Monthly Archives: February 2020

Royal Air Force in Manitoba – No. 33 S.F.T.S. 1940 – 1944 (PDF version)

Research by Clarence Simonsen

No. 33 SFTS

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Text version without images

Royal Air Force in Manitoba – No. 33

S.F.T.S. 1940 – 1944

No. 33 S.F.T.S.

RAF Station Carberry, Manitoba

On 13 July 1940, the Canadian government was informed that the British RAF “wished” to move four complete service flying training schools for training in Canada. After conferring with Canadian Cabinet colleagues, the British High Commissioner and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Minister Hon. Charles Gavin [Chubby] Power decided that the movement of four schools to Canada could be accommodated. C.G. Power then further stated – If the British wished to transfer more training schools to Canada, more space for them could also be found, provided all costs would be borne by the United Kingdom. This opened the flood gates as the RAF now revised its original request to include eight service flying training schools, two air observer schools, one bombing and gunnery school, one air navigation school, one general reconnaissance school, and one torpedo bombing school.

The movement to Canada began on 29 August, when No. 7 SFTS from Peterborough sailed for Halifax, Canada. All numbers 31 and above were now reserved for the new arriving RAF schools and the re-designated No. 7 SFTS became No. 31 SFTS at Collins Bay, near Kingston, Ontario. On 5 September, the Battle of Britain delayed the RAF transfer of additional schools, however by October, the movement to Canada began in earnest. Four complete new schools were now in transit to Canada, including No. 33 SFTS, twin-engine pilot training, to be located at Carberry, Manitoba, in No. 2 Training Command of RCAF.

The British government made a special request that all movement of RAF schools to Canada be given no publicity. The message did not reach Winnipeg, and in route to their new Canadian home, the first echelon of thirty-five RAF Officers and forty-one NCOs with five hundred and ninety-three British lads received an enthusiastic welcome to Canada. These members of No. 33 were officially met by Air Commodore A.B. Shearer, RCAF Air Officer Commanding No. 2 Training Command, and No 112 Squadron Ladies Auxiliary providing a cheerful Manitoba reception for all. The RAF arrival news appeared in Canadian newspapers.

The official Coat of Arms of Manitoba was granted by King Edward VII in a Royal Warrant on 10 May 1905. The red cross was used by the Hudson’s Bay Company since the 1800s and the North American Plains Bison represents the aboriginal people of Manitoba, used on the Great Seal of Manitoba since 1870. The British Chester Herald in England received a request dated 8 February 1941, asking the Bison symbol be used in a new official RAF training school badge for No. 33 SFTS in Manitoba. The new official badge [title page] was completed in August 1941, and approved by the King.

This Manitoba land survey map was completed in 1962, a year after the old RAF base was purchased by Midwest Food Products [American Carnation Foods Ltd] showing the buildings [black] of the new French Fries food processing plant. On 10 September 2004, the assets of Midwest Food Products were purchased by McCain Foods and major construction of the plant has taken place since that date.  Today the six runways are long gone, and very little of the WWII RAF buildings era remains, possibly only two still stand. Others were sold to farmers in postwar and could survive but Canadians don’t really care. The R to L [west-east] railway was CPR and the north-south [top to bottom] was CNR. In 1940, the population of Carberry, Manitoba, was almost 900 people, about half the size of the above shown Town map image.

Relief Field Petrel was located eight miles north, a paved triangular pattern landing ground. Relief Field Oberon was located fifteen miles north, three grass runways formed in a triangle.

On 10 October 1939, it was agreed upon in Ottawa, that because of its airport construction experience, the Canadian Department of Transportation would undertake the initial selection of BCATP sites. Once a site was selected, it must be approved by the RCAF, who would then proceed with development and erection of selected buildings for proper training. On 24 January 1940, one-hundred and twenty tentatively selected sites for main aerodrome and relief landing fields had been submitted for RCAF approval. Pilot training schools required large areas [at the very least one-hundred square miles] where trainees would get practice flying a variety of aircraft over various types of terrain including large bodies of open water. The general plan of the Carberry airfield was designed in early 1940, constructed by a Winnipeg based construction company Carter-Halls-Aldinger, built for twin-engine bomber pilot service flying training school, however the runways were not constructed in the typical three single runways formed in a triangle. The airfield cost $850,000 [winning bid in 1940 dollars] being one of only a few originally designed and constructed in what was called “double-sided” with six parallel runways formed in a large triangle.

In 1907, William H. Carter, Frank E. Halls, and Albert H. Aldinger, established the Winnipeg based construction firm titled “Carter-Halls-Aldinger.” They constructed many historic buildings in Winnipeg, then moved west to construct even more important Canadian historic buildings. In Calgary they constructed the famous Hudson’s Bay Company store and an extension to the old Palliser Hotel. In 1920, they reconstructed the Banff Springs Hotel and an extension to the Chateau Lake Louise. In the spring of 1940, they received the government winning bid to build the new Royal Air Force flying training school at Carberry, Manitoba.

The runways were 100 feet [30 m] wide and 2,710 feet [826 m] to 2,850 feet [869 m] in length. This allowed more than one twin-engine Avro Anson aircraft to land or take off at the same time. Further north Lake Winnipeg proved the large body of open water for each pilot to navigate by both day and night, to fly on instruments, and handle the bomber in average situations. On 8 September 1942, pilots began armament [smoke-bomb] air exercises.

This free domain image was most likely taken after May 1943, when RAF Carberry had on strength a peak number of 118 to 121 Canadian Avro Anson Mk. II trainer aircraft. Sixty of these Anson can be seen on the ground. The official formation of No. 33 SFTS took place at RAF Station Wilmslow, England, between 20 – 24 November 1940.

The British RAF staff found five completed hangars, less heating, as the steam heating system had not been completed to the Drill Hall, Officer’s Quarters, or several other important buildings. The water supply came from temporary sources, which had a major effect on lavatory accommodation for the entire base. The British built Avro Anson Mk. I aircraft had not arrived, [1,368 would be sent by ship from England, then delivered to assigned stations by CPR or CNR railway from Halifax, Nova Scotia] and when they did arrive, each aircraft had to be reassembled by the maintenance ground crews before any training could begin. A very large number of these British built Anson Mk. I would be shipped to Canada without wings, another delay problem. The new aerodrome six runways consisted of compacted snow as the base had not received any snow blowing equipment for runway clearing. Tractors pulled heavy rollers compacting the snow into a hard icy surface several inches thick, making the runways available for winter landing and take off. It would be one full year before RCAF snow blowing equipment came into regular use at RAF Station Carberry. The RAF had originally planned on a production target of 540 fully service-trained pilots every six weeks, but that would be impossible for at least the next month or more. The students attended ground lectures and did drill day after day. The first Christmas in a new land arrived at the correct time.

Merry Christmas 1940

RCAF records indicate Anson Mk. I, serial N4938 was the first aircraft to be taken on strength by RAF Carberry, 14 October 1940, followed by N5162 on 22 October, and N5023, N5370, K8775, on 27 October 1940. These first five Mk. I trainer aircraft were most likely left on the CPR railway cars until make-shift heat was supplied at Hangar No. 2, allowing the first Anson aircraft assembly on 11 January 1941. The Daily Diary contains no serial number or arrival dates for the first five Anson Mk. I trainer aircraft or the date they were first test flown.

As the RCAF records below show Avro Anson MK. I serial N4938 was taken on strength at No. 33 RAF Carberry, Manitoba, 14 October 1941 and flew until replaced by Canadian built Anson Mk. II aircraft in mid-August 1942.  Struck off strength by RCAF on 9 February 1945, scrapped.

