941, No. 2 SFTS Uplands [Ottawa]. Off Strength 11 March 1942. Never flew wireless training.

6. Fort #3566 – completed 2 August 1941, delivered to RCAF Uplands August 41, until 9 October 41. Shipped by rail to No. 8 Repair Depot, arrived 26 February 1942. Assigned to No. 3 W.S. on 11 December 1942. Damaged 16 January 1943, during training. Off Strength 2 March 1945.

7. Fort #3567 – completed 13 August 1941, delivered to RCAF Uplands August 1941, until 9 October 41. Shipped by rail to No. 8 Repair Depot, arrived 26 February 1942. Assigned to No. 3 W.S. on 4 March 1942. Forced landing 9 May 1943. Off Strength 2 March 1945.

8. Fort #3568 – completed 20 August 1941, delivered by rail to No. 8 Repair Depot, arrived 26 February 1942. Assigned No. 3 W.S. on 9 March 1942. Transferred to No. 17 SFTS [Souris, Manitoba] on 9 November 1942. Off Strength RCAF 2 March 45.

9. Fort #3569 – completed 27 August 1941, delivered to No. 3 W.S. To No. 17 SFTS on 23 November 1942. Forced landing 2 April 1943. Off Strength 2 March 45.

10. Fort #3570 – completed 12 February 1942. Delivered by rail to No. 8 Repair Depot, arrived 4 March 1942. Assigned to No. 3 W.S. on 18 March 1942, flew 1117:40 hrs. Transferred to No. 17 SFTS [Souris, Manitoba] 9 November 1942. Off Strength RCAF 2 March 1945.

11. Fort #3571 – completed 17 November 1941. Allotted to Test and Development Est. at Rockcliffe, Ontario, transfer order 12277 – dated 26 November 1941. Prototype tested to discover and eliminate any ‘bugs’ in the design as an RCAF wireless trainer aircraft. Later used at both Calgary and Winnipeg for wireless training. On 9 February 1942, testing was completed at Rockcliffe, [Test & Devel.] and #3571 was dismantled and shipped by rail to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta, where it arrived on 3 March 1942. Transferred to No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg, arriving at No. 8 Repair Depot, on 1 June 1942. Taken on strength No. 3 W.S. on 8 December 1942. Off strength RCAF 2 March 1945.

12. Fort #3572 – completed 17 November 1941, assigned to Test and Development Est. Rockcliffe in early January 1942. Used to design and construct the fitting of Marconi radio equipment T1154/R1155 wireless and fitting of battery 5J27. This was in report No. 574 dated 10 February 1942 and the aircraft left Ottawa in May 42. Testing time 32:35 hrs. Off Strength 13 February 1945.

13. Fort #3573 – completed 22 November 1941. Allotted Test and Development Est., transfer 12514 – dated 5 December 1941. Used for further design and fact gathering for wireless operator training. Prototype for medical kit storage on Fleet Fort trainer. Lost in hangar fire at RCAF Rockcliffe on 21 August 1944. Off Strength 21 September 1945.

The next 37 Fleet Fort 60K trainers were delivered to No. 2 Wireless School at Calgary, Alberta, beginning [8 January 1942] with serial number 3574 and ending with 3610. They were not delivered in order of serial number, but arrived at No. 10 Repair Depot at different dates, which were all recorded in the wireless flying squadron Daily Dairy. [This complete list follows]
The next block of 33 Fleet Fort 60K trainers were delivered to No. 3 Wireless School at Winnipeg, beginning on 3 March 1942, with serial number 3611 and ending with 3644. They were delivered by rail in a close order of serial number and arrived on different dates. The Daily Diary at No. 3 W.S. did not record all of the serial numbers or arrival date, causing some loss of important data. On 20 February 1942, Mr. Mackie [Fleet Aircraft, Fort Erie] and Mr. Lillick [American Jacobs Engines] arrived at No. 8 Repair Depot, awaiting the first delivery of Fort aircraft. First four trainers to arrived on 23 February 1942, Fleet Fort serial #3611, #3612, #3613, #3614. The first two assembled were #3611 and #3612, both taken on strength by No. 3 W.S. on 3 March 1942.
26 February 1942, – #3568, #3615, #3616, #3566, #3567, and #3619.
4 March 42, – #3570, #3617, #3618, and #3620.
9 March 42, – #3621 and #3622.
10 March 42, – #3623 and #3624.
11 March 42, – #3625 and #3626.
16 March 42, – #3627 and #3628.
23 March 42, – #3631 and #3632.
26 March 42, – #3564 and #3633.
27 March 42, #3634 and #3636.
30 March 42, #3562, #3635, #3637, and #3638.
31 March 42, #3637, #3639, and #3640.
1 April 42, #3641 and #3642.
6 April 42, #3561 and #3643.
16 April 42, #3644.

My records indicate in total 42 Fleet Fort 60K aircraft were taken on strength at No. 3 Wireless School, Winnipeg, Manitoba, from early April 1942 until 14 July 1944, when all were ferried for storage. The peak month of operations was March 1944, when 34 Fleet Fort were on strength.

The last group of 16 Fleet Fort 60K [serial #3645 to #3660] were all delivered to No. 2 Wireless School at Calgary, and again arrived at different dates. All were recorded in the Daily Dairy with serial number and arrival date. [complete list follows]

This full page advertisement appeared in the 15 November 1943 issue of Maclean’s Magazine, and the aircraft somewhat resembles a Fleet Fort. I’m sure the American artist had no idea what a Fort looked like, if that was in fact what he wished to illustrate.

The Jacobs Aircraft Engine company had been concentrating on the production of two basic aircraft engines, the R-755 and R-915 series. The 245 h.p. R-755A1 was fitted in the twin engine Cessna Crane aircraft produced for the R.C.A.F. and used in the BCATP. The second more powerful 330 h.p. R-915A1 seven-cylinder air-cooled radials were installed in the Canadian constructed twin-engine Avro Anson Mk. II trainers, which trained thousands of students in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

The Fleet Fort 60K aircraft were fitted with both series engines, the R-755A1 engine was named the Fort Mk. I and the more powerful 330 h.p. R-915A1 became the Fort Mk. II aircraft. Most of the 100 production Fleet Fort aircraft flew with the 330 h.p. engine which gave them a top speed of 193 m.p.h. [311 km/h].

The Fleet Fort aircraft were disassembled, placed on railway flat cars and the No. 2 W.S. assigned aircraft arrived at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta. The first two aircraft #3574 and 3575, arrived at No. 10 R.D. on 3 January 1942, were reassembled and test flown. The first to arrive at No. 2 W.S. was #3575, taken on strength 6 January 1942.

This 1948 reunion group photo includes many of the men who worked at No. 10 Repair Depot during the war, and possibly a good number of the ground crew who assembled the Fleet Fort 60K aircraft for test flying. No. 10 R.D. newsletter cover for March 1942, was possibly a Fleet Fort.

This photo [PMR 78-317 Ottawa] has been published many times but never with good research details. These two Fleet Fort 60K Mk. II are possibly proceeding from No. 3 SFTS at Calgary to the training area at RCAF Station Shepard, Alberta. The Fleet Fort aircraft from No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron were not based at RCAF Station Shepard, Alberta, until 25 November 1942, officially 1 December 1942. Fort 3609 was taken on strength by RCAF 3 February 1942, delivered to No. 2 W.S. Calgary on 9 October 1942. Fort 3610 was T.O.S. 6 February 1942, arrived Calgary 6 May 1942. Fort 3609 crashed 17 October 42, lost r.p.m. on take-off ground looped. Repaired turned over on nose 27 February 1943. Repaired, collided with control tender [truck] on 18 March 1943, repaired. Flew 1016:55 hrs at Calgary until 20 March 1944. Fort 3610 crashed 11 February 1943, repaired, force landed Beiseker 18 January 1944, then completed 1162:00 hrs. at Calgary until 18 March 1944.

Production of the Fleet Fort was initially slow, with delivery in quarterly periods beginning [1] April and [1] May 1941. After pilot testing at No. 2 SFTS Uplands, [August to October 1941] the RCAF original order of 200 aircraft was reduced to 100, and 56 [plus prototype #3540] of these would be taken on strength at No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary, Alberta. Following is my list of the dates the Fleet Fort 60K trainers were taken on charge at Calgary and RCAF Shepard, [6 January 1942 to 18 March 1944] containing 52 serial numbers which have been confirmed from the Wireless Flying Squadron Daily Diary record book.

The No. 10 Repair Depot Vol. 1, #1, Newsmagazine was published March 1942, and the cover was created by L.A.C. Sheldon-Williams, the art editor. February and March 1942, were very busy months for assembling and test-flying the new Fleet Fort 60K aircraft, and this was possibly reflected in his cover art. This original pen and ink drawing has been coloured by the author.

Fleet Fort 60K on strength at Calgary and Shepard.
The letters D.D. confirm this Fort aircraft serial was recorded in the squadron Daily Diary for the date it arrived at Calgary from RCAF No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary.
3575 16th built, 1st to No. 2 W.S. 8 January 1942. Daily Diary
3574 1st Dual controls 20 Jan. 42. D.D.
3581 23 Feb. 42. D.D.
3583 23 Feb. 42. D.D.
3584 Dual control 11 Aug, 42. 23 Feb. 42. D.D.
3586 23 Feb. 42. D.D. Cat. A 10 May 42.
3595 945:45 hrs. 23 Feb. 42. Caught fire No. 10 Repair depot. Delivered 26 Feb. 1942. D.D.
3594 24 Feb. 42. D.D.
3597 24 Feb. 42. D.D.
3598 949:25 hrs. 25 Feb. 42. D.D.
3576 951:35 hrs. 27 Feb. 42. 1st delivered with radio installed. D.D.
3571 1031:25 hrs 3 March 42. D.D.
This aircraft was taken on strength RCAF 17 November 1941, allotted to Rockcliffe Test and Development transfer order 12277, dated 26 Nov. 41. This was the Prototype Wireless Trainer and after testing was completed [9 Feb. 42] was dismantled and loaded onto a railway car for shipment to No. 10 Repair Depot Calgary, 23 February 1942. Arrived Calgary on 3 March 1942, transferred to No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg, 8 December 1942. Total training hours 1031:25, off strength RCAF – 2 March 1945.
2 April 42, – radios installed in 3584, 3594, 3595, 3597, and 3598. D.D.
3585 13 April 42 D.D.
3589 13 April 42 D.D.
3592 1105:00 hrs. 13 April 42 D.D.
3579 14 April 42.

All delivered with radios from this date onward. D.D.
This is the only Fleet Fort trainer from Calgary to survive and today it is in storage at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
3591 14 April 42. D.D.
3577 16 April 42. D.D.
3578 D.D. 8 Jan 44 forced landing.
3587 29 April 42. D.D.
3602 29 April 42. D.D.
Cat. A 6 May 43. Burnt.
3593 27 May 42. D.D. Cat. B 5 Jun 42, Cat. A 1 Apr. 42.
3540 The original prototype Fleet Fort, ex-CF-BQP, is given RCAF serial #3540 on 18 May 1940. After testing it arrives at No. 6 Repair Depot, Trenton, Ontario, 27 May 1942. Disassembled and shipped by rail to No. 10 Repair Depot at Calgary, Alberta. Becomes ground instructional airframe RCAF #A182 on 20 August 1942. Returned by rail to No. 6 R.D., Trenton, Ontario, and Struck Off Strength by RCAF 12 December 1942.
3588 16 June 42. D.D.
3590 18 June 42. D.D.
3596 18 June 42. D.D. Cat. A 24 Sept. 42.
3582 From Winnipeg. 8 July 42. D.D. Cat. C – 1 Feb. 1943.
3583 13 July 42 D.D.
3584 11 August 42. D.D. Dual controls.
3575 951:35 hrs. 28 Aug. 42. D.D.
3580 28 Aug. 42. D.D.
3600 4 September 42. D.D.
3594 11 Sept. 42. D.D.

14 September 1942, all aircraft were grounded for special inspections and fifteen were found to be unserviceable for flying. 25 Sept. 1942 – Fort 3595, and 3598 taken off charge.
3601 Mk.I 29 Sept. 42. D.D.
3609 9 October 42. D.D.
3599 10 Oct. 42. D.D.
3658 29 Oct. 42. D.D.
3660 29 Oct. 42. D.D. crashed 6 Dec. 42.
3610 6 May 42. D.D.
3607 14 October 42. D.D.
3608 D.D. Cat. A 7 July 43.
3659 3 November 42. D.D.
3657 18 Nov. 42. D.D.
3649 18 Nov. 42. D.D.
3648 23 Nov. 42. D.D.
3653 23 Nov. 42. D.D.
3654 23 Nov. 42. D.D.
3655 D.D. Burnt Cat. A 16 Dec. 43.
3568 1 February 43. D.D.
3645 D.D. Cat. B. 19 Sept. 43.
3646 2 Feb. 43. D.D.
3651 2 Feb. 43. D.D.
3647 6 Feb. 43. D.D.
3605 9 Feb. 43. D.D.
3552 22 Feb. 43. D.D.
3652 3 March 1944. D.D.
3656 22 Feb. 42. D.D.

The Flying Squadron move to RCAF Station Shepard began on 25 November 1942 and they officially took charge of their new base on 1 December 1942. They had thirty-six Fleet Fort 60K trainers on strength, which were beginning to set a bad wireless training example, with many catching fire and even exploding in flight.


Six months [6 June 42] earlier a special report had been sent to RCAF high command in regards to so many serious problems in flying the Fleet Fort trainer at No. 3 SFTS [Currie] Calgary, but no action was taken.

Now the same Fort II aircraft were catching fire, and blowing up in mid-air, while the same number of Forts [33] flying with No. 3 Wireless school in Winnipeg had no aircraft fire problems. Calgary Wireless Flying School had more force landings in one week than Winnipeg had in two months. What was the problem with No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron Fleet Fort aircraft? On 1 January 1943, the flying squadron had on charge 36 Fleet Fort 60K aircraft [one Mk. I and 35 Mk. II] The accidents continued at their new base RCAF Shepard, Alberta. In May 1943, forty-seven Fleet Forts trainers were on strength at Shepard, Alberta, the most flown by any RCAF squadron to that date, and the most flown at Calgary.

3 Feb. 43 – Fort 3604 crashed on landing.
11 Feb. 43 – Fort 3606 nosed over prop. Damaged.
11 Feb. 43 – Fort 3610 crashed on landing.

1 March 43 – Fort 3582 caught fire mid-air when fuel cap came off, forced landing, no injuries.
2 March 43 – Fort 3591 forced landing engine trouble.
7 March 43 – Fort 3659 forced landing engine over heated.
25 March 43 – Fort 3588 clogged fuel lines, forced landing.
26 March 43 – Fort 3602 icing, forced landing, nosed over.
31 March 43 – Fort 3645 crashed and burnt, pilot and student killed.
30 April 43 – Fort 3587 forced landing engine.

The RCAF did not want the Fleet Fort Model 60K in the first place and now their concerns were being proven valid by all the forced landings and in-flight fires at No. 3 SFTS, which continued at RCAF Station Shepard, Alberta. When one aircraft crashed or burnt, it was just replaced by another Fleet Fort and training continued. Fleet Fort strength on 30 April 1943 was 45 aircraft, until another caught fire in the air on 6 May 1943.

The RCAF investigation found nothing and Fleet Fort flying resumed on 20 May 43, with forced landings continuing around Alberta. I’m sure the local farmers became accustomed to a yellow Fort aircraft dropping out of the blue prairie sky, some engulfed in flames.

The peak number of Fleet Fort 60K trainers on strength at No. 2 W.S. Shepard, Alberta, had reached 47 for the month of March 1943.

No. 2 Wireless School Commanding Officer Group Captain Owen, next received secret orders, early June 43, a new “Examining Officer” would be posted to RCAF Shepard, a watch-dog flying instructor to keep his ears and eyes open for the problems existing with the Fleet Fort trainer’s accidents. On 9 June 43, a new officer, S/L O.P. Gosling, took over all four squadrons of the training wing at RCAF Shepard, including the forty plus trainers.

F/O Jack Merryfield was a senior flying instructor who graduated from No. 2 F.I.S. at Claresholm and Vulcan in September 1942. His flying instructor course began at No. 15 SFTS Claresholm, and in mid-course his class was transferred to newly formed No. 2 F.I.S. Vulcan, Alberta. In June 1943, at age 27 years of age, he was still instructing at No. 3 SFTS Calgary, and… “properly pissed-off, to put it mildly, as I wanted to get overseas. When this special RCAF ‘examining officer’ position was offered, I volunteered, and arrived at RCAF Shepard 14 June 1943. The next morning, I met the Station Commander, Wing Commander Sam Irwin, and after a good morning greeting he stated: ‘You were foolish to take this dangerous assignment, but you probably won’t survive the next three months.’”

A most shocking introduction to RCAF Shepard by his new C.O., who made it clear Merryfield was not very welcome. The Wing Commander fully understood that F/O Merryfield was performing duties as a flying instructor but at the same time he was observing [spying] on the actions around ‘his’ training station. It is very understandable senior RCAF officers did not take kindly to this official form of “Examining Officer” snooping around their training airfield, but maybe there was more to this then the official RCAF historians have ever recorded? That’s what F/O Merryfield believed, and it was called RCAF ground crew sabotage, as they just hated the Fleet Fort 60K trainer. No. 3 Wireless School, Winnipeg, operated a peak number of 33 Fleet Fort aircraft, with only one fuel cap coming loose, and no major fire problems. Why did such a large number of starboard fuel caps continue to come loose and a few good aircrew lives were lost at Shepard, Alberta? I leave that question for readers to decide.

This is the No. 2 W.S. Flying Instructors at RCAF Shepard from 15 June to 30 September 1943. From the collection of F/O Merryfield, located in top row number eight from the left.

SAIT Archives, Calgary, Alberta, Karly Sawatzke, BA

On 24 August 1943, while flying Fleet Fort #3601, Merryfield noticed the starboard fuel tank, which was located in the strut supported wing, was slowly losing the tank cap, as it turned counter clockwise due to the vibration of the aircraft. If the cap came off the escaping fuel vapor would hit the wing support and be ignited by the flame from the Jacobs engine. Jack Merryfield made an emergency landing on the field at Shepard and nosed over. When a ground crew NCO checked the fuel cap, it had less than two degrees to move before it was free. Jack filed his report and recommended a cotter key locking device be placed on all the fuel caps of the Fleet Fort aircraft. Jack also believed that RCAF ground crew sabotage was taking place at Shepard to get rid of the hated Fort trainers, but as far as he knows no official conclusion was ever reached by No. 4 Training Command. [Nothing officially on paper] On 24 September 1943, Jack Merryfield gladly returned to his instruction duties at No. 3 SFTS [Currie] Alberta, and never piloted a Fleet Fort 60K again. It also appears strange his recommended locking device was never applied to the Fleet Fort starboard fuel caps and the fires continued.


This image was sent by Norman Malayney from the collection of Dave Mawryk of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fleet Fort #3622, was assigned to RCAF on 26 February 1942. Arrived by rail flatcar at No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 9 March 1942. After reassembly, it was assigned to No. 3 Wireless School Flying Squadron on 9 July 1942, and made this ‘nose-over’ landing in the snow in November 1943. Repaired it continued flying wireless training until it ground looped on 4 April 1944. Completed 1512:45 hrs training time and was taken off strength on 2 March 1945.

This close-up image of Fort #3622 captures the two fuel caps located in front of the two wing braces. The [left] starboard cap is the one that was in direct line of the aircraft engine exhaust, and what caused all the fires in Calgary. Possibly a major fuel cap design defect made by Fleet Aircraft but only two accidents occurred at No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg where they flew 33 aircraft. On 27 January 1942, Fort #3638 caught fire [mid-air] five miles west of Winnipeg, the student bailed out and the pilot luckily made it back to base. The second accident occurred on 10 January 1944, Fort #3644 had the fuel cap fly off and gasoline streamed out, but the quick thinking pilot quickly made a forced landing before the fuel was ignited. The fires and other problems just continue at No. 2 W.S. flying squadron at Shepard, Alberta.

1 October 43 – Fort 3604 forced landing engine.
2 October 43 – Fort 3590 forced landing.
4 October 43 – All Fleet Fort aircraft grounded [second time] for one day.

6 October 43 – Fort 3581 forced landing.
6 October 43 – Fort 3647 mid-air fire, pilot and his student bail out, no injuries.
7 October 43 – All Fleet Fort aircraft grounded again [third time] until 15 November 43.

It appears that RCAF high command [4 Training Command] at this point decided to replace all the Fleet Fort trainers and that would put an end to future accidents and loss of life. Twenty days later the first replacement Yale trainers begin to arrive at Calgary.
On 27 and 28 October 43, eight old obsolete Yale trainers arrive at Shepard, serial 3353, 3364, 3375, and 3360 followed on 28th by 3367, 3378, 3398, and 3428.
On 18 and 24 November 43, much needed Fleet Fort 60K spare parts arrived and operational flying training resumes, followed by more accidents.
18 November 43 – Fort 3577 brakes seized, nosed over.
26 November 43 – Fort 3681 and 3603 collided while taxing.

