RCAF and Canadian aviation history: 1 Sep 1939 - 31 Dec 1945
RCAF and Canadian aviation history
1 Sep 1939 - 31 Dec 1945
On 1 April 1924, the RCAF was established as a permanent component of Canada's defence force. In 2024, the RCAF will be celebrating 100 years of service to Canada. Many aviation enthusiasts have contributed to this compilation of key events in Canada's aviation history. Where there are conflicting dates for the events recorded, the yardstick being used here is Samuel Kostenuk and John Griffin's RCAF: Squadron Histories and Aircraft 1924-1968. Hardcover. (Canadian War Museum Historical Publications No. 14, 1 Jan 1977)
(DND Photo, PL-8530)
Fairey Battle doing an engine run-up at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, in front of the Base Parachute Section on 22 Apr 1942. There are three battery carts in front of the aircraft, including one being pulled by a technician.
The RCAF received its first batch of eight Battles in August 1939, at RCAF Station Borden, Ontairo. A total of 802 Battles were eventually delivered from England, serving in various roles and configurations, including dual-control trainers, target-tugs, and gunnery trainers for both the Bombing and Gunnery schools of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Canadian use of the Battle declined as more advanced aircraft, such as the Bristol Bolingbroke and the North American Harvard were introduced. Battles remained in RCAF service until shortly after the end of the war hostilities in 1945. No. 111, No. 115 and No. 122 Squadrons of the RCAF flew Battles.
31 Aug 1939. On the eve of the war the RCAF total strength was 4,061 officers and airmen (Permanent – 298 officers, 2,750 airmen; Auxiliary – 112 officers, 901 airmen). It had 270 aircraft of 28 different types; “service” types included twenty-two Wetland Wapitis, twenty Airspeed Oxfords, nineteen Hawker Hurricanes, thirteen Armstrong Whitworth Atlas, twelve Canadian Vickers (Northrop) Deltas, eleven Blackburn Sharks, ten Fairey Battles, nine Canadian Vickers Stranraer, five Armstrong Whitworth Siskins, four Noorduyn Norsemen and four Canadian Vickers Vancouvers.
The organization of the Force was:
- Headquarters and Record Office, Ottawa
- Western Air Command, Vancouver
- Eastern Air Command, Halifax
- Air Training Command, Toronto
- Ottawa (Photo Establishment, Test & Development Flight, Communication Flight)
- Camp Borden (Intermediate Training Wing Headquarters, Intermediate Training Squadron, Intermediate Ground Instructional School; No. 2 Technical Training School)
- Trenton (Advanced Training Wing Headquarters, Advanced Training Squadron, Advanced Ground Instructional School; No. 1 Technical Training, Air Armament, Equipment Training, Air Navigation and Seaplane, and Wireless Schools).
- No. 1 (F) – Hurricane; en route St. Hubert
- No. 2 (AC) – Atlas; Saint John, NB
- No. 3 (B) – Wapiti, en route Halifax
- No. 4 (GR) – Vancouver and Stranraer; Vancouver
- No. 5 (GR) – Stranraer; Dartmouth
- No. 6 (TB) – Shark; Vancouver
- No. 7 (GP) – Fairchild and Norseman; Ottawa
- No. 8 (GP) – Delta; Sydney
- Nos. 9, 10 and 11 Squadrons had also been authorized, but not formed prior to 1 September.
- No. 1 Aircraft, Ottawa
- No. 2 Equipment, Winnipeg
- No. 3 Repair, Vancouver
- No. 4 Repair, Dartmouth
- No. 5 Equipment, Moncton
- No. 11 (Technical), Montreal
- No. 12 (Technical), Toronto
- No. 13 (Technical), Vancouver
- No. 21 (Magazine), Kamloops
- No. 22 (Magazine), Debert
Auxiliary Active Air Force
- No. 100, Vancouver
- No. 101, Toronto
- No. 102, Montreal
- No. 110 (AC), Toronto
- No. 111 (CAC), Vancouver
- No. 112 (AC), Winnipeg
- No. 113 (F), Calgary
- No. 114 (B), London
- No. 115 (F), Montreal
- No. 116 (F), Halifax
- No. 117 (CAC), Saint John
- No. 118 (B), Montreal
- No. 119 (B), Hamilton
- No. 120 (B), Regina
- No. 121 (F), Quebec City
Each of the 12 Auxiliary squadrons had a PF Detachment. Five squadrons (Nos. ·113, 114, 116, 117 and 121) were still in preliminary stages of organization and were disbanded after the outbreak of hostilities.
Summary to 31 Aug 1939. Prior to the declaration of war considerable progress was made in the establishment or improvement of bases on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. An Equipment Depot was opened at Moncton and a magazine at Debert. The meteorological service of the Department of Transport was extended to the east coast, and plans were made for a complete service for all Air Force establishments. Improvement of Service armament was actively pursued; a Directorate of Armament was formed at Headquarters, the Air Armament School at Trenton was expanded, and the armament on all service aircraft was modernized. An Intelligence Section was ·also organized.
Service flying training for the period 1 Apr to 31 Aug 1939 totalled 11,924.15 hours (7,104.20 by Permanent units and 4,819.55 by Auxiliary squadrons, including a fortnight in annual summer camp). As arranged the previous year, elementary training was carried out at civil flying clubs; intermediate training was given at Camp Borden and advanced at Trenton. To train civil elementary instructors a Flying Instructors’ School was opened at Camp Borden early in the year.
Civil Government air operations consisted of aerial photography and survey for the Dominion Forest Service and the Bureau of Geology and Topography. One detachment of three aircraft was assigned in July to make a detailed reconnaissance of the Labrador coast. The work was interrupted, however, when the aircraft had to be sent on a search for a civil machine lost in Labrador. All photographic work was suspended on 25 Aug 1939. By that date 424.35 hours’ flying had been recorded and 25,100 square miles photographed.
01 Sep 1939. Germany attacks Poland; the RCAF is placed on active service. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. P/O Selby R. Henderson, a Canadian serving with No. 206 Squadron, RAF, was the lead navigator in an Avro Anson bomber force attacking German warships. He thus became the first Canadian to participate on an operational sortie in the Second World War.
03 Sep 1939. No. 110 "City of Toronto" Army Co-Operation Squadron was called out on active service. It first deployed to RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario, for conversion to the Westland Lysander. By early Feb 1940, the squadron was ready to depart to the UK, travelling by rail to Halifax and then by steamship across the Atlantic on 15 Feb. The squadron was the first RCAF unit to go overseas during the Second World War.
Westland Wallace Mk. I TT, (Serial No. K4344) from the Gunnery Research Unit based at RAF Exeter, Devon, England.
03 Sep 1939. Only hours after Britain declared war on Germany, a Westland Wallace biplane of the RAF Air Observer School at Wigtown, England, encountered thick fog and crashed into a Scottish hillside, killing Pilot Officer Ellard Alexander Cummings, 23, of Ottawa and his British gunner. Cummings had been commissioned in the RAF on 7 May 1938. He was one of 1,820 Canadians (1,820) who had enlisted directly in the RAF (CAN/RAF). He was also the first Canadian to die on active service during the Second World War. (Hugh Halliday)
Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley Mk. 5.
03/04 Sep 1939. P/O George E. Walker of Gleichen, Alberta, who had joined the RAF in 1937, was the first Canadian to fly over Germany after the war began. He was flying an Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley bomber with No. 58 Squadron, RAF. Returning from the mission, his aircraft had engine trouble and he had to set down near St. Quentin, France. The following Jun he was shot down on a raid over Essen, Germany and he became a Prisoner-of-War.
05 Sep 1939. No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at Halifax, Nova Scotia. On 10 Sep 1939 it was mobilized and redesignated No. 10 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron. As part of Eastern Air Command, the squadron flew Westland Wapiti Mk. IIA from Sep 1939 to May 1940, Douglas Digby Mk. I from April 1940 to April 1943, and Consolidated Liberator Mk. II, Mk. V and G.R. Mk. VI aircraft from April 1943 to Aug 1945, on East Coast anti-submarine duty. The squadron was active for the duration of the Second World War. While based on the East Coast of Canada and Newfoundland, it established an RCAF record for 22 attacks on U-boats and successfully sank three (U-520 on 30 Oct 1942, U-341 on 19 Sep 1943, and U-420 on 26 Oct 1943), garnering the unofficial title "North Atlantic Squadron."
Consolidated Liberator G.R. Mk. V, ex-RAF (Serial No. BZ735), RCAF (Serial No. 595), coded X, No. 10 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, c1944.
10 Sep 1939. Canada declares war on Germany and enters the Second World War. By Order-in-Council the RCAF Special Reserve was created and placed on active service.
(DND Photo via Chris Charland)
Lockheed Hudson Mk. Is, No. 11 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Canadian Vickers (Northrop) Delta Mk. II, RCAF, possibly (Serial No. 673), 1938, Vancouver, British Columbia.
14 Sep 1939. En route from Megantic, PQ to Sydney, Nova Scotia to take up wartime duties, a Canadian Vickers (Northrop) Delta Mk. II (Serial No. 673) reconnaissance aircraft disappeared. The wreckage of the machine was located in New Brunswick in 1958, nineteen years after crashing, but there was no sign of its crew, F/S J.E. Doan and LAC D.A. Rennie. They were Canada’s first casualties of the Second World War.