The Anson trainers continued to arrive in the New Year, serial numbers – N5357, N5362, N5370, N9529, N9547, N9549, N9555, N9559, N9566, N9572, N9604, N9640, N9644, N9651, N9665, N9670, N9675, N9688, N9715, N9719, N9724, N9728, N9746, N9750, N9752, N9779, N9786, N9779, N9820, N9845, N9851, N9888, N98912, N9894, N9901, and N9905.

British built Avro Anson Mk. I aircraft began to arrive by rail in large numbers in late January, and each aircraft trainer [two at a time] had to be reassembled in No. 2 Hangar, which was the only work area with steam heat. The above Daily Diary cartoon records the RAF maintenance ground crews at work. Possibly capturing more RAF truth than any wartime historian could ever describe.

On 6 January 1941, twenty-seven U/T [untrained] RAF pilots arrived, but no aircraft had been assembled for flying. On 26 January 1941, the second echelon of 26 officers, 8 senior NCOs and 256 airmen arrived at RAF Carberry. This included 56 U/T pilots, bringing the RAF total to one-hundred and twelve students waiting for flying training to begin. This disparity was partly solved on 29 January when the RAF arranged a loan of twelve Harvard [pilot trainers] from No. 32 SFTS at RAF Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, known serial numbers were – 2717, 2789, 2790, 2924, and 2926. The British RAF student feelings are expressed in the Daily Diary cartoon below. Class #1 and #2 mixed aircraft Harvard/Anson pilot training began 30 January 1941.

The old British built Anson Mk. Is were assembled and repainted in BCATP trainer yellow markings. Each RAF school in Canada had a different set of markings and RAF Carberry displayed a slightly different application of the yellow areas. The Anson aircraft remained in British Dark Earth and Dark Green camouflage on forward fuselage, upper wings and fixed areas of tail plane. The under surface was completely painted in trainer yellow, along with rear fuselage and inboard areas of upper wing surface. The blue/white/red roundels appeared in six positions, four on main wing and two on each side of fuselage. The RAF serial [numbers only] appeared in large black letters on each side of yellow painted fuselage. Two upper red lines appeared on each engine, possibly for inflight squadron identification.

On 22 February 1941, RAF Carberry had on strength eighteen Harvards and twenty-eight Anson Mk. I trainers. The Harvard trainers reached a total of thirty-four on strength and by mid-May 1941, they were being allocated to other RAF stations, 18 to Dauphin, 7 to Yorkton, 6 to Medicine Hat, 2 to Moose Jaw, and 1 to MacDonald.

Anson Mk. I trainers continue to arrive in March, April, and May 1941 – serials L7054, L7946, L9159, N5041, N5207, K6278, K6297, K6298, K6300, K6303, K8714, K8729, K8734, and K8751. When you read the Daily Diary it becomes clear the old British constructed Anson Mk. Is where a major problem to keep flying in Canada, due to lack of spare parts and many arriving without wings.  By the end of June 1941, RAF Carberry had on strength sixty-eight Ansons, however twenty-six of these aircraft were grounded waiting for spare parts. This situation would not be solved until 30 April 1943, when 110 Canadian-built Avro Anson Mk. IIs replaced all of the older British bombers at the bomber school. The Royal Air Force SFTS [bomber] was organized into three wings – headquarters, maintenance, and twin-engine pilot training. On average 68 new student pilots arrived every twenty-four days from England, and they were assigned to one of three flights in a squadron. The school operated two squadrons “A” and “B” with three flights in each squadron, originally composed of one new intermediate flight course and one advanced flight course close to graduation and presentation of their wings. The majority of RAF single-engine Harvard [fighter pilot] training took place in the western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, while the twin-engine bomber training took place from Carberry, Manitoba, eastwards to Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. Due to the shortage of twin-engine Avro Anson trainers, the first future RAF bomber pilots at Carberry received their service training in the more powerful Harvard trainer aircraft. Ground school training came first, which included armament, airmanship, airframes, engines, signals, day and night navigation, [over land and water] photography/reconnaissance, meteorology, and hours of Link trainer practice. The average student bomber pilot in 1940-41, received 75 hours flying time and 40 hours were solo [eight weeks training], soon this pilot training was extended to 100 hours and 50 hours solo, [twelve weeks] effective by the beginning of 1942. The majority of Anson pilot training at Carberry was RAF, however the RCAF were in total charge of all British training schools in Canada, and a few priority courses were conducted in summer of 1941. On 2 July 1941, course #15 graduated with 2 RAF, 2 American RCAF pilots, and 51 RCAF, [two killed 29 June 42] this was followed by a special course for new Americans who had joined the RCAF, 8 July 41, graduating fifteen American RCAF staff bomber pilots for bomber training in BCATP.

In August 1941, the official RAF badge for No. 33 SFTS was designed by the Chester Herald, College of Arms, approved and signed by the King. In December 1941, four copies were received by the unit, appearing in the January 1942, Daily Diary. The North American Plains Bison, which first appeared as a symbol in the 1870 Great Seal of Manitoba, was picked for the RAF training school unit badge. This same Bison symbol was officially granted in a Royal Warrant by King Edward VII, on 10 May 1905, and now it would fly on Avro Anson trainers in the RAF Manitoba.

By mid-March 1942, it appeared the Canadian winter was over, then on 25 March, with little warning, a three-day blizzard stuck southern Manitoba. These images were recorded in the Daily Diary showing the base control tower.

On 4 April spring at last arrived and the rapid thaw caused massive flooding, and again Anson flight training was cancelled. This image of hangar #4 [looking south] shows the extend of flooding, from the Daily Diary records. Course #36 delayed 300 hrs, course #52 delayed 100 hrs, course #48 delayed 600 hrs, and course #50 delayed 100 hrs. The drill hall [which never flooded] was always full of marching student pilots. 30 April 1942, Anson Mk. I trainers on strength totalled 55, unserviceable 37, due to parts and wet weather.

The first official Journal of RAF Carberry, appeared in June 1942, featuring the new official Manitoba Bison Badge. This was a high quality magazine, featuring all the station events, postings, and general wartime news, articles, photos, and art work. The Journal office was located in Hangar #1, which was constructed as a small half-size building, and possible used for administration duties rather than for aircraft maintenance. Caricatures of senior new arrivals [by artist J.H. Waterson] were a main feature, supplying an identity for the many NCO’s and officer’s faces arriving in Canada. This was the only British RAF quality magazine published in the Province of Manitoba during World War Two.

July 1942 – artist J. H. Waterson RAF.

August 1942 – artist J.H. Waterson RAF.

September 1942 – artist J.H. Waterson RAF.

In mid-August 1942, the first Canadian built Avro Anson Mk. II trainers begin to arrive at RAF No. 33 Carberry, and training hours begin to climb. By the end of the month the station had 20 new Anson Mk. II trainers on strength. Anson bombing training was about to begin for all student RAF pilots.

On 8 September 1942, seventeen new Anson Mk. II aircraft were fitted with bomb sites/bomb racks and the following day the first RAF Carberry pilot armament air bombing exercises began. It is believed the new bombing training took place over Lake Manitoba, however no location is given in the squadron Daily Diary. Possibly due to the new bombing routine a new repainting [trainer yellow] of the old British Anson Mk. I aircraft began [110 on strength] and now all Anson Mk. I and Mk. IIs received new nose markings with large black aircraft training numbers from #01 to #121. All Anson aircraft also received a new black stencil nose art marking featuring the RAF Bison official badge.

New Canadian built Anson aircraft received this new RAF Anson stencil nose art.