16 December 43, another mid-air fire with pilot and student forced to bail out, no injuries.
The Fleet Fort forced landings continue in the New Year with a monthly total of fourteen.

The Fleet Fort trainers are slowly being replaced by Norseman, Harvard, and Yale trainer aircraft by early January 1944. The number of Fleet Fort forced landings drops to two, out of fourteen flying in February 1944.

On 18 March 1944, all Fleet Fort 60K flying training came to an end and only six remained on strength by the end of March. In April 1944, all Fleet Fort had been flown to No. 10 Repair Depot at Calgary, Alberta, for storage and or disposal. On 30 April 44, No. 2 W.S.F.S. had 37 Harvard, 23 Yale, and 9 Norseman aircraft on strength at RCAF Shepard. The dark period at the base has come to an end, and so have the repeated accidents and forced landings. Eleven Fleet Fort trainers were lost in Cat. “A” accidents – #3586 – 10 May 42, #3596 – 24 September 42, #3593 – 14 April 43, #3602 – 6 May 43, #3608 – 6 July 43 – #3652, 20 August 43 – #3650 – 29 September 43, #3653 – 3 October 43, #3647 – 6 October 43, #3695 – 15 December 43, and #3655 16 December 1943.

The records speak for themselves, 31 August 1944, the principal trainer has become the Harvard [58 on strength] and only two normal training accidents have occurred.
Entry Course #76 began training 23 August 1943, completed 10 March 1944, [28 weeks] becoming the last class to train in the fire-trap Fleet Fort 60K at Shepard, Alberta.

The last production model serial 3660, taken on strength by RCAF 9 June 1942, assigned to No. 2 Wireless School Calgary, [Shepard, Alberta] 29 October 1942. Cat. B crash landing on 6 December 1942, repaired, forced landing Gleichan, Alberta, [smoke from engine], 7 January 1944. Completed 357:20 hrs training at RCAF Shepard.

On graduation day the W.A.G. students received their “Sparks” badge [above stripes] and promotion to Sergeant. Next came the graduation party at the Hotel Palliser [Paralyzer] in Calgary.

Entry Course # 76 began with 201 students and graduated 189, RCAF 112, Newfoundland 1, [British self-governing Colony, not part of Canada], RAF 2, Australia 12, and New Zealand 62.

The graduating class were now posted [12 March 1944] to one of eight Bombing and Gunnery Schools for six weeks more training, then off to United Kingdom. On 23 March 44, two Calgary Albertan newspaper reporters visited the wireless school.

This original wireless school tour story appeared in the 27 March 1944 issue of “the Calgary Albertan” newspaper, today the Calgary Sun.

The Primary classrooms

The Signal Trainer

SAIT Archives original document

These new trained Wireless Air Gunners would soon join a team of comrades of the skies and begin bomber operations around the world. Royal Air Force aircrew suffered a casualty rate of 46% during WWII. Out of 125,000 aircrew members, 55,500 would be killed on active operations, and ¾ of these young men have “No Known Grave.” Air Gunners and Wireless Air Gunners were three in a crew of seven, and over 20,000 of these young men were killed on operations. When I look at a WWII class photo from No. 2 Wireless School at Calgary, Alberta, I know that half of these entry class young men will never return home.

The November 1944 issue of American Saturday Evening Post magazine contained a full page advertisement featuring a Walt Disney insignia of a “Sea Wolf.” This image would appear as nose art on a number of RCAF aircraft, two Halifax bombers in United Kingdom and No. 149 Squadron at Patricia Bay, B.C., plus it was also selected by No. 2 Wireless School at RCAF Shepard, Alberta. This “unofficial” art appeared without bomb in mouth, with words No. 2 W.S. “Shepard Wolves.” It is possible this art appeared on the nose of some Harvard trainers but that has never been confirmed. The RCAF insignia was created as a cloth insignia by Crest Craft in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but no image has been found. I’m positive at least one hundred were ordered, and I hope at least one has survived for preserving RCAF history of this forgotten base in Alberta. No. 2 W.S. and No. 2 W.S.F.S. closed on 14 April 1945.

Author painting of possible unofficial insignia [I saw an original badge in 1995, but the owner wanted $350] used by No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron at Shepard, Alberta, after December 1944. It is possible this same insignia appeared as nose art on a few of the North American Harvard aircraft. Some of the known serial numbers as listed in the Squadron Daily Diary – AF827, AJ753, AJ802, AJ848, AJ914, AJ970, FE816, FE997, FF855, BF147, FH162, FH203, FS865, FT265, 2733, 2744, 2750, 2745, 2578, 2797, 2802, 3648, and 3833. The total serial numbers are not listed in the Daily Diary, only the aircraft involved in accidents. In January 1945, a total of 65 Harvard trainers were on charge at RCAF Shepard, and on 8 February 45, entry #99 and #100 graduated 258 wireless air gunners, the largest course to ever graduate in all of Canada’s four Wireless Schools. The reason for this was due to the closing of No. 3 Wireless School at Winnipeg, Manitoba.

No. 3 W.S. at Winnipeg, Manitoba, graduated their last class [Entry #97] on 29 December 1944. This class began training on 19 June 1944, with 134 students and graduated 106 Wireless Air Gunners. The school had on charge 38 Yale, two Harvard’s, and six Norseman trainer aircraft. The wireless school at Winnipeg officially closed on 20 January 1945. The majority of Entry class #99, #101, #103, and #105 was now posted to No. 2 W.S. at Calgary, Alberta, to finish their wireless training. Two-hundred and nine students arrived by train at 23:00 hrs. on 10 December 1944, increasing Calgary student wireless training by 50%. A large number of No. 3 wireless instructors and flying squadron members were also transferred to Calgary, along with two Norseman aircraft. P/O S.W. Duncan flew Norseman #2477 and F/O W.O.C. Slatter flew Norseman #2468 to RCAF Shepard, Alberta, on 22 December 1944, where both pilots and aircraft were taken on strength. On the 31 December 1944, the flying squadron had on strength ten Norseman and sixty-six Harvard aircraft for wireless training.


Entry course #105A and B, became the last wireless class to train at Calgary and the last to fly air operations at RCAF Shepard, Alberta. They began training at No. 3 Winnipeg on 9 October 1944, with 110 students, graduated 83 students at Calgary on 29 March 1945. A few images from this class survive today in SAIT Archives, and now the best are being published.
[SAIT – Karly Sawatzky, BA]

This image was taken at No. 2 W.S. Calgary parade square in possibly mid-March 1945. On 10 December 1944, 209 airmen arrived by train from No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg, and training began at Calgary, officially on 28 December 1944. This class image came from the photo album of [W.A.G.] LAC William A. Campbell, from Toronto, Ontario, front row far right. [SAIT Archives]

Before training begins, the new arrivals from No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg had time to visit attractions in Calgary, including the local Zoo at St. George’s Island. Images taken from 1944, RCAF No. 3 SFTS newsletter story on LAC Jack Kanerva.

John Kanerva, [Finnish-born] local sculptor and interior decorator, designed and constructed 42 life-sized cement models of the dinosaurs which roamed Calgary millions of years ago. With the help of the Calgary Zoological Society and Canada’s ex-prime minister, Viscount Bennett, John began his creations in 1935 and completed his work as Canada went to war. During this time period, his two sons Jack and brother Bill assisted in mixing cement, and applying layers to the huge steel and stucco mesh frameworks. Jack Kanerva spent several days inside the stomach of the huge 100-foot long brontosaurus, applying cement to the model, which Alley Oop rode in his comic strip, given the name “Dinny.” In 1943, LAC Jack Kanerva was a 22-year-old airframe mechanic working at No. 3 SFTS, Calgary. Each year, Jack completed necessary repairs to his father’s prehistoric collection and repainted damaged sections. In 1983, the City of Calgary decided to destroy the original collection, they were “too cheesy” looking. Somehow, Dinny the Calgary dinosaur survived, preserving the city past, and can still be seen today at the Calgary Zoo.

This RCAF image taken by Pollard Studios shows two members of 105A entry class enjoying the Calgary Dinosaur collection in February 1945. LAC L.M. Chrypko and LAC Len Barrbit will be two of the last wireless air gunners to fly at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, 23 March 1945. [SAIT]

Entry course No. 105A and 105B became the last wireless course to be trained and they had just completed 24 weeks of their 28-week wireless course, when the school was notified of final closure. They wrote their final wireless exams on 26 March 1945, when a few of these photos were taken by Pollard Studios of Calgary. The Daily Diary records that Pollard Studios attended the wireless school and the flying school [22 March 45] taking photos of various locations. These students knew the war was coming to an end, and they would never see action over the deadly skies of Germany. This very same class received their air operations training at RCAF Shepard on 22 and 23 March 1945, the last class to take to the air at Shepard, Alberta. The following images were taken at RCAF Shepard on 23 March 1945.

SAIT Archives.

This image was taken from the administration roof of hangar #1, [control tower on left] looking east, date would be 23 March 1945, and five Norseman aircraft can be seen in the photo. The known serial numbers are most likely – #698, #2457, #2467, #2468, #2477, #2491, #2492, #3524 or #3527. The wireless flying squadron have 65 North American Harvard trainers on strength in March 45, with ten Norseman aircraft, which are only being used for air sickness testing and air navigation [air experience] flights.

Air photo taken from Harvard aircraft flying due south over RCAF Shepard, 22-23 March 1945.

Author scale drawing of the original [forgotten] location of RCAF Shepard 1940-45.

The twenty smaller buildings [the Sgt’s quarters burned down 6 October 1944] were possibly sold to local farmers and a few may still survive. The three RCAF hangars were later destroyed, but remained until around 1948, as surplus aircraft storage. If you look further east, you will see a low wet marshy area where all the surrounding water drained. RCAF Shepard training base runways were located at what is today Barlow Trail and Deerfoot Trail. Each month thousands of cars and trucks pass over the southern edge of the ghost base, and few have any knowledge of this WWII Calgary history. Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s the City of Calgary dumped tons of sludge in the lower wet lands, east of what was the original airfield, then covered part of it with clean dirt fill. All physical evidence of the RCAF field was erased and the complete area was turned into an industrial park by 2003, possibly to hide some of the unknown toxic sludge which remains in the soil today. The eastern sludge ponds are still in use today, and properly regulated by the city. The old Shepard Race City Speedway was located further east from the sludge lagoons, just south of the C.P.R. railway yards, again all has been erased from the race car era, covered by industrial buildings. The C.P.R. Shepard Station [Model #5] was the second constructed in 1910, and was donated to the City of Calgary in 1970, for $15. It was located 24 kilometres [15 miles] from downtown Calgary main CPR station and used by many RCAF during the war. If you visit and ride the steam train at Heritage Park in Calgary, you will stop at the original Shepard Station, but only the pioneer history is given.

I estimate over 5,000 Wireless Air Gunners received their two weeks’ air operations training at RCAF Shepard, officially from 1 December 1942 until closing 30 March 1945. The wireless air gunners formed a most important part of RAF WWII bomber crew fighting comrades of the skies. For some reason their history at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, has slipped through the cracks of time and is totally forgotten by historians. They took their training in obsolete hand-me-down aircraft which was not good enough for training pilots, and that cost a few young lives. The role played by the Canadian-designed and constructed Fleet Fort 60K, flown at Shepard, Alberta, for 25 months has also been totally forgotten. The best North American Harvard trainer did not arrive at Shepard until the war was almost over. LAC Bill Campbell, 23 March 1945, #105A Entry Class which moved from Winnipeg, graduated Calgary, 29 March 1945.


Four students of the last Wireless #105A Air Operations class flown at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, 23 March 1945. The Second World War in Europe will end in just over five weeks. Their young lives will be spared, unlike so many other Wireless Air Gunners who trained at Shepard.

This was RCAF Headquarters Staff, No. 2 W.S. [Calgary] Flying Squadron, 22 March 1945. They will disband in 23 days, and many will be discharged or posted to other parts of Canada. [SAIT]

No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron was created on 6 January 1941, operating from No. 3 S.F.T.S until 24 January 41, when they moved into the T.C.A. hangar at Calgary Airport. Moved back to No. 3 S.F.T.S. on 12 May 1942, took over operations in new constructed double-wide hangar #6. In March 1942, Flying training began at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, with aircraft then based in Calgary. Wireless operator students were transported by bus and CPR train from the training school Calgary to the base located some twenty-four miles south-east. Major base expansion construction began at Shepard in early 1942, a second double-wide hangar was built with two H-huts, wet canteen, and other buildings for permanent staff [240 personnel] living quarters. After the construction was completed, the move to RCAF Shepard began on 25 November 1942, and the new school was officially in full operation 1 December 1942. Runway lights were installed and the first night-flying took place 1 June 1943, and a third hangar was constructed for the Fleet Fort aircraft which grown to 47 on charge end of March to June 1943. No. 2 W. S. Flying Squadron took on charge a total of 56 Fleet Fort trainers, the most by any RCAF unit, and they were all flown at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, for 25 months.

The total Daily Diary reported intake of W.A.G. students at No. 2 W.S. Calgary was 2,781 from 16 September 1940 until 23 July 1942, [twenty-one months] with graduation of 2,382, 503 failed and the remainder were reassigned. The student input total continues to climb and the monthly totals give some idea of the activity at RCAF Shepard. For two weeks, each W.A.G. student received ten training flights on average, lasting 1:30 hrs to 2:30 hrs per flight.
31 October 43 – 1,624 students in training.
31 December 43 – 1,851 students training.
31 January 44 – 1,872 training.

February 44 – 1,876 training, March 44 – 1,794 training, May 44 – 1,624 training, June 44 – 1,576 training, July 44 – 1,627 training, October 44, 1,993, December 1944, the all time high 2,153 students in training. February 1945, 1,677 students and the last month March 1945, 619 students in training.

The four Wireless Schools in Canada graduated 18,496 Wireless Air Gunners, 12,744 – RCAF, 2,875 – RAAF, 2,122 – RNZA, and 755 R.A.F. While I cannot find the final figures for No. 2 W.S. Calgary, it would be fair to guess over 5,000 W.A.G. students flight trained at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, from 12 May 1942 until 30 March 1945. [33 months]

The last five entry classes at RCAF Shepard graduated 609 students, which included 209 that begun their training at No. 3 W.S. in Winnipeg, entry class #99, #100, #101, #103 and #105.

Original large size photograph in SAIT collection.

The largest class to graduated from any Wireless School in Canada, 381 wireless students at Shepard, Alberta, 29 March 1945. Two-hundred and nine of these students began entry wireless training at No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Today the right side of this image is known as East Shepard Industrial and the left side is a huge City of Calgary Sludge dumping lagoon. The RCAF Wireless Training historical part of this airfield during WWII, is totally unknown to 99% of the population of the City of Calgary.

Today Midge rests [wearing her blanket] in an unmarked grave at Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

By 1948, all of RCAF buildings at Shepard had been sold or demolished, however the runways would once again feel the landing and take-off of aircraft. No. 403 [Auxiliary] “City of Calgary” Squadron was formed on 15 October 1948, flying North American Harvard Mk. II, North American Mustang Mk. IV, Canadair Silver Star Mk. 3 and after March 1958, the de Havilland Otter, reassigned for RCAF emergency rescue duties. No. 403 was based at RCAF ex-No. 3 S.F.T.S. [Currie Field] which was later renamed Lincoln Park on 1 September 1961. RCAF Shepard was used as a storage base for Mustang airframes, wings, propellers, and other parts which were placed on the ground unprotected from the weather. I have been told many of these parts remain buried in the ground today, forgotten by the passage of time, just as the Canadian Government intended. Young RCAF pilot Lynn Garrison, flew Otter aircraft in and out of Shepard on a weekly touch and go flight, or to pick up spare parts. This was also where Calgary lawyer Milt Harradence stored his own private P-51 Mustang, but that is another story from the 1965 era. In 1970, the City of Calgary obtained the property from the Federal Government and the old runways became the A.M.A. Driver Testing Venue, where thousands of teenagers took to the wheel. The same runways where thousands of WWII wireless teenagers once trained, flew, and died.

No.2 WS 145

Original 1943, Fleet Fort 60K cartoon by unknown WWII artist, coloured by author.

Preserving the Past – Fleet Forts

More than twenty images were just shared by Clarence Simonsen.

These three images are Fleet Fort images from Norman Malayney. The next images are from RCAF Shepard at South Calgary. Clarence cleaned each one up and added a small bit of info. All these will be added later the No. 2 Wireless School history.

The first two show Fleet Fort #3577, photo taken 8 December 1943.

#3577 8 Dec. 1943.

Fleet Fort #3577 crashed south of Calgary 8 December 1943.

Comment from Chris Chartrand (30-9-2019)

Here’s the gen on the photo of the turtled Fort.

The accident happened at 16:50 hours on the 18th of November, 1943 at Shepard. It flipped onto its back when the starboard brake seized on landing. The aircraft sustained Cat B damage.
On the 8th of December, 1943, it was allotted to No. 10 Repair Depot (where it was designated War Reserve) for inspection. It was reduced to spares and produce on the 18th of March, 1944 and subsequently written off.

Pilot – R52246 Sergeant R. L. Armstrong
Wireless Operator Student – 4213282 LAC W. L. Pendergast, R.N.Z.A.F.
*There were no injuries



Next is the crash of Fleet Fort #3581. It arrived in Calgary 4 June 1942. 

#3581 crash arived Calgary 4 June 42 (2)

This is Fleet Fort #3622 which flew at No. 3 Wireless Winnipeg, and is from the collection of Al Hansen from Norman Malayney.

#3622 Winnipeg, on strength 9 March 1942

Fleet Fort #3622, Winnipeg. On strength 9 March 1942

All other images all come the collection of John Griffin, from Norman Malayney.

#3562 Mk.I Ottawa 30 June 1941. photo 25 Oct. 41 (2)

Fleet Fort #3562 Mk.I. On strength Ottawa 30 June 1941. Photo taken 25 October 1941.

RCAF Shepard winter 43. (2)

Fleet Fort RCAF Shepard winter 1943

RCAF Shepard #3609 and #3610

Fleet Fort RCAF Shepard #3609 and #3610

Prototype #3540

Fleet Fort Prototype #3540

Fleet Fort in factory

Fleet Fort in factory


Fleet Fort #3569

#3594 April 1942

Fleet Fort #3594 April 1942

#3643 postwar Winnipeg

Fleet Fort #3643 postwar Winnipeg

#3620 at Winnipeg, on strength 4 March 1942.

Fleet Fort #3620 at Winnipeg, on strength 4 March 1942.

#3614 came to Calgary 23 Feb. 42, fire in air 13 Sept. 43

Fleet Fort #3614 came to Calgary 23 February 1942, caught fire in air 13 September 1943

#3609 RCAF Shepard

Fleet Fort #3609 RCAF Shepard

#3609 Calgary 9 Oct. 42 - 5 Jan. 45.

Fleet Fort #3609 Calgary 9 October 1942 – 5 January 1945.

#3609 at RCAF Shepard, Alberta. On charge 9 Oct. 42 - 5 Feb. 45, 101655 hrs flown

Fleet Fort #3609 at RCAF Shepard, Alberta. On strength 9 October 1942 – 5 February 1945

#3605 Calgary on charge 9 Feb. 42

Fleet Fort #3605 Calgary on strength 9 February 1942.

#3595 1,000 ft over RCAF Shepard on strength 25 Sept. 1942.

Fleet Fort #3595 1,000 ft over RCAF Shepard on strength 25 September 1942.

Update – “Moonlight Mermaid” from East Moor (PDF version with Word format)

Updated September 3, 2019 with this comment…

In October 2017 we identified the crash-side of « Moonlight Mermaid » near Düsseldorf, Germany. We have found some small parts of the aircraft like instrument disks, but unfortunately we did not find any remains of the original nose art. Sadly it seems to be lost forever.
After finishing our researches we published a book on the story of « Moonlight Mermaid » and her last crew in April this year. Firstly in German language but we are working on an English version which will be published later.

