Research by Clarence Simonsen
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Text version below with all images.
Manning Airman – No.3 Manning Depot
There was nothing funny about WWII air war, yet, thirty-one young creative RCAF recruits could find humor in almost everything they did during basic training at No. 3 “M” Depot, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, from July 1941 to August 1944. Their ‘very own’ Manning Depot Pin-Up girl became Milton Caniff’s – “Miss Lace.”
R.C.A.F. No. 3 Manning Depot, Edmonton, Alberta.
The early WWII RCAF aircrew selection programme first began at the recruitment centers, however these soon became overloaded and it was gradually shifted to new constructed manning depots by 1942. These large reception centres were where new recruits were funnelled, sifted, tested and during this process civilians became airmen, ready to move on to their new selected air force trades.
In January 1942, the RCAF had created five large Manning Depots: No. 1 in Toronto, Ontario, No. 2 at Brandon, Manitoba, No. 3 at Edmonton, Alberta, No. 4 at Quebec City, Quebec, and No. 5 at Lachine, [near Montreal] Quebec. Most Eastern RCAF [English speaking] recruits attended No. 1 Manning Depot, at the Toronto Exhibition Grounds, where over 6,000 were trained. In the West, No. 3 Manning Depot at Edmonton local exhibition grounds trained over 4,000, the second most RCAF recruits in Canada, followed by Brandon, Manitoba, and Quebec. The new life at each manning depot [Basic Training] was usually four to five weeks, where the men were interviewed, tested, and tested again, lectured and learned to march, “Square-bashing” with long hours spent on the parade square. He was issued with his first uniform, boots, socks, and all the air force items which went with it. The recruit learned how to iron clothing, spit-shine boots, polish buttons, polish and shine floors, clean toilets, arrange everything he owned in proper order for inspections, and for this he earned $1.30 per day. The famous WWII song correctly went … “You’ll never get rich, you-son-of-a-bitch.”
During this selection process, a number of recruits were found to have artistic talent and a few were selected for special units in the RCAF, where their talent could be put to good use. Many of these long forgotten Canadian artists displayed their first skill in the local station news magazines and No. 3 M.D. in Edmonton had the best in all of Canada. This is a “Show and tell” past history of the thirty-four young men who passed through Edmonton, Alberta, and left their mark [cartoon history] in the many pages of the local “Manning Airman” wartime news magazine. These forgotten WWII RCAF cartoon pages are Canadian military history.
RCAF No. 3 Manning Depot was [Temporary] formed at Ottawa, Ontario, 15 June 1940. One year later [21 July 1941] the unit was moved to the large exhibition stadium located in the center of Edmonton, Alberta. [Today home to Commonwealth Stadium]
Flying Officer LeVerne Haley’s private collection (images used with his son’s permission in 2014).
Upon arrival a new recruit was issued with an RCAF blue cover record book titled – Helpful Hints for “Acey Deuceys.” Recruits liked to play the two card poker betting game called Acey-Decey. The first inside page read – “My Life in the RCAF”
The booklet information on RCAF “M” Depot [circle] contained photos of the base, plus a map of Edmonton 1941-42. Street car colors to and from base were also marked on map.
The first use of cartoons for RCAF teaching aids was at “M” Depot, Edmonton, August 1941.
The little RCAF record book also contained five cartoons which were used to educate the new civilian recruits to the rules and discipline in the air force depot. The artist was Corporal D.L. Rodger who was a staff instructor at the depot. The use of humor in cartoons for teaching young students was nothing new, it had been used effectively by the RAF in England during the first World War.
Flying Officer LeVerne Haley’s private collection
Images used with his son’s permission in 2014
The first FREE issue of RCAF No. 3 “M” Depot magazine “Manning Airman” appeared in October 1941, a very simple one-page typed newsletter with news, sports, and a small cartoon header by Cpl. D.L. Rodger, Instructor, editor, art director, publisher.
March 1942, the first RCAF Coca-Cola ad [$$$] appears and the first small cartoon [right] by Official RCAF cartoonist LAC Huge Rickard, “Ricky” but his name is not shown. LAC Rickard began his RCAF career on a drawing board in Air Force Headquarters at Ottawa, 1940, and some of his early cartoons were not signed. I believe this is one of his early works, [1940-41] two years before the cartoon title “AC2 Joe Erk” appeared. “”Aero Flips” was a single cartoon page which appeared in each issue of The Airman magazine.
A new RCAF recruit spent five weeks at “M” Depot in Edmonton and during that time 31 students, 2 corporals and one [Australian] Captain created cartoons for the “Airman.”
AC2 – A.D. Bates
AC2 – Beller
AC2 – M.O. Bodle
AC2 – Butterfield
AC2 – Coulson
AC2 – Dick Coulin
AC2 – Gitter
AC2 – Hambleton
Capt. Harrison – [only non-Canadian, from Australia]
AC2 – K.M.