The rear fuselage large black aircraft serial numbers, six roundel locations, and fixed tail plane red, white and blue markings all remained the same. The only training number to appear in the Daily Dairy came on 14 March 1944, Anson Mk. II serial 11331 carried trainer number 25.

Now that new Canadian Anson Mk. II aircraft were arriving and training hours were increasing, good old “Mother Nature” decided to step in and cause more problems. Since their arrival at 12 noon on 8 December 1940, the RAF personnel had already experienced two Canadian blizzards, weeks of sub-zero -30 F winter conditions and now a Manitoba thunderstorm approached. Course #56 was scheduled to graduate in the afternoon of 10 September 1942, and receive their wings, special guests arrived, and then the clouds grew dark. In the next hour and a half, 2.2 inches of rain fell, again flooding the base. The Daily Diary records the extent of the hail storm, [over one inch in diameter] which damaged and grounded 52 Anson aircraft, from 130 on strength. The new “Gen” RAF station magazine cartoon gave some idea of the damage and clean-up required the following sunny morning.

Hail damage cartoon appeared in September issue of “Gen” magazine, –  J.H. Waterson.

Hail storms became another part of RAF pilot training in Canada. This No. 33 Carberry Anson Mk. I showing the extent of damage caused from flying into the September hail storm. The image also records the upper main wing triangle yellow marking with the two six-inch red stripes painted on top covering of each engine. Important for Anson Mk. I aircraft model builders.

Thanks to the hail damage, thirty-five new Anson Mk. II trainers arrived at RAF Carberry by the end of October 1942.

Still flying 70 old Mk. Is, while 65 new Anson Mk. II trainers have been taken on strength. The first Anson night-flying training began on 16 February 1941, and doubled by fall of 1942.

These first Canadian constructed Anson Mk. II aircraft were picked from a block assigned to No. 2 Training Command beginning with Anson serial number #8382, 8391, 8414, 8420, 8422, 8422, 8424, 8426, 8429, and onwards ending with #8649. The following two pages list the serial numbers beginning with #8426 and the ones marked yellow, [15] are confirmed from the Daily Diary records as being on charge to No. 33 SFTS at Carberry, Manitoba. The serial numbers marked No. 2 T.C. most likely served with the RAF at Carberry, which totals 44 more Ansons, for a grand total of 59 aircraft.

Avro Anson Mk. II RCAF serial #8426 to #8649 follows:

Other Anson Mk. IIs were assigned from the serial block FP712 to FP999, however only six of these aircraft can be confirmed from Daily Diary. FP755, FP775, FP764, FP787, FP902 and FP998.

More Anson II trainers came from the serial block JS151 to JS218, eleven are confirmed JS105, JS202, JS203, JS206, JS213, JS117, JS118, JS197, JS216, JS218, and JS216.

The final selection of Anson Mk. II aircraft came from serial block 11194, 11196, 11197, 11198, 11199, 11201, 11202, 11203, 11204 11205, 11213, 11215, 11219, 11269, 11270, 11271, 11272, 11277, 11278, 11279, 11280, 11283, 11284, 11285, 11286, 11287, 11288, 11290, 11313, 11318, 11319, 11322, 11331, 11332, 11322, 11332, 11342, 11343, 11468, 11469, 11470, 11471, 11561, 11562, 11563, 11564, 11565, 11566, 11567, 11568, 11569 and 11570.

The new Anson Mk. II aircraft [and old Mk. I] all carried a special RAF Bison stencil badge on each side of the aircraft nose, with large nose painted black training numbers, as seen below. The only training number listed in the Daily Diary was Anson Mk. II serial 11331, which arrived on 12 February 1943, and carried number 25 until the school closed 1 December 1944.

The Third Anniversary of No. 33 SFTS takes place on 17 December 1942.

On 31 December 1942, RAF Carberry have on strength British Anson Mk. I – 16 [all awaiting transfer] and new Canadian Anson Mk. II – 107. Course #64 graduates 52 bomber pilots and a very cold New Year 1943 arrives.

Once again “Mother Nature” decides to make a visit to the flying training school and cuts the flying time for student pilots. The Daily Dialy temperture for the month follows and very little flying takes place.

1 Jan. 43        -23 F   No flying

8 Jan 43         -21 F   No flying

9 Jan 43         -25 F   No flying

17 Jan 43       -36 F   No flying

18 Jan 43       -34 F   only five of 107 Ansons will even start.

20 Jan 43       -40 F   No flying

22 Jan 43       -18 F   1st solo flying begins.

23 Jan 43       -20 F   solo flying, very limited.

24 Jan 43       -19 F   4 inches of snow, runways closed.

25 Jan 43       -35 F   No flying

30 Jan 43       -16 F   solo flying at 08:55 hrs.

The Canadian built Avro Anson Mk. II with American built Jacobs engines would not operate in the cold Manitoba winter, and nothing could be done thanks to Mother Nature. A new revised issue of the station RAF journal magazine appeared in February 1943, originally published as an RAF journal in June 1942. The only British newspaper “Gen” published for the RAF in the Province of Manitoba, during WWII.

The new Gen publishing staff in February 1943.

1 April 1943, Course #70 graduated 46 pilots from intake of 63 trainees.

29 April 43, Course #72 graduated 47 pilots from intake of 60 trainees.

27 May 1943, Course #74 graduated 46 pilots from intake of 66, each student averaged 181 hours of flying training.

21 June 1943, two RCAF Officers and fifty other ranks of Fort Arthur Air Cadets arrived for two weeks’ RAF bomber pilot training.

24 June 1943, Course #76 graduated 45 pilots from intake of 69 trainees.

The peak strength of Canadian Anson Mk. II aircraft is reached in the month of July 1943, with 121 at the station.

The Canadian Avro Ansons level off with 118 on strength 30 September, from 119 on 30 June, and peak strength of 121 on 31 July 1943.

On 3 December 1943, four members are killed in the crash of Avro Anson Mk. II serial 8637.

This British built Avro Anson serial R9941 was taken on strength by RCAF on 11 September 1940, given serial #6083. Assigned to No. 1 Central Navigational School, Rivers, Manitoba, she came to her end on 10 June 1942. Twenty-four Anson trainers flew into a rain storm, three never came out.  Anson #6069 – four killed, Anson #6083, – four seriously injured, Anson #6377 – four injured. Even experienced RCAF pilots were being killed by Manitoba thunderstorms.

“New Year” – 1 January 1944, the station has on strength 118 Anson Mk. II aircraft, [89 are serviceable] and this on strength number will remain constant until August of the year.

18 January 44, fifty untrained RAF student pilots arrived and begin Course #100. 11 February 44, Course #90 graduates 39 pilots, intake was 67. 9 March 44, Course #92 graduates 49 pilots, intake was 71. A number of Australian pilots are arriving for training, and two are injured on 20 March 1944, flying in Anson #8459. The RAF pilot F/Sgt. R.W. McNeil [1804343] crash lands the trainer and Aus. #8776 LAC H.t. Rogers and Aus. #5695 LAC J.K. Mason are both injured and sent to hospital. 8 April 44, Course #94 graduates 58, intake was 81 students. 5 May 44, Course #96 graduates 59, intake was 61. The Avro Anson aircraft begin to leave and 88 are on strength by end of August. 13 September 1944, LAC W.B. Naylor [1685780] is on a solo cross-country flight in Anson FP988, and fails to return. He is found dead in his crashed Anson, [Kelly’s Farm, Crawford Park] the last and 27th young student to lose his life at No. 33 SFTS Carberry.

22 September 1944, Course #102 graduates 53, intake was 68 students. 19 October 44, Course #104 graduates 48, intake was 59 students. 16 November 1944, the last class Course #106 graduates 56, intake 66 students.