For those interested in the German version:
Title: Das Schicksal des Halifax Bombers »Moonlight Mermaid«. Der Flugzeugabsturz bei Erkrath im Zweiten Weltkrieg
Authors: Helmut Grau, Sven Polkläser, Jürgen Stecher
ISBN10: 3749452636
ISBN13: 9783749452637
Available e.g. from Amazon or worldwide from
Price:15,99€, free delivery worldwide

Moonlight Mermaid (PDF version)

“Moonlight Mermaid” from East Moor

Cpl. Thomas Dunn #R86146, posing in front of No. 432 Squadron Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP689, 11 September 1944. The National Film Board of Canada were in England, No. 432 Squadron, East Moor, Yorkshire, completing a 16 mm film on RCAF nose art and the Canadians who painted the bombers. The little nude lady [top image from Tom Dunn] had in fact been painted by Tom on 16 July 1944, and the Halifax has now receiving her 30th Operational Wings.
Thomas E. Dunn was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 23 December 1912. During his high school years Tom enrolled in a correspondence course on hand lettering and show card painting. Tom was born with artistic skills, however Winnipeg schools offered very little in qualified artistic instruction, and he understood good money could be made painting signs, truck doors, and large store wall advertising. In the next two years he gained valuable experience, but during wartime Canada of 1941, sign painters were not in high demand. On 31 October 1941, Tom enlisted in the RCAF at No. 2 Manning Depot, Brandon, Manitoba, and completed his initial training at No. 2 ITS Regina, Saskatchewan. He was posted to St. Thomas, Ontario, for training as an aircraft mechanic [fitter class II] and learned his trade at RCAF Aylmer and Rockcliffe, Ontario, then served at No. 31 Operational Training Unit, [RAF] Debert, Nova Scotia, until August of 1943. LAC T.E. Dunn R86146 was now posted overseas to No. 432 Squadron at Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, arriving weeks before the squadron move to a new RCAF base [No. 62] at East Moor, Yorkshire, where “M” Flight arrived on 16 September 1943.

From October 1943 until February 1944, No. 432 [“Leaside” – officially named 11 Oct. 43] Squadron flew the Lancaster B. Mk. II, and Tom had much to learn working on these new four-engine bomber aircraft. In his spare time, he was also kept busy painting many requests from his Commanding Officer [W/C W.A. McKay] for signs which were required around the new base. In the spring of 1944, Tom was promoted to Corporal, now second in charge of a ground crew of six. In February 1944, No. 432 began to convert from the Lancaster Mk. II to the Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft, and it became the nose painting from another 432 squadron artist which spurred Cpl. Dunn into painting RCAF bombers. Ten of the first Halifax B. Mk. III bombers delivered to No. 432 Squadron came from a batch of 27 manufactured by English Electric Co., Salmesbury, Preston, serial LW572 to LW598. Halifax B. Mk. III serial LW593 was given the code letters QO-O and a squadron artist [unknown] created nose art of a Canadian cowboy being bucked off a horse, with name “Oscar the Outlaw.” Shot down Berlin 24/25 March 1944.

Tom believed he could paint just as good, if not better, and his fancy style of lettering soon became his No. 432 squadron nose painting trademark. Cpl. Dunn would first mark off the Halifax nose with chalked squares, then chalk in his basic design followed by a white paint outline. Then when he had time, he would work on the nose art and finished with his fine style of white lettering for the aircraft name. Tom charged five pounds which was $25 Canadian in 1944, a very good sum of money in wartime England. Tom also painted hundreds of bombs on many of the squadron aircraft, which was a timeless job as each Halifax required a new bomb after every completed operation, all included in his total cost if he painted the original nose art painting.

Halifax B. Mk. III serial LW582, carried a most impressive cowgirl “Pistol Packin’ MAMA, QO-M. She failed to return from Aucheres, 8 June 1944, on her 25th operation.

Halifax Mk. III, serial LW583, “Leaside LuLu” is hung up on a fence. Shot down by German night-fighter Haine St. Pierre, 9 May 1944, her eleventh operation, three killed.

Halifax B. Mk. III, serial LW595, “Queen of Them All” wearing her banner “Miss Leaside.” No. 432 Squadron was officially adopted by the Town of Leaside, Ontario, on 11 October 1943, and this was included in the nose art painting on QO-Q for Queen. Flew 34 operations until 7 July 1944, transferred to No. 415 and became 6U-Q. Shot down 1st operation Hamburg, Germany, 29 July 1944, eight aircrew killed in action.

Halifax B. Mk. III, serial LK766, came from a batch of 20 constructed by Handley Page Ltd., Cricklewood and Radlett. Code QO-V “Old Joe Vagabond” [Just atrailing along] flew two operations then crash landed returning from Metz on 29 June 1944. Repaired and transferred to No. 415 Squadron where she completed 34 operatins as 6U-V and later 6U-Q.

On 11 June 1944, No. 432 received a complete ‘stand down’ in flying operations, to begin training in conversion to new Halifax B. Mk. VII aircraft, officially on 20 June. By the end of June, they had on charge 14 Halifax Mk. III and 10 Halifax VII aircraft. The old veteran Halifax Mk. III aircraft were slowly being moved across the field at East Moor and eleven were taken on charge by No. 415 Squadron, who became operational on 28 July. Between 16 June and 30 July 1944, the English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, constructed a batch of 43 Halifax Mk. VII aircraft and 25 were delivered to No. 432 Squadron in June, July, and August 1944. The record on left column is the date each new Halifax Mk. VII flew their first operation in No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron, copied from operations records.

2 July 44 NP687 “A” Lost Stuttgart, 26 July 44. [10 Operations]
4 July 44 NP688 “X” Lost Stuttgart, 26 July 44. [7 Ops]
1 July 44 NP689 “M” “Moonlight Mermaid” painted by Tom Dunn. [81 Ops]
1 July 44 NP690 “G” Swung take-off, burnt, 18 Aug. 1944. [20 Ops]
5 July 44 NP691 “V” Damaged by night fighter Grevenbrioich, 15 Jan. 1944. [62 Ops]
3 July 44 NP692 “D” Crashed and burnt, 27 September 1944.
15 July 44 NP693 “Q” “Queen of the Swamp” SOC 25 June 1945. [71 Ops]
5 July 44 NP694 “R” “Luke 3:5”, painted by Tom Dunn. SOC 15 Aug. 1947. [85 Ops]
3 July 44 NP695 “K” “Clueless Kitty” crashed and burnt, 9 June 1944. [39 Ops]
6 July 44 NP697 “F” “Ferdinand II” [80 Ops]
5 July 44 NP698 “W” Sold for scrap 30 December 1948.
11 July 44 NP699 “O” “Oscar the Outlaw” [Mk. II] painted by Tom Dunn. Lost 18 December 44, returning from Duisburg, had mid-air with another Halifax. [42 Ops]
7 July 44 NP701 “S” Lost Duisburg, 18 December 1944. [36 Ops]
11 July 44 NP702 “B” Lost Hamburg, 29 July 44, [8 Ops]
11 July 44 NP703 “H” Flew until end of war 11 May 1945. [58 Ops]
7 July 44 NP704 “L” Lost Wanne Eickel, 3 February 1945. [56 Ops]
15 July 44 NP705 “Y” No art “82 bombs” painted by Tom Dunn.
11 July 44 NP706 “J” Lost Caen, 18 July 1944. [3 Ops]
11 July 44 NP707 “W” “Willie the Wolf” painted by Tom Dunn, [67 Ops] War Museum, Ottawa, the largest Halifax nose art in the world, and only Tom Dunn original art to survive.
11 July 44 NP708 “E” Sold for scrap 30 December 1949. [73 Ops]
24 July 44 NP719 “N” Lost Kiel, 16 September 1944, collided over target. [21 Ops]
1 Aug. 44 NP720 “A” Flew 9 Ops, transferred to No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron.
1 Aug. 44 NP721 “X” Collapsed wheel on take-off, burnt, 5 December 1944. [22 Ops]
11 July 44 NP722 “S” Crash landed 23 October 1944. [30 Ops]
4 Aug. 44 NP723 “D” Lost Wilhelmshaven, 15 October 1944. [28 Ops]

In July 1990, I spent five hours on a Saturday afternoon interviewing and sharing a few cold beers with Thomas Dunn and his wife. He had no problem recalling the first RCAF Halifax Mk. VII bomber he painted was “Moonlight Mermaid” serial NP689 QO-M. This story is now being published for the very first time.
American Billy DeVorss was working as a bank teller in St. Joseph, Missouri, when in walked a stunning young lady named Glenna. Billy was a self-taught part-time artist with no professional training, and Glenna became his first model, girlfriend, and wife. DeVorss worked with his fingers using a wide variety of pastel colors which he applied directly on his 30” by 40” art board, then finishing his artwork with small brushstrokes. In 1933, he sold his first three pin-up paintings of wife Glenna to the Louis F. Dow Calendar Company in St. Paul, and soon after left his bank teller job. The new couple moved to New York where they spent the war years working for three major calendar publishing firms, including the famous Brown and Bigelow Co. In 1939, Glenna appeared fully nude in a calendar painting titled “Honey Moon” with the sexy pose selling many, many, copies. Billy never sold his original copyright and this money-maker image appeared on more than one calendar.

In 1943, the DeVorss “Honey Moon” painting appeared once again on a calendar sold in United States/Canada, and Tom Dunn purchased a copy. On his overseas posting to No. 432 Squadron in Yorkshire, England, August 1943, he took along his little nude lady. When the aircrew of Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP689, code QO-M [Mermaid] ask Tom to paint a nude “Moonlight Mermaid” [July 1944] he used his calendar girl as the RCAF Halifax nose art model.
Halifax Mk. VII, NP689 flew her first operation on 1 July 1944, and Tom began his painting around this same date, completing “Moonlight Mermaid” by 16 July 1944. Day operations were painted with a white star and night was painted in yellow. [Tom Dunn photo]

#1 1 July 1944 V-bomb site Biennais J12339 F/O R. Jack 99 attacked
#2 4 July 1944 V-bomb site Biennais J7438 F/L G. Larson 98 attacked
#3 5/6 July 1944 V-bomb site Biennais F/L G. Larson 99 attacked
#4 6/7 July 1944 V-bomb site Coquereaux J19885 P/O J. Webb 147 attacked
#5 7/8 July 1944 Caen P/O J. Webb 87 attacked
#6 11 July 1944 Thiverny [Gardening] P/O J. Webb 7 attacked
#7 15/16 July 1944 V-bomb site Nucourt R138409 Sgt. J. Kerr 91 attacked

#8 17/18 July 1944 Caen F/L G. Larson 97 attacked
#9 20 July 1944 Ferme du Grand Bois F/L G. Larson 99 attacked
#10 24/25 July 1944 Ferfay F/L G. Larson
#11 25/26 July 1944 Stuttgart J21377 F/O P Lawrens 153 attacked
#12 28/29 July 1944 Hamburg P/O J. Webb 209 attacked

The 28/29 July Hamburg raid was the very first operation for No. 415 Squadron, and they had on charge eleven ex-No. 432 Halifax Mk. III aircraft, including Thomas Dunn painted “Queen of Them All” LW595, which was shot down with eight killed, and “Old Joe Vagabond” LK766.

This enlarged image [ground crew member Ian Duncan] clearly shows artist Tom Dunn has outlined at least fifteen stars for future operations, and he would paint many, many, more white and yellow stars.

NP689 QO-M operations for August 1944
#13 1 August 1944 Ferme du Forestal P/O J. Webb 151 attacked
#14 3 Aug.44 Forret de Nieppe P/O J. Webb 251 attacked
#15 4 Aug. 44 V-site Bois de Gassone J8973 F/L D VonLaufer 206 attacked
Ground crew member Russel Beach recorded the fifteenth white star painted by Tom Dunn.

#16 5 Aug.44 Leu D’Esserent P/O J Webb 230 attacked
#17 9/10 Aug. 44 Foret de Nieppe P/O J. Webb 161 attacked
#18 10/11 Aug. 44 La Pallice J85061 P/O R. Card 130 attacked
#19 12/13 Aug. 44 Mont Richard F/L G. Larson 38 attacked
#20 14 Aug. 44 Falaise P/O J. Webb 214 attacked
#21 15 Aug. 44 Brussels P/O J. Webb 98 attacked
#22 18/19 Aug. 44 Bremen J8973 F/L Von Laufer 94 attacked
#23 25/26 Aug. 44 Brest-St. Pte Robert F/O J. Webb 27 attacked
#24 27/28 Aug. 44 Mimoyceques F/O J. Webb 197 attacked
#25 31 August 44 Ile de Cezembre F/O J. Webb 22 attacked
#26 3 September 44 Volkel F/O J. Webb 101 attacked
#27 6 Sept. 44 Emden F/O J. Webb 139 attacked
#28 9 Sept. 44 Le Havre F/O J. Webb 104 attacked
#29 10 Sept. 44 Le Havre J25979 F/O A. Craig 201 attacked
#30 11 Sept. 44 Castrop-Rauxel F/O A. Craig 103 attacked

“Moonlight Mermaid” has received her 30th Operational Wings painted on by Tom Dunn.

The National Film board of Canada were at No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron making a newsreel film titled ‘Frontline Artist’s” and Tom Dunn was used in a pose, painting the 30 Operational Wings on Halifax NP689, “Moonlight Mermaid.” I have looked for this film many years, but it must be lost in old archives someplace in Ottawa. This print frame came from the 16 mm film, and Tom sadly never saw the final product, which was shown in movie theatres across Canada.

#31 12 Sept. 44 Wanne-Eickel F/O A. Craig 100 attacked
#32 13 Sept. 44 Osnabruck J18651 F/O W. Tobias 98 attacked
#33 15/16 Sept. 44 Keil F/O A. Craig 190 attacked
#34 17 Sept. 44 Boulogne F/O A. Craig 197 attacked
Operations flown in October 1944 by NP689

#35 9 Oct. 44 Bochum F/O A. Craig 201 attacked
#36 12 Oct. 44 Wanne-Eickel F/O A. Craig 105 attacked
#37 14 Oct. 44 Duisburg J27831 F/O G. Speirs 238 attacked
#38 14/15 Oct. 44 Dusiburg J29832 F/O G. McNicall 225 attacked
#39 21/22 Oct. 44 Hannover F/O A. Craig 101 attacked
#40 23/24 Oct. 44 Essen F/O A. Craig 45 attacked

The ground crew also celebrated her 40 operation. Fitter LAC Ian Duncan from B.C.
#41 28 October 44 Cologne J36215 F/O S. Dean 151 attacked
#42 30/31 Oct. 44 Cologne J89337 F/O J. Hamilton 237 attacked
#43 1/2 Nov. 44 Oberhausen F/O J. Hamilton 239 attacked
#44 2/3 Nov. 44 Dusseldorf J29071 F/O J. Gault 209 attacked
#45 6 Nov. 44 Gelsenkirchen F/O A. Craig 130 attacked
#46 21 Nov. 44 Castrop-Rauxel J9550 F/L C.R. Fyfe 220 attacked
#47 27/28 Nov. 44 Neuss J3489 F/L E.A. Hayes 220 attacked
#48 30 Nov. 44 Duisburg J290068 F/O F.E. Jeffery 231 attacked
#49 4/5 Dec. 44 Karlsruhe C35269 F/O N.E. Patterson 196 attacked
#50 6/7 Dec. 44 Osnabruck F/O N.E. Patterson 182 attacked

#51 17/18 December 1944 Duisburg J35687 F/O G.E. Peaker 215
#52 24 Dec.44 Dusseldorf F/O G.E. Peaker 144
#53 28 Dec. 44 Opladen F/O N.E. Patterson 144
#54 29 Dec. 44 Trois-Dorf F/O N.E. Patterson 142
#55 30/31 Dec. 44 Cologne J27545 F/O J. M. Mills 198
#56 2 January 1945 Ludwigshafen F/O N.E. Patterson 156
#57 5 Jan. 45 Hannover F/O N.E. Patterson 177
#58 6 Jan. 45 Hanau J87362 P/O E.F. Patser 185
#59 13 Jan. 45 Saarbrucken J28109 F/O L.W. Loppe 139
#60 14 Jan. 45 Grevenbroich J87336 P/O G.T. Sherlock 134
#61 28/29 Jan. 45 Stuttgart F/O N.E. Patterson 158
#62 1 February 1945 Mainz F/O N.E. Patterson 83
#63 2/3 Feb. 45 Wanne-Eickel F/O N.E. Patterson 97
#64 4/5 Feb. 45 Osterfeld F/O N.E. Patterson 97
#65 7/8 Feb. 45 Goch F/O N.E. Patterson 48
#66 8/9 Feb. 45 Wanne-Eickel F/O N.E. Patterson 89
#67 13/14 Feb. 45 Bohlen F/O N.E. Patterson 110
#68 14/15 Feb. 45 Chemnitz F/O N.E. Patterson 112
#69 17 Feb. 45 Wesel F/O N.E. Patterson 2
#70 20/21 Feb. 45 Monheim F/O N.E. Patterson 109
#71 21/22 Feb. 45 Worms J14456 F/L J. M. Wallace 105
#72 27 Feb. 45 Mainz J87033 F/O A.L. Potter 182
#73 1 March 1945 Mannheim J3489 F/L E.A. Hayes 159
#74 2/3 March 45 Cologne J10491 F/L F/J. Horan 177
#75 5/6 March 45 Chemnitz R189667 F/Sgt. W.J. Gelineau 170
#76 8/9 March 45 Hamburg F/O N.E. Patterson 82
#77 11 March 45 Essen F/O N.E. Patterson 194
#78 12 March 45 Dortmund F/O N.E. Patterson 191
#79 13 March 45 Wuppertal J91163 P/O J.B. Turner 97
#80 14/15 March 45 Zweibrucken J42472 F/O S.M. Bonter 192

The 80th operation was a special celebration for the ground crew who kept the little nude Mermaid flying. They are from the left: Pinky Molinsky, Peter Wilson, W.J. McDonald, J. Robinson, Ian Duncan, L. Lawson, John Bright and Jack Webb. Their joy was short lived.

#81 15 March 45 Hagen F/O S.M. Bonter [F.T.R.] 139 attacked

F/O Stewart Millen Bonter, 26 years of age and three of his crew were killed, three survived and became POW’s, F/O Vachon, F/O Hinchcliffe and WO2 Anderson. The rear gunner P/O Scott bailed out but was killed by the Gestapo on 3 April 45.

The next Halifax Mk. VII painted by Cpl. Tom Dunn became NP694, code QO-R. Constructed on 24 June 1944, she was delivered to No. 432 Squadron four days later, and flew her first operation on 4 July 44, completing nine operations in July, while her art was being painted.

Tom recalled this Halifax art due to the fact he painted her nose twice, both with Biblical poem from Luke 40:3-5. The above image came from the Dunn collection and shows his original nose art which contained only white lettering. Halifax NP694 flew 65 Ops with this art lettering.

Russel Beach photo.

After completing 65 operations, [17 February 1945] a new aircrew commissioned Tom to repaint new nose art, which involved moving the same lettering up 20 inches. This image was taken by F/L Lindsay Roll #1, Print #4, while the Halifax was at No. 41 Group, waiting to be sent for scrapping at 45 Maintenance Unit, RAF Kinloss, Scotland, 78 Operations.

The clouds were Lt. Blue with Dark Blue highlight, cross Bright White, Blue outline, lightning bolts Yellow, German Swastika Bright Red, and German factory building Lt. Blue.
No. 432 Halifax B. Mk. III serial LW593 was painted [unknown artist] with the nose art of a cowboy beginning bucked off a wild horse, and the name “Oscar the Outlaw. This was the art which first inspired Tom Dunn to try his hand at creating his own style of bomber painting and lettering. The original “Oscar” was shot down over Berlin on 24/25 March 1944. When the new Halifax Mk. VII aircraft arrived in June and July 1944, the code letters QO-O were assigned to Halifax NP699, and Tom was asked to create a second “Oscar the Outlaw. This Halifax flew her first operation on 11 July 1944, and went on to complete 41 more operations. On 18 December 1944, raid to Duisburg, Germany, “Oscar” collided with an RAF Halifax from No. 10 Squadron and crashed over Belgium. Only pilot F/O M. Krakovsky survived, six killed in action.

Halifax B. Mk.VII, serial NP705, QO-Y, constructed 5 July 1944, delivered to No. 432 the following day. Never received nose art, but all 82 bombs were painted by Tom Dunn.

Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial NP707 was constructed on 5 July 1944, delivered to No. 432 the following day. It was flown to bomb Thiverney, on 11 July 44, by pilot F/L Von Laufer J8973. Tom could not remember the date he painted “Willie the Wolf” however he said it was finished during the period the Halifax aircraft was in the hangar for repairs due to a serious accident.
NP707 was damaged on 26 July 1944 and did not return to operations until 27 August 44. A second accident took place on 13 September 1944, and NP707 did not return to operations until 6 October 1944. Tom was busy painting other Halifax nose art in July, thus, it is possible the nose art of WILLIE “The Wolf” was painted in the period of the second major accident, 13 Sept. to 6 Oct. 1944.

Tom next received a request to paint the very same nose art and name on Halifax, B, Mk. III, serial MZ632, which had been transferred to No. 415 Squadron. This Halifax had flown with No. 432 Squadron as QO-W, completing 25 operations without any nose painting. A second “Look-a-like” nose art [below] with same name, was painted some date in August or mid-September.

This is the second “Willie the Wolf” nose art on Halifax B. Mk. III, serial MZ632, which was transferred to No. 415 Squadron with no art. Tom explained this WILLIE “The Wolf” was painted after he finished his original art on No. 432 Squadron NP707. Transferred to No. 1665 H.C.U. the landing gear collapsed on landing at RAF Tilstock [Shropshire] on 17 March 1945, the bomber swung, crashed, and was destroyed. This nose art seen below, was never salvaged.