14 Sep 1939. The Directorate of Air Force Manning was formed at Headquarters to direct the rapid expansion of the Force and 20 recruiting centres were opened across the Dominion. By the end of the fiscal year (31 March, 1940), 102,777 applications had been received.
14 Sep 1939. RCAF Manning Pool (later No. 1 Manning Depot) was formed at Toronto.
14 Sep 1939. S/L William Isaac Clements, attached to No. 53 (Blenheim) Squadron, RAF, made a long distance night reconnaissance from Metz, France, to the Hamm-Hanover area of Germany – the first member of the RCAF to fly over enemy territory.
14 Sep 1939. Formation of the Organization and Training Division at Headquarters was authorized, to carry out the proposed training plan. (Headquarters now constituted four Divisions – Air Staff, Personnel, Aeronautical Engineering and Supply, and Organization and Training – each under an Air Member. The new “Air Member” titles were introduced on 21 Oct 1939).
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5012484)
Possibly No. 5 Operational Training Unit (OTU) Liberator course at Boundary Bay, British Columbia, 15 Aug 1944.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3523319)
Consolidated Liberator B Mk. VI (Serial No. KG923) coded AM, No. 5 Operational Training Unit (OTU), RCAF, at Boundary Bay, British Columbia, 23 Aug 1944.
Lockheed Hudson Mk.1, coded OY-C, from No. 11 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, based at RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, c1942.
03 Oct 1939. No. 11 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ontario. The squadron flew Lockheed Hudson Mk. I and Consolidated Liberator Mk. II, Mk. V and G.R. Mk. VI on East Coast anti-submarine duty. It was disbanded at Patricia Bay, British Columbia on 15 Sep 1945. The squadron's first wartime sortie was fown by the squadron commanding officer Wing Commander A. Lewis on 10 Nov 1939. It involved a naval co-operation height finding and sighting practice for the anti-aircraft guns on the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and the aircraft carrier HMS Furious. Shore batteries at Halifax also took part. HMS Repulse would later be sunk by Japanese bombers on 10 Dec 1942.
17 Dec 1939. 14 Sep 1939. The governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand signed, at Ottawa, an agreement to set up a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) organized and administered-by the RCAF (acting for the Canadian Government). The initial plan proposed the establishment of three Initial Training Schools, thirteen Elementary Flying Training Schools, sixteen Service Flying Training Schools, ten Air Observer Schools, ten Bombing and Gunnery Schools, two Air Navigation Schools and four Wireless Schools, plus the necessary ancillary schools and depots, a total of 74 units in all. Training was to begin on 29 April 1940 and all schools were to be in operation by 30 April 1942. When fully developed the Plan was to produce 520 pilots with elementary training, 544 pilots with service training, 340 observers and 580 wireless operator-air gunners every four weeks.
31 Dec 1939. The strength of the RCAF_at the end of the year totalled 8,287 officers and airmen, an increase of more than 100 per cent in four month. There were 280 Permanent, 195 Auxiliary and 454 Special Reserve Officers and 7,358 airmen.
The operational strength was fourteen squadrons, all stationed in Canada: No. 1 (F) Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, No. 4 (BR) Vancouver, British Columbia, No. 5 (BR) Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, No. 6 (BR) Vancouver, British Columbia, No. 8 (BR) North Sydney, Nova Scotia, No. 10 (BR), formed from No. 3 on 5 Sep, Halifax, Nova Scotia, No. 11 (BR) Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, No. 110 (AC) Ottawa, Ontario, No. 111 (CAC) Vancouver, British Columbia, No. 112 (AC) Ottawa, Ontario, No. 115 (F) St. Hubert, Quebec, No. 118 (B) Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, No. 119 (B) Hamilton, Ontario and No. 120 (BR) Vancouver, British Columbia.
01 Jan 1940. The headquarters of the RCAF Overseas is established in London, England, under W/C F.V. Heakes who had been the RCAF Liaison Officer. On 7 Mar 1940 G/C M.V. Walsh, MBE, assumed command.
01 Jan 1940. No. 1 Training Command was formed at Toronto, Ontario. On 14 Jan 1944 it was moved to Trenton, Ontario. On 14 Jan 1945, it merged with No. 3 Training Command to form No. 1 Air Command.. On 15 Jan 1945 it merged with No. 1 Training Command to form No. 1 Air Command.
02 Jan 1940. The London Gazette announced that P/O S.R. Henderson and W/C J.F. Griffiths, two Canadians in the RAF, had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for air operations against the enemy. They were the first Canadians to be decorated during the war. P/O Henderson’s award was for attacking German flying boats on 8 Nov 1939. W/C Griffiths was decorated for attacks on German warships on 14 Dec 1939.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3222815)
Left to right, David Boyd, Brian Sheaver, Elsie MacGill and Mary Boyd watching the flight of a Hawker Hurricane aircraft at Canadian Car and Foundry Co. flying field in 1941.
A major manufacturer of the Hurricane was Canadian Car and Foundry at their factory in Fort William (now Thunder Bay), Ontario. The facility's chief engineer, Elsie MacGill, became known as the "Queen of the Hurricanes". The initiative was commercially led rather than governmentally, but was endorsed by the British government; Hawker, having recognized that a major conflict was all but inevitable after the Munich Crisis of 1938, drew up preliminary plans to expand Hurricane production via a new factory in Canada. Under this plan, samples, pattern aircraft, and a complete set of design documents stored on microfilm, were shipped to Canada; the RCAF ordered 20 Hurricanes to equip one fighter squadron and two more were supplied to Canadian Car and Foundry as pattern aircraft but one probably did not arrive. The first Hurricane built at Canadian Car and Foundry was officially produced in February 1940. As a result, Canadian-built Hurricanes were shipped to Britain to participate in events such as the Battle of Britain. Canadian Car and Foundry (CCF) was responsible for the production of 1,451 Hurricanes.
14 Feb 1940. No. 110 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, augmented by personnel of No. 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia under the command of S/L W.B. Van Vliet. It disembarked at Liverpool on 25 Feb 1940, the first of 48 RCAF squadrons which served overseas during the war.
16 Feb 1940. The pre-war Wireless School was transferred from Trenton, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec and re-named No. 1 Wireless School, the first of four such schools operated within the BCATP.
18 Mar 1940. No. 3 Training Command was formed as No. 3 Training Group at Montreal, Quebec, It was redesignated No. 3 Training Command on 29 Apr 1940.
31 Mar 1940. In the fiscal year, 1 Apr 1939-31 Mar 1940, the RCAF flew 69,472.50 hours, including 5,022.10 hours on service operations and 60,316.30 hours on training at civil flying clubs, service schools and units. The balance (4,134.10 hours) covered testing, transfer of aircraft, transportation, Civil Government operations (prior to 25 Aug 1939), co-operation with the Militia and miscellaneous duties.
Mar to Apr 1940. To implement the BCATP, four Training Commands were organized. Air Training Command (Toronto) was re-designated No. 1 TC on 1 Jan; No. 2 TC formed at Winnipeg on 15 Apr, No. 3 TC at Montreal on 18 Mar and No. 4 TC at Regina on 29 Apr.
15 Apr 1940. No 2 Training Command was formed at Winnipeg, Manitoba. On 30 Nov 1944 it merged with No. 4 Training Command to form No. 2 Air Command.
15 Apr 1940. No. 1 Initial Training School was officially opened in the Eglinton Hunt Club, Toronto, Ontario absorbing the Ground Training School previously located at Trenton, Ontario. The first intake of BCATP trainees, 164 AC2s, arrived on 29 Apr 1940.
29 Apr 1940. No. 4 Training Command was formed at Regina, Saskatchewan. On 1 Oct 1941 it moved to Calgary, Alberta. On 30 Nov 1944 it merged with No. 1 Training Command to form No. 1 Air Command.
29 Apr 1940. No. 1 Air Navigation School was formed at Trenton, Ontario, providing specialized training in this field for BCATP students.
01 May 1940. No. 13 (Seaplane and Bomber Reconnaissance Training School) Squadron was formed at Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia. On 30 Jul 1940 it was redesignated No. 13 (Operational Training) Squadron. The squadron was disbanded at Patricia Bay, British Columbia, on 9 Nov 1942. Aircraft flown by the squadron included the Canadian Vickers vancouver, Canadian Vickers Vedette, Fairchild 71, Noorduyn Norseman, Lockheed Hudson Mk. I, Grumman Goose, Lockheed 10B, Canadian Vickers (Northrop) Delta Mk. I and Mk. II, Fairchild (Bristol) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, Canadian Vickers Stranraer and the Cessna Crane.
(DND Archives Photo, PL-5747)
Five Cessna T-50 Crane Mk. Is on a training flight, 19 July 1945.
21 May 1940. An advance party of No. 112 (Army Co-operation) "City of Winnipeg" Squadron sailed from Montreal, Quebec, and disembarked at Liverpool, England, eight days later.
23 May 1940. Hon C.G. Power, KC, MC, was appointed Minister of National Defence for Air.
23-25 May 1940. S/L FM Gobeil, an RCAF exchange officer commanding No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron, RAF, engaged a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter near Berek, France. Two days later this officer, in another combat near Menin, Belgium, shot down a German Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine fighter.
27 May 1940. No. 1 Air Observer School (AOS) was officially opened at Malton, Ontario, with the first intake of BCATP trainees. All AOSs were operated by civilian firms under RCAF supervision.