The last photos of the base are taken and appear in the Daily Diary for 31 September 1944.

No. 33 SFTS Carberry, Manitoba, trained 5,906 RAF bomber pilots, with 26 killed in accidents. On 30 October 1944, Relief Landing Ground at Oberon is closed.

The young future British pilots who graduated to bomber training at No. 33 SFTS were an average age twenty to twenty-two years. The British RAF [and Fleet Air Arm] trained 47,325 aircrew members in Canada during World War Two, and just over one-thousand never returned home to United Kingdom, they remain in burial sites across the vast sections of Canada. Thousands of others were seriously injured during training and returned home to suffer for the rest of their semi-normal lives, mostly forgotten by today’s historians. From March 1941, until January 1945, the RAF trained 22,135 pilots in Canada, however I can’t find the statistical count for total bomber pilots. No. 33 SFTS became the third RAF school to arrive in Canada, No. 31 SFTS Kingston, Ontario, arrived 7 October 1940, No. 32 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, arrived 9 December 1940, and No. 33 SFTS Carberry, arrived 26 December 1940. RAF Carberry completed 106 Courses, with an average of 50 bomber pilots graduating in each course, for a total of around 5,900 pilots returning to United Kingdom, and combat operations. Over half will be killed in combat operations.

The first No. 33 SFTS aircraft accident [Harvard] took place 3 February 1941, no injuries. The first ground accident at No. 33 SFTS Carberry took place on 18 May 1941, LAC #909800 A.C. Richardson struck by Anson spinning prop and was seriously injured in his spine and back. Four days later, 22 May, LAC #1258117 J.H. Baker walks into another Anson airscrew and his left arm was amputated in half a second.

29 June 1941, two RCAF pilots [Course #15] are training in Anson #6391, LAC #76623, Edward Charles Helmer [1st pilot] 26 years and LAC #4032 Donald Hugh Ross [2nd pilot] 22 years, lose control of their Anson in a turn, crash to the ground and explode in flames, five miles from Pleasant Point, Manitoba. Both Alberta born student pilots were due to graduate their wings in just three days. Special RCAF pilot bomber course #15 graduates 51 students on 2 July 1941.

Twenty-six British members of RAF No. 33 SFTS were killed during training at Carberry, Manitoba, all interned in Airmen’s section at Brandon Cemetery, Manitoba. Twenty-four RAF students were killed in aircraft accidents, eighteen in the Avro Anson trainer.

2 April 1941               Harvard                     LAC D.M. Livingston, [410404]

4 April 1941               Harvard #2926          LAC David Millis Wesley, 27 years. Crashed solo night-flying, died in hospital.

12 April 1941             Harvard #2717,         LAC Lawrence Walter Huge Lloyd, 20 years.

19 April 1941             Harvard #2924          LAC John Arthur Camp, 19 years.

19 April 1941             Harvard #2924          LAC Joseph Horace Giles, 20 years.

27 April 1941             Harvard #2790          LAC John George Permuth, 20 years.

20 July 1941              Drowning                  LAC H.J. Killner, fell out of boat at Birds Hill, Man.

16 August 1941         Anson #9670             LAC Leslie Richard Reader, 28 years.

13 September 1941   Anson #FP988          LAC W.B. Naylor, [1685780] 20 years.

19 February 1942     Anson #9607             F/O Desmond Pelham Watson, [42922] 23 years.

19 February 1942     Anson #9607             LAC Geoffrey Charles Wellings, [1087357] 20 years.

1 March 1942                        Anson Prop               LAC Kenneth Mark Townsend, [644744] 21 years, walked into Anson prop, died Brandon hospital, 28 September 1944.

19 October 1942        Anson #                     LAC John Arthur Woods, 21 years.

19 October 1942        Anson #8446             LAC Paul Ernest Sayer, 20 years.

19 October 1942        Anson #8446             LAC D.M. Watson, 19 years.

24 August 1943         Anson #JS197           F/Sgt. Antony William Ingram, [571510] 23 years.

24 August 1943         Anson #JS197           LAC Frank Robert Shorney, [1588744] 31 years.

3 December 1943      Anson #8637             LAC Timothy Gurney Whiteland, [1399640]

3 December 1943      Anson #8637             LAC Alastair Farquahar Blue, [1566934] 21 years.

3 December 1943      Anson #8637             LAC John Harold Bolsworth, [1800818] 19 years.

3 December 1943      Anson #8637             F/O John Francis Lee, [136860] 33 years.

17 February 1944     Hospital                      LAC R.A.P. Pott [1606291] pus in lungs, died from Pneumonia.

20 May 1944              Anson #8457             LAC Alan Ernest King [1587863] 19 years.

29 May 1944              Anson #8463             LAC Godfrey Neil Weightman [1584229] 21 years. Anson pilot crashed during take-off, Flying Instructor was thrown clear; F/O P.H.G. Spray was not injured in the crash, his student was killed instantly.

16 August 1944         Anson                          LAC William Davis [101425]

13 September 1944   Anson #FP988          LAC W.B. Naylor [1685780]

The last Cat. “A” flying accident takes place on 3 August 1944, LAC J. Rothwell [1625385] on solo flight in Anson JS216, lost control and bailed out.

All official flying training ends on 15 November 1944, when Course #106 completes their training. The next day No. 12 SFTS RCAF Brandon begin using Carberry as a relief landing ground.

Between 17 December 1944 and 1 January 1945, the rear party of RAF airmen dig a pit and bury all the British RAF inventory of No. 33 SFTS Carberry. It remains in the ground at the base today.

No. 3 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit RCAF Carberry is formed on 2 December 1944, under command of F/L R.A. Durkin RCAF. On 31 March 1945, the unit had 37 Lysander, 105 Bolingbroke, and 108 Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft in storage. The RCAF base records will close one year later, 31 March 1946. Today [2020] the land is owned by McCain Foods Canada, and each year they process 430 million pounds of Manitoba grown potatoes, most are turned into wholesome Canadian French Fries. Very few Canadians or aviation historians understand there is something else found in the ground at Carberry, Manitoba, and it’s not potatoes. It’s Royal Air Force Secret records and archives from WWII 1940 to 1944.

By late 1943, Britain had amassed an immense debt of around 20 billion pounds, as they had been forced into borrowing heavily in order to finance the war against Germany and the other Axis powers. Most of this debt was held by foreign countries, 4 billion owed to United States and 1.5 billion to Canada. Some of these loans would be forgiven [Canada wrote off 250 million owed for building the BCATP] while many [586 million to U.S.] would not be paid off until the 21st century. The final U.S. wartime loan would not be paid off until 31 December 2006, when 83 million U.S., the last loan payment from WWII, was paid in full to the American government.

In December 1943, the British government and Canada agreed that all RAF schools in Canada would be slowly closed as soon as possible, to save further U.K. debt. This joint government planning began in January 1944, and by November, all but two of the twenty-six RAF schools in Canada had been closed and the staff returned to Britain. The British could not afford to ship the large inventory of their 26 RAF Canadian training schools back to U.K., so they ordered it to be secretly placed in the ground and forgotten. To date not one has been found, because nobody knows they exist. The author not only proved they exist but he even found one in Alberta, Canada.


In 1983, the author began his own research into the six WWII Royal Air Force Schools which had been located in the Province of Alberta. Other than the RAF Daily Diary, on file in the archives at Ottawa, Canada, no WWII records of even one British school can be found in United Kingdom or in Canada. That was a big question mark, WHY? The answer to my question came in the summer of 1985, thanks to making contact with Mr. George Frost, the Chief Air-Engineer for the RAF at No. 32 EFTS located at Bowden, Alberta.