Artist Thomas Dunn and his original [surviving] No. 432 Squadron nose art, RCAF Officer’s Mess, Glouster St. Ottawa, 7 August 1991. This original panel is still being confused with the No. 415 nose art which was destroyed on 17 March 1945.

June 1945, F/L H. Lindsay file card on “Utopia” QO-U, serial RG478, a Halifax B. Mk. VII, painted by Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn, No. 432 Squadron. Ottawa neg. #RE77-70.

Halifax B. Mk. VII serial RG478 was constructed 5 February 1945, delivered to No. 432 Squadron 7 February. She flew seventeen operations from 1 March 45 until 25 April 1945, but Tom never painted the 17th Palm tree, the war in Europe was over. Assigned code QO-U, [Utopia] the Halifax was sent for disposal on 28 May 45, and flown to RAF No. 41 Group, No. 45 Maintenance Unit, at Kinloss, Scotland. Marked for salvage and return to Canada, it never arrived with the nose art collection on 7 May 1946. This was the last nose art painted for No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron by [now promoted] Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn.

This RCAF Halifax B. Mk. VII nose art was one of nine photographed by F/L Harold Lindsay in June 1945, and all bombers were selected to be flown to RAF Station Kinloss, in Northern Scotland for scrapping. Six of the nine bombers were veterans from No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron, and three had been painted by Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn, RG478 “Utopia”, NP694 Luke 40:3.5 poem, and NP705, no nose art but 82 bombs. These three are missing from the War Museum nose art collection on display in Ottawa, Canada, today. Their fate is unknown, however in May 2012, an interesting part of Halifax scrapping history was revealed by the British Government at ex-RAF No. 41 Group, No. 45 Maintenance Unit, Kinloss, Scotland. This was selected as a remote postwar dumping ground for Halifax instruments which contained fluorescent radium paint and other chemical weapons including Sulphur mustard. If the RCAF Halifax nose art panels were cut from the fuselage in July to September 1945, [as F/L Lindsay had directed] and the art was never shipped to Canada, they could possibly have been thrown in the burial pits at RAF Kinloss and forgotten. The British Army are investigating the contaminated sites, and might just dig up some old forgotten Canadian nose art.

Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial RG447, constructed 4 March 1945, delivered to No. 426 Squadron on 6 March, then to No. 415 Squadron on 7 March. Flew eighteen operations, for disposal 20 May 1945. Last Halifax nose art painted by Tom Dunn at No. 62 [RCAF] Base East Moor, Yorkshire, England, for No. 415 Squadron. Flown to No. 48 M.U. RAF Hawarden for scrapping 28 May 1945. Replica painted on original skin from Halifax NA337, donated to Royal Western Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, March 2009, to honor Winnipeg born nose artist Thomas E. Dunn.

No. 62 [RCAF] Base, East Moor, Yorkshire, England

Sgt. Thomas E. Dunn arrived at No. 62 RCAF Base East Moor, Yorkshire, on 16 September 1943 and departed in July 1945. In those twenty-two months, he painted hundreds of RCAF signs, and decorated twelve Halifax aircraft with thirteen different nose art images. RCAF #62 Base officially closed on 15 May 1945, and this was the last issue #9 of the newsletter “Plane Facts.”

The last issue header of No. 432 and No. 415 Newsletter at East Moor, 23 May 1945.

The final entry for RCAF Station East Moor, Yorkshire, England, Headquarters Operations Record Book, 31 October 1945.

Psychologists can tell you that many young RCAF airmen in WWII needed to trust, and even have an affection for the large Halifax bombers they climbed into night after night and departed for war. They knew they were out-gunned, over-loaded with volatile fuel and explosives, yet somehow they hoped their personalized nose art would give them that little edge to defy the odds and cheat death in the dark, freezing, skies over Europe.

Tom painted nose art images which provided the wartime RCAF morale builder and today he is totally forgotten, by the RCAF Association, our Air Force Historians, and sadly the War Museum in Ottawa, Canada. The largest original RCAF Halifax nose art in the world hangs in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada, yet there is not one word to explain the reason for these World War Two aircraft paintings, or the forgotten artist who painted this panel called WILLIE “The Wolf.” It’s very simple, Tom only painted what the aircrew asked for, and it was their way of bosting morale in a terrible war, where hundreds of young airmen were killed each night for Canada. Tom painted nude ladies which were frivolous, but they were never anti-social, or offensive towards the female sex or any other group, other than Germans. In the past fifty plus years, I have made a serious effort to document, repaint, and preserve the history of our WWII RCAF aircraft nose artist. I still can’t find one Canadian museum which will display the history of nose art or the men who painted WWII aircraft. Please, do not apply today’s sexual attitudes to the young airmen who flew and died for Canada from 1939 to 1945.

Tom painted the largest, and most impressive original surviving Halifax RCAF WWII nose art in the world, but no body knows. Please Ottawa, don’t be ashamed to show and tell the truth, that’s what these young Canadians died for.
In 1990, I ask Tom which painting was his favorite Halifax nose art and he replied “Moonlight Mermaid.” One year later a package arrived by mail, inside was a little nude lady, painted on WWII RCAF original Avro Anson aircraft skin, by a 79-year-old-nose artist.

The Death of Daisy

Research by Clarence Simonsen


The Death of Daisy

Click above for the PDF.


My history on Lancaster KB882 is being published in an attempt to educate the average Canadian public to what the RCAF has done at Trenton, Ontario. It will not make any difference, but just maybe a few relatives from the aircrew who flew KB882 in WWII can read her rare aviation past. Unlike our present day RCAF Senior Officers, I will never forget our RCAF veterans who flew and died in ‘our’ Lancaster Mk. X bombers over the bloody skies of Europe. It is becoming increasingly harder for a new generation of Canadians, and new immigrants to understand what took place during WWII, if our aviation museums do not paint our aircraft correctly, and fail to educate with the truth, Canadians may never understand.

Below is the text version (no images) to enable a search on search engines.

 The Death of “Daisy”

Daisy was born 15 September 1930, in the brain of cartoonist Murat “Chic” Young, when he created a new comic strip called “Blondie.” A cute and very vivacious American blonde lady falls in love with an average guy named Dagwood Bumstead, described as a scamp, a bit lazy, and not that smart. Dagwood is heir to his billionair father’s estate, but the father objected to his marriage to flapper [dancer] Blondie. The marriage took place on 12 February 1933, and the new couple were cut out of the will, without a penny from his father’s locomotive company fortune. They settled in the suburbs of Joplin, Missouri, and the strip contines today appearing in over 2,000 newspapers, 47 countries, and 35 different languages. For this computer age you can go online and enjoy the most widly syndicated comic strip ever. You will find the essential ingredient for the world-wide success of Blondie is the fact it deals with daily family problems, is kept very simple, and yes it is still funny.

Chic Young’s most enduring contribution to American and Canadian culture became the famous “Dagwood Sandwich” a mind-boggling concoction which evolved into today’s submarine sandwich. In 1974, Chic was interviewed and explained he never used politics, religion, liquor, cigarettes, divorce, sickness, racial objects, or any unpleasent subject in his strip. He was careful not to offend anyone, hurt no group, and while the original concept was an average American family life style, it soon appealed to families around the world. The humor has been described as warm, outlandish, slapstick, yet very sentimental. Mankind can still learn a lot from Blondie today. During World War Two, the American women took a much more forceful role in society and this was soon reflected in the comics. Blondie remained the strong-willed, dominant force, but changed into less of a vixen, while Dagwood took more of a male role, less fearful of the war problems. A generation of American teens and yes, Canadians, had grown up reading Blondie and this would inspire the use of the characters as aircraft nose art. The cartoon surname Bumstead, and the dog name “Daisy” came from the real long-time close friend of artist Chic Young, Arthur Bumstead, who owned a real dog named Daisy. The Daisy dog was created with the original strip in the 1930s, and Daisy was always aware and would react with a facial expression to the many family problems. Described as a purebred ‘mongrel’ Daisy was a lady and became a major part of the cartoon strip. Later, Daisy had five puppies, four girls and one male named Elmer, which greatly produced more family drama to the strip.

In the fall of 1944, at Malton, Ontario, Canada, the Victory Aircraft production facilites were delivering one Lancaster Mk. X bomber per day and KB839 was the 139th built in October 1944. The bomber was flown to Prestwick, Scotland, in November 1944, by an RAF ferry crew and next delivered to Glouchester Aircraft Company Maintenance Unit near Chetenham, England. This is where all of the British manufatured equipment, including the Fraser Nash gun turrets were installed. Lancaster KB839 arrived with No. 419 [Moose] Squadron of the RCAF in mid-January 1945, and flew her first operation on 28/29 January 1945, assigned the code letters VR-D [D for Dog]. The new Lancaster was assigned to a veteran aircrew of J24764 F/O Peter Tulk, who had completed eight operations [24 December 1944 to 6 January 1945] against German targets. [Flying – KB797 “K”, KB762 “J”, KB804 “E”. and KB787 “M”].

After flying their operation to bomb Stuttgart, Germany, 28/29 January 1945, the Fulk aircrew were advised KB839 would become ‘their’ bomber, and pilot Fulk decided to name her “D for Daisy” and have the cartoon pet painted as nose art. F/O Tulk was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in late February 1945, and flew “Daisy” on 20/21 February 1945, when the image below was taken and mailed back home to Canada.

This image is from Peter Fulk’s family sent to Col. [Retired] Herb Smale when he completed his history book 5 August 2005. Lancaster KB839 flew 26 operations during WWII, with Daisy and her five pups on the nose for the last twenty-three operations. F/L Tulk and crew flew Daisy home to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, arriving 10 June 1945, then departed on 30 days leave. On 15 July 45, Peter and crew returned from leave and began training for Tiger Force and the airwar against Japan. The last training flight in Tulk’s log book was 1 September 1945, the Pacific war was soon over and Tulk never saw Daisy again. On 8 September 1945, KB839, “Daisy” was flown to Pearce, Alberta, by RCAF ferry crew #5, S/L J.F. Thomas, and parked. No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, Pearce, Alberta, was a mix of veteran and new non-combat Lancaster aircraft and almost each one contained old and new nose art. The new nose art was painted for the war against Japan and most will never be seen or viewed by the Canadian public. I have thirty-two in my research collection, however no Canadian Museum will publish the history or display the images, as some of the RCAF ladies were nude, such as one called “Jill.”

The RCAF aircrew [7 Jacks] and “Jill” wearing only bright red high heel shoes, to match her long flaming red hair. Photo from LAC Laverne Thomas Shearer, ground crew No. 408 [Goose] Squadron, Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire.

Jill was painted by LAC Robert Douglas Sneddon from Calgary, Alberta, an Airframe Mechanic in No. 405 [Vancouver] Squadron, painted on Lancaster Mk. X [EQ-J] serial KB919, from No. 408 [Goose] Squadron. No. 408 was stationed at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, flying Halifax bombers until the end of the war on 8 May 1945. No. 405 became the only RCAF squadron transferred to RAF famous No. 8 [Pathfinder] Group, flying British built Avro Lancaster Mk. I and Mk. III bombers until 25 May 1945. No. 405 was now transferred back to No. 6 [RCAF] Group on 26 May 1945, and stationed with No. 408 [Goose] Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse. Neither squadron had flown Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft until late May 1945. No. 405 and No. 408 were now assigned thirty-eight new Canadian Lancaster Mk. X aircraft, to be air-tested, and flown back to Canada as part of “Tiger-Force” to bomb Japan.

Jill arrived at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, [No. 664 Wing] on 20 June 1945, then thanks to the sudden end of hostilities with Japan, Jill was flown to No. 102 R.E.M.S. at Pearce, Alberta, 23 September 1945, and forgotten. KB919 was converted postwar to a Bomber Reconnaissance aircraft and trained crews at No. 2 [Maritime] O.T.U. at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, scrapped 25 August 1955.

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

In May 1940, the first construction of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan aerodromes began across Canada. On 13 July 1940, the United Kingdom asks permission to transfer complete RAF schools to Canada, and the construction of 26 RAF operated [and financed] aerodromes began at once. All transferred RAF schools were reserved numbers 31 and above, including RAF schools which were later formed in Canada.
The RCAF picked the site for RAF No. 36 E.F.T.S. Aerodrome Pearce, Alberta, and it proved to be a very poor choice. During construction in August 1941, a southern Alberta dust storm was captured on film [looking South-West] fast approaching from the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

On 17 March 1942, twelve Canadian Pacific Railway coaches arrived on the siding at Pearce, Alberta, and RAF No. 36 EFTS was officially commissioned the 30th of March. The arriving RAF personnel included 32 officers, and 304 airmen staff, mostly new student pilots. They began their journey in West Kirby, England, and soon found their new home to be an isolated spot on the broad Canadian prairies, which became known as windy acres, a chummy, hard to fly station. After just four months, the RAF school was disbanded 3 August 1942, for the simple reason the southern Alberta winds were too difficult for the novice British students to deal with. The RAF rear party were gone by 14 August 1942 and the RCAF decided to move No. 3 Air Observer School from Regina, Saskatchewan, to Pearce, Alberta.

The movement from Regina began on 12 September 1942, when a CPR train with five RCAF Officers, and 55 airmen, [44 were trainees] arrived in Pearce at 23:00 hrs. Due to lack of proper accommodations at Pearce, classes were conducted at Regina and flying training at Pearce, which was done with great difficulty. The school had on strength 18 Avro Ansons, 2 Cessna Cranes and one Stinson to begin the New Year, and on 18 January 1943, the Daily Diary recorded a winter temperture of -50 degrees Fahrenheit [-45 C]. RCAF Organization Order No. 264 arrived on 4 March 1943, advising the school would be disbanded, effective 3 May 1943. On 21 April 1943, six officers and thirty-eight airmen boarded the train back to No. 3 Air Observer School at Regina, to permit the re-location of No. 2 Flying Instructors School from Vulcan, Alberta, to Pearce. The RCAF advance party from No. 2 F.I.S. Vulcan arrived at Pearce on 26 April 1943, to organize the training school movement from Vulcan, Alberta.
On 3 August 1943, No. 2 Flying Instructors School, Pearce, Alberta, officially opened, and these were six of the first ‘professors’ as they were called.

F.I.S. training lasted eight weeks and was really an advancement of what was being taught at the RCAF S.F.T.S. In the air the professors flew the Cornell for teaching elementary flying training instructors, the Harvard for advanced flying instructors and the Cessna Crane for twin-engine flying instructors. When a student first arrived at Pearce, the instructor would take him up in a familiarzation flight. This is where the new student was put through a number of nerve-racking, dives, stalls, steep banks, and other stunts to see if the new kid would freeze at the controls.

The above cartoon [signed O’Lee] appeared in the squadron newsletter titled Pearce Platter, showing a new student on his first test-flight. The newsletter also contained a little Cessna Crane cartoon character named “Dewey” who kept students informed as to what was taking place on the isolated RCAF station.

This December 1943, No. 2 F.I.S. Christmas Card, featured Dewey sound asleep in front of the control tower, grounded due to the windy, bitter cold, winter weather flying conditions.

Recreation became a high priority at Pearce, and the staff even had a “Trading Post” which was much like a civilian general store. The RCAF also created something which was entirely different from all other RCAF Stations, when they allowed the formation of a base town with small homes constructed, so a number of wives could join their husband on this remote base. The new “Boom Town” was built across the road from the base, and while it was never fancy, it solved a major morale problem. Pearce became known as the “Western University of the Air” and the student graduates became the best qualified flying instructors partly due to the windy training conditions. On 20 January 1945, No. 2 F.I.S. closed and the flying school was abandoned. The very next day, 21 January, No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite RCAF Station Pearce, Alberta, was formed on paper for storage of surplus WWII aircraft. By 23 September 1945, one-hundred and twenty-one veteran Canadian built Lancaster bombers were flown to Pearce, awaiting long-term storage in other bases in southern Alberta. Today [August 2019] only two of these combat flown veteran RCAF Lancaster Mk. X bombers remain in the world, KB839 and KB882. Amazingly, both of these rare original veteran Lancaster Mk. X bombers have been destroyed by our modern RCAF museums at CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and CFB Trenton, Ontario, Canada.

RCAF Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB882, No. 428
[Ghost Squadron]

No. 428 Squadron was officially born with the first Operations Record Book entry on 7 Nov. 1942.

The very first No. 428 Squadron Canadian constructed Lancaster Mk. X [KB705] aircraft landed at Middleton St. George on 25 May 1944, and the complete squadron turned out to inspect this new RCAF bomber. The next day, ground instruction began in preparation for conversion from the Halifax Mk. II aircraft to the Lancaster Mk. X, and by the end of May, No. 428 had on charge 19 Halifax Mk. IIs and 3 new Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft. [KB705, KB709, and KB725]
In early June 1944, aircrew conversion training for the Lancaster began and by the 14th of the month seven aircrew had been fully trained to operate this new Canadian bomber. No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron first flew a complete RCAF Lancaster aircraft operation on 14/15 June 1944, where seven Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft took part. Order of take-off was – KB737, [R] KB704, [E] KB758, [Z] KB725, [L] KB742, [M] KB705, [F] and KB739 [W].

No. 428 Squadron seven Lancaster Mk. X aircraft joined 51 other RCAF bombers which attacked St-Pol, France, with three aircraft returning early. The majority of 6 Group operations were now flown in the daytime, attacking V-1 flying-bomb sites in France.

On 25 October 1944, KB737 [the original NA-R] went missing on a day time raid to Essen, Germany. The missing aircraft was later replaced by Lancaster Mk. X serial KB882 which took the same code letter “R” flying her first operation on 12 March 1945.
KB882 was built at Malton, Ontario, in December 1944, and arrived in England on 24 February 1945, assigned to No. 32 M.U. The aircraft was next assigned to No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron but only on paper, and was never delivered. It was now reassigned to No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron and given code letter “R” completing 11 operations from 12 March 1945 to 25 April 1945. The RCAF Lancaster Mk. X contained no known nose art or name during her combat operations, using call sign “R for Robert.”

1. 12 March 1945 Dortmund, Germany, [191 attacked] F/O G. Cox #J41866
2. 15/16 March 1945 Hagen, Germany, [139 attacked, 3 shot down] F/L A.L. Ross #J16986
3. 24 March 1945 Mathias Stinnes-Gladbeck, Germany, [95 attack] F/O D. Brown #J7608
4. 31 March 1945 Hamburg, Germany, [189 attacked, 8 shot down] F/L A. L. Ross
5. 4 April 1945 Merseberg, Germany, [89 attacked] F/L Ross
6. 8/9 April 1945 Hamburg, Germany, [184 attacked, 1 shot down] F/L Ross
7. 10 April 1945 Leipzig, Germany, [188 attacked, 2 shot down] F/L Ross
8. 13/14 April 1945 Kiel, Germany, [204 attacked, 2 shot down] F/L Ross
9. 16/17 April 1945 Schwandorf, Germany, [116 attacked] W/O R. K. Quinn #R192575
10. 22 April 1945 Bremen, Germany, [200 attacked] F/L R. D. Hay #J7608
11. 25 April 1945 Wangerooge, Germany, [184 attacked, 4 lost mid-air crash] F/L A. L. Ross.

No. 428 Ghost Squadron became the last No. 6 RCAF Group bomber squadron to return to base landing at 20:10 to 20:36 hours, the final operations of WWII.

The crew of Flight Lieutenant A.L. Ross J41866 flew Lancaster KB882 on seven operations and his crew was made up completely of officers, with all but one on their second combat tour. Pilot F/L Ross was flying his 52nd operation in World War Two.
Pilot F/L A.L. Ross, DFC, DFM. – 2nd tour
Flight/Engineer – F/O. R. Loveday. – 1st tour
Navigator – F/O K.R. Fee, DFC. -2nd tour
Mid-Upper – F/O Dan Ferguson. – 2nd tour
Wireless/Oper. – F/L Aitken. -2nd tour
Rear-gunner – F/O Bill Watson. – 2nd tour
Bomb aim – F/O E.K. Bergy. – 2nd tour

On 4 April 1945, 105 RCAF Halifax and Lancaster bombers were despatched to bomb Merseburg, Germany, with 104 attacking the primary target. At 22:53 hrs. Lancaster KB882 sighted a German Me-410 night-fighter and the rear gunner fired 100 rounds, no official claim was made.

Copy of original report follows:

Lancaster KB882 flew four operations in March and seven more operations in the last month of war, April 1945.

The last offensive operation by Bomber Command took place on 25 April 1945, when 482 RAF bombers were launched against Wangerooge Island at the eastern end of the Frisian Island chain. These German coastal batteries had been bombed many times and this last raid was ordered to make sure the guns were destroyed forever. RCAF No. 6 Group despatched 192 aircraft from thirteen different squadrons, ninety-two Halifax bombers from No. 408, 415, 425, 426 and 432, supported by one-hundred Lancaster aircraft from No. 419, 424, 427, 428, 429, 431, 433, and 434 Squadrons.