(Jim Bates Photo)
Curtiss SBC-4 Helldivers of the Aéronavale, being delivered via an RCAF barge, to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
06 Jun 1940. When the Second World War began in 1939, Britain and France sent envoys to the USA to buy military aircraft. Early in 1940, the French government placed an order with Curtiss-Wright for 90 Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver biplanes. In order to aid them, on 6 June 1940, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Administration ordered the US Navy to fly 50 SBC-4s of the Naval Reserve that were at the time in use by the Navy, to the Curtiss-Wright factory in Buffalo, New York where the 50 planes were to be refurbished to French standards. This included removing all US markings on instruments and equipment, replacing the American machine guns with French 7.7-mm (.303-inch) Darne machine guns and repainting the aircraft in French camouflage colours and national markings. Once converted, the aircraft were to be delivered to RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where they were to be loaded onto the French aircraft carrier Béarn.
Several neutrality acts had been passed by the US Congress and signed into law and the Neutrality Act of 1939 allowed for arms trade with belligerent nations (Great Britain and France) on a "cash-and-carry" basis. This arrangement allowed the the USA to sell materiel to belligerents, as long as the recipients arranged for the transport using their own ships or planes and paid immediately in cash. Because of this provision, the US could not fly military aircraft into Canada; they had to land in the US and be towed across the Canada - US border. The 50 aircraft were flown from Buffalo, New York to Houlton Airport, Maine via Burlington, Vermont and Augusta, Maine. Houlton is on the Canada - US border and local farmers used their tractors to tow the planes into New Brunswick, where the Canadians closed the Woodstock highway so that aircraft could use it as a runway. The Helldivers were then flown to RCAF Station Dartmouth.
08 Jun 1940. No. 1 (Fighter) squadron, augmented by personnel of No. 115 (Fighter) Squadron, under the command of S/L E.A. McNab, and the rear party of No. 112 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, commanded by S/L W.F. Hanna, sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia and arrived at Liverpool, England on 20 Jun 1940.
17 Jun 1940. No. 10 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia sent a detachment of five Douglas Digbys, under the connnand of S/L H.M. Carscallen, to operate from the airport at Gander, Newfoundland.
20 Jun 1940. An Air Council was constituted to advise the Minister of National Defence for Air.
24 Jun 1940. The first four Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS), No. 1 at Malton, Ontario, No. 2 at Fort William, Ontario, No. 3 at London, Ontario, and No. 4 at Windsor Mills, Quebec, were officially opened with intakes of 24 BCATP pupil-pilots. The EFTSs were operated mainly by civilian companies with RCAF supervisory staffs. An exception was the EFTS at Cap de la Madeleine, Quebec, operated by Quebec Airways.
30 Jun 1940. No. 112 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, was sent to Ottawa in February 1940, and re-equipped with the Westland Lysander, stocks of which were left behind when No. 110 Squadron was posted overseas. The squadron was likewise sent to Europe on 30 June 1940 with the intention to have No. 112 Squadron become part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) but the decision was made that Army Co-operation squadrons were not needed in France, and the squadron was re-deployed to coastal defence duties in England. On 11 Dec 1940, the squadron was re-designated No. 2 Squadron, RCAF and equipped with the Hawker Hurricane Mk. I.
Jun 1940. The RCAF ensign was approved by HM the King. It was adapted from the RAF ensign with the substitution of a red maple leaf for the red circle in the centre of the roundel.
10 Jul 1940. The Battle of Britain begins.
22 Jul 1940. The first intake of BCATP pupils for service flying training reported to No. 1 Service Flying Training School at Camp Borden. The school had been formed earlier in the year from the training units operating there.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-909)
15 Aug 1940. While flying a Hawker Hurricane with No. 111 Squadron, RAF, RCAF S/L Earnest A. McNab destroyed a German Dornier Do 215 twin-engine bomber and won the RCAF’s first victory in the Battle of Britain. He is shown here at Northolt, England on 12 Sep 1940.
17 Aug 1940. No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron (later No. 401 (Fighter) Squadron) became operational on its Hawker Hurricanes and began patrols and scrambles over its base at Northolt, England.
19 Aug 1940. No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School was formed at Jarvis, Ontario, the first of eleven such schools formed within the BCATP to train bomb aimers and air gunners for the RCAF and Commonwealth Air Forces.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3362875)
Permanent Joint Board of Defence, 26 Aug 1940.
21 Aug 1940. By Order in Council the Permanent Joint Board of Defence was formed to co-ordinate Canadian and American activities relating to the defence of North America. Composed of civilians and personnel from all services of both countries, the Board held its first meeting on 26 Aug 1940. Many of its subsequent meetings dealt with air force matters, including the Northwest Staging Route, anti-submarine operations, and supplies of aircraft. The first RCAF representative on the Board was A/C Albert Abraham Lawson Cuffe.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4816403)
No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron pilots, Battle of Britain, including their CO, Squadron Leader Ernest A. McNab, 12 Sep 1940.
21 Aug 1940. Intercepting a raid by 25 or 30 German Dornier bombers, No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron destroyed three and damaged four. F/O R.L. Edwards was killed in the engagement – the RCAF’s first battle casualty. No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron continued to take part in the Battle of Britain until 9 Oct 1940, when it was withdrawn for a rest. In the 53-day period, 17 Aug to 9 Oct, it was credited with destroying 30 enemy aircraft and damaging 43 more. Three pilots were killed in action and ten wounded or injured.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390687)
Hawker Tomtit, RCAF (Serial No. 140), Camp Borden, Ontario, ca 1932. It later flew with No. 12 (Communications) Squadron at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario.
30 Aug 1940. No. 12 (Communications) Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario. On 1 Nov 1947 the squadron was redesignated No. 412 (K) Squadron, a composite unit. The squadron flew the Fairchild 51 and Fairchild 71, Fleet Fawn, Hawker Tomtit, Grumman Goose, Canadian Vickers (Northrop) Delta, Barkley Grow, Lockheed Hudson, Boeing 247D, Noorduyn Norseman, North American Harvard, Lockheed 10A, Lockheed 12A and Lockheed 212, Avro Anson, Lockheed Lodestar, Douglas Dakota and Beechcraft Expeditor. The squadron was renumbered No. 412 Squadron on 1 Apr 1947.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3545903)
Fairchild 51A, RCAF (Serial No. 624), utility transport, previously RCAF Reg. No. G-CYXW, 1938.
15 Sep 1940. The day the Battle of Britain is commemorated.
22 Oct 1940. S/L E.A. McNab, commanding officer of No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his services in the Battle of Britian. Three days later F/L Gordon Roy McGregor and F/O B.D. Russel of the same squadron also received the DFC.
08 Nov 1940. Training and Supply were detached from Air Member for Operations and Training (AMOT) and Air Member for Air Equipment and Supply (AMAES) respectively and became separate divisions under Air Members. An Order in Council authorized the formation of the Air Cadet League of Canada, a civilian organization to train boys of 12 to 18 years of age for possible future enlistment in the RCAF.
19 Nov 1940. An Order-in-Council authorizes the formation of the Air Cadet League of Canada to prepare air cadets, 12- to 18-year-old boys, for future enlistment in the RCAF.
Fairchild F-24H Argus, RCAF (Serial No. 699).
Nov 1940. Two Fairchild 24H Argus light transport aircraft, (Serial No. 4809) and (Serial No. 699), are taken on strength by the RCAF. 4809 served at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario from Nov 1940 until Oct 1945. 699 was struck off strength in Dec 1942.
24 Nov 1940. The first draft of BCATP graduates, 12 officers and 25 sergeant observers, arrived at Liverpool, England. The course of 37 had graduated from No. 1 Air Navigation School at Trenton, Ontario on 24 Oct 1940.
1940. The airport at Brandon, Manitoba was constructed as a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) base.
31 Dec 1940. Three RCAF squadrons were on operations overseas: No. 1 (F), No. 110 (AC) and No. 2 (F) which had just been formed from No. 112 (AC) Squadron. In Canada, there were eleven squadrons: in EAC – Nos. 5, 10 and 11 (BR) at Darmouth, No. 8 (BR) at North Sydney and No. 119 (BR) at Yarmouth; in WAC – No. 4 (BR) at Ucluelet, No. 6 (BR) at Coal Harbour, and Nos. 111 (F), 120 (BR) and 13 (Operational Training) at Patricia Bay; No. 12 (Communication) Squadron was stationed at Rockcliffe.
07 Jan 1944. Article 15 of the Agreement of 17 Dec 1939, provided that “pupils of Canada, Australia and New Zealand shall, after training is completed, be identified with their respective Dominions, either by the method of organizing Dominion units and formations or in some other way.” By the supplementary Sinclair-Ralston agreement signed in London on 7 Jan 1941, it was arranged that 25 RCAF squadrons would be formed in the UK in the next 18 months (exclusive of the original three sent over from Canada).