This RAF school officially closed on 8 September 1944, and Mr. Frost received his last two weeks pay cheque and the following instructions from the United Kingdom. As soon as the RAF training staff cleared the base, the rear party were instructed to bulldoze a deep pit [twenty feet in depth] and bury all of the British inventory in this pit, then cover it over and forget about it.

On 23 September 1944, a bulldozer dug the burial pit, in the remote north-west corner of the base, which was described as thirty feet in length and the width of the bulldozer blade. Over the next two days all of the RAF inventory, records, student exams, crash site photos, kitchen pots, pans, dishes, aircraft parts, two Red Indian motorcycles, uniforms, rifles, ammo, aircraft training aids, shovels, hammers, flying gear, flying boots, leather helmets, all the RAF ground crew tools, etc. were thrown into the pit and covered over.

After the first day of dumping, the pit was covered by sheets of plywood, and one foot of earth, to prevent any theft of RAF inventory by local Alberta farmers. In October 1944, the RCAF took over the base, then sold the property to the Alberta Government Corrections, where it became a boy’s reform school in 1974.

In 1982, the property was sold to the Federal Government of Canada and converted to a Canada Corrections Federal Prison. In 1994, I obtained permission from Mr. John Edwards, Commissioner of Corrections Service in Ottawa, to meet with the Bowden Warden [Mr. Mitch Kassen] and begin a search for the WWII secret burial pit.

Digs on this government property were conducted in October 1999, and June 2001, thanks to prison inmates and Corrections machinery supplied for the two dig searches.

In September 2005, I contacted Professor J.M. Maillol of the Earth Science Program of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Calgary. Professor Maillol and his wife agreed to donate a day to carry out a magnetic ground survey. [I had no money to pay them] This search was successful and the WWII burial pit was pinpointed by a dark blue rectangle on the computer earth color-coded screen scan.

I also interviewed the daughter of George Frost, who was in the burial pit at lunch time September 1944. When the two RAF guards went for lunch, this nine-year-old girl climbed into the open pit and recovered dishes and knives, which she has to this day.

The secret WWII burial “time-capsule” of the RAF in Canada was at last found and could be preserved in an aviation museum in Canada. A letter was drafted and sent to my Federal government in Ottawa. After allowing the author to search for the burial site [three times] and spending years of research, interviews, and my limited money, the answer came back – “NO.” This is the only RAF burial pit site located in all of Canada, however twenty-five other sites remain, mostly in remote privately owned abandoned training bases used by the British eighty years ago.

The complete World War Two time-capsule of No. 32 EFTS, Bowden, Alberta, remains in the far north-west corner of Correctional Service of Canada, Bowden Institution. Yet, thanks to our Canadian Government, these eighty-year-old artifacts might as well be on the Moon.

In 2006, Federal government permission to continue the dig at Bowden was turned down flat, “Permission can no longer be granted. Consultation with our legal services has an issue with uncertainty surrounding the ‘ownership’ issue and any artifacts in the ground are property of the Crown.”

For the past fourteen years, I have made repeated contact with two Alberta MLAs, RCAF Association, historical groups, Mike Potter of Vintage Wings of Canada, the Flight Hangar Museum of Calgary, Honorary Colonel John E. Melbourne, CD, and even the TV program “War Junk” in an attempt to save this RAF history for a museum. No reply, not one. The biggest disappointment came from my Airdrie M.P. Mr. Blake Richards, no reply after three face-to-face meetings. At age 76 years, the author has decided to pass on his quest to save British Royal Air Force time-capsule artifacts buried at Bowden, Alberta, Canada. I’m not very good at kissing political bums, and the people with the means, money, and political clout to assist just refuse to get involved.

The World War Two RAF Station Carberry, Manitoba, is another forgotten base with a secret burial pit, and it is only thirty miles from the BCATP Museum at Brandon, Manitoba. With the cooperation of the property owners, McCain Foods Canada, maybe the results in the Province of Manitoba could prove positive, unlike my home Province of Alberta.

Or maybe it’s just another lost cause?

No. 9 B&G Mont-Joli (PDF file)

Research by Clarence Simonsen 

No.9 B&G


The new Fairey Battle RAF medium day-bomber was constructed with all-metal stressed-skin, retractable landing gear, flaps, and a transparent canopy over the two cockpits. The first production Battle flew in early June 1937. It flew faster and carried double the bomb load of the Hawker Hind biplane it replaced, and by May 1939, seventeen RAF squadrons were equipped with Battles.

During five short weeks in the summer of 1940, [The Battle of France] hundreds of young men met their death flying in the Fairey Battle, which had no defence against the German fighters such as the Bf 109E fighter. On 10 May 1940, the German assault began and by 22 June, France accepted terms for an armistice, and three days later the war in France ceased. The RAF lost 959 aircraft, 200 were Fairey Battles. With the total failure of the Battle medium bomber during the German attack of the Low Countries, most of these RAF aircraft were turned over to flying training in the United Kingdom, and later 739 came to Canada.

On 21 August 1939, the first eight pre-war British Fairey Battle aircraft arrived by rail at RCAF Station Camp Borden, Ontario. The first seven aircraft were assembled, test flown, and delivered to RCAF Trenton, Ontario, on 3 and 4 September 1939. The seven Battle aircraft serial P2155, P2171, P2172, P2185, P2186, P2187, and P2196, would be used mainly for RCAF flying instruction only. In total twenty pre-war Fairey Battle aircraft would be taken on strength by the RCAF from 21 August to 2 November 1939.

Text version without the images

No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School,
Mont-Joli, Québec

This 1939 painting by Richard J. Treirthick appeared on the rear cover of the 20 May 1939, Royal Air Force Empire Air Day Official Flying Programme.

The new Fairey Battle RAF medium day-bomber was constructed with all-metal stressed-skin, retractable landing gear, flaps, and a transparent canopy over the two cockpits. The first production Battle flew in early June 1937. It flew faster and carried double the bomb load of the Hawker Hind biplane it replaced, and by May 1939, seventeen RAF squadrons were equipped with Battles.

During five short weeks in the summer of 1940, [The Battle of France] hundreds of young men met their death flying in the Fairey Battle, which had no defence against the German fighters such as the Bf 109E fighter. On 10 May 1940, the German assault began and by 22 June, France accepted terms for an armistice, and three days later the war in France ceased. The RAF lost 959 aircraft, 200 were Fairey Battles. With the total failure of the Battle medium bomber during the German attack of the Low Countries, most of these RAF aircraft were turned over to flying training in the United Kingdom, and later 739 came to Canada.

On 21 August 1939, the first eight pre-war British Fairey Battle aircraft arrived by rail at RCAF Station Camp Borden, Ontario. The first seven aircraft were assembled, test flown, and delivered to RCAF Trenton, Ontario, on 3 and 4 September 1939. The seven Battle aircraft serial P2155, P2171, P2172, P2185, P2186, P2187, and P2196, would be used mainly for RCAF flying instruction only. In total twenty pre-war Fairey Battle aircraft would be taken on strength by the RCAF from 21 August to 2 November 1939.