RCAF Command had placed a number of rookie aircrews on this last operation, and these good intentions would cost the lives of twenty-eight Canadians and thirteen British aircrews.

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron was flying in the last gaggle of bombers and witnessed what took place just a short distance ahead of them. Two Lancaster bombers [KB822 and KB831] from No. 431 Squadron, both with sprog crews flying their first operation, did not realize the bombers in front of them were violently churning up the air. In seconds one Lancaster lost control and rotated on its side into the other Lancaster, breaking a wing and tail plane in the collision. This was repeated by two RCAF Halifax bombers NP796 in No. 408 and NP820 in No. 426 Squadron. Nine parachutes were sighted, floating to their slow death in the ice cold sea, over two-hundred miles from any British coast.

This is the No. 6 [RCAF] Group official map showing the location of each bomber before and after the attack on Wangerooge, Germany. This was plotted from the navigator exact location taken from each RCAF bomber, the modern computer for the year 1945. The “Gaggle” of 192 RCAF aircraft flew in a bomber stream which was thirty miles long by ten miles in width. No. 428 dispatched fifteen Lancaster bombers on the operation, with KB747 failing to take-off.

On 25 April 1945, F/O David Walsh and crew were flying their 28th operation in NA-D Lancaster Mk. X serial KB843, named “DOLLY.” They were the second Lancaster to take off for the raid on the coastal batteries on Wangerooge Island, and became the very last No. 6 RCAF Group bomber aircraft to return to base, Middleton St. George, Yorkshire, England, at 20:36 hrs. The Canadian Bomber Group’s bombing and shooting war had just come to an end. Lancaster KB882, NA-R, had landed just minutes before and shared in this No. 6 RCAF Group history.

KB843 NA-D [DOLLY] the last bomber to land in England from No. 6 RCAF Group in WWII.

The above image of KB843, NA-D [Dolly] was taken at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, around 18:00 hrs. 8 June 1945, and F/O David Walsh is about to land on Canadian soil.

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron flew their first RCAF Lancaster [Canadian built] Mk. X operation on 14/15 June 1944, and KB843 became the very last Canadian Lancaster Mk. X to land in England, after bombing Germany, [Wangerooge Island] on 25 April 1945. That is possibly the reason Ghost Squadron were selected over the more veteran No. 419 [Moose] Squadron, to be the first Lancaster Mk. X squadron to take off for Canada on the morning of 31 May 1945. No. 419 [Moose] Squadron will follow flying twenty of their Canadian constructed Lancaster bombers.

On 31 May 1945, [09:00 hrs] RCAF ground crew LAC Delbert Todd recorded Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris addressing the members of No. 428 [Ghost] and No. 419 [Moose] Squadron at Middleton-St.-George. On the far left is Air Vice Marshal C.M. “Black Mike” McEwen, Commodore McBurney, S.A.S.O. No. 6 RCAF Group and Air Commodore Bryans, C.O No. 64 RCAF Base.

The exodus to Canada begins with fifteen Lancaster bombers in No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron and in the next six weeks 165 Canadian built Lancaster aircraft will return to Canada, with the loss of one KB764. [No. 428 Sqn.] The ferry route follows:
31 May 1945, take-off from Middleton-St.-George to St. Mawgans, in Cornwall 2 hrs, 5 mins. [Note – due to inclement weather most of 428 and 419 aircraft would languish at St. Mawgans for six days.]

6 June 1945, St. Mawgans Cornwall to Lagens, Azores, 8 hrs. 42 mins. 9 June 1945, Lagens Azores, to Gander, Newfoundland, 8 hrs. 46 mins.
10 June 1945, Gander, Newfoundland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 3 hrs, 17 minutes.
The first RCAF Lancaster Mk. X selected for take-off is aircraft NA-F [Fearless Fox] serial KB891, pilot F/L S.V. Eliosoff #J88974.

Led by “Fearless Fox” fourteen other Lancaster Mk. X bombers thunder into the air and head on the first leg to Canada. F/L Cox pilot of KB848, NA-G. “Fightin” Pappy” finds his aircraft is nose heavy and returns to base at Middleton St. George. On 1 June 1945, Fightin’ Pappy and four remaining No. 428 Lancaster bombers take to the air for Canada. In total nineteen No. 428 Lancaster aircraft depart for Canada, however NA-B, KB764 will crash in the sea while landing at the Azores.

The Nose Art of KB891 “Fearless Fox” – [RCAF PL44566]

Fearless Fox arriving at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1945. [David Walsh – Lisa Sharp]

Take-off of KB848, NA-G, “Fightin’ Pappy” with pilot F/L G. Cox and crew, 31 May 1945.
LAC Delbert Todd [who took this image] served as ground crew on this Lancaster, which arrived with No. 428 Squadron 20 January 1945, assigned to F/O K.C. Roulston. The Lancaster was first named “Hollywood Caravan” with white and red trim lettering painted under the pilot window. F/O Roulston and crew completed their tour [32 Ops] on 21 February 1945, and the Lancaster was flown by a number of different aircrew. On 4 April 1945, NA-G KB848 was assigned to the crew of pilot F/L Cox and they decided to rename their bomber and give her some new nose art. KB848 became nose art “Fightin’ Pappy” photo from Delbert Todd collection.

The No. 428 Squadron ground and aircrew members shortly after the new nose art was completed in early April 1945. Lancaster KB848 completed 26 operations and had an interesting postwar career. Today this complete original Lancaster cockpit section is restored in WWII RCAF markings and on display in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. Sadly, her wartime career and colorful nose art are not part of the public display. [Delbert Todd photo – second from left, black coveralls, hand on hip]

Should our Canadian Aviation and Space Museum historians ever decide to paint Lancaster KB848, nose and cockpit section in her correct No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron World War Two markings, this is what she would look like, preserving RCAF Lancaster history. At least someone can now build a correctly marked Canadian Lancaster Mk. X KB848 nose art model.
Nominal roll and 18 Lancaster Aircraft of No. 428 Sqn. flown to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

David Walsh collection [pilot KB843] photo from Lisa Sharp.

8 June 1945, NA-K, serial KB920 first to land at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, taxies to the hangar. She carried a British ‘stowaway’ passenger, a small puppy from U.K. and a new life in Canada. The crew of F/L A.L. Googe are home at last, followed by KB757, KB843, KB891, KB848, KB867, KB864, KB781, and KB747. Lancaster KB882 [NA-R] arrives on 10 June 1945.

Lancaster KB920 shuts down her four engines and receives an official welcome to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. [D. Walsh – Lisa Sharp]

In October 1944, the Canadian War Committee began drawing up plans for the early Canadian air element participation in the Royal Air Force very long range bombing of Japan, titled “Tiger Force.” The early advanced element would consist of one RAF Mosquito squadron, and nine Lancaster squadrons, five RAF, one from Australia, one from New Zealand, and two from Canada. No. 419 [Moose] and 428 [Ghost] were selected to be operational to bomb Japan beginning 1 January 1946. In mid-April 1945, RCAF Overseas Headquarters ordered No. 419 and 428 squadron to leave Middleton-St.-George, “as soon as possible.” On 31 May 1945, this first movement of Canadian built bombers to Canada began, and most carried veteran ‘nose art’ for the upcoming attack on Japan. The next leg of the journey was St. Mawgan, which became the departure base for the Atlantic crossing. Some of the Lancaster aircraft of No. 428 and 419 squadrons were delayed at St. Mawgan, Cornwall, for six days due to inclement weather conditions. Six more RCAF Lancaster squadrons would follow to Canada, No. 431 and 434 at Croft, No. 405 Pathfinder at Gransden Lodge, No. 408 at Linton-on-Ouse, and No. 420 and 425 at Tholthorpe, would complete the bomber force in Tiger Force. Each squadron would fly twenty Lancaster Mk. X aircraft back to Canada, for reorganization and training for RAF “Tiger Force” in the Pacific. They now came under command of War Home Establishment, Eastern Air Command, with H.Q. at Halifax, Nova Scotia. No. 1 Maintenance Wing H.Q. was located at Scoudouc, New Brunswick, with four new [Heavy Bomber] Wings located at Yarmouth, Dartmouth, Debert, and Greenwood, Nova Scotia. On 8 June 1945, No. 419 and 428 Squadron Lancaster bombers began to land at their new Canadian base, No. 661 [Heavy Bomber] Wing, RAF Tiger Force, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. [Officially formed on 15 July 1945] RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, arrival of No. 428 and 419 Squadrons –

Photo D. Walsh via Lisa Sharp.

These eighteen Lancaster Mk. X aircraft from No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron are now being prepared for war against Japan. The aircrews begin 30 days leave [plus travel time] and will report back to their squadrons to prepare for the Pacific Campaign “Tiger Force.” These eighteen Lancaster Mk. X aircraft will be ready to bomb Japan beginning 1 January 1946, including NA-R, KB882. No. 419 and 428 Squadron Lancaster aircraft will be re-equipped with Canadian built Avro Lincoln B. Mk. XV bombers in July 1946. The production of serial FM300 Lincoln is already underway in the plant at Malton, Ontario.
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, forced Japan into accepting the full terms of the Allied surrender on 15 August, officially signed 2 September. On 5 September 1945, RAF Tiger Force was disbanded before commencement of their combat training, and production of the FM series Lincoln bombers were cancelled with only one constructed. No. 661 Wing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, No. 662 Wing at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and No. 633 Wing at Debert, Nova Scotia, prepare for disbandment.

The Atomic bombing of Japan will save many veteran Canadian lives as 103,402 men and women had volunteered for service in the Pacific war.

This important aviation fact is most often omitted by today’s generation of Internet historians. On 5 September, at RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, seven Lancaster aircraft are air tested in preparation for the postwar storage ferry flights, one is No. 428 Squadron KB882.

The Canadian Government has decided the Tiger Force Lancaster bombers will be flown across Canada to Calgary, Alberta, then a final stop at the abandoned WWII No. 2 Flying Instructors School at Pearce, Alberta. In the next eight months, over one-hundred and twenty veteran bombers will be flown and placed into long term storage at RCAF Stations in Alberta.

In preparation for the ferrying of these large bomber fights, Lancaster Ferry crews are organized at Yarmouth, Dartmouth, and Debert, in Nova Scotia. These ferry flights are given the title Very Large Range ‘VFR’ Force and will depart in groups of fifteen Lancaster aircraft. The ferry crews are made up of four RCAF members. Pilot, Navigator, Wireless Air Gunner, and Flight Engineer. A list of thirty ferry crews was formed, with each crew assigned to one Lancaster aircraft.

On 7 September 1945, the first fifteen Lancaster bombers depart RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, at one-minute intervals, on the first leg of the ferry flight to St. Hubert Airport in Montreal, Quebec. The sight at Montreal airport was most impressive, as 15 RCAF Lancaster aircraft flew in and landed [17:46 hrs] and were parked by 18:00 hrs. The next morning fifteen more Lancaster aircraft departed Yarmouth for the ferry trip west to Calgary, one being Lancaster KB882. What follows is a poor copy of the original RCAF Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Daily Diary with the list of RCAF Lancaster KB serial numbers in the order they took off for the West. Beside each serial number, I have added the original RCAF Squadron number they flew during WWII. These first thirty Lancaster aircraft would land at re-named No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, RCAF Pearce, Alberta, on 8 and 9 of September 1945.

On 8 September 1945, the remaining fifteen Lancaster bombers depart RCAF Station Yarmouth for Montreal, Quebec. KB882 is the eighth to take off for the ferry flight west to Calgary, Alberta, with ferry crew #21, pilot F/L G. Walton J89607, Navigator F/O F.E. Sprung J28697, Wireless Air Gunner F/Sgt. J. A. Shaer R260019, and Flight Engineer F/O J. B. McClusky J43393.

Early on 8 September 1945, the first group of 45 Lancaster WWII veteran bombers have departed Montreal for RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba, a selected RCAF Station for refueling.

The “Very Long Range Force” heading West, landing for fuel at RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba, 8 September 1945. Next fuel stop will be Calgary, Alberta, and then south to ex-No. 2 Flying Instructors School at RCAF Pearce, Alberta. [re-named No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, RCAF Pearce, Alberta, on 21 January 1945]

Ray Wise was employed at Vancouver shipyards until Christmas 1942, when he decided to join the RCAF. In March 1943, he completed his Aero Engine training and was posted to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta. On 5 September 1945, LAC Raymond Wise, LAC Cook, LAC Wyers, and the NCO in charge Cpl. Edge, were posted to ex-No. 2 F.I.S. School at Pearce, Alberta, now RCAF No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite. The four lived in a rented house at Fort Macleod, Alberta, and drove an RCAF Chevrolet van to the old abandoned air base each morning, returning each night.

On the afternoon of 8 September 1945, the first fifteen Lancaster bombers began arriving at the RCAF storage base, and with no control tower instructions, these ferry pilots put on their own display of flying skills, terrifying the local farm animals as well as a few of the Alberta farmers. By the 23rd of September 1945, these ferry crews had landed over 120 WWII Lancaster bombers at Pearce, and almost each one carried nose art from the Second World War.

When I interviewed Raymond Wise in 1996, he was 92 years of age, but still spoke with excitement about the spectacular arrival and air-show he had witnessed at Pearce, Alberta, for a number of days in September 1945. The bombers were parked in four long rows, and each morning the four ground-crew mechanics were ordered to fire up each of the four American built Packard Rolls-Royce Merlin engines on each of the 121 Lancaster aircraft. Ray Wise also recorded and preserved the very best RCAF Lancaster WWII collection of nose art I ever found. For a few short months, the very best of Canadian veteran Lancaster WWII nose art, which had flown over and bombed Germany, now rested side by side in an abandoned airfield of southern Alberta.

From the air today, the original RCAF runways and old WWII hangar locations are clearly still visible, almost the same sight which greeted the Lancaster ferry pilots and aircrew in September 1945. [Free domain image 2018]
Now, let’s turn back the pages of time and once again look at Canada’s best WWII Lancaster Nose Art, which no Aviation Museum will display.

After some stunting, the Lancaster aircraft landed and taxied to the front of the RCAF hangars where they were angle parked in four rows. [Ray Wise image taken from control tower]

LAC Cook in front of No. 419 Squadron KB746, VR-S, “Sierra Sue” flown from Yarmouth on 7 September 1945, by ferry crew #14, F/L D.S. Mullin J35317, arrived Pearce the next day.

LAC Cook in front of KB746, with hangar #1 [control tower] and hanger #2 in background. This image was taken looking directly north. These first two hangars were built for the RAF in 1941, and two more [one a double-wide] constructed for RCAF Flying Instructors in 1942.

Sierra Sue became the number one photo favourite and she even caught the eye of Cpl. Edge. She completed 68 operations, [the last bomb was never painted on] a true Canadian veteran in Moose Squadron, scrapped 16 January 1947. (via Ray Wise)

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron NA-S, KB864, became another photo favourite. She was flown to Pearce by ferry crew #22, F/O R.L. Boyle J4160, arriving on 9 September 1945. In the cockpit sits LAC Cook, front left is LAC Wyers, and with left hand on prop is LAC Raymond Wise. RCAF historians owe this man a special thanks for preserving Lancaster nose art at No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce, Alberta.

Unfortunately, not one aviation museum in Canada will display the correct history, artists, or images, including the Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta.

No. 428 Squadron KB864, Sugar’s Blues was named after a very popular wartime Jazz swing dance tune, with both sides of her nose painted by my departed friend wireless air gunner Sgt. Thomas Walton. The lady came from the January 1945, Esquire pin-up girl by Alberto Vargas. Tom passed away in 2018, he was 95 years of age.

P/O Tom Walton [J93791 promoted in February] painted “Sugar” [that’s what he called her] in mid-January and this is his finished nose art, with her left nipple showing.

NA-S, KB864 at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1945, flown by American born pilot F/L R. Laturner. The starboard nose art painted by Tom Walton featuring a Ghost dropping a 500-pound blue bomb. Flown from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 8 September 1945, by ferry crew #22, pilot F/O R.L. Boyle J4160, Navigator F/L G. F. Kean J17489, Wireless WO/I D. McDermond R162318, and F/O G. Baker J49337.

Raymond Wise riding Lancaster KB864 like an Alberta cowboy, while LAC Wyers gives a thumbs up from the cockpit, mid-September 1945.
Sugar’s Blues was placed into long-term storage at Pearce, Alberta, and she never left. Parked beside the airfield, disposed 16 January 1947, used for spare parts in 1950-51. Cut up on site in 1956, sold for scrap.

The graveyard of WWII Lancaster airframes rest in the farm hayfield next to the abandoned airfield at Pearce, Alberta, summer 1955. They will soon be cut up, placed onto railway cars and shipped to Quebec for smelting. Maybe someone in Quebec today has an old pot or pan made from Sugar’s Blues.

Below PT-V, KB910, No. 420 Squadron, no operations. Photos – Paul Szoke from Nanton.

No. 428 Squadron NA-L, KB867, which replaced KB725 after it crashed on 3 February 1945. “L for Lanky” flew her first Op. on 21/22 February 1945, and finished the war with eighteen operations, which were painted as Jerry [piss pots] that were dumped on Germany. Flown to Canada by F/L A.S. Webb, she landed on 9 June 1945, 18:00 hrs. where the above image was taken.

Close-up of nose art taken by Ray Wise at Pearce, Alberta.

Another ground crew image at Pearce – far left unknown, Wyers, Wise, and Cook. KB867 arrived with second group of thirty Lancaster aircraft on 13 September 1945.

This is a copy of the original RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Lancaster Mk. X ferry crew list for 7 and 8 September 1945. Lancaster KB882, flown by F/L G. Walton J89607, departed Yarmouth, N.S. for Calgary, Alberta, on 8 September 1945 and arrived at Pearce, the following day, where she was parked beside a line of her sister aircraft.

This image was taken by LAC Raymond Wise at No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce, Alberta, after the arrival of the first thirty Lancaster Mk. X veteran bombers, 9 September 1945. Twenty-four of these Canadian manufactured Lancaster Mk. X aircraft were original World War Two combat veterans, which flew with our RCAF squadrons over Germany, and survived to return to Canadian soil. No. 419 [Moose] Squadron and No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron were the two most senior Lancaster operated squadrons at the end of the war in Europe, containing our best Canadian Lancaster nose art paintings. Eleven of the bombers in this photo flew with No. 419 Squadron and thirteen flew with No. 428 Squadron, including KB882, which is somewhere in this image. KB882 would be flown out of Pearce, Alberta, [in the next six months] and placed into long-term storage at RCAF Station Fort Macleod, Alberta. In June 1956, this veteran WWII bomber was pulled from her hangar and modified as a test-bed for RCAF night-photography. The Lancaster was withdrawn from post-war service in the RCAF on 17 March 1962, and two years later sold to the City of Edmundston, New Brunswick.

This rare, WWII veteran Canadian built and flown RCAF bomber has never been painted correctly or ever displayed in her original No. 428 [Ghost] colour markings, and now she never will. If you watch any episodes of American or Canadian Pickers, you soon learn that rare, one-of-a-kind antique items are never painted over or changed, as that would totally destroy their historical content and value. Even average, main-stream Canadians know if you find a rare Ford Model T automobile, you would never repaint it as a Chevrolet and then display it as a collector’s item.

Sadly, when it comes to our RCAF WWII history and aircraft, the average Canadian leaves it up to the RCAF to preserve, display, and teach future generations of youth what we constructed and flew in the past.

After spending the past 51 years outside in Canadian weather, Lancaster KB882 ownership was at long last transferred from the City of Edmundston, New Brunswick, to the National Air Force Museum of Canada at Trenton, Ontario, the home of the RCAF, on 20 September 2017. Preserved and protected indoors.

In 1940, as the war in England worsened, the British turned to Canada for Lancaster bomber production, out of range of the destructive German bombers. The location chosen to construct the Lancaster Mk. X in Canada became Malton, Ontario, the National Steel and Car Corporation Aircraft Division. Due to political, and managements problems, the company was taken over by the Canadian Government on 5 November 1942, and as a Crown Corporation was renamed Victory Aircraft Ltd, later becoming A.V. Roe Canada Ltd.

A British built Mk. I Lancaster serial R5727 was flown from England, and this aircraft became the master tool and pattern standard for the Canadian constructed Lancaster Mk. X bombers.

This British built Lancaster was later acquired by Trans-Canada Airways [T.C.A.] and modified with nose windows, faired over rear gun position, and windows fitted in her fuselage. It began trans-Atlantic service on 22 July 1943, flying freight, mail, and ten passengers across to England.

This is R5727 now registered as CF-CMS for T.C.A., image taken at Dorval [Quebec] airport in preparation for her first Trans-Atlantic flight to Prestwick, Scotland. The first Canadian Lancaster used in Civil Transportation was in fact a British Lancaster Mk. I, which flew combat with No. 44 Squadron in the RAF, made the first Lancaster trip to Canada across the Atlantic, became the pattern bomber for all Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X’s, and last transported secret mail, freight, and V.I.P.’s back and forth from Canada to U.K.