To obviate confusion with RAF units, squadrons of the RCAF overseas were re-numbered in the 400 series. Thus No. 110 became No. 400; No. 1 became No. 401, and No. 112 which had been reorganized as No. 2 (F) Squadron, became No. 402. On the same date No. 402 was passed as operational, the second RCAF fighter squadron to go into action overseas. No. 403 (F) Squadron, the first of the “Article 15” units, was formed at Baginton, England. It was followed by 17 more in the next ten months, these being:
- No. 404 (Coastal Fighter) 15 Apr
- No. 405 (Bomber) 23 Apr
- No. 407 (Coastal) 8 May
- No. 406 (Night Fighter) 10 May
- No. 411 (Fighter) 16 Jun
- No. 409 (Night Fighter) 17 Jun
- No. 408 (Bomber) 24 Jun
- No. 410 (Night Fighter) 30 Jun
- No. 412 (Fighter) 30 Jun
- No. 413 (Coastal) 1 Jul
- No. 414 (Army Co-operation) 12 Aug
- No. 415 (Coastal) 20 Aug
- No. 418 (Intruder) 15 Nov
- No. 416 (Fighter) 18 Nov
- No. 417 (Fighter) 27 Nov
- No. 419 (Bomber) 7 Dec
- No. 420 (Bomber) 19 Dec
Of these squadrons, Nos. 403 to 413 inclusive had started operations by the end of the year.
07 Jan 1941. Trans-Canada Air Lines received the first of its Lockheed 18 Lodestar aircraft.
20 Feb 1941. Sir Frederick Banting was killed in a crash in Newfoundland of a Lockheed Hudson.
01 Mar 1941. In accordance with Article XV, RCAF squadrons overseas are renumbered in the 400-series block of numbers to avoid confusion with RAF squadrons. The six 100-block Home squadrons which had been transferred overseas complete with air and ground personnel were renumbered in the 400-block. No. 112 Squadron became No. 400 Squadron, No. 110 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, later No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron, became No. 401 (Fighter) Squadron, No. 111 (Fighter) Squadron became No. 440 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, No. 14 (Fighter) Squadron became No. 442 (Fighter) Squadron, No. 118 (Fighter) Squadron became No. 438 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, No. 123 (Army Cooperation Training) Squadron became No. 439 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, No. 125 (Fighter) Squadron became No. 441 (Fighter) Squadron, No. 127 (Fighter) Squadron became No. 443 (Fighter) Squadron.
01 Mar 1941. No. 400 Army Co-Operation Squadron received the first number in the 400 block in recognition of the fact it was the first squadron to deploy overseas. During the war, the squadron flew the Westland Lysander, Curtiss Tomahawk, North American Mustang, de Havilland Mosquito, and Supermarine Sptifire primarily in the armed and unarmed reconnaissance role. Later in the war, the squadron also flew air interdiction operations. At the end of the war, No. 400 Squadron was disbanded on 7 Aug 1945, at a captured airfield in Lüneburg, Germany.
Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk, No. 400 Squadron, RCAF, with an Electrical repair crew working on its electrical circuits. Electrically controlled pitch propellors and the fighter's electrical undercarriage mechanism require close attention. The three drums under the engine are glycol and air coolers. On the left is LAC D.E. "Chubby" Grant, of Maxville, Ontario, an ex-hockey player and former Hydro Line-Man. Centre is 25 year-old C.A. Bowe of Orangeville, Ontario, an ex-salesman, and supervising is F/Sgt. M. Thompson, 25 Bonsley Ave., Toronto, Ontario, ca 1941.
21 June 1940. No. 401 Squadron began as a permanent peacetime unit which, augmented by personnel from RCAF No. 115 Squadron (Auxiliary), arrived at Middle Wallop, England. It had brought its own Hawker Hurricanes from Canada, and as these were not fully up to UK standard, the squadron was non-operational until mid-August when it moved to RAF Northolt. At the time the squadron comprised 27 officers (21 pilots) and 314 airmen. To gain experience of Fighter Command operations, S/L E.A. McNab, Commanding Officer, flew on operations attached to No. 111 Squadron, and claimed a Heinkel He 111 bomber destroyed on 11 August 1940. The squadron had replaced its Hurricanes with Spitfire Mk. IIs in Sep 1941, Mk. Vs in late 1941 and in Jul 1942 some of the first examples of the new Mk. IX. The squadron ended the war as 2TAF's top scoring unit, claiming 112 aerial victories between 6 June 1944 and 5 May 1945. Their total score for the war was 186.5 confirmed, 29 of which were claimed during 1940 when operating as No. 1 RCAF Squadron.
(DND Archives Photo, PL-4484)
Pilots from No. 401 Squadron, RCAF, run to their Hurricane aircraft ca 1941. Groundcrew are waiting to help the pilots put on their parachutes and get into the aircraft. The Hurricanes could skim off the ground three minutes after an alarm was sounded.
Mar 1941. No. 2 Squadron was renumbered as No. 402 Squadron while stationed at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, England. No. 402 Squadron became operational at Digby, Lincolnshire, England equipped with Hawker Hurricane Mk. 1 fighters. It was re-equipped with the Hawker Hurricane Mk. II the following May and then Hurricane Mk. IIBs in June. The squadron began training to become the first "Hurribomber" unit, commencing operations in this role in Nov 1941, carrying pairs of 250 lb bombs beneath the wings.
(IWM Photo, IWM 01)
Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIE (Serial No. BE485), coded AE-W, No. 402 Squadron, RCAF, during Operation Jubilee over Dieppe, France, Aug 1942.
In March 1942, the Squadron resumed its fighter role moving to RAF Colerne and converting to Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vbs. It carried out Ramrod and Rodeo sorties until Aug when it received Spitfire Mk. IXs. The squadron engaged the Luftwaffe over Dieppe on 19 Augt 1942. In Mar 1943, the squadron was re-equipped with Spitfire Mk.Vs, which were flown from a variety of airfields right up to and during the Battle of Normandy. During Operation Overlord (the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944) it operated as part of Air Defence of Great Britain, though under the operational control of RAF Second Tactical Air Force (2 TAF) in a fighter-bomber role. The squadron was re-equipped with Spitfire Mk. IXs in July, and then with the Griffon-engine Spitfire Mk. XIVs, carrying out operations against V-1 flying bombs. Five kills were confirmed, before the squadron returned to operations over Europe on 25 Aug 1944, including reconnaissance and bomber escort. No. 402 continued to see regular action against Luftwaffe aircraft, with 19 victories being claimed in April 1945 alone.
At the end of Sep 1944, the Squadron was posted to the 2 TAF in Belgium, joining No. 125 Wing, RCAF. A move to Grave in the Netherlands followed where the first victories were claimed over Nijmegen on 6 Oct 1944. In Dec, the Squadron joined No. 126 Wing, RCAF, to fly alongside the Wing's Spitfire Mk. IXs. The squadron was at Wunstort, Germany when the war ended, with total victories for the war of 49½ aircraft. The Squadron disbanded at RAF Fassberg, Germany on 10 Jul 1945.
04 Jul 1944. No. 126 (Fighter) Wing badge, with four dragons conjoined, spitting fire to represent the four Spitfire squadrons which composed the wing. The wing was formed as No. 126 Airfield at Redhill, Surrey, England on 4 Jul 1944. On 15 May 1944 it was redesignated No. 126 (Fighter) Wing at Tangmere, Sussex, England. It transferred to the British Air Forces of Occupation (Germany) on 6 July 1945. It was disbanded at Utersen, Germany on 1 Apr 1946.
01 Mar 1941. No. 403 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Station Baginton, Warwickshire, England, initially equipped with the Curtiss Tomahawk Mk. I. After 29 operational sorties, the Tomahawks were replaced with Supermarine Spitfires. No. 403 Squadron was the first of 35 RCAF squadrons to be formed overseas, and the third Fighter squadron in service. The unit flew Spitfire s on both offensive and defensive air operations, and in support of Allied ground forces in North-West Europe. The squadron was disbanded at Fassberg, Germany on 10 Jul 1945.
(IWM Photo, 17252)
The first Curtiss Tomahawks, Mk. I and Mk. IIA, to enter squadron service with the RAF, in the hands of No. 403 Squadron, RCAF, at Baginton, Warwickshire in the UK. The Squadron operated the Tomahawk for only a short time, yielding them in favour of Supermarine Spitfires in May 1941.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-15679, MIKAN No. 5039494)
No. 403 (Fighter) Squadron members in their dispersal hut at RAF Kenley, England, 21 Mar 1943.
11 Apr 1941. No. 10 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, which had had a flight at Gander since June, 1940, moved to the Newfoundland airport.
15 Apr 1941. No. 404 (Coastal Fighter) Squadron was formed at Thorney Island, Sussex, England, equipped with the Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV.
(IWM Photo C2449)
Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV bomber crew of No. 404 Squadron, RCAF. They are preparing to take off from Dyce, Aberdeen, in the UK in the evening of 17 May 1942, to take part in the attack on the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen off the coast of Norway. Six Blenheims were detailed to accompany the strike force of Bristol Beauforts in order to make dummy torpedo attacks on the cruiser so as to confuse the enemy anti-aircraft defences, and to provide fighter cover.
15 Apr 1941. Twelve pilots of No. 402 (Fighter) Squadron, led by W/C G.R. McGregor, DFC, took part in an offensive patrol flying Hawker Hurricanes over the Boulogne sector of the French coast. This was the first offensive operation carried out by an RCAF unit over enemy-held territory.
23 Apr 1941. No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at Driffield, Yorkshire, England, equipped with the Vickers Wellington bomber.