AC2 – Kaye
AC2 – Keate
AC2 – Kavanaugh
AC2 – G.J. La Rue
AC2 – J. McLean
AC2 – Bert Nightengale
AC2 – Jock P.
AC2 – L. Potvin
AC2 – M.H. Prizek
AC2 – Richie
AC2 – Rudger
Cpl. – E.A. Rodberg
Cpl. – D. L. Rodger – Art Director, Editor- Publisher The Airman.
AC2 – Sargent – became famous Sgt. cartoonist at RCAF Trenton, Ontario.
AC2 – J. Schell
AC2 – Del Stuckby
AC2 – Study
AC2 – Taylor
AC2 – Ted Tiley
AC2 – Willis
AC2 – J.M.
These forgotten Canadian cartoonists received no official artistic training, just inherited drawing talent, and in their spare time produced the best RCAF magazine in all of Canada.
First known “Aero Flips” cartoon page, likely by Cpl. Rodger, 3 April 1942, Easter.
10 April 1942, artist Cpl. Rodger, and the beginning of an insert called Air Force IKE Says: which would appear in “Aero Flips” for the next twenty-four months.
Early artwork of AC2 M.O. Bodle [in RCAF basic training] 17 April 1942, “The Airman” Edmonton. A new recruit spent five weeks in basic training, and if he processed cartooning talent he was invited to contribute. At least thirty-one drew RCAF cartoons in over two years.
17 April 1942, art from AC2 Bodle and Art Director Cpl. Rodger. 2nd Air Force IKE Says”
1 May 1942, art by Cpl. D.L. Rodger and another new recruit AC2 G. La Rue.
3 June 1942, a new artist has arrived in training, AC2 M.H.D. Prizek.
6 June 1942, AC2 L. Potvin.
18 June 1942 Cpl. Dodger.
AC2 Prizek liked to draw the “Petty” pin-girls from Esquire magazine. This is the third inset cartoon titled AIR FORCE IKE SAYS: – created by Cpl. Rodger, 19 June 42.
19 June 1942, Prizek drew the most famous “Petty Girl” from April 1941 Esquire.
From Esquire magazine April 1941, became the famous B-17F “Memphis Belle”
19 June 42, page by Cpl Rodger and pin-up by Prizek, another “Petty Girl” top right.
The Esquire magazine October 1938 “Petty” girl appeared in Boudoir with a trademark white phone. The original caption reads: “I just told the electric company where to head in!”
Please note the RCAF were using the unofficial Maple Leaf on British Roundel in 1942.
Cpl. Rodger art page in July 1942.
Cpl. Rodger 14 August 1942.
21 August 1942, AC2 Butterfield, first erotic female humor. The total all ranks at No. 3 for August was 2,489, which included 1,842 AC2 recruits in basic RCAF training. Only four females RCAF [W.D.] were on staff, two were – C27600 M.M. Lowden and C276601 A.C. Olson.
4 September 1942, artist unknown, likely Cpl. Rodger.
11 September 1942, Cpl. Rodger.
18 September 1942, Cpl. Rodger.
25 September 1942, AC2 Dick Coulin. No Air Force IKE says, just the life of basic training.
9 October 1942, Cpl. Rodger.
Halloween 30 October 1942, new artist AC2 Cairns. The old Padre gets an eye-full.
6 November 1942, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Cairns.
27 November 1942 Cpl. D.L. Rodger. The Edmonton Q.M. Section staff are named.
November 1942, Australians and Edmonton weather, Capt. Harrison. In November 1942, 23 – [R.A.A.F.] Australian and 106 [R.N.Z.A.F.] New Zealand recruits took basic RCAF training at Edmonton, “M” Depot.
Blizzard of November 1942, by Capt. Harrison, Australian artist.
16 October 1942, the first full page training cartoon by official RCAF artist LAC H. Rickard and first signed by him – “Ricky.”
In 1942, LAC H. Rickard worked from RCAF H.Q. in Ottawa, producing training posters.
Christmas 1942 was a busy time for Edmonton Manning Depot artists – Sgt. Rodger [promoted] Cpl. Jack McCaugherty, AC2 – Al Beaton, L. Potvin, G.J. la Rue, and Bert Nightengale.
AC2 Al Beaton, Christmas 1942. A clever way to slip in a nude lady.
The February pose [far right] was in fact from the 1938 Esquire magazine Petty Girl.
Sgt. Rodger, good cartoon skills.
Art by AC2 Al Beaton – A MERRY CHRISTMAS 1942.
Xmas 1942 – artist Rodger, BLESS ‘EM ALL, dedicated to living Edmonton officers and men.