Now, that is a lot of aviation history for one Lancaster bomber. Fitted with extra fuel tanks, and ten passenger seats, Lancaster R5727 also became the pattern civil air transport on four other T.C.A. constructed transports on the Malton Lancaster production line. KB702 became CF-CMT [TCA-101], KB702 became CF-CMU [TCA-102] KB729 became CF-CMV [TCA-103] and KB730 became CF-CMW [TCA-104].

Just sixteen months after the first Canadian Lancaster drawings were completed, KB700 the Canadian prototype was air tested on 1 August 1943. Due to political interference and insistence the new bomber leave at once for England, the christening ceremony was rushed to 20 August, and the unfinished bomber flew off to Dorval, Quebec, where her construction was completed. Delayed for two weeks, she did not arrive in England until 15 September 1943. The first 300 Lancaster Mk. X aircraft were assigned the manufacture’s serial numbers KB700 to KB999, built between August 1943 and March 1945.

All of the KB series combat aircraft were ferried to England with the loss of only one KB828. During the spring of 1945, the Victory Aircraft Ltd work force of almost 10,000 persons [30% female] produced one Canadian Lancaster per day. No. 419 and No. 428 Squadrons were assigned the most Canadian built Lancaster aircraft in WWII and they lost the most aircrew and bombers.

No. 419 [Moose] squadron lost forty-two Lancaster Mk. X aircraft to enemy action, seven crash landed on return from operations and three were lost in training accidents. Today Lancaster FM213 has been restored to flying condition painted as KB726 of No. 419 [Moose] Squadron and flies in honour of P/O Mynarski V.C., shot down 12/13 June 1944. Thanks to Canadian Warplane Heritage, the Mynarski Lancaster is the only flying example of a Canadian Avro Mk. X Lancaster in North America, however FM213 never flew operations during WWII and this aircraft will always be a replica painted RCAF bomber. The only original part of Lancaster FM213 which flew operations in WWII is the centre wing section, which came from KB895 [Lady Orchid] of No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron. Thus, FM213 is in fact a hybrid of a wartime combat aircraft wing [KB895] and herself, which never flew combat operations during WWII.

Today, August 2019, the original rare combat flown [eleven operations] Lancaster KB882 is under a seven-year restoration program, reappearing in her postwar markings as Lancaster 10 A.R. [Aerial Reconnaissance] of No. 408 Squadron.

I have no idea why Senior RCAF Officers at Trenton, Ontario, would pass over the history of this rare WWII Canadian constructed veteran bomber and their very own RCAF WWII roots, for a postwar photo taking patrol aircraft. I guess they never watched any episodes of American or Canadian Pickers.

My history on Lancaster KB882 is being published in an attempt to educate the average Canadian public to what the RCAF has done at Trenton, Ontario. It will not make any difference, but just maybe a few relatives from the aircrew who flew KB882 in WWII can read her rare aviation past. Unlike our present day RCAF Senior Officers, I will never forget our RCAF veterans who flew and died in ‘our’ Lancaster Mk. X bombers over the bloody skies of Europe. It is becoming increasingly harder for a new generation of Canadians, and new immigrants to understand what took place during WWII, if our aviation museums do not paint our aircraft correctly, and fail to educate with the truth, Canadians may never understand.

In total 7,377 Avro Lancaster aircraft were built and 3,736 were lost during the Second World War. Victory Aircraft Ltd at Malton, Ontario, constructed 430 Avro Lancaster aircraft, and today ten of these Canadian bombers survive in the world, eight remain in Canada. From the total of 7,377 Avro Lancaster aircraft which were constructed, only seventeen survive in the world today. From this total of seventeen survivors only two British constructed Lancaster bombers [R5868 and W4783] and two Canadian constructed Lancaster bombers [KB839 and KB882] flew operational RAF Bomber Command combat sorties during World War Two. R5868 was constructed in early 1942, and today is painted correctly in the RAF Museum in England. W4783 was also constructed in early 1942, and after flying in an RAF squadron, was transferred to the RAAF in October 1944. This combat veteran was flown to Australia in postwar, restored in correct RAAF markings and remains in their Australian Museum today. These two British constructed RAF operational WWII bombers have been preserved and painted correctly for the education of all future British and Australian citizens.

Today our modern Canadian historians tend to only glorify the Canadians who won awards, or lost their lives during combat, and forget about the ones killed in training accidents. No. 419 [Moose] Squadron lost three Lancaster aircraft and twenty-one aircrew members in accidents. On 24 November 1944, Lancaster KB785 [Y-Yoke} took off [14:20 hrs.] on a normal night time practice bombing exercise to the Bradbury bombing Range. At around 18:20 hrs the NCO at the Bradbury Range heard the engines of the approaching Canadian bomber, then saw a great flash in the night sky, followed by silence. At first light the bodies of the seven Canadians were recovered from the crash site. [RCAF image from Vince Elmer collection]

In Canada, our modern RCAF, [really the taxpayers] owns the two Canadian constructed Avro Lancaster Mk. X bombers, both of which flew operational sorties under RAF Bomber Command during WWII. Sadly, our modern day RCAF has done what the German Luftwaffe could not complete during WWII, they have destroyed both of ‘our’ rare original combat bombers.

When KB882 is painted in her postwar colors, all Canadians have lost a rare original aircraft from our World War Two RCAF history. In my attempt to keep a positive attitude, I am very pleased to see this Lancaster restored, placed indoors protected from the harsh Canadian weather, and yes, even correctly painted in her postwar colors. This will educate future Canadians, but most important is the fact this aircraft can still be restored back to her original rare WWII condition, if smarter RCAF historians [bureaucrats] later prevail at RCAF Trenton.

Fortunately for all Canadians, aviation historians, bureaucrats, and RCAF members, we have a second rare combat veteran Lancaster Mk. X, KB839, which flew twenty-six operations during WWII, and was constructed earlier than KB882. [To the average Canadian, this Lancaster survivor would be equal to the most famous American B-17 Memphis Belle]

This Lancaster was the 139th Mk. X bomber built at Malton, Ontario, serial KB839. Ferried to England in November 1944, she entered service with No. 419 Squadron in January 1945, receiving the code letters VR-D [Dog]. After her first operation was completed to Stuttgart, Germany, on 28/29 January 1945, she was given the name “Daisy” and the nose art painting of a popular comic strip dog in Blondie.

The complete history of the RCAF’s oldest and rarest surviving WWII Lancaster bomber was published in August 2005 by Col [Retired] Herb Ernest Smale, and the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, Nova Scotia, and I have one personnel signed copy. Herb Smale, age 90 years, passed away on 19 February 2019, an RCAF veteran, ex-Commanding Officer, and a trusted true aviation friend.

During Herb’s Lancaster research, a full scale nose art painting of “Daisy” was completed by the author on original Lancaster skin from the museum at Nanton Alberta, and donated to the Greenwood Museum, to preserve the history of our most famous WWII Canadian Lancaster Mk. X aircraft. The crew of pilot F/L Peter Tulk named KB839 “Daisy” and completed eight combat operations in ‘their’ bomber, including the return flight to Canada where they arrived on 10 June 1945. The following No. 419 [Moose] Squadron Canadian Lancaster Mk. X bombers were flown to Canada, RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 10 to 16 June 1945. Eleven of these World War Two veteran aircraft [underlined] were flown to No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce, Alberta, between 8 and 9 September 1945, part of the first thirty bombers ferried west for long-term storage.

The little dog “Daisy” in the comic strip Blondie for 1944.

VR-A KB841 F/L F.G. Dawson 10 June 1945
VR-B KB721 “Linden Rose” F/O J. W. Smith 10 June 1945
VR-C KB881 “Chopper” F/L G. L. Smith 10 June 1945

VR-D KB839 “Daisy” F/L P. H. Tulk 10 June 1945

RCAF Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, June 1945

VR-E KB865 F/L E.G. Peters 12 June 1945
VR-F KB783 P/O D.G. Brown 10 June 1945
VR-G KB733 “Goofy” P/O D.E. Rickerts 16 June 1945
VR-I KB878 F/L B.A. Nichols 10 June 1945
VR-K KB884 S/L D.B. Hunter 10 June 1945
VR-M KB889 P/O D.W. Laubman 10 June 1945
VR-N KB857 F/L C. J. Widdicomb 10 June 1945
VR-O KB748 “Lady Oboe” F/L W.G. Manning 10 June 1945
VR-P KB892 S/L J. W. Watts 10 June 1945
VR-Q KB921 “Queen of the Swamp II F/L B. P. Wickham 10 June 1945
VR-R KB772 “Ropey” F/O R.E. Chambers 10 June 1945
VR-S KB746 “Sierra Sue” F/L J. E. Short 13 June 1945
VR-T KB854 “She’s Trudy Terrific” P/O D. R. Cushman 10 June 1945
VR-U KB823 “Lily Marlene” P/O J. C. MacNeil 12 June 1945
VR-W KB851 “The Captain’s Baby” W/C M. E. Ferguson 10 June 1945
VR-X KB732 “X-Terminator” F/L D. B. Lambroughton 10 June 1945

KB839, “Daisy” was flown from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, by ferry crew #5, S/L J. F. Thomas # J7975, departing 8 September 1945 and arriving at Pearce, Alberta, the following day. In the next few days she was photographed by LAC Ray Wise, and became part of his nose art collection. Today we only have these photos and the history book by Herb Smale, to preserve and educate future Canadians on the RCAF WWII past of Lancaster Mk. X “Daisy.” That simply means very few Canadians will learn the true history of our most famous Lancaster X bomber.

These two images were taken by Ray Wise at Pearce, Alberta, and clearly capture the wartime nose art painting of the little dog Daisy, and her pups, from the comic strip named “Blondie.” This is Canada’s oldest surviving original combat flown WWII Lancaster Mk. X bomber; however, she has never been honored or painted in her correct RCAF markings or nose art from the Second World War. This veteran WWII RCAF aircraft KB839 has been stripped of paint and repainted four different times, and now she wears the colors of a British built Lancaster Mk. III aircraft, serial JB226, which means our original Canadian built Mk. X WWII bomber has become an RAF replica, which never flew in No. 6 [RCAF] Group of Bomber Command.

During her fourth restoration and repainting by the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, someone decided to paint “Daisy” in the markings of a British built Lancaster Mk. III, serial JB226, which flew with No. 405 [RCAF] Pathfinder Squadron. A copy from the original Operations Record Book appears above, giving all the required details of the crew who were shot down on 17/18 November 1943. Much more can be found on the Internet in regards to why our rarest Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X was painted as a replica British Mk. III constructed aircraft. This airframe is still the oldest original RCAF Lancaster Mk. X in the world, which flew combat operations for the RAF during WWII, and carried the name “Daisy.”

Our RCAF history can never be changed with a new paint job, code letters, or a replica British serial, but our RCAF still try. Why senior RCAF officers and aviation historians allowed this to take place is very alarming, however, the most important task is the protection and preservation of this rare Canadian Mk. X built airframe for possible future correct RCAF historical restoration.

Do professional Canadian aviation historians even understand what the RCAF have done?

Thanks to our modern thinking RCAF, “Daisy” is now the only Canadian constructed Lancaster Mk. X in the world which flew combat operations during WWII, and it sits outside at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, painted as a British built RAF bomber. Will “Daisy” be lost forever, just like our Avro Arrows? No. 6 [RCAF] Group was “Canadian” and our RCAF Museums should be telling our history and preserving our Canadian built Lancaster Nose Art not British.

No. 6 [RCAF] Bomber Group was unique in that it was designed and composed completely of Canadian squadrons. By April 1945, nine RCAF squadrons were flying the four-engine Lancaster bomber, five of these were equipped with the Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft. With the end of the war in Europe, No. 419 [Moose] Squadron had flown the most Lancaster Mk. X operations and more sorties than any other RCAF Lancaster Squadron. For that reason, the surviving Lancaster aircraft in No. 419 Squadron had claimed many impressive Canadian achievements and carried some historical nose art paintings. They were coming back to Canada, and after the surrender of Japan, would never drop bombs or fly in anger again.

LAC Ray Wise captured many of No. 419 Squadrons most famous Lancaster nose art images at Pearce, Alberta, knowing this was possibly their final flight. Raymond was proud of serving in the RCAF and justly very proud of what these Canadian constructed bombers had done to bring peace to our world.

This RCAF photo PL43722 has been published many times showing our most famous Canadian Lancaster Mk. X, serial KB732, VR-X for “X-Terminator. This was taken just minutes before her last 84th operation as A.V.M. C.M. McEwen, CB, MC, DFC, and Bar chats with two of her aircrew. Far left is Group Commander H. B. Godwin, A/C C.R. Dunlap, F/Sgt. D.R. McTaggart rear-gunner, the AVM, and the pilot F/L Barney Wickham.
“X-Terminator” departed for Canada with pilot F/L D.B. Lambroughton at her controls, landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 10 June 1945 and departing for Calgary, Alberta, on 8 September 1945, with ferry crew #23 F/O W.A. Herboanke J85688. Replica life-size nose art hangs in Canada’s Bomber Command Museum, Nanton, Alberta.

Correct nose art markings early May 1945.

Ray Wise photo of LAC Wyers, Cpl. Edge and LAC Cook standing in front of Canada’s most famous WWII Lancaster Mk. X bomber, KB732, X-Terminator at Pearce, Alberta, 10 September 1945. After shooting down two German night-fighters and surviving 84 combat operations over Germany, she will be flown to North Calgary [ex-RAF hangars] and placed into long-term storage. On 15 May 1948, this veteran bomber will be unceremoniously scrapped without any thought by Canadian authorities, and out most important RCAF Lancaster Mk. X history has just slipped away.

One older veteran Lancaster in No. 428 Squadron was KB747, NA-X [72 Ops.] “Madam X.” On landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1945, she ran off the runway. Pilot F/O E.T. Lewis from Turner Valley, Alberta, took some heat from his fellow pilots.

Madam X arrived at Pearce, Alberta, 13 September 1945, pulled from storage on 19 January 1948 and scrapped. Full history and images are found on my Blog, “Preserving the Past” #1. The replica scale nose art painting of “Madam X” [on Nanton Lancaster skin] can be seen in the Military Museums of Calgary, No. 6 RCAF Group, Historical section.

A second veteran bomber flying 72 operations in No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron was KB760, NA-P [P for Panic] landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 12 June 1945.

Under an arrangement between the RCAF High Command and the Victory Aircraft Ltd. in Malton [Toronto], Ontario, KB760 was flown to the plant where she was constructed, so the 10,000 employees could see one of their own surviving combat flown bombers. The above image was taken at Malton, Ontario, on 13 June 1945, as Flying Officer R.L. Boyle points to the 72 bombs on her nose.

The starboard nose art “P” for Panic in large red letters with white trim. Image from collection of original Calgary pilot F/O Jack Carter J22971, August 1944.

KB760 was selected due to the fact she was a veteran Canadian Lancaster Mk. X and carried original WWII impressive nose, fuselage, and tail gunner combat flown RCAF markings.

Original KB760 fuselage door and rear gun markings from pilot F/O Jack Carter collection.

On arrival at Malton airport, the crew posed for this image. Left to right are F/O D.A. Matheson, F/O D.F. Moore, W/O D.A. McAmmond, F/O R.J. Foord, F/L D.W. Irvine, Sgt. E. Jenner, and in the doorway is pilot F/O R.L. Boyle. Four days later the crew returned to Yarmouth, and went their different ways on 30 days leave. On 8 September, ferry crew #19, F/L D.F. Verden J24596, flew KB760 to Pearce, Alberta, arriving the following day.

The Ray Wise nose art collection contains three photos of KB760, this one with Cpl. Edge in the cockpit running each engine, which now have red spinners.

LAC Wyers in the cockpit of KB760 and behind is Lancaster NA-F “Fearless Fox” KB891.

Both of these veteran Lancaster Mk. X bombers were disposed of by RCAF on 16 January 1947. I believe they were purchased by farmer Albert Hoving of High River, Alberta, sold to the Found Brothers and used for spare parts in the 1950s.

Today [2019] it is still possible to see a half-ass [incorrectly] painted replica of this Lancaster bomber painted on KB944 in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Canada. In 1962, a pilot named Lynn Garrison of Calgary, Alberta, began collecting aircraft for “Canada’s Flying Aviation Museum” something like Vintage Wings of Canada is today. This caused a bit of a stir in Ottawa, both political and in the RCAF, and plans soon developed to form the National Aeronautical Collection based in old RCAF hangars at Rockcliffe, Ontario. In 1965, they began a search for an old KB series Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X bomber which flew in combat operations during WWII. It was soon discovered the Canadian Government had scrapped and destroyed all of the most famous veteran bombers which had been parked at Pearce, Alberta, in September 1945. Then someone found KB994, which was ready to be scrapped at RCAF Station Mountain View, Ontario. This Lancaster had never flown operations in WWII but it was from the KB series and could be painted as a replica to look like a famous WWII RCAF bomber. In 1967, KB994 was incorrectly painted with bombs and a smaller image of the famous RAF cartoon pilot P/O Percy Prune. The other markings [fuselage, tail, P for Panic] on the bomber were never painted, including the pilot words – “The Lover, Loin Me, and The Kiss Kid.” When I interviewed pilot Jack Carter he explained this was an adult joke painted by his ground crew, in referenced to him being a poor pilot and being gay. Of course Jack was neither, being a top qualified pilot with hundreds of hours as a bomber flying instructor before he began his tour of operations.

If you wish to read the complete history of Lancaster KB760 [and KB944] it is found on my Blog, Preserving the Past, #1.

No. 419 [Moose] Squadron flew the first [more than one aircraft] Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X bomber operations on 27 April 1944, to Montzen, Germany, where eight attacked with five Halifax bombers. KB706 [A], KB701 [B], KB711 [C], KB716 [D], KB712 [L], KB719 [T], KB728 [V], and KB713 [X]. This became a No. 6 [RCAF] Group first which is noted in their Daily Operations Record Book.

KB733 arrived with the squadron a few weeks later and received code letters VR-G [G for Goofy]. LAC R. J. Rutz from Hanna, Alberta, painted the new nose art of “Goofy” on the Lancaster and she flew her first operation on 24/25 May 1944 to Aachen-Roth Erde, Germany. Using his bomb stencil, LAC Rutz paints her first bomb tally, and sixty-nine more will appear, the fourth most operations flown by a Canadian Lancaster during WWII.

Goofy arrived at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 16 June 1945, and her serial number never appears with the Lancaster aircraft ferried to Alberta in September 1945. Goofy was assigned as an RCAF instructional airframe [#A450] and flown to Camp Borden, Ontario, 28 September 1945.

KB733 was struck off charge by the RCAF on 18 May 1948, and scrapped without saving her nose art. Goofy was the third oldest surviving RCAF Lancaster that flew in WWII, destroyed and forgotten by the passage of time. The oldest Lancaster Mk. X to return to Canada was KB721, a sister-ship coded VR-B [50 operations] with the nose art name “Linden Rose.”

VR-B “Linden Rose” at RCAF Aylmer, Ontario, used for postwar instructional airframe #A448, 29 September 1945 until 25 November 1948. Sold for scrap.

F/O J. W. Smith arrived with No. 419 Squadron on 6 February 1945, and flew his first operation in VR-J as second Dickie to F/O Griffith, target Duisberg, Germany. The following day he flew second Dickie with F/L Collard to Pforzheim, Germany. On 23 February, his crew flew VR-D to Mainz, Germany, followed by thirteen operations, the last on 16 April 1945, Lancaster VR-S. They flew their bomber “Linden Rose” on seven ops. and returned her to Canada 10 June 1945.

After surviving 50 trips over Germany, “Linden Rose” arrives at Yarmouth, N. S. 10 June 1945.

KB721 was struck off charge by RCAF 25 November 1948, sold to Mr. Cameron Logan at Scotland, Ontario, towed over-land from RCAF Aylmer and scrapped. Images from Lisa Sharp, the granddaughter of pilot F/O J. W. Smith J41159 [Smitty painted on cockpit] who flew his bomber on seven operations, 21 March until 16 April 1945. Below at Aylmer in 1948.

Today this airframe would be worth two million dollars or even more.

Left is Peter Whitfield, from Sarnia, Ontario, and right is Lisa Sharp, the granddaughter of Linden Rose pilot F/O W. J. Smith.
I first met Peter in the early days of the old Lancaster Museum at Nanton, Alberta. Each and every summer, Peter, and his wonderful parents would fly from Ontario, rent a motel room, and for the next two weeks arrived each morning to work on the restoration of the Alberta Lancaster bomber. Lisa flew as a ground crew member on Lancaster KB726 [FM213] the famous “Mynarski” bomber at Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton, for many years. Lisa inspected every part of the Lancaster bomber, making sure it was safe for the pilots to thrill the airshow crowds. These ‘average’ Canadians never receive a mention from our Canadian government, Senior RCAF Officers, or most of all the C.E.O.s, V.I.P.s and bureaucrats who get paid to run our Canadian Aviation Museums. Without these volunteers, many museums in Canada could not survive, and they volunteer their time and money to preserve our RCAF past. When Peter asked me to paint a replica nose art of “Linden Rose” on original Nanton Lancaster aircraft skin, I was honored to do so. RCAF nose art painted on original aircraft skin becomes a living memorial to a loved one who served or gave his life for Canada during WWII. Why can’t our modern RCAF museums understand that?