23 Apr 1941. No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at Driffield, Yorkshire, England, as an Article XV squadron and equipped with the Vickers Wellington bomber. It flew the RCAF's first bombing operation ten weeks later on 12/13 June 1941, attacking the railway marshalling yards at Schwerte, Germany.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-7374 (UK-1177), MIKAN No. 5131009)
No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron crew of a Vickers Wellington bomber, "Berlin or Bust" in northern England. Left to right: F/Sgt. C.W. Higgins, pilot, F/Sgt. H. Wigley, pilot, Sgt. Lawrence J. Nadeau, wireless-operator air-gunner, Sgt. F.H.J. Farrell, navigator, Sgt. A. Smith, air gunner and Sgt. I Watters, second wireless-operator air-gunner. Each member of the crew wears a tiny figure as that depicted on their plane as a mascot.
No. 405 (B) Squadron converted to the Handley Page Halifax in April 1942, taking part in the historic 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne on the night of 30/31 May 1942. In late October 1942, the squadron was loaned to Coastal Command to fly anti-submarine patrols in the Bay of Biscay at the time of the North African landings.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3198924)
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4046920, and PL-10457)
Handley Page Halifax B Mk. II (Serial No. W7710), coded LQ-R, No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF, over the English countryside, 16 July 1942. W7710 is a Merlin-powered Halifax. Many others were powered by Bristol Hercules engines.
The squadron returned to Bomber Command at the beginning of March 1943, flying with No. 6 (RCAF) Group for short time before being selected for the elite No. 8 (Pathfinder) Group based at Gransden Lodge Airfield, with which it served until the end of the war. Through the last 20 months of the bomber offensive the squadron was equipped with the Avro Lancaster.
The squadron's last operational mission took place on 25 April 1945 when nine Lancasters bombed the Berghof, and four aircraft bombed enemy gun batteries on island of Wangerooge. The squadron was disbanded on 5 September 1945.
05 May 1941. No. 406 (Night Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Acklington , as part of No. 12 Group of Fighter Command, equipped with Blenheim Mk. IF heavy fighters, re-equipping with the improved Beaufighter Mk. IIF the next month.
(IWM Photo, MH 4560)
Bristol 156 Beaufighter Mk. IIF (Serial No. R2270), No. 406 "Lynx" (NF) Squadron RCAF, based at RAF Station Aklington, Northumberland, Jan 1942. R2270 was the first production model, fitted with dihedral tailplanes and equipped with AI Mk. IV radar.
08 May 1941. No. 407 (Coastal Strike) Squadron was formed at RAF Thorney Island, England on 8 May 1941, first training on the Bristol Blenheim and then transitioning to the Lockheed Hudson bomber.
(DND Photo via Chris Charland)
Lockheed Hudson, coded G-RR, No. 407 "Demon"' (General Reconnaissance) Squadron, RCAF. The squadron flew the Mk. III, IIIA and IV between June 1941 and April 1943, when the type was superceded by the Vickers Wellington.
(DND Archives Photo)
Vickers Wellington Mk. XIV L/L (Leigh Light), (Serial No. NB858), No. 407 "Demon" (GR) General Reconnaissance Squadron, RCAF. This crew served with RAF Coastal Command.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3321451)
Lockheed Lodestar, Reg. No. CF-TCU, Trans Canada Air Lines outside the administration building, Dorval Quebec.
10 May 1941. Trans Canada Air Lines inaugurated a Toronto-New York service with two trips daily, which was increased to three trips daily in Jun.
23 May 1941. Operational training in Canada commenced with the opening of No. 31 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Debert, Nova Scotia. Equipped with Lockheed Hudson and Fairchild (Bristol) Bolingbroke aircraft, the unit was the first of ten OTUs to be located in Canada under RAF and RCAF control.
11 Jun 1941. Experimental Station Suffield began operations. Following the fall of France to Germany, the British Army required a new training facility for carrying out experiments in chemical warfare to replace the one it previously used in Franch Algeria. In 1941, the federal government expropriated the Suffield Block, purchasing the majority of the land from the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company; 452 residents were displaced.
British forces left the joint operation of Suffield to the Canadian Army in 1946. In 1947 the Canadian Army turned operation of Experimental Station Suffield over to the Defence Research Board, now Defence Research and Development Canada. In 1950 the facility was renamed Suffield Experimental Station, and in 1967 it was renamed Defence Research Establishment (DRES). Throughout the period from 1947 to 1971, the Canadian Army continued occasional use of the Suffield ranges.
On 25 Aug 1971, the Canadian Government ratified a ten-year agreement with the British Government that allowed the British Armed Forces to use the northern three-quarters of the Suffield Block for armoured, infantry, and artillery live-fire training. On 1 Dec 1971, Canadian Forces Base Suffield (CFB Suffield) was officially created and allocated to Mobile Command. By Jan 1972, the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) was established and the first live round was fired by a battlegroup from the 4th Royal Tank Regiment (4th RTR) on 15 Jul 1972.
British Army training has continued at Suffield since 1971, with the shared-use agreement being extended several times (made indefinite in 2006). Regular and reserve units of Canadian Army began to make use of the base beginning in 1991, around the same time as the downgrading of CFB Wainwright. BATUS consists of a pool of training equipment used by army units rotating through the base on exercises, as well as a training "opposition force" (OPFOR). DRES was merged into a new organization Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) in 2000.
Aircraft flown by the RCAF at the secret research centre during the Secon World War included the Fairchild (Bristol) Bolingbroke, Westland Lysander, Noorduyn Norseman, Martin Baltimore, three Douglas A-20 Bostons and three Brewster Bermudas.
(Shearwater Aviation Museum Photo)
Martin 187 Baltimore Mk. III, RAF (Serial No. AG859), flown by RCAF aircrew serving with the RAF.
(RCAF Photo via Gary Cook)
Brewster Bermuda Mk. I. The RCAF acquired three, (Serial Nos. FF568, FF718, FF732), which were used at Suffield, Alberta, for "special" research operations.
Douglas A-20 Boston. The RCAF flew three at Suffield, Alberta, for "special" research operations.
12/13 Jun 1941. Three Vickers Wellington bombers of No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron carried out the RCAF’s first attack on Germany, bombing the freight yards at Schwerte, southeast of Dortmund, with a total of 9,000 lbs of high explosives and 2,160 lbs of incendiaries for the three aircraft. A year later, 68 RCAF aircraft took part in the first 1000-bomber raid, and by the end of the war Canadian squadrons were sending out more than 200 heavy bombers in single raids carrying 900 tons of bombs.
16 Jun 1942. No. 411 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, England. After a period of training the squadron began operations in Aug 1941 with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VB. Later in the war, as part of the Hornchurch Wing, it operated over continental Europe on Rhubarb sorties and as bomber escorts. After some rest periods the squadron joined the Kenley Wing for more operations over Europe. Converting to the Spitfire Mk. IX in October 1943 it then became a fighter-bomber squadron. Within two weeks of D-Day, it was operating from France in the close-support role and it also operated armed reconnaissance flights. Following the advancing troops the squadron was soon based in Germany until it was disbanded at Utersen on 21 Mar 1946.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-4918, MIKAN No. 5010706)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. II (Serial No. P7923), coded DB-R, No. 411 (Fighter) Squadron, England.
17 Jun 1941. No. 409 (Night Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, England, for night operations with Boulton-Paul Defiant fighters. The squadron was later re-equipped with Bristol Beaufighter Mk. IIF, Mk. VIF and de Havilland Mosquiot NF Mk. XIII.
Boulton Paul Defiant Mk. I, coded X-PS, flown by members of the RCAF serving with the RAF in the UK, ca. 1941.
Bristol 156 Beaufighter Mk. IIF (Serial No. T3037), B Flight of No. 409 Squadron, RCAF, based at RAF Station Aklington, Northumberland, Jan 1942. No 409 Squadron was Fighter Command's first Canadian night-fighter unit. Members are shown here posing for a formal portrait with one of their Merlin-engined Beaufighter Mk. IIFs.
24 Jun 1941. No. 408 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at RAF Lindholme, Yorkshire, England, equipped with Handley Page Hampdens, as part of No. 5 Group, RAF. It was the second RCAF bomber squadron formed overseas. The "Goose" Squadron, was initially based at RAF Lindholme in Yorkshire, England, and equipped with Handley Page Hampdens. No. 408 Squadron converted aircraft several times during the war, changing from Hampden aircraft to the Handley Page Halifax, and then to Avro Lancaster bombers in August 1943 after moving to RAF Linton-on-Ouse and where it became part of No. 6 (RCAF) Group.
No. 408 Squadron flew 4,610 sorties and dropped 11,340 tons of bombs. A total of 170 aircraft were lost and 933 personnel were killed, listed as missing in action (MIA) or became prisoners of war (PW). Squadron members won two hundred decorations, and 11 battle honours for its wartime operations. On 5 Sep 1945, No. 408 Squadron was officially disbanded.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-4714, MIKAN No. 5029693)
Handley Page Hampden aircrew, No. 408 (Bomber) Squadron in front of their aircraft. Sgt. A.W. Wood, Sgt. H.D. Murray, Sgt. D.L. Henderson and Sgt. W.M. Fraser.
30 Jun 1941. No. 410 (Night Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Ayr, near Prestwick, in Scotland. The squadron flew Boulton Paul Defiant Mk. IF from Jul 1941 to May 1942, de Havilland Moaquito FB Mk. VI, F Mk. XIII and NF Mk. XXX, equipped with Beaufighters.
Boulton Paul Defiant Mk. IF (Serial No. V1123), coded RA-R, No. 410 Cougar (NF) Squadron, RCAF, while based at RAF Station Drem, East Lothian, Scotland.