The first seven Fairey Battle aircraft with assigned RCAF serial number 21 August 1939

The RCAF list of twenty pre-war Fairey Battle aircraft which were purchased by Canada

Forty-Nine more Fairey Battle trainers would arrive in Canada and all were given RCAF serial numbers beginning with A51 and ending with A330. On 14 February 1935, the RCAF created an instructional register for all Canadian aircraft which were no longer fit for active service flying but still useful as a ground instructional aircraft, where airframe engine running could be practised. These instructional aircraft register all began with an “A” prefix followed by a numerical order. The first two Fairey Battle instructional airframes received by the RCAF were RAF #1314, which became Instructional A51 and RAF #1312 which became A52, both taken on charge by RCAF 20 September 1939. Battle RAF #1317 arrived on 3 November 1939 and became RCAF instruction airframe A56. Three more would arrive on 30 May 1940, instructional airframe A86, [ex-K7596] A87, [ex-L7636] and A88, [ex-L5089].

The RCAF instructional airframe serial numbers for Battle A86 to A125

The largest group of twelve Fairey Battle RCAF instructional airframes arrived in late 1940 and 1941, RCAF serial A132 to A187. A few of these instructional airframes were transferred by the RCAF back to flying status, from its original “A” state. It is almost impossible to identify these airframes, some which served with bombing and gunnery schools in the BCATP until 1945.

Battle RCAF instruction serial #A249 to A296

Battle RCAF serial #1601 to 1619

Battle RCAF serial #1620 to #1682

Battle RCAF serial # 1683 to 1745

Battle RCAF serial #1746 to 1808

Battle RCAF serial # 1809 to 1871

Battle RCAF serial #1872 to 1934

Battle RCAF serial #1935 to 1997

Battle RCAF serial # 1998 to 2060

Battle RCAF serial #2061 to 2123

Battle RCAF serial # 2124 to 2140

The RCAF expansion of bombing and gunnery schools began in early 1941, to meet the operational demands for more air bombers, navigators class “B”, wireless operator/air gunners and air gunners. No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mont-Joli, Québec, became one of the largest constructed [work beginning 8 September 1941] and was used exclusively to train air gunners after 19 July 1942, first class #22A of eighteen trainees arrived 15 December 1941. On the official opening day, 15 August 1942, the school had 1,021 RCAF training staff, 304 gunnery trainees, and flew 84 aircraft. Fifty-nine gunnery trainers were British built Fairey Battles, thirteen equipped for drogue towing and forty-six fitted with Bristol turrets for air-to-air test firing. The first six American Northrop Nomad Target Tow aircraft arrived 17 July, and four Hudson aircraft arrived for German U-Boat patrols. U-132 sank three freighters on 5 July off Cape Magdalen, one on the doorstep of Mont-Joli.

This map appeared in the official opening program on 15 August 1942
The Official badge and map was created by LAC Ross on 4 July 1942

Modern Flying Training comes to French Canada, Star Weekly 13 February 1943.

15 December 1941 was the early official opening of No. 9 B & G school for ground training only as they had no aircraft on strength. The first aircraft arrived on 21 December, RCAF Norseman #3524, followed by the first two Fairey Battle aircraft on 9 January 1941. One of these aircraft was Battle IT [Turret], RCAF serial 1311 [RAF #P2233] which had arrived by rail at Camp Borden on 21 August 1939. This aircraft had its air gunner training turret installed on 18 February 1943, and flew at Mont-Joli until 16 February 1945, a true veteran. The base strength as of 31 January 1942 was 41 Officers, 543 Airmen, 79 Trainees, 3 Army, 43 Civilians and one Can. Dental Corps officer. The Aircraft Strength was 2 Norseman, and fifteen Battles for training. The known Battle serial numbers were – 1311, 1625, 1635, 1640, 1644, 1668, 1670, 1780, 1794, 1993, 2022, and 2129. [Serials recorded in Daily Diary records] Until late 1941, RCAF air gunners were trained in the United Kingdom, and there was a deficiency of Canadians for RAF gunners.

The following souvenir booklet commemorating the official opening of No. 9 B & G School, Mont-Joli, Québec, at 2:30 pm 15 August 1942. Major General the Honorable Sir Eugene-Marie-Joseph Fiset, Kt., CMG, DSO, MD and the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Québec, officially opened the new school.

The first graduation of Air Gunners Course #24, took place 16 February 1942, 29 trainees graduated and received their Air Gunner Wings. The A/G course had been increased from four to eight and now twelve weeks.

No. 9 BGS first fatal aircraft crash, 19 May 1942

The two students were part of Wireless Air Gunners Course #30, which was due to graduate on 23 May 1942. The body of the American pilot was never found. The next day [20 May] six members of the class had their photo taken under a shark mouth Fairey Battle serial #1679, trainer #73, an aircraft they had most likely trained in.
Names L to R – LAC J.L.H. Gougeon
LAC A.C. Reay
LAC J.C.M. Brosseau
LAC F.G. Bourque
LAC D.W. Fraser
LAC J.E.J. St. Michel
Official RCAF photo PL8928.
Course WAG #30 graduated on 23 May 1942, seen below photo.

Two months before the Axis powers went to war against the United States, 8 December 1941, the Roosevelt administration began making plans for their country’s eventual involvement in the European war against Hitler. These secret plans involved the American forces joining the British in a major air offensive against Germany. On 28 January 1942, these plans took effect when the U.S. Eighth Air Force was officially activated at Savannah Army Air Base in Georgia. Moving a bomber force of this size to England required quantities of ordnance, fuel, lubricants, and parts. The northern aircraft ferry route began at Presque Island, Maine, then Goose Bay, Labrador, Bluie West 1, Greenland, Prestwick, Scotland, and United Kingdom. Suddenly, the American pilots of these bomber aircraft required thousands of aerial maps for Québec, Labrador, and Newfoundland. [Newfoundland and Labrador were still a self-governing colony under British rule, not part of Canada]

The 1st Photographic [Recon] Squadron of the USAAF was activated on 1 February 1940, re-designated the 1st Mapping Squadron on 13 January 1942. They had requested and received an official emblem created by Walt Disney artists on 3 October 1941.

On a blue disc bordered with yellow with white clouds, a flying Falcon “Butch” in dark brown, light brown and white feathers, with yellow feet and beak, wearing an aviator’s helmet, focusing on black and light blue trim aerial camera.

No. 1 Mapping Squadron flew two Lockheed Model 14 Hudson Mk. III aircraft. The Hudson was originally built in 1939 for the British Government as a military conversion of the Type 14 model transport aircraft. The Hudson Mk. III was designated as A-28 or A-29 by the U.S. Army Air Forces, and “A” flight had two converted to carry aerial mapping cameras, US serial 41-23383 and 41-23394. The image below was taken by RCAF aerial gunner in training, LAC Leonard E.J. Cote, from Pierre Lagacé collection. The American Hudson A-29B on the right was one of the aircraft which aerial mapped the Province of Québec and Newfoundland [Labrador] for five months in summer of 1942, based at Mont-Joli, Québec.

The Star Weekly issue for 5 July 1941 contained an article on RCAF aircraft Nose Art.

This posed image from Star Weekly was taken at the Federal Aircraft Ltd. plant in Montreal. The worker appears to be painting a nose art stencil of a Devil on an Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft, however very few Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft carried any form of RCAF nose art during WWII.

Eleven Canadian aircraft plants were originally entrusted to manufacture the components of the Canadian Avro Anson Mk. II aircraft. In June 1940, Federal Aircraft Ltd. [Wholly-owned Government of Canada Company] was formed to place this Avro Anson aircraft programme under one management and construction plant. The head office became 276 James Street West, Montreal, Québec. The Canadian Anson II was basically the English Anson modified with the installation of two 330 h.p. Jacobs L-6BM engines. Canada had purchased 2,300 engines from Jacobs Aircraft Company of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, at a cost of ten million dollars. The nose section was a Canadian moulded plastic-plywood aircraft front made by the Vidal process, with the first production aircraft flying in August 1941. Most of the Canadian production of the Anson II in 1942 were sent to pilot training schools in the BCATP. The RCAF navigator schools struggled alone with the old British Anson Mk. I, III and IV until 1943 when the Canadian Anson V began to appear. Beginning of 10 February 1942, sixteen new Canadian Avro Anson Mk. II trainers arrived at No. 9 B & G School, Mont-Joli, Québec, as bombing trainers.