Our next veteran Lancaster was KB746, NA-S, named Sierra Sue, which appeared in my lead-in history of Pearce, surviving 68 operations over Europe.

This was followed by No. 419 VR-R [Ropey] KB772 which completed 64 operations. During my interview with ground crew LAC Delbert Todd, he informed me that the nose art name was never painted on the Lancaster during combat operations. Then to my surprise, Delbert showed me a photo showing VR-R without a name, taken in mid-May 1945 at Middleton-St.-George. The name Ropey was painted on her nose just a day or two before take-off on 31 May 1945. So, if you are researching a painting, or building a model of KB772 flying operations, don’t paint her with the name Ropey. KB772 never flew combat operations with a nose art name.

KB772 in mid-May 1945, being prepared for the trip to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 31 May 1945. The Lancaster has 64 bombs but no nose name when LAC Todd took this photo.

Arrival at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 10 June 1945, wearing name “Ropey.” Lisa Sharp image.

Ray Wise image taken 10 September 1945, at Pearce, Alberta. LAC Cook, Wyers, and Ray Wise.

Ropey was still at No. 102 R.E.M.S. Pearce for Christmas 1945, with a covering on her cold nose. It’s possible she never left the airfield, and was sold for scrap on 13 May 1947. Purchased by wealthy rancher Albert Hoving of High River for around $250. Re-sold to the Found Brothers from Malton, Ontario, for $800 in 1950, then re-sold by the Found Brothers back to the Canadian Government for $10,000 in 1951. Used by the RCAF for spare parts, airframe scrapped at Pearce grave-yard in mid-1950s. The found Brothers story will appear later in my history.

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron NA-Z “Zoomin’ Zombie” KB739 became the first RCAF “Ice Wagon”

No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron NA-Z, KB739, “Zoomin’ Zombie” completed her last and 56th operation on 25 April 1945, a sister ship of KB882 which today survives in Trenton, Ontario. The pilot was F/O D.W. Murray and the names of his crew are shown above. The return flight to Canada was completed by F/L C.W. Pratt and crew [photo] arriving at Yarmouth, N. S. on 8 June 1945.

After surviving 56 operations over Europe, this veteran Lancaster was one of 288 Canadian constructed bombers to return to Canada, and one of 121 selected for long-term storage at Pearce, Alberta, but she never made the flight. In the postwar era our Lancaster bombers would enjoy an entire new life in the RCAF, and over 100 would be renovated as Lancaster 10s with nine different designations. Most of the early postwar Lancaster aircraft were from the newer FM series which never flew operations during WWII, however many old veterans flew postwar and Zoomin’ Zombie KB739 became the very first. This veteran Ghost Squadron aircraft was taken on charge 12 June 1945, by RCAF Test and Development Establishment Flight at Rockcliffe, Ontario, and became the first unofficial named Rockcliffe “Ice Wagon.” On 5 July 1945, she began electric priming and alcohol de-icing wing testing, but the old warhorse kept breaking down and was unserviceable for many days, which delayed the de-icing test flights. She was replaced by KB961, [new aircraft which never flew operations]. She was flown to Edmonton, Alberta, taken on charge 5 December 1945, by RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment at Namao, Alberta, created on 1 October 1945, but her postwar career was short. In the harsh arctic winter conditions, the skin of Zombie would shrink an inch, her oil seals leaked, and the maintenance to keep her in the air was once again driving the RCAF ground crews crazy. She was placed into storage at Namao in early February 1946, then replaced by a newer Lancaster FM148 on 28 June 1946, and sent for scrapping in the summer of 1948. The postwar history of Canada’s first “Ice Wagon” was then forgotten and just lost with the passage of time.

In the mid-1990’s I featured a number of nose art displays at the then named Lancaster Museum in Nanton, Alberta. During a chat with a visitor named George Marks from Calgary, he mentioned he owned a Lancaster nose art negative and image print, which I could have if I wished. On a visit to George’s home in Calgary, I learned he was a professional photographer and had won a number of awards for his many photo images. In March 1948, George was taking photos around an RCAF storage yard in North Edmonton [RCAF Namao] and came across one RCAF Lancaster Mk. X fuselage which had been partly scrapped. George liked what he saw and snapped this one image, entered it in a photo contest, and walked away with first prize.

This is also a very prized RCAF historical photo which preserves the very last days of a proud RCAF combat veteran Lancaster KB739, NA-Z, from WWII.

For model aviation builders, [or aviation painters] it confirms this first postwar veteran bomber flew with RCAF Test and Development Est. Flight at Rockcliffe, Ontario, and then RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment, Namao, [North Edmonton] wearing her WWII camouflage markings and nose art. Her RCAF Namao replacement FM148 [never flew operations] arrived 28 June 1946, and the RCAF ground crew completely stripped her of all WWII camouflage, and repainted her with their own paint scheme, containing prewar RAF roundels. Another model builder’s one-of-a-kind postwar history making RCAF Lancaster.

This image should also be a “wake-up call” to Senior RCAF Officers, to the historical fact KB882, the sister Lancaster to “Zoomin’ Zombie” is at this moment being restored and painted in postwar markings. We [Canadians] only have one other original Lancaster Mk. X serial KB839, VR-D “Daisy” which flew in WWII. She sits outdoors at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, painted as a British built RAF Lancaster Mk. III. It appears our modern RCAF is destroying their past roots, and with it, all the men and women who died wearing a shoulder patch reading CANADA.

The replacement Lancaster at RCAF Rockcliffe for KB739 [Zoomin’ Zombie] became a new aircraft KB961, which was flown to England, but never assigned to any RCAF Squadron. On 26 May 1945, Lancaster KB961, was assigned to No. 405 [Vancouver] Squadron which were reassigned to No. 6 [RCAF] Group from British Pathfinder Squadron. KB961 was painted with code letters LQ-A, flown to Canada, and landed at RCAF Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 21 June 1945. Flown for storage at Pearce, Alberta, 23 September 1945.

The Canadian laboratories of the National Research Council in Ottawa, began research into the problems of aircraft propeller icing in February 1935. In the spring of 1939, the British requested that aircraft air-icing be conducted in Canada by the National Research Council, in collaboration with the RAF establishment at Farnborough, England. With the declaration of war, the two governments agreed the actual in-flight icing testing would be conducted by RCAF aircrews in Canada, using aircraft supplied by both Canada and England. On 6 September 1939, Test and Development Establishment Flight was formed at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, [Ottawa] Ontario, which included testing in many aspects of aviation. By the fall of 1944, the major problem of propeller icing had been solved with the development of an electric propeller de-icer, which was patented by the National Research Council, and came into worldwide use in the postwar years. The British Ministry of Aviation now requested a priority in conducting icing tests on four engine ferry aircraft over the Atlantic from Canada to England. This in-flight air-testing would be conducted by an American [lend-lease] aircraft PB4Y2 Privateer, the U. S. Navy designated RY3, serial number JT973. When the British flown RY3 arrived at Dorval, Quebec, in March 1945, RAF No. 45 Group Ferry Route to England was disbanded and this caused delays in obtaining the RAF bomber for in-flight ice testing. On 12 June 1945, RCAF Test and Development at Rockcliffe, applied for an RCAF Lancaster bomber to begin the ice testing, and veteran KB739 “Zoomin’ Zombie” was despatched to Ottawa from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, RCAF orders D/23/45. Modifications for flight wing spraying were completed on 27 June, and the first air test was conducted on 5 July 1945. The nose of the Lancaster was modified with a two-foot spray apparatus system which covered the propellers as well as the leading edge of the Lancaster wing with water, which turned to ice. The Lancaster soon earned the name “Ice Wagon” which would be later passed on to the British Liberator IX, serial JT937, in June 1946. Due to the old veteran Lancaster KB739 becoming unserviceable, the unit requested a newer model aircraft for testing and KB961 was selected from storage in Alberta, and flown to Rockcliffe, [Ottawa] Ontario, December 1945. After modification, [January 1946] the new Lancaster bomber began ice-testing for RCAF Test and Development Establishment, with a newly painted nose art featuring a large Raven flying into an ice storm.

KB961 “T & D Rockcliffe Lankie” began water droplet-testing in January 1946, and continued until June 1949, when she was replaced by Lancaster FM199. On 11 January 1946, the British Air Ministry agreed to continue the four-engine ice testing in co-operation with the RCAF Test and Development and lend-lease American RY3 aircraft serial JT973 arrived 24 April 1946. The first test was conducted 5 June 1946, and she was christened “The Rockcliffe Ice Wagon” with appropriate nose art of a “Godly Iceman.”

RY3 made her last ice-test 8 June 1948, flown to Trenton for disposal 1 December 1948, and scrapped 16 November 1949. North Star serial 17513 became the new “Ice Wagon” [December 1950] and the forgotten Lancaster KB961 was modified to a 10SR for Search and Rescue and served with No. 404 Squadron until 28 September 1955, then scrapped.

The Rockcliffe Ice Wagon was painted 5 June 1946, nose art by the very same clever RCAF artist who painted Lancaster KB961, [T & D Rockcliffe Lankie] however his name is unknown. For aviation historians, it should be recorded that RCAF Lancaster KB739, “Zoomin’ Zombie” became the very first Canadian four-engine [Ice Wagon] bomber to be modified and used for electric priming [propellers] and de-icing test flights by RCAF Test and Development at Rockcliffe, Ontario, beginning 5 July 1945. KB739 flew in her WWII markings, including her nose art, and she was the first RCAF test aircraft nicknamed “Ice Wagon.” The second ice wagon became Lancaster KB961, January 1946, which was painted by the RCAF artist in spring of 1946, conducting de-icing tests before the arrival of the American Liberator C. Mk. IX [U.S. Navy RY-3 #90021] 24 April 1946. The American Privateer became the best modified weather research aircraft and the show-piece for the RCAF in Ottawa, but the true facts show the aircraft was a disappointment. The British had only allotted ten per cent of test money for spare parts, and the RY-3 was an orphan, with inherited problems. Her motors were unreliable, gas tanks leaked, Pratt and Whitney Canada could not overhaul her engines, they did not have the equipment in Canada. Spare parts were impossible to find as the Americans had sent their RY-3’s to scrap yards. The RCAF aircrews disliked and distrusted the aircraft and her last flight was 8 June 1948. The last member of the American Liberator family vanished from RCAF history and Lancaster KB961 flew on until fall of 1955. Nose art has preserved this lost RCAF history.

The Moose nose art on KB799, the 100th Canadian built Mk. X Lancaster, dedicated to No. 419 [Moose] Squadron by the factory workers at Malton, Ontario. Shot down 14/15 January 1945, on her 29th operation to bomb Merseberg, Leuna synthetic oil complex, six of her crew survived as P.O.W.s. This most famous Lancaster code VR-W was replaced by KB851, flown by F/L A.G.R. Warner J12477 on 4/5 February 1945, when ninety-seven aircraft bombed Osterfield, Germany.

The third operation for KB851 took place on 13/14 February 1945, and the pilot was Wing Commander Malcolm Elroy Ferguson C1579. He served as Commanding Officer of No. 419 [Moose] Squadron from 26 January until 6 August 1945, and Lancaster KB851 became his “Baby” named after his baby daughter back home at 241 Shepard St. Sarnia, Ontario. The Wing Commander flew twenty operations in WWII [136:25 Hrs.] and eleven of those trips were in his Lancaster called “The Captain’s Baby.” On 10 June 1945, W/C Ferguson flew his “Baby” back to Canada landing at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, then proceeded on 35 days leave beginning 13 June 1945. With the end of the war [Japanese surrender] KB851 was flown to RCAF Station Delbert, Nova Scotia, on 8 September 1945 by Pilot Officer Connally, one hour and 2 minutes’ flight. Arrived at Pearce, Alberta, 23 September 1945, then placed into long-term storage.

KB851 was taken from storage in summer of 1951 and flown to Trenton, Ontario, then placed into storage with a number of other veteran Lancaster aircraft. In 1957, KB848 [ex-WWII veteran No. 428 Sqn. “Fightin’ Pappy”] and No. 419 veteran KB851 “The Captain’s Baby” were selected for conversion to carry and test the RCAF Ryan KDA-4 Firebee recoverable drones. They were ferried to Fairey Aviation in Nova Scotia, and configured to carry, launch, and film the drone test aircraft, becoming 10DC [Drone Carrier] Lancaster aircraft. RCAF image below.

During the restoration at Fairey Aviation, someone realized the WWII RCAF nose art from KB851 should be saved, and today the original is in storage at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. I saw it in 2004, and after over fifty years of research believe this is the only surviving RCAF Lancaster nose art from WWII. Miss Ferguson would be around 78 years of age today.

Today [2019] the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa have the original complete nose and cockpit of KB848, which flew 26 operations with No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron as NA-G. And across the street [figure of speech] at the War Museum in Ottawa, they have the original nose art from No. 419 [Moose] Squadron VR-W, “The Captain’s Baby” which flew 25 operations in WWII. These were the only two Lancaster aircraft to test the RCAF Ryan Firebee Drones, which continued until 1961. That is why they were saved, as someone at last understood they might be important to RCAF historical past. This is rare Canadian RCAF history, but our WWII historians and bureaucrats in Ottawa have to get ‘their’ heads together, digest, and display.

The very first southern Alberta wet snowfall began on 22 September 1945, and it came down all day long. This caused the delay of the arrival of the very last thirty Lancaster bombers from No. 405 and 408 Squadrons [No. 664 Wing] of Tiger Force. They arrived on 23 and 24 September and the total came to at least 121 veteran RCAF bombers delivered to Pearce from Nova Scotia. This image [below] was taken on 1 October 1945, when “Indian Summer” arrived and the snow was beginning to melt. The rows of Lancaster aircraft are slowly starting to decline in numbers as ferry pilots arrive to fly them to other RCAF Stations around southern Alberta.

When I interviewed Raymond Wise, he was very firm in the number of Lancaster bomber engines he started each and every morning, being from eighty-three aircraft. No. 102 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite, Pearce, Alberta, was formed 21 January 1945, and came under control of No. 1 R.E.M.U. in Lethbridge, Alberta. The Lethbridge Daily Diary gives the correct number of Lancaster bombers and date of arrival at Pearce.

Thirty Lancaster aircraft arrived on 8 and 9 September, [No. 419 and 428 Squadrons] followed by thirty more on 13 September, [No. 431 and 434 Squadrons] thirty-one arrived on 14 September [No. 420 and 425 Squadrons] and the last thirty arrived 23 September 1945, [No. 405 and 408 Squadrons]. At least 121 RCAF veteran World War Two Lancaster bombers were flown to Pearce, Alberta, where they remained for a few short weeks. RCAF ferry crews next arrived by Avro Anson and Boeing model 247D transport, then the bombers were flown to other RCAF Stations in Alberta, and placed into long-term storage.

Ray Wise photo mid-September 1945.

Ray Wise photographed this rare Boeing model 247D ferry crew transport aircraft at Pearce in September. The RCAF received eight of these aircraft beginning 18 June 1940, and two were assigned No. 121 Squadron Composite Unit at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, serial 7635 and 7636. Six other aircraft flew with No. 12 Communications Squadron, RCAF Rockcliffe, serial 7637, 7638, 7639, 7655, 7839, and 7840. Today one of these aircraft is preserved in our Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, ex-RCAF 7638, Boeing construction number 1699, registration NC13318, converted to a 247D aircraft for the RCAF on 13 July 1935. One of only four in the world, the Canadian 247D in Ottawa was donated in 1967, by an Alberta Oil Company. RCAF records show all eight were taken off strength by RCAF on 2 December 1942, yet here is one still flying at Pearce, Alberta, in September 1945. This could possibly be the one in the Ray Wise photo, if it was sold postwar to the Alberta Oil Company.

Ray also photographed one of the Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft used to fly in ferry crews for the Lancaster bombers. Serial FP770 she was taken on charge by RCAF on 8 October 1942, and off charge 22 September 1946, with total flying hours 1491:10. The tail markings showing this Anson possibly flew with No. 2 Air Training Command during her wartime training days.

This is Canadian built Mosquito KB428 at Pearce in late September 1945. Constructed 20 July 1944, taken on charge by RCAF 14 September 44, assigned to No. 1 Winter Experimental Training Flight at Gimli, Manitoba, where it flew until 22 September 1945. On 22 September, No. 1 W.E.T.F. was disbanded and reformed 1 October 1945, as Winter Experimental Establishment, at RCAF Namao, North Edmonton, Alberta. The Mosquito was flown at W.E.E. as a pilot trainer, and for winter testing, until her last test flight on 6 March 1946, then placed into storage at Namao. On 9 July 1946, Mosquito KB428 became an instructional airframe #A516, struck off charge by RCAF on 27 February 1950.

These two images came from Peter Whitfield collection and they show eight of seventeen Lancaster’s remained outdoors at Pearce December 1945. KB746 VR-S “Sierra Sue” arrived on 8 September and was still parked out in the winter cold four months later. The Daily Diary reports eight inches of snow fell on Pearce, Alberta, 10 December 1945, and that seems to match these two photos.

The last long-term storage of 120 Lancaster veteran bombers in Alberta was completed by the end of January 1946, and the hangar doors were locked.
In total seventeen known Lancaster aircraft were placed into long-term storage at Pearce, Alberta, and thirteen were RCAF WWII combat veterans.
KB746 No. 419 Squadron VR-S “Sierra Sue” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB757 No. 428 Squadron NA-C off charge 16 January 1947.
KB760 No. 428 Squadron NA-P “P for Panic” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB794 No. 428 Squadron NA-W off charge 16 January 1947.
KB843 No. 428 Squadron NA-D “Dolly” off charge 13 May 1947.
KB864 No. 428 Squadron NA-S “Sugar’s Blues” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB867 No. 428 Squadron NA-L “L for Lanky” off charge 15 April 1948.
KB881 No. 419 Squadron VR-C “Chopper” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB910 No. 420 Squadron PT-V “Virgin Vickie” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB916 No. 425 Squadron KW-C off charge 30 January 1952.
KB930 No. 425 Squadron KW-N “The Night Mare” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB932 No. 420 Squadron PT-O “Oozy Oscar” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB933 No. 420 Squadron PT-J “Jumpin’ Jupitor” off charge 16 January 1947.
KB940 No. 32 M.U. Postwar 10MR off charge 27 January 1948.
KB969 No. 5 M.U. Postwar 10BR off charge 16 January 1947.
KB982 No. 32 M.U. off charge 16 January 1947.
KB984 No. 32 M.U. Postwar 10BR off charge 16 January 1947.

In January 1947, the Canadian Liberal government decided the Lancaster veteran bombers were no longer needed and Crown War Assets were directed to sell them off to the public, along with spare parts and new Packard engines.

A wealthy Alberta rancher from High River saw the chance to make some easy cash, and purchased 44 old WWII Lancaster aircraft at $250 per airframe. Mr. Albert Hoving purchased fourteen Lancaster aircraft from Pearce, and another thirty which were flown to the abandoned airport at High River, Alberta. He planned to scrap the bombers and sell the aluminum for pots and pans, but the Soviet Union would change his plans. Twenty new American Packard Merlin engines in their containers, and tons of spare parts were also purchased from Crown War Assets and placed into storage at High River, Alberta.

In 1948, the two Found Brothers from Malton, Ontario, formed “Found Brothers Aviation” and began the design of a Canadian four-seat monoplane which was registered as Found FBA-1. By 1950, the Canadian Government realized they required a four-engine long range patrol aircraft to provide Soviet anti-submarine and maritime surveillance of the vast Canadian coastline. Suddenly the veteran Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X would enjoy an entire second life protecting Canada, but first the Canadian Government had to buy back the veteran bombers, engines, and spare parts they had sold [given away] just three years before. The Found Brothers received a Liberal party political leak of the buy-back scheme, obtained a line of credit from their local bank, and then hopped on a train for Calgary, Alberta. This story research was all received from Bud Found himself in a phone call and in letters I wrote to him in 1980s. The Found Brothers located fifty ex-Lancaster RCAF bombers in Alberta and purchased 49 at $800 to $1,000 per airframe, including the 44 owned by Albert Hoving and stored at Pearce and High River, Alberta. They also purchased twenty Packard Merlin engines and all the RCAF spare parts stored at High River. Original photo by Bud Found winter 1950, High River, Alberta.

The Found Brothers then re-sold the 49 Lancaster bombers back to the Canadian Government at market value of $10,000 per airframe. The twenty Packard engines and spare parts were also sold back to the Canadian Government at market value, and the found Brothers received a cheque for almost $600,000.00 Canadian dollars. The profit from this sale financed the production of twenty-six Found FBA-2C aircraft. The company went out of business in July 1968 and today one original Found FBA-2C can be found in our Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, but you won’t find this history beside it. Thanks to our Canadian government screw-up, the poor old taxpayer financed the Found Brothers twenty-six new bush planes, which never became an aviation success.