30 Jun 1941. No. 412 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, England. The squadron was equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. II.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA-136915, MIKAN No. 3199399)
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. IXE, No. 412 Squadron, RCAF, coded VZ-W, taxing at airfield B108, Rheinem Germany, 22 Mar 1945.
01 Jul 1941. No. 413 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Stranraer in southwest Scotland, as the RCAF's 11th (3rd Coastal) and first flying boat GR squadron formed overseas. The squadron was equipped with the Consolidated Catalina Mk. I, Mk. IB and Mk. IV and flew on North Atlantic reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols. In Mar 1942 it was hurriedly moved to the Far East. As aircraft and crews arrived at Koggala, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the were pressed into service making reconnaissance flights over the Indian Ocean to watch for the approach of a Japanese naval force.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-18412, MIKAN No. 4009293)
Consolidated Catalina, No. 413 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron (TBC), at Koggala seaplane base, Ceylon, c1942-1945.
02 Jul 1941. The Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (CWAAF) was authorized by Order-in-Council, enabling the CWAAF to recruit women for training in various ground trades so that men could be released for combat duties. By the end of the war it had enrolled 17,038 women, of whom over 1,500 saw service overseas. The first female officer was Kathleen Walker, appointed Flight Officer, 2 Jul 1941 and the first airwoman was Jane Bennett.
02 Jul 1941. While flying a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IIb (Serial No. P8536), coded SO-B, with No. 145 Squadron, RAF, Sgt Joseph Guillaume Laurent Robillard, age 20, was shot down over Lillers, France. Making contact with French civilians, he evaded capture and reached Gibraltar on 12 Aug 1941. He subsequently returned to operational duties. F/S J.G.L. Robillard was the first RCAF airman to become a successful “evader”.
Sgt Robillard had taken off at 11:45 hrs from RAF Tangmere for a fighter sweep over France. During the afternoon the squadron was attacked by a swarm of Luftwaffe fighters. He saw one member of his squadron bale out, who he thought was S/L Stanley Turner, also a Canadian, anddecided to escort him down. He was attacked by nine Messerschmitt Bf 109s, including one flown by German ace Adolf Galland, whose aircraft he managed to hit several times. F/S Robillard shot down two of the Bf 109s before he himself was shot down. Following his successful evasion he returned to the UK in Oct 1941 and joined No. 70 Squadron, RAF. He was promoted to F/Sgt and awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM). On 22 Apr 1942 he was commissioned as an officer. He returned to France to continue the fight, leading a section of No. 443 (Fighter) Squadron of Johnnie Johnson's No. 144 Wing and was credited with 8 kills. During his service he flew with No. 145 Squadron RAF, No. 72 Squadron RAF, No. 402 Squaron RCAF, and No. 443 Squadron RCAF. F/LtLaurent Robillard died at his home in Montreal, Quebec on 8 Mar 2006.
22 Jul 1941. A Catalina of No. 116 Squadron, captained by F/L N.E. Small, attacked a U-boat, but the bombs did not explode.
13 Aug 1941. No. 414 (Army Co-operation) Squadron was formed at RAF Croydon, England, as the RCAF's 12th squadron formed overseas. The squadron flew Westland Lysander Mk. III and Curtiss Tomahawk Mk. I and Mk. II. On 28 Jun 1943 it was redesignated No. 414 (Fighter Reconnaissance) Squadron at Dunsfold, Surrey and flew the North American Mustang Mk. I and Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. IX and FR Mk. XIV. The squadron was disbanded at Luneburg, Germany, on 7 Aug 1945.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3645494)
Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk. XIVB, RAF (Serial No. MV348), coded S, "Violet Dorothy III", No. 414 (Sarnia Imperials) Squadron, RCAF, June 1945.
21 Aug 1941. No. 415 (Coastal) Squadron was formed at RAF Thorney Island, England . It is also referred to as No. 415 Long Range Patrol Force Development Squadron, RCAF, and was equipped with Handley Page Hampdens. It flew from a number of different bases, attacking enemy convoys and shipyards.
Handley Page Hampden (Serial No. AE201), coded GX-Q, No. 415 Squadron, RCAF, 1942. AE201 was destroyed on ground at Thorney Island when (Seril No. P2065) blew up beside it while re-fuelling, on 26 February 1943. (Brad Gossen)
In Oct 1943 the squadron was re-equipped with Vickers Wellingtons and Fairey Albacores. While operating out of Bircham Newton, it became a successful E- and R-boat hunter unit. During the D-Day operations, No. 415 Squadron it used its bombers to lay protective smoke screens for the Allied ships as they assaulted the coastline and landed troops ashore.
Fairey Albacore (Serial No. L7075), 2nd prototype, ca 1940. The Fairey Albacore was flown by No. 415 Squadron, RCAF, and by RCN and RCNVR pilots in service with the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy.
In Jul 1944, the squadron was transferred to No. 6 (RCAF) Group, and moved to East Moor, where it was re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk. IIIs. No. 415 Squadron began major bombing of German targets on 28/29 July, when it attacked Hamburg. For the next nine months the squadron carried out major bombing runs over important enemy targets in a variety of places. It carried out its last bombing mission on 25 Apr 1945, attacking the gun batteries on the island of Wangerooge. The squadron was disbanded in May 1945.
01-02 Sep 1941. The first was scored by F/O R.C. Fumerton and Sgt L.P.S. Bing flying in a Bristol Beaufighter of No. 406 Squadron over Bedlington, England, scored the RCAF's first night fighter victory, destroying a German Junkers Ju 88 twin-engine bomber.
Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 740), coded R, No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF.
05 Sep 1941. No. 10 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at Halifax, Nova Scotia. The squadron was mobilized on 10 Sep 1939. On 31 Oct 1939 it was redesignated No. 10 (Bomber Reconaissance) Squadron. It was disbanded at Torbay, Newfoundland on 15 Aug 1945. The squadron flew Westland Wapiti Mk. IIA, Douglas Digby, Consolidated Liberator Mk. III and G.R. Mk. VI.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521027)
Westland Lysander Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 421), flown by No. 123 (ACT) Squadron, RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario.
22 Sep 1941. Formation of University Air Training Squadrons was proposed and approved.
22 Oct 1941. No. 123 (Army Co-operation Training) Squadron was formed at the School of Army Co-operation at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario. On 15 Jan 1942 it was redesignated No. 123 (ACT) Squadron. The squadron flew the Westland Lysander Mk. II at Sydney, Nova Scotia, for harbour entrance patrols, Grumman Goblin, North American Harvard Mk. IIB, and Hawker Hurricane Mk. I and Mk. XII. The squadron was the second of six home squadrons transferred overseas in preparation for the Allied invasion of Europe. On 31 Dec 1943 the squadron was redesignated No. 439 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron at Wellingore, Lincolnshire, England. It flew the Hawker Hurrincane Mk. IV and Hawker Typhoon Mk. IB in the pre-invasion softening up of the German defences and gave close support to ground forces afte D-Day. The squadron was disbanded at Flensburg, Germany on 26 Aug 1945.
23 Oct 1941. The Manning Depot for women personnel opened at Havegal College, Toronto, Ontario, with 150 airwomen taking administrative courses. The depot was subsquently redesignated No. 6 Manning Depot.
25 Oct 1941. Eastern Air Command made its first attack on an enemy submarine off the coast of Newfoundland. The attack was made by No. 10 Squadron, but the bomb did not explode.
10 Nov 1941. Despite serious injuries, which proved fatal, LAC K.M. Gravell, a wireless operator-air gunner under training at No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary, Alberta, gallantly endeavoured to rescue his pilot from the blazing wreckage of their crashed de Havilland DH.82C Tiger Moth aircraft. His gallantry and self-sacrifice were recognized by the posthumous award of the first George Cross awarded to a member of the RCAF.
15 Nov 1941. No. 418 (Intruder) Squadron was formed at Debden, Essex, England. Equipped with the Douglas Boston, the squadron flew day-and night-intruder operations deep into enemy territory. The squadron claimed 178 enemy aircraft and 79 and1/2 V-1 flyinig bombs destroyed, making it the top scoring unit of the RCAF. On 21 Nov 1944 it was transferred to close support work with the Second Tactical Air Force in the Low Countries, flying de Havilland Mosquitos. The squadron was disbanded at Volkel, Netherlands on 7 Sep 1945.
(DND Photo via James Craik)
Douglas Boston Mk. III, RCAF No. 418 Squadron, c1944.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-31289, MIKAN No. 4814396)
de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB Mk. VI (Serial No. NT137), No. 418 (Intruder) Squadron, cNo 1944-Sep 1945.
18 Nov 1941. No. 416 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland flying Supermarine Spitfires.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XIVe, coded DN-H, No. 416 Squadron, RCAF, airfield B.174 Utersen, Germany, Oct 1945.
27 Nov 1941. No. 417 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Charmy Down and was known as the "City of Windsor" squadron. It was equipped with Hawker Hurricanes.
