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?

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