To A Victorious New Year – 2 January 1943 artist Sgt. Rodger.
15 January 1943, new artist AC2 Hambleton with a different style.
22 January 1943, Sgt. Rodger and Hambleton.
29 January 1943, Rodger and Hambleton.
5 February 1943, artist Hambleton. AIR FORCE IKE – always drawn by Sgt. Rodger.
“The Wolf” – first appears in issue 5 February 1943.
Created by Cpl. Leonard Sansone for the American Camp Newspaper Service, it soon became the best known and read cartoon for all Allied soldiers during WWII. “The Wolf” was even clipped and mailed home to family members who could not find the cartoon in civilian newspapers. When the feature began in Edmonton “M” Depot magazine “The Airman” [5 Feb. 43] Sansone mailed them a 10 by 12-inch original drawing of the Wolf wearing an RCAF uniform. This colour original hung with pride in the Airman magazine office, and inspired many up and coming RCAF artists to the world of military cartooning.
22 February 1943, Cpl. Rodger and new cartoonist AC2 Taylor.
26 February 1943, Cpl. Rodger and another new cartoonist AC2 Ritchie.
5 March 1943, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Ritchie.
19 March 43, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Study.
26 March 1943. Cartoonist AC2 Del Stuckby and K.M.
9 April 43, Cpl. Rodger.
A few cartoon ladies were very sexy for the times, such as this saucy semi-nude beauty published 9 April 1943. The cartoon appeared with no words, and needed no words. Having a sexy girl-friend was the only area where a rookie AC2 could out-rank a Senior RCAF Officer, with a very controlling [her hand over his] overweight wife. Good cartoon for recruit moral.
16 April 1943, Sgt. Rodger and new artist AC2 Sargent.
22 April 1943, sexy mind of another” Wolf” by AC2 La Rue.
23 April 1943, Easter – Sgt. Rodger and cartoonist AC2 Sargent.
30 April 43, appears to be new cartoonist AC2 Beller, with AC2 Sargent and Sgt. Rodger.
7 May 1943, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Sargent. [Sgt. Sargent would later become a famous RCAF WWII cartoonist at Trenton, Ontario].
Sgt. Sargent’s RCAF Trenton history and art was published in 1985. It all began at Edmonton, Alberta, as a rookie in basic training, April 1943.
14 May 43, new cartoonist AC2 Keate and last for AC2 Sargent.
21 May 43, new cartoonist AC2 Gitter.
4 June 1943, AC2 Gitter also liked pin-ups.
4 June 1943, new artist AC2 Ewing.
11 June 1943, more art by AC2 Ewing.
18 June 1943, not signed, cartoon style of AC2 Ewing.
9 July 1943, another recruit arrives AC2 Bates.
16 July 1943, artist AC2 A.D. Bates.
23 July 1943, AC 2 Bates.
30 July 1943, AC2 A.D. Bates.
In early August the original Cpl. Sansone special RCAF drawing of “The Wolf” was stolen from the Edmonton office of the Airman magazine. American artist Cpl. Sansone [below] replied he would send another original to “M” Depot at Edmonton.
6 August 1943, AC2 J. Scheel cartoon art first appears.
20 August 1943, AC2 Willis.
27 August 1943, AC2 Willis.
“The Wolf” and original “Miss Lace” are back together at No. 3 “M” in Edmonton.
The total staff at No. 3 “M” Depot at the end of August was 2,489, including 1,842 AC2s in training. Over 3,000 RCAF troops marched in the Edmonton parade, a most impressive sight.
3 September 1943, Sgt. Rodger and AC2 Willis. “Aero Flips” features a nude lady.
The first drawing of RCAF Flying Willie Wolf [bottom left of page] appears twice in the 10 September 1943 issue.
10 September 1943, AC2 Willis art. RCAF Flying Wolf appears in the Aero Flips header.
17 September 1943, new cartoonist AC2 Kaye.
24 September 1943 Sports Supplement.
24 September 1943, AC2 Kaye, and Ted Tilly, the “Flying Willie Wolf” appears a third time.
The “Flying Willie Wolf” becomes an unofficial badge, [below] the Wolves Den.
“The Wolf” #2 original colour drawing arrives from artist Sansone.
The new RCAF Wolf drawing arrives from Sansone on 1 October 1943, which was published with caption –
“All hail again to Corporal Sansone, who came through with this additional original Wolf drawing, which shall take his place beside Nude with Cheese Sandwich in THE AIRMAN office. This Wolf, drawn as “Joe Airman” is replete with good conduct stripe, though those have not been leased since the beginning of the war, and never to Airm—never to wolves. Catch the patch-pocket bottoms. Perhaps the Corporal is hinting that a first-class Wolf is potential officer material.