(IWM Photo, TR865)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vbs of No. 417 Squadron, RCAF, flying in loose formation over the Tunisian desert on a bomber escort operation, April 1943. The RCAF’s No. 417 Squadron saw action on a completely different theatre, the Mediterranean. The squadron was transferred from Fighter Command to the Desert Air Force and sent to the Middle East in June 1942. In February 1943, after a few months of drudgery work and uneventful patrols over the Nile, No. 417 was moved to Tripoli and incorporated into No 244 Wing. That unit was later stationed in Malta, some 96 km off the coast of Sicily, from where it provided air support to the British 8th Army, which included the 1st Canadian Corps, during Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily by the Allies on 10 July 1943. No. 417 Squadron later took part in the fighting for the liberation of Italy.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5196718)
Squadron Leader Hay with Flight Lieutenant Turvey, No. 417 )Fighter) Squadron, RCAF, Italy, ca 1943-44.
07 Dec 1941. No. 419 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at RAF Mildenhall, England as part of No. 3 Group, Bomber Command. The squadron moved to RAF Middleton St, George when it joined No. 6 (RCAF) Group, and remained in England until 1945. The squadron flew the Vickers Wellington, then Handley Page Halifax and finally Avro Lancaster bombers during this period. It was the third RCAF bomber unit to be formed in England. It began flying operations in January 1942, converting almost immediately to Vickers Wellington Mk. IIIs, The squadron moved north to Leeming as part of No. 6 (RCAF) Group, in August 1942. In November it was re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk. IIs, which it flew for the next 18 months on night offensive bombing missions against Germany. After three quick moves it settled at Middleton St. George in November and stayed there for the rest of its service in Bomber Command.
(DND Archives Photo, PL-7091)
No. 419 Squadron Vickers Wellington aircrew in England, 9 Feb 1942.
In April 1944 the squadron began to convert to Canadian-built Avro Lancaster Mk. Xs that had been flown across the Atlantic. The squadron remained continuously on the offensive until 25 April 1945, when it flew its last sortie. Squadron personnel flew a total of 4,325 operational sorties during the war from Mannheim to Nuremberg, Milan to Berlin and Munich to Hanover, inflicting heavy damage on the enemy. As a result of its wartime record, No. 419 Squadron became one of the most decorated units under the RCAF during the war. Over a span of roughly three-and-a-quarter years it logged 400 operational missions (342 bombing missions, 53 mining excursions, 3 leaflet raids and 1 "spoof") involving 4,325 sorties. One hundred and twenty nine aircraft were lost on these operations.
Between January 1943 to March 1944, No. 419 Squadron was involved in over 200 sorties involving 2,400 crewing operations losing 59 aircraft, a rate of one in every 40. 415 men were either killed or taken PW during those 15 months, averaging 4 crews a month. The average crew survival rate was between 2 and 3 months when about 20 missions would be flown. In general mining operations were relatively safer missions. In particular the attacks on German cities intensified from early October when more than 100 crews were regularly dispatched to bomb Frankfurt, Mannheim, Berlin, Magdeburg, Leipzig and Nuremberg. During March 1944, the squadron carried out many mining missions, before taking part in No. 6 (RCAF) Group's 118-crew attack on Nuremberg at the end of the month. It suffered the squadron's worst loss of the war, with 13 aircraft going down on one sortie.
(RCAF Photo, PL43394)
Avro Lancaster B Mk. X, No. 419 Squadron, at their dispersal site, Middleton, St. George, England, 18 Apr 1945.
No. 419 Squadron was, like other squadrons in 6 Group, RCAF, heavily involved in bombing missions during the run up to the June landings in Normandy. Rail-yards were successfully attacked at Trappes (6/7), Le Mans (13/14), Amiens (16/17), Laon (23/24), Aulnoye (25/26), Courtrai (26/27) and Vaires-sur-Marne (29/30) as well as mining operations in the Gironde Estuary (3/4), Brest (4/5), Lorient, Brest, St Nazaire, the Terchelling Islands (11/12), Heligoland (18/19 and 30/31) and Kiel Bay (22/23). An aircraft factory at Meulan Les Mureaux was bombed on 2/3 March. No. 419 Squadron flew back to Canada in June 1945 and was disbanded at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 5 September 1945.
07 Dec 1941. Canada declared war on Japan and immediate steps were taken to strengthen the defences. The formation of new squadrons was instituted and others were shifted from Eastern Air Command (EAC) to Western Air Command (WAC).
09 Dec 1941. No. 9 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Bella Bella, British Columbia. The squadron flew Stranraer, Canso A and Catalina Mk. I aircraft on West Coast anti-submarine duty until it was disbanded on 1 Sep 1944.
11 Dec 1941. American John Gillespie Magee Jr., author of the poem “High Flight” and serving with No. 412 (Fighter) Squadron is killed in an air-to-air collision during a training sortie.
19 Dec 1941. No. 420 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at Waddington, Lincolnshire, England. During the Second World War, the squadron flew Avro Manchester, Handley Page Hampden, Vickers Wellington, Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster bombers on numerous strategic and tactical bombing operations.
Avro Manchester Mk.1A (Serial No. L7486), with extended tail fins.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-15981, MIKAN No. 4435173)
No. 420 (Bomber) Squadron, Vickers Wellington, Pilot J. Mason and his aircrew.
From Jun to Oct 1943, No. 420 (B) Squadron flew tropicalized Vickers Wellington aircraft from North Africa in support of the invasions of Sicily and Italy. In Apr 1945 they converted to Avro Lancasters, and when hostilities in Europe concluded, it was selected as part of Tiger Force slated for duty in the Pacific, and returned to Canada for re-organisation and training. The sudden end of the war in the Far East resulted in the Squadron being disbanded at Debert, Nova Scotia on 5 Sep 1945.
21 Dec 1941. No. 404 (Bomber) Squadron flying Bristol Blenheim bombers helped to provide long-range air cover for Commando forces attacking enemy positions at Vaagso, Norway.
31 Dec 1941. There were 21 RCAF squadrons in the United Kingdom and 16 in Canada. Of the overseas squadrons, 14 were operational (five fighter, three night fighter, one army co-operation, two bomber and three coastal). In EAC there were Nos. 5 (BR), 11 (BR), 116 (BR), (formed 28 June) and 118 (F) at Dartmouth, No. 8 (BR) at North Sydney, No. 119 (BR) at Yarmouth, and No. 10 (BR) at Gander, Newfoundland. In WAC Nos. 13 (Operational Training), 111 (F), and 115 (F), (formed 1 August) were at Patricia Bay; No. 4 (BR) was at Ucluelet, No. 6 (BR) at Alliford Bay, No. 120 (BR) at Coal Harbour, No. 7 (BR), (formed 8 December) at Prince Rupert, and No. 9 (BR), (formed 8 December) at Bella Bella. No. 12 (Comm) Squadron was still at Rockcliffe.
01 Jan 1942. Air Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Ferry Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario, for the inter-command ferrying of aircraft. On 14 Feb 1942 the unit was redesignated No. 124 (Ferry) Squadron. It was organized into an Eastern Division with HQ at Rockcliffe, and a Western Division with HQ at Winnipeg, Manitoba. On 1 Mar 1944 the unit at Winnipeg became No. 170 (Ferry) Squadron. When the war ended and it became the Western Detachment of No. 124 (Ferry) Squadron. The squadron was disbanded on 30 Sep 1946.
(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM1184-S3-: CVA 1184-1132)
RCAF Curtiss Kittyhawk, No. 14 (F) Squadron, Vancouver, British Columbia, ca 1942. The badge on the nacelle seems to be that of the ANAF Vets or the Royal Canadian Legion. It reads "For King and Empire".
02 Jan 1942. No. 14 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario. The squadron flew Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. I and P-40K-1s from Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia on West Coast air defence. From March to Sep 1943 the squadron was part of the RCAF reinforcement to the USAAF in Alaska. It completed two tours of offensive operations against Japanese forces on Kiska Island in the Aleutians. In late 1943 it was selected as the fifth of six home fighter units for overseas deployment. On 8 Feb 1944, it was redesignated No. 442 (Fighter) Squadron at Digby, Lincolnshire, England. No. 442 (F) Squadron flew Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VB, Mk. IXB, and Mk. IXE fighters on defensive and offensive air operations.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5449140)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX, coded L, loaded with bombs, No. 442 Squadron, on the continent ca fall 1944.
(John Mallandine Photo)
North American Mustang Mk. IV, RCAF, coded Y2-B, "The Edmonton Special", No. 442 Squadron, RCAF, in the United Kingdom, ca May 1945. The Mustangs flown by the RCAF during the war were owned by the RAF and carried RAF serial numbers and designations.
In Mar 1945 No. 442 (Fighter) Squadron was re-equipped with North American Mustang Mk. III and later Mk. IV fighters and employed on long-range bomber escort duty. The squadron was disbanded at Molesworth, Huntingdonshire on 7 Aug 1945.
(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, Ref No. CVA 1184-1561)
Grumman Goose Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 798), flown by No. 122 (K) Squadron, a composite unit at Patricia Bay, British Columbia, c1943.
02 Jan 1942. Trained members of the Canadian Women's Auxiliary Air Force (CWAAF) began reporting to units in Canada. No. 2 SFTS, Uplands, Ontario, was the first station to receive such personnel, who were initially posted to BCATP stations.
10 Jan 1942. No. 122 (K) Squadron was a composite unit formed at Patricia Bay Vancouver, British Columbia, by amalgamating Western Air Command's Coast Artillery Co-operation Flight and Communications Flight. On 16 Sep 1943 the Communications Flight was detached to form No. 166 (Communications) Squadron. In Nov 1944 the unit added an Air Sea Rescue Flight. No. 122 (K) Squadron was disbanded on 15 Sep 1945. The Squadron flew the Blackburn Shark Mk. II and Mk. II, Noorduyn Norseman, Grumman Goose, Westland Lysander, Lockheed Electra, Fairchild (Bristol) Bolingbroke, Avro Anson, Lockheed Vega Ventura and the Lockheed Hudson Mk. III.