In March 1942, Walt Disney artists created this insignia for the American 33rd Flying Training Wing, 68th Two-Engine Flying Training School at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas. This was a Texas flying training school for pilots who had advanced to two-engine aircraft, flying the B-25 Bomber. The Western Union stork first appeared in the 1941 movie “Dumbo” where he insisted on singing “Happy Birthday” to Mrs. Jumbo as he delivered her new baby Dumbo. Disney animator Art Babbitt created the stork and Dumbo went on to become the most affectionately characterized Disney movie of all time. This Disney insignia soon caught the eye of RCAF members in the BCATP training in Canada, which was ready made for the training duties being conducted by the Canadian built RCAF Avro Anson Mk. II bomber.

This Disney inspired nose art first appeared on the Avro Anson aircraft at No. 5 SFTS at Brantford, Ontario. In May 1942, sixteen Avro Anson Mk. II trainers at No. 9 B & G School received new markings featuring the same Disney Stork [below] inspired nose art insignia.

The new RCAF Avro Anson Mk. II bomber training aircraft received a diagonal red strip on the fuselage [50“wide] with white numbers beginning with #78 for RCAF serial 7111 and ending with #93 for serial 7130. Its unknown if Anson serial 7116 and 7117 were ever assigned to Mont-Joli, Québec, they do not appear on the Daily Diary records. The Disney stork insignia appeared on each bomber nose [possibly both sides] inside a 50” white disk. The first of four Anson bombing training exercises took place on the morning of 20 June 1942, however they would be short lived. On 19 July 1942, RCAF Command issued orders that no further Air Observer or Bombing Training would take place at No. 9 B & G School. From this date on No. 9 at Mont-Joli, would only train RCAF Air Gunners. On 16 September 1942, thirteen Canadian Federal-built Anson Mk. II aircraft were sold to the USAAF for testing at Wright Field, designated AT-20 aircraft. Eleven of these Anson’s had been on strength at No. 9 B & G at Mont-Joli, Québec, serial 7114, 7115, 7119, 7120, 7121, 7122, 7123, “7126” 7128, 7129, and 7130.

One of the Canadian built Anson’s as an American AT-20 with new serial and markings.

RCAF Official War Artist Sgt. Donald Kenneth Anderson [promoted to Sgt. 1 Feb. 1942] painted this Air Gunner in training beside his Fairey Battle I serial 1904, taken on strength by RCAF 21 April 1941. Beginning on 19 July 1942, No. 9 B & G School at Mont-Joli, Québec, was officially used exclusively for the twelve-week training of air gunners, painted by Sgt. Anderson in April 1942, for Star Weekly magazine in Toronto
The first class of eighteen air gunners arrived at No. 9 B & G on 15 December 1941, however the school was still under construction and had no aircraft on strength. The first two Courses [thirty-five trainees] #22A Air Gunners and #23 Wireless Air Gunners completed their ground training on 15 January 1942, then were posted to No. 6 B & G School at Mountain View, Ontario, to complete their flying training. The first Wings Parade at No. 9 B & G was Course #24 Air Gunners which graduated 29 students on 16 February 1942. This was followed by the first Air Observer Course #34, graduated 21 students on 28 February 1942. Each course originally lasted four weeks, was extended to eight, then to twelve weeks 19 July 1942.

1 March 42 Course #35 Air Observers graduated 29 trainees.
28 March 42 Course #36 Air Observers [20 students] and Course #26A Air Gunners [28 students] had a joint graduation ceremony.
11 April 42 A/G #38 graduated 32 students and WAG #27 graduated 29 students.
25 April 42 A/G #39 graduated 33 students and WAG #28 graduated 35 students.
9 May 42 A/G #40 graduated 29 and WAG #29 graduated 28 students.
23 May 42 A/G #41 graduated 23 and WAG #30 graduated 37 students.
26 June 42 WAG #32 graduated 32 students.
4 July 42 Air Observers #44 graduated 29 and WAG #33 graduated 31 students.
19 July 42 No. 9 B & G officially trained only Air Gunners beginning with Course #35A which graduated 34 students on 15 August 1942.

The school officially opened on 15 August 1942 and graduated 29 students from A/G Course # 36A on 25 August 1942. During the first eight months of operation No. 9 B & G School had managed to train 315 Air Gunners, 50 Air Observers, and 205 Wireless Air Gunners, while they were still under civilian construction. Now they prepared for full-time RCAF Air Gunner training [twelve weeks] with obsolete [originally French purchased] American built Nomad trainer aircraft which begin to arrive at Mont-Joli in late July.

In June 1940, the French government purchased 93 ex-USAAC Northrop A-17A ‘Nomad’ fighter planes but they were not delivered before the fall of France to Nazi Germany. The French government order was taken over by Great Britain and 32 of these aircraft were directed to Canada to be used for BCATP training. These aircraft were all taken on strength by the RCAF on 13 and 26 August 1940, with all assigned to No. 3 Training Command. In late July 1942, the first six RCAF Northrop Nomad aircraft arrived at No. 9 B & G School at Mont-Joli, and by the end of September they had received twenty of these obsolete old American fighters. The following serial numbers in yellow are known to have first flown at No. 9 B & G School, however by January 1943, Mont-Joli had on strength twenty-four Nomad trainers, which trained [towing Drogue Lines for twenty-months] until August 1944.

Nomad serial 3509 was converted to a Target Tow on 1 October 1941, and possibly delivered to No. 9 B & G with the first six arriving in late July 1942. This free domain image was from the aviation collection of Charles Daniels in B.C. Wearing her Mont-Joli trainer marking #60 she would tow drogue lines until 29 April 1943. The other nine Nomad aircraft [serial 3491, 3497, 3498, 3500, 3503, 3510, 3512, 3514, and 3521] flew at Camp Borden. Nomad 3491, 3503, 3512, and 3521 were all lost at Camp Borden, in early 1941, and 3521 was not found until 27 July 2010. This rare RCAF Nomad history and recovery can be found on many excellent websites.

This image taken by M/Cpl. Roy Maclelland appeared in the Globe and Mail newspaper on 30 October 2014, when Northrop Nomad RCAF 3521 came to the surface of Lake Muskoka in Ontario. A very rare part of RCAF WWII aviation history saved and preserved for future generations of Canadians. Only eight of these Nomad trainers remained at RCAF Camp Bordon, while the other twenty-four were all taken on strength at No. 9 B & G School Mont-Joli, Québec. Northrop Nomad #3506 had a Cat. “A” accident on 30 November 1942, and #3513 caught fire in mid-air and crew bailed-out on 9 May 1944. Pilot R168256, F/Sgt. C.A. Robertson was too low and his parachute failed to open, killed on impact. The old Nomad target tow trainers were all transferred from No. 9 B & G by mid-August 1944, they had done their job for Canada.

The old RCAF Northrop Nomad did her duty at Mont-Joli and managed to appear in a cartoon drawing for the December 1943 “First Issue” of local RCAF newsletter “Target.” As this cartoon suggests, flying a target towing Nomad was an unpopular assignment. The station had on strength 22 Nomad Drogue [Target Tow] aircraft on 31 December 1943. By October 1943, the base strength had grown to over 2,000 and A/G trainee’s strength from 600 to 800 students.