The RCAF was now left with the job of flying this collection of veteran bombers from Alberta back to Trenton, Ontario. These RCAF bombers had been sitting inside an RCAF hangar [or outside] in Alberta for four and one-half years, now they must be made airworthy.

Ferry trips to RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, and then on to Malton for modification was explained in emails received from ex-LAC Fred Monteith, pictured in the rear door of KB937, No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron PT-G, “Gallopin Gus” at No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, Alberta, 3 May 1951. Photo – F. Monteith.

This new Lancaster carried WWII nose art but she never flew operations during the war. KB937 arrived at Pearce, Alberta, 14 September 1945, and was placed into long-term storage at Claresholm, Alberta, until March 1951. KB937 was one of seventy-four Lancaster’s modified for a Maritime Reconnaissance/Patrol aircraft and flew until 2 June 1960.

Of the 288 Lancaster Mk. X’s which returned to Canada, over 100 would be modified to nine different versions for postwar service in the RCAF. Most [74] were modified as Mk. 10-MR for Maritime Reconnaissance duties, thirteen became Mk. 10-BR for Bomber Reconnaissance duties, eleven were modified to Mk. 10-P for Photo survey duties, eight became Search and Rescue aircraft, three became navigational trainers, one became the Orenda engine test aircraft and two became Mk. 10-DC for wing launch Firebee drones.
Beginning in 1946, the majority of Lancaster modifications came from the late production FM series of which only five were assigned to active RCAF squadrons in 1945. In the spring of 1951 [No. 404 squadron was formed] and they required many of the older veteran KB series Lancaster “X” aircraft for modification. The RCAF operational postwar use of the Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X’s fell into four main squadrons:
No. 404 based at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 30 April 1951, flew maritime reconnaissance duties until March 1955, then they began to convert to American Lockheed Neptune’s [March 55 to 1960].

No. 405 based at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, was formed on 31 March 1950 and flew maritime reconnaissance until March 1955, then converted to American Lockheed Neptune’s [March 55 to 1958].
No. 407 based at Comox, B. C., formed 1 July 1952, flew maritime reconnaissance until May 1958, then converted to American Neptune’s.
No. 408 formed at Rockcliffe, Ontario, 10 January 1949 for photographic duties until March 1964.
In February and March 1951, over one-hundred of the KB series Lancaster Mk. Xs were pulled from their long-term storage hangars in Alberta and prepared for the short flight to RCAF Station Fort McLeod, where all were given minor pre-fight maintenance.

This image shows KB972 No. 408 Squadron EQ-C “Cuddles” at Fort McLeod, Alberta and beside her is No. 420 Squadron PT-Q Lancaster KB901, which had been in long-term storage at Claresholm, Alberta.

Lancaster KB972 was originally assigned to No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron in England as NA-I, but the war ended before she could fly any operations. Re-assigned to No. 408 [Goose] Squadron for the return flight to Canada, 18 June 1945. The nose art was painted on the aircraft in early May 1945, at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, England, by LAC Robert Douglas Sneddon from Calgary, Alberta, an airframe mechanic. The original painting was a nude lady on a case of booze, however the padre told Robert ‘She’s going home, get some clothing on her.’ All of his 408 squadron nose art paintings were recorded by fellow ground crew member LAC Laverne Thomas Adam Shearer, including “Cuddles.” She arrived at Pearce, 24 September 1945, and went into long-term storage at Claresholm until February 1951. After flight inspection at Fort McLeod, she was flown [with wheels down for safety] to No. 10 Repair Depot at Calgary, Alberta, where Cuddles received major overhaul for the next long two-day flight to Trenton, Ontario.

LAC Fred Monteith was a RCAF wireless operator in newly formed No. 404 [MR] Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron at Greenwood, Nova Scotia. On the same day the squadron was formed, 30 April 1951, he was ordered to become part of a ferry crew that would fly the Lancaster Mk. Xs from Calgary, Alberta, to Trenton, Ontario. These new ferry aircrews boarded a Dakota [C-47] aircraft in Greenwood and departed for Calgary on 31 April 1951, arriving at No. 10 Repair Depot in Calgary on 2 May, and “Cuddles” was waiting there to greet him. Fred took her photo, and later was informed another ferry crew would fly her to Trenton. Cuddles was converted to a Lancaster 10 MR and assigned to No. 407 Squadron, but she never arrived, the Lancaster was destroyed by fire on 30 January 1952.

No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, 2 May 1951, “Cuddles” is ready for her last trip to Trenton, Ontario. In the background is No. 420 [Snowy Owl] PT-E, KB871 “Take Yer Time I’m Easy.”

The pilot of Fred Monteith’s crew received orders to fly WWII veteran KB937, ex-No. 420 [Snowy Owl] squadron PT-G, which still contained the original nose art of “Gallopin’ Gus”, and they departed Calgary for Trenton on 3 May 1951. Photo – F. Monteith.

The trip to Trenton took two days and the crew had no radio contact with ground airport control stations. Fred Monteith was stationed in the nose of the Lancaster and carried a small hand held radio, which had a very short range of two miles. They flew at whatever altitude the pilot picked, around 3,000 to 5,000 feet and followed the railway tracks to each major city, then for a short time made radio contact with the airport control tower. It took one day to reach the airport at Fort William [today Thunder Bay] and then on to Trenton where they arrived on 4 May 51. Next came another ferry crew which ferried the bombers to AVRO [Canada] Malton, Ontario, for modification and return to postwar service.

Fred Monteith flew as radio operator in six Lancaster Mk X’s ferry flights which were delivered to Trenton, the last on 14 June 1951. Mk X Lancasters delivered to RCAF Trenton follow.
KB937, [Gallopin’ “Gus” became 10 MP served with No. 2 [M] Operational Training Unit,]
KB966, [New- became 10 MR, went to No. 405 Squadron]
KB871, [Take Yer Time I’m Easy], 10 MR went to No. 407 Squadron, 15 September 52]
KB857, [Ex-419 VR-N, became 10 MR went to No. 407 Squadron]
KB992, [New 10 MR – 2nd to arrive No. 407 Squadron, 21 July 52]
KB958 [New 10 MR – 1st to arrive No. 407 Squadron 9 July 52].

After modification at “Victory Aircraft” in Malton, now called A.V. Roe Canada Ltd., or just AVRO Canada, they were delivered back to Trenton by ferry crews and then flown to the new RCAF Squadrons.

In total 53 “KB” series serial numbers were modified and served as Mk. 10 variants in the postwar years 1950-1964. The Lancaster 10 [MR] Maritime Reconnaissance model, was produced in the largest number [74] and twenty-three were old veteran aircraft that flew during WWII.

Serial numbers KB857, 865, 871, 875, 914, 919, 929, 934, 940, 945, 948, 955, 956, 960, 964, 966, 972, 974, 977, 992, 995, 997, and 999.

The Lancaster 10 [MP] Maritime Patrol model, had seventeen KB series veteran bombers. Serial numbers KB883, 890,892, 901, 903, 904, 920,925, 937, 943, 946, 949, 957, 958, 959, 973 and 996.

The Lancaster 10 [N] Navigational Trainer was modified and six were sent to RCAF Navigational School at Summerside, Prince Edward Island. Only two were Lancaster veterans KB826 and KB986.

The Lancaster 10 [DC] Drone Carrier, modified two veterans KB848 [nose and cockpit survives today] and KB851 [original nose art “The Captain’s Baby” survives today].
The Lancaster 10 [SR] Search and Rescue flew three KB series veterans which appear officially as KB801 [S] KB944 [S] and KB961 [SR]. Lancaster KB944 survives today in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, painted incorrectly as WWII veteran “P for Panic” KB760.

The Lancaster 10 [AR] Area Reconnaissance was conceived in March 1952, the major reason being the Canadian government concern over Russian ice stations at the North Pole and Soviet claim to sovereignty over the Canadian Arctic Islands. Three Lancaster 10 AR airframes were modified and two were WWII combat veterans KB839, and KB882. The third KB976 never flew operations. Today KB839 and KB882 are the only two surviving Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft which flew operations during World War Two.

The most obvious modification on the three Lancaster Mk. 10 [AR] aircraft became the 40 inch [101 cm] extension of the nose, which would house a AN/APS-42 navigational all-weather radar plus one camera. The aircraft would receive ten cameras, special electronic surveillance equipment plus an array of antennas and special long range fuel tanks in the old bomb bay.

Image from Herb Smale, KB839 “Daisy” flying in her postwar markings as MN839.

Image from Herb Smale shows the two most unique and important Canadian built Lancaster Mk X aircraft in the world today, as both survive. The top aircraft is ex-KB839 “Daisy” the most famous WWII Canadian built Lancaster to survive, with a total of 26 wartime operations flown from 28/29 January 1945 to 25 April 1945. The second is ex-KB882 which completed eleven operations between 12 March and 25 April 1945.
In March 1964, a “White Paper” was tabled in the House of Commons in Ottawa, P.M. Pierre Trudeau and his governing Liberal party were about to change Canada’s defence policy and the RCAF would become “Canadian Armed Forces.” In the same month and year, the Canadian built Lancaster 10 was retired from service with the RCAF. On 1 February 1968, the Canadian Forces Reorganization Act came into effect and the identity, records, and all RCAF achievements were laid to rest, the Royal Canadian Air Force was no more. The terms “Canadian Armed Forces” and “Canadian Forces” both became official and were painted on aircraft.

I have interviewed a good number of WWII RCAF veterans who retired with disgust over these actions from P.M. Trudeau and his governing Liberal party who destroyed our RCAF. Could the destruction of our last two WWII Lancaster aircraft be political?

The scrapping of Canada’s veteran KB series WWII combat flown bombers began in the mid-1950s and continued until only a few survived. From the total of 121 Lancaster Mk. X bombers flown to Pearce, Alberta, in September 1945, fifty-three would be modified and fly in the postwar era. By 1960, most of Canada’s veteran Lancaster bombers had been retired from service and scrapped. The RCAF in Ottawa failed to research, select for preservation, or protection, even one of their most famous veteran WWII bombers. Today [2019] Canada [as might be expected] has the largest collection of original Canadian built WWII Lancaster Mk. X aircraft in the world, with eight located in four provinces. Four in Ontario – KB882 [Trenton], KB944 [Ottawa], FM212 [Windsor], and the most famous in the world, FM213 flying in Hamilton. Alberta is next with two – FM136 in Calgary and FM159 in Nanton. Greenwood, Nova Scotia, has KB839 and Victoria, B.C. has FM104. From this handful of Lancaster survivors, only KB944 in Ottawa, was luckily found by our government in 1967, and donated to the present day Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Sadly, KB944 still remains a poorly researched and incorrectly painted replica for past fifty-plus years.

The other Canadian Lancaster bombers all survive thanks to chance, when they were purchased by caring Canadian civilians for $800 to $1,300 each. Every surviving Canadian RCAF Lancaster also has a history to tell in the correct or incorrect markings each was painted in over the past 55 to 60 years. In the total number of eight surviving Lancaster aircraft today in Canada, not one is painted in their ‘original’ wartime or postwar RCAF markings, and each aircraft is in fact a “replica” aircraft. This can be expected and understood because the majority of Canadian small aviation museums are run by civilian volunteers, farmers, teachers, ex-military, who depend on government handouts, auctions, poker-nights, etc. and cannot hire air historians to properly research, advise, and paint aircraft correctly. They find a war hero, paint their aircraft and that’s about it.

When you read the definition for “Original” it means present or existing from the beginning, first or earliest, the original owner of something. The synonyms are: authentic, genuine, actual, real, true, bona fide, veritable, not copied, kosher, or master. All of the KB series of Lancaster bombers fall under this definition, and if you display, repaint, historically record or copy wrongly, they then become a replica of another original Lancaster aircraft. The most embarrassing paint job of all our Canadian RCAF Lancaster bombers is found in our “Canadian Smithsonian” the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. These experts are highly paid; however, they can’t paint our RCAF veterans Lancaster aircraft correctly, not even in replica markings.

This half-painted ‘replica’ is not even close to the original in colors, location of art, or replica in size, and that is where the most foreign visitors meet our Canadian built Lancaster bomber. The RCAF veterans from WWII called her the ‘fake Lancaster’ long before Mr. Trump used the term.

FM100 to FM229 were constructed at Victory Aircraft, Malton, Ontario, from April to August 1945. The last seventy aircraft [FM230 to FM300] were cancelled when the war ended. Only one Canadian Avro Lincoln B Mk. XV was constructed.

Five of Canada’s eight surviving Lancaster aircraft came from the FM series [above] bombers which never flew operations during WWII, and yet today, four are painted as a replica of WWII original bombers. Only five FM series Lancaster aircraft were assigned to RCAF Squadrons at the end of WWII. FM110 [R], FM115 [Z], FM120 [J] and FM122 [L] were assigned to No. 405 Squadron on 26 May 1945, for return to Canada, and preparation for “Tiger Force” and the Pacific war against Japan. Only one Lancaster Mk. X, FM122 contained any known WWII nose art painting, which was painted for the coming air war against Japan.

FM122 was painted with nude nose art at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, England between 26 May to 15 June 1945. Canadian Lancaster Mk. X, code LQ-L was named “The Lady Love” by her ferry crew, and LAC Robert Sneddon from Calgary, Alberta, completed the nude lady and the fifty operations flown in a previous British built Lancaster III [Special]. The RCAF Pathfinder squadron never flew a British bomber with code letter “L.” The nose proudly displays a Maple Leaf for the fact they flew with British No. 8 [Pathfinder] Squadron at Gransden Lodge, Beds, from 19 April 1943 until 25 May 1945. No. 405 Squadron was re-assigned back to No. 6 [RCAF] Group on 26 May 1945, taking on charge eighteen Canadian built Mk, X bombers, and returned to Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 21 June 1945. [Serial KB961 [A], KB964 [B], KB997 [C], KB965 [D], KB977 [E], KB973 [F], KB991 [G], KB967 [H], FM120 [J], FM122 [L], KB700 [Q], FM110 [R], KB945 [T], KB949 [U], KB957 [W], KB952 [X], KB959 [Y], and FM115 [Z].

A good number of old Hawker Siddeley Canada photos record at least thirty Lancaster bombers from the FM series were flown to Malton, Ontario, where the wings were removed and the fuselage covered by protective tarps. That is mostly likely where “The Lady Love” found herself parked until 1949, when she was modified into a Mk. 10 [P] photographic reconnaissance and assigned to No. 408 Squadron. By Christmas 1950, No. 408 had taken over the entire photo survey and reconnaissance role in the Canadian Arctic north. The squadron soon became involved in a host of miscellaneous duties, transport, gathering Russian air samples, mercy flights, and even search and rescue in the far north. The aerial photo-mapping of Canada began on 20 May 1944, conducted by No. 7 [Photographic] Wing, No. 13 [Photo] Squadron, which was originally created as an RCAF wartime experimental photo flight squadron. In October 1945, No. 13 [P] Squadron received two old veteran WWII Lancaster bombers from storage at Pearce, Alberta, for photo testing, KB884 [ex-No. 419 Squadron] and KB917 [ex-No. 420 Squadron]. This testing resulted in an RCAF order [August 1946] for Avro Canada to modify Lancaster FM212 as the prototype 10P Photographic Reconnaissance four-engine aircraft. On 1 April 1947, No. 13 [P] Squadron became RCAF No. 413 Aerial Photo Squadron and FM212 arrived 4 June 47, air-tested 21 June, and C-1 auto pilot installed 2 July 1947. FM212 became the work-horse and major test station for the future mapping of Canada. On 1 January 1948, No. 413 Aerial Survey Squadron were flying six 10P aircraft, FM212, FM214, FM215, FM216, FM217, and FM218. No. 408 Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ontario, 10 January 1950, and was originally created to share the photo survey work with No. 413 Squadron. On 1 November 1950, No. 413 Aerial Survey was disbanded and No. 408 took over the photo/recon role. FM212 [today survives in Windsor, Ontario] was the first RCAF prototype 10P model, flying and mapping Canada from 3 July 1947 until the Lancaster was retired in 1964. Rare Canadian RCAF cultural aviation heritage history. For this very reason, the RCAF Senior Officers picked Lancaster FM212 to fly the very last official symbolic flight of a Lancaster Mk. X aircraft in Canada, 11 March 1964. Once again, another RCAF historic making aircraft was saved by civilians from the City of Windsor in 1964, however it has never been painted or displayed in its original correct heritage setting RCAF markings. Today it is being restored, preserved, and protected, [with very high professional workmanship] however it appears it will again be painted as a replica British built RAF Lancaster Mk. III, flying with No. 8 [Pathfinder] No. 405 Squadron. We already have one No. 405 Squadron British replica Lancaster Mk. III [Special] in Greenwood Military Aviation Museum painted on Canada’s most famous “ORIGINAL” combat flown Lancaster Mk. X, “Daisy” and a third British Lancaster replica at “Canada’s Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta.”


Aircraft restoration refers to the treatment procedures which will return an aircraft into a known or assumed original state, often using non-original material as replacement for damaged or missing parts. I am happy to report Canadian Lancaster restoration has today reached its highest peak, after sixty-five years of neglect and improper care of our eight surviving Canadian built Mk, X bombers. The second and clearly most important part of aircraft restoration is conservation, the profession devoted to the preservation of our “Canadian” cultural property for all future Canadians to see and become educated in our RCAF past. Conservation also includes stabilization, examination, and treatment intended to maintain the integrity of an original aircraft and prevent deterioration of the airframe body. Canada’s most famous surviving veteran WWII Lancaster Mk. X, “DAISY” KB839, remains out in the rain and snow at CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia, a military operated RCAF museum, where she was painted replica as a British RAF Lancaster Mk. III. How can these members wear a poppy on 11 November?

You would think [expect] one or two Senior RCAF Officers in Ottawa would want to save, and correctly paint this rare part of ‘their’ own roots, heritage, and veteran combat Lancaster which flew 26 combat operations in World War Two. No, silence of the lambs. While the RCAF in Nova Scotia have done an excellent job in destroying our last rare RCAF WWII Lancaster “Daisy” and not preserved Canadian culture history, the exact opposite is taking place on the west coast of Canada.

The history of Lancaster FM104 can be found on many websites and need not be repeated, most of all the City of Toronto rejection of their Lancaster Mk. X bomber. Thanks to the City of Toronto, a rare RCAF cultural gem has been saved and will be restored to flying condition by the B.C. Aviation Museum at North Saanich, British Columbia. Please go online and enjoy what is being preserved for all Canadians, and a very first for Canada. FM104 is the oldest surviving Canadian built Lancaster from the “FM” series, but much more important is the fact FM104 will become the only “ORIGINAL” flying Lancaster Mk. 10MR in the world, when restoration is completed. The B.C. Aviation Museum [volunteer civilians again] are restoring, preserving, and saving an RCAF cultural aircraft, which flew from CFB Comox, B.C., for twenty years. If you want to make a wise donation to save CANADIAN CULTURE, send a cheque to North Saanich, B.C., they know what they are doing.

At present time [2019] not one of our surviving other seven Canadian Lancaster aircraft are preserved and painted correctly in their ‘original’ RCAF markings, in fact the other seven bombers are all replica aircraft. I have no problem with painting replica aircraft provided they are painted correctly, and preserve “Canadian” culture. At present Canadians have four Lancaster Mk. X aircraft on display in Canada, and not one is correctly painted as a true replica aircraft. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. Their National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world and each one is painted in 100% correct markings. If our Canadian Museums want to become the best, you must please attempt to meet the standards set by the American Smithsonian Institution. Canadian museums still have a long, long, way to go in learning and painting their Lancaster aircraft correctly.

FM136 Calgary – painted replica incorrectly, RCAF for Ronnie Jenkins.

WL-O serial # KB-895, 434 Squadron. (Photo courtesy – Clarence Simonsen)

FM159 Nanton – painted replica RAF, wearing incorrect nose painting Victoria Cross.

FM212 Windsor – painted [unknown] replica RAF. Please don’t put that “Old Penny” on her nose, that’s not correct WWII replica.

FM213 Hamilton – painted replica RCAF, flies with original WWII centre-section. [Carries incorrect nose painting of Victoria Cross art]

KB839 Greenwood – painted replica correctly RAF [Canada’s most famous WWII combat veteran 26 operations] WWII Heritage destroyed by modern RCAF museum.

KB882 Trenton – under restoration, will be painted correctly as RCAF post war. [Canada’s second combat veteran WWII Lancaster, eleven operations] WWII Heritage destroyed by modern RCAF museum, and home of RCAF.

KB944 Ottawa – painted replica RCAF incorrectly for past fifty years. If painted properly, [King of the Air] would become an original RCAF Lancaster.

This history is dedicated to J24764 F/L Peter H. Tulk, pilot of KB839 “Daisy”

Rest in Peace Daisy