Corporal Sansone sends his greeting with the paw of the Wolf. He signs his letters, Woof! Woof! We wonder if, perhaps, Corporal Sansone isn’t taking his art so literally that it will be rather difficult for him to readjust to civilian life. Rumors have him more-hairy every day, and that he is beginning to pace up and down his New York office on all fours. Getting the proper atmosphere is alright Corporal Sansone, but be careful, please.”
The RCAF Airman magazine also ran the cartoon strip Male Call featuring the famous “Miss Lace” with the first appearing 16 April 1943, titled – Something Hot at the PX [top strip]. Caniff also sent a special colour drawing of Miss Lace, for RCAF No. 3 Depot.
Milton Caniff also drew this special ‘second’ original “Miss Lace” colour cartoon wearing the future RCAF roundel on her chest. This Anniversary drawing for “The Airman” became a very rare collector’s item 10 September 1943, but I’m sure it no longer survives.
Caniff Did It Again – Feast your eyes. We salute to Milton Caniff, creator of “Terry and the Pirates” and, for station newspaper circulation, “Male Call.” He has gladdened our anniversary and our office with a technicolor version of what is only hinted at here.
The original is so shattering, that in order to get the staff to do any work, our editor unveils it for only one minute periods, twice a day. The first time, at 08:30 hours, to shock the boys into action. The second time, at 17:00 hours, is to madden them before turning them loose for the evening. Caniff’s drawing’s are causing a real revolution in the medical field, and rapidly replacing the grandular method of rejuvenation.
GENERAL ORDERS by Milton Caniff, Camp Newspaper Service.
The Airman also published this rare strip by Milton Caniff titled – GENERAL ORDERS. This American strip was not connected to “Male Call” and did not feature the famous Miss Lace, but Caniff created a look-alike and the strip appeared in Camp Newspaper Service. This was also mailed to the RCAF “M” Depot at Edmonton, Alberta, and published 9 July 1943.
Original Milton Caniff art brings $5 – $10 thousand per drawing in today’s  American market. I wonder what a rare WWII Canadian RCAF Caniff signed cartoon is worth?
Milton Caniff “Male Call” strips were also being used [with permission] as an RCAF recruit training aid.
Published in “Male Call” on 7 November 1943, the RCAF magazine used this one comic strip block to educate new Canadian RCAF recruits on American Forces rank structure. Appeared in “The Airman” 6 August 1943, which means this Canadian strip was sent to Edmonton by Caniff himself, two months before it was published by American Camp Newspapers.
1 October 1943, art by AC2 J. McLean, and Jock P. The term P-38 [Bra.] was also a famous American fighter aircraft, good military humor. The “flying Willie Wolf” appears a fourth time.
8 October 1943, art by AC2 Ted Tiley. The RCAF flying “Willie Wolf ” targets a stunning lady, and becomes a regular drawing feature.
15 October 1943, J. McLean, Willis, and Ted Tiley. The RCAF Willie Wolf appears for the last time. The sexy cartoon lady originally published 6 April 1943, reappears a second time.
15 October 1943, new artist known as J.M. The famous “Willie Wolf” himself appears.
22 October 1943 good pin-up Victory Bond girl art by AC2 – J.M. [name unknown]
29 October 1943, more cartoon humor by J.M. The silk stocking [windsock] is very good.
29 October 1943, Airman Supplement issue drawn by J.M. This will be the last art until March 1944. [It’s possible this missing supplement art was just never saved]
On 26 November 1943, Canadian cartoons and the normal high standard of publication in “The Airman” was recorded in the Daily Diary.
American military cartoons were still being published, at the same time the Canadian cartoon content called “Aero Flips” just stopped. The reasons are still not clear; the last three cartoons appear in March 1944.
3 March 1944, cartoons by Cpl. E.A. Rodberg [Staff NCO] and AC2 Coulson.
10 March 1944, art by AC2 Dick Coulson.
Vol. 3 #25, 31 March 1944, the last “Aero Flips” cartoon by an unknown artist signed IRU.
On 9 June 1944, “The Airman” magazine began publication every two weeks and the end was near.
On 27 July 1944, all RCAF documents [with cartoons] were sent to No. 1 “M” Depot, Toronto, Ontario, and Edmonton staff were gone by 31 of July. Organization Order No. 415, dated 15 August, officially disbanded No. 3 “M” Depot, Edmonton, Alberta, 18 August 1944.
The End of Willie Wolf at Edmonton.
This RCAF “M” Depot cartoonist history is dedicated to the hundreds of young Canadian men who joined the RCAF during WWII, and with limited artistic talent produced unit badges, published unit news magazines, with cover art, painted full size mural art, pin-up girls, and most of all decorated combat aircraft with Canadian “Nose Art.” When the war ended, their artistic wartime record of history was soon forgotten and their creations just vanished.