15 Jan 1942. No. 123 (Army Cooperation Training) Squadron was formed at Debert, NS.
03 Feb 1942. The Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (CWAAF) was renamed Royal Canadian Air Force (Women’s Division).
Catapult Aircraft Merchant (CAM) ships were equipped with a Hawker Sea Hurricane mounted on a catapult launcher. They were used in convoys as an emergency stop-gap until sufficient escort carriers became available. The CAM ships mounted a rocket-propelled railing that launched a single aircraft dubbed a "Hurricat" or "Catafighter" to destroy or drive away an attacking bomber. Normally the Hurricane fighter would be lost when the pilot then bailed out or ditched in the ocean near the convoy. CAM ships continued to carry their normal cargoes after conversion. The concept was developed and tested by the five fighter catapult ships, commissioned as warships and commanded and crewed by the Royal Navy, but the CAM ships were merchant vessels, commanded and crewed by the Merchant Navy.
When a CAM ship arrived at its destination, the pilot usually launched and landed at a nearby airfield to get in as much flight time as possible before his return trip. Pilots were rotated out of CAM assignments after two round-trip voyages to avoid the deterioration of flying skills from the lack of flying time during the assignment. CAM sailings were initially limited to North American convoys with aircraft maintenance performed by the RCAF at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
11 Feb 1942. RCAF Hurricat P/O Tom Koch flew three practice launches in Hawker Hurricane (Serial No. P2826). This procedure involved flying a Hurricane from a ship-board catapult mounted on a rail on the bow of a merchant ship. Other RCAF Hurricat pilots included P/O Felix Cryderman, P/O P.E "Phil" Etienne and P/O Jack Sheppard. The rail was 70 feet long and the trolley the aircraft sat on was propelled by 13 rocket tubes. German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor long range bombers, operating mainly form France, had sunk 85 Allied ships between 1 Aug 1940 and 9 Feb 1941. Koch had beenserving with No. 412 (Fighter) Squadron when he volunteered to be sent to the RAF Merchant Ship Fighter Unit (MSFU) at Speke, near Liverpool to trian on the Hurricat. He later served with No. 421 (Fighter) Squadron flying Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VBs.
The first Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor fell to a Hurricat on 3 Aug 1941. In total, there were nine combat launches. Nine German aircraft were destroyed (four Condors, four Heinkel He 111 and a Junkers Ju 88), one damaged and three chased away. Eight Hurricanes were ditched and only one pilot was lost. The Hurricats were withdrawn in mid-1943 with the arrival of escort carriers. (Larry Milberry)
12 Feb 1942. Nine Canadian squadrons (four bomber, four fighter and one coastal) participated in attacks on the German warships “Scharnhorst”, “Gneisenau” and “Prinz Eugen”, which had escaped from Brest, France. They had been frequently attacked by RCAF units of Bomber Command, and fled up the Channel and through the Strait of Dover under attack by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and Coastal, Bomber and Fighter Commands of the RAF. Seven aircraft were lost and three enemy fighters were destroyed and three damaged.
15 Feb 1942. No. 113 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron formed at Yarmouth, NS, equipped with the Lockheed Hudson.
01 Mar 1942. The first Ceylon-bound aircraft of No. 413 General Reconnaissance (GR) Squadron left the unit's base at Sullom Voe in the Shetlands, bound for Pembrooke Docks. The first four aircraft arrived at Koggala on 28 Mar, 2 Apr, 6 Apr and 7 Apr. One of them (Birchall's) was shot down on 4 Apr and another was shot down on 9 Apr, leaving the unit with just two Catalinas until more arrived weeks later. Birchall was awarded the OBE for his conduct in Japanese PoW camps.
Birchall was gazetted as an Additional Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire on 5 February 1946. His citation:
In April 1942 this officer was shot down and captured after sending out the warning from his patrolling seaplane that a large force of Japanese warships was approaching Ceylon. Throughout his three and a half years as a prisoner of war Wing Commander Birchall as Senior Allied Officer in the prisoner of war camps in which he was located continually displayed the utmost concern for the welfare of his fellow prisoners. On many occasions with complete disregard for his own safety he prevented as far as possible Japanese officials of various camps from sadistically beating his men and denying prisoners the medical attention which they so urgently needed. Typical of his splendid gallantry was when in the Niigato Camp he called a sit down strike in protest against ill treatment of his men. On another occasion when the Japanese wanted to send some sick prisoners of war to work Wing Commander Birchall found it necessary at great personal risk to forcibly prevent the Japanese non commissioned officer in charge from making these prisoners work. As a result Wing Commander Birchall spent several days in solitary confinement. Nevertheless the sick prisoners of war did not have to work. Knowing that each time he forcibly intervened on behalf of his men he would receive brutal punishment Wing Commander Birchall continually endeavoured to improve the lot of his fellow prisoners. He also maintained detailed records of personnel in his camps along with death certificates of deceased personnel. The consistent gallantry and glowing devotion to his fellow prisoners of war that this officer displayed throughout his lengthy period of imprisonment are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall in his Catalina, Ceylon, 1942.
24 Mar 1942. Canadian Pacific Air Lines Ltd was formed by changing the name of United Air Services Ltd and combining several smaller air carriers.
02 Apr 1942. No. 422 (General Reconnaissancel) Squadron was formed at RAF Castle Archdale near Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, as the RCAF's 19th, (and fifth Coastal) squadron formed overseas. It was equipped with Saro Lerwick, Consolidated Catalina Mk. IB, III and VBs, Short Sunderland Mk. III flying boats and Consolidated Liberator C Mk. VI and VII, flying on convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol over the North Atlantic shipping route and the Bay of Biscay. The unit was redesignated No. 422 (Transport) Squadron on 5 Jun 1945. It was disbanded at Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, England on 3 Sep 1945.
The Saro Lerwick was a British flying boat intended to be flown along with the Short Sunderland in RAF Coastal Command. Only a small number were built. They had a poor service record and a high accident rate; of 21 aircraft, 10 were lost to accidents and one for an unknown reason. Lerwicks were flown by RCAF aircrews overseas during the Second World War.
From Jul to Nov 1942, Lerwicks were flown for operational training by No. 422 Squadron, and No. 423 Squadron, RCAF at Lough Erne, England. The aircraft they flew included Serial Nos. L7250, coded U, L7256, coded V, L7258, coded R, L7259, coded Q, L7260, coded P, L7264, coded N, L7266, codd Y, and L7267, coded B. By the end of 1942 the Lerwick had been declared obsolete, and by early 1943 the survivors had been scrapped.
Short S.25 Sunderland Mk. III (Serial No. EK591), coded 2-U of No. 422 Squadron, RCAF based at RAF Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland in 1944, sank German U-boat U-625 on 10 March 1944.
04 Apr 1942. S/L LJ Birchall and crew of a Consolidated Catalina of No. 413 Squadron sighted a large Japanese naval force steaming to attack Ceylon and gave warning before being shot down and taken prisoner. S/L Birchall was awarded the DFC for this action.
09 Apr 1942. No. 421 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, England and equipped with Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Va. The squadron moved to RAF Fairwood Common in May and received the Spitfire Mk Vb. It was the last Canadian fighter squadron to be formed in the UK during the Second World War. Equipped with the Spitfire Mk. IX, IXB and XVI, the squadron unit flew offensive and defensive air operations and in close support of ground forces in North-West Europe. The squadron was disbanded at Utersen, Germany on 10 Jul 1943.
(CF Photo, REC89-142)
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. XVI (Serial No. SM309), coded AU-H, No. 421 Squadron, RCAF, airfield B-90, Petit Brogel, Belgium, 15 Mar 1945.
14 Apr 1942. No. 132 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario. The squadron was employed on West Coast air defence until it was disbanded at Sea Island, British Columbia on 30 Sep 1944. It flew the Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. I, Mk, IA and Mk. III.
20 Apr 1942. No. 125 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Sydney, Nova Scotia, equipped with the Hawker Hurricane Mk. I and Mk. XII flying East Coast air defence.
Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII, RCAF (Serial No. 5501), coded L, No. 125 (Fighter) Squadron, 28 Feb 1943.
No. 125 Squadron was selected in late 1943 as one of six home fighter units for overseas duty. On 8 Feb 1944 it was renumbered No. 441 (Fighter) Squadron at Digby, Lincolnshire, England. The "Silver Fox" squadron flew the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VB, Mk. IXB, F, HF, LF Mk. IX and the North American Mustang Mk. III and Mk. IV. The squadron was disbanded at Molesworth, Huntingdonshire on 7 Aug 1945.
North American Mustang Mk. III with Malcolm hood, RAF (Serial No. HB876), No. 441 Squadron Mustang coded 9G-L.
27 Apr 1942. No. 126 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, equipped with the Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIA and Mk. XII. The squadron flew on East Coast air defence until it was disbanded on 31 May 1945.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4982739)
Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIA (Serial No. BW850), coded BV-T, No. 126 (Fighter) Squadron, RCAF, patrolling from its base at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 9 Aug 1942. This Hurricane has been converted to the Mk. XIIA version by Canadian Car and Foundry (CCF). This