No. 9 B & G School had become the largest Air Gunners training base in the BCATP, with 5,394 air gunners training exercises completed in the month of August 1944. They had 75 Fairey Battle on strength and 17 in reserve storage. August was the first month they did not have on strength or fly any American Nomad Drogue aircraft.

No. 9 B & G flew the Nomad until August 1944, with peak aircraft on strength [23] for Nov. 1942, [23] for December 42, and [24] for January February and [22] for March 1943. The only RCAF School in the BCATP to train with twenty-four original French government purchased Nomad Target Tow trainers. The French connection you might say.
LAC Jacques Morin began his Air Gunner training at No. 9 Mont-Joli, Québec, in early January 1944, Class #74 which graduated on 6 April 1944. His training targets were towed by Nomad aircraft.

During his air gunner training LAC Morin had his photo taken on Fairey Battle #43 and in the background is #36. Both contain the same [nose art] of a Red Devil on cloud, holding a white bomb with his pitch-fork. Photo Sgt. Jacques Morin from Jacques Morin’s collection via Pierre Lagacé.

The last Course #100 to graduate 31 March 1945.

This shows how RCAF No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School divided each air gunner course into classes containing 14 – 15 students. It’s possible none of these graduates went overseas.
Beginning on 25 September 1942, No. 9 B & G School conducted 56 Air Gunners Courses, [#35B to #100] 31 March 1945, where they graduated 5,874 Air Gunner Wings. The first Flight/Engineer Air Gunner training began with Course #1 on 30 December 1942, and 29 Courses were conducted until 29 June 1944, Course #35, graduating Wings to 573 RCAF Flight/Engineers.
The RCAF operated ten Bombing and Gunnery Schools in Canada during WWII [plus RAF No. 31 B & G at Picton, Ontario, which trained 1,392 British gunners] and trained a total of 12,917 RCAF Air Gunners. They also trained 244 RAAF and 443 RNZAF gunners. No. 9 B & G trained a total of 6,189 Air Gunners or almost half the total Wings who graduated from RCAF schools. In total 1,913 Flight Engineers were trained in Canada, with 573 receiving their Wings at No. 9 B & G School. They also graduated 50 Air Observers, [ended October 1942] and 205 Wireless Air Gunners. In over-all total, No. 9 B & G School graduated a total of 6,444 Air Gunners Wings from 15 December 1941 [Class 22A] until 31 March 1945 [Class #100].

No. 9 BGS at Mont-Joli, Québec was designed and constructed as the largest air gunner’s training school and used exclusively for the twelve-week course designed for air gunners. It was a very sound training base which provided so many with as close as possible real experiences of air gunner’s combat.

More about No. 9 B&G Mont-Joli by Clarence Simonsen
8 May 1942
The Battle of the St. Lawrence began on 8 May 1942, when German U-553 slipped into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. During the early hours of 12 May, U-553 torpedoed and sank the freighter’s “Leto” and Nicoya” on the north Gaspe coast.

German U-132 entered the Cabot Strait on 30 June 1942, and in the twilight of 6 July 1942, fired torpedoes into two ships of convoy QS-15, and two hours later struck another ship in the same convoy. Two Fairey Battles took off on recon, very rare history.

Two Fairey Battles from No. 9 BGS were dispatched with two 250 lb bombs, and they did not even have radio equipment in the old trainers. This is the only known RCAF combat patrol carried out by the British Battle trainers in WWII.
In the next six weeks U-517 and U-165 would proceed into the Gulf and carry out the most successful German sinking’s of the war.

More about No. 9 B&G Mont-Joli by Pierre Lagacé
19 May 1942
These photos are courtesy of Mark Cote whose father Leonard E. J. Cote was an air gunner during World War Two.

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)
Chris Charland had added this information about the crash scene.
The accident record cards noted that the aircraft was on a gunnery exercise when it crashed at high speed and burned five miles south-west of St. Eluce, P.Q. Pilot Officer Halamka was originally declared missing and believed killed. He had a total of 30 hours dual and 105 hours solo on the Fairey Battle.
Then I got thinking five miles south-west of St.Eluce?
Salut Pierre – Lots of spelling mistakes on the accident records cards. St. Luce had no military affiliation during the Second World War according to ‘Abandoned Military Installations of Canada’ Volume 2 – Québec. It is a highly researched series by Ottawa-based Paul Ozorak. Worth the money if you can find a used copy.
St. Eluce was a typo of course, but five miles south-west of St.Luce would put the crash in the St. Lawrence River!
So I read the crash report again.

Farmer’s field in Ste. Flavie Parish!

That made more sense to pinpoint where the crash scene was photographed on May 19, 1942.

Category A
+ HALAMKA, P/O A.F. (Pilot)
+ ROOKE, Cpl C.J. – RCAF
Battle Mk. I
Ex RAF L5207.
Serving at No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mt.-Joli, PQ at time of crash.
first date: 22 July 1941
last date: 3 July 1942
Taken on strength
Struck off, after Category A crash on 19 May 1942

Accident report

About the pilot (body never recovered)

About the accident (Rooke’s death certificate)

About the other two airmen
Initials: K G
Nationality: New Zealand
Rank: Leading Aircraftman
Regiment/Service: Royal New Zealand Air Force
Age: 19
Date of Death: 19/05/1942
Service No: 413287
Additional information: Son of Arthur Thomas Weal and Christina Weal, of Pukeatua, Auckland, New Zealand.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Lot 34. Grave 1.

Initials: I J
Nationality: Australian
Rank: Leading Aircraftman
Regiment/Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Age: 27
Date of Death: 19/05/1942
Service No: 413494
Additional information: Son of John Henry and Emelie Shaw; husband of Kathleen Mary Shaw, of Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Lot 34. Grave 2.

About this photo, this is the information David Young added…

Fairey Battle S/N 1794 of the 9 B&GS at Mont-Joli……
On the 4th July 1942, the Battle 1794 struck the airfields boundary fence during its take-off and the undercarriage sustained damage. During the subsequent landing the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft was damaged further. Initially it was thought repairable but this was not confirmed and the aircraft was cannibalised for spares. The three crew members survived uninjured…..
(Clipped Wings Vol 2)

More photos from the collection of dated
Summer 1942 – No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mont-Joli, Québec

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)

Collection Leonard E. J. Cote (courtesy Mark Cote)

Marc Cote wrote a book about his father.

More about Jacques Morin by Pierre Lagacé
I have met Jacques Morin in 2011. He had never talked about his war years except with a few people. When I saw I knew about 425 Alouette Squadron and I was writing a blog about it, he shared what he knew and what he had: photos, stories, log book…

Jacques Morin’s collection

Jacques Morin’s collection

Jacques Morin’s friend at Mont-Joli was Georges Tremblay. He lost sight of him after the war. In 2016 Georges’ son visited Jacques Morin and shared some of his father’s photos.

Georges Tremblay’s Collection

Unknown LAC
Georges Tremblay’s collection

Unknown LACs
Jacques Morin’s collection

Unknown LACs with Jacques Morin (center)
and Georges Tremblay (last one in the back)
Jacques Morin’s collection

George Tremblay, Jacques Morin and unknown LAC
Jacques Morin’s collection

This is a booklet, part of Jacques Morin’s collection of memorabilia. The annotations are from him. The booklet were given to LACs during their training.

Jacques Morin’s
log book pages

Training at No. 9 B&G

No. 22 O.T.U.

No. 1666 C.U. Wombleton

425 Alouette Squadron

Jacques Morin’s crew with
RCAF 425 Alouette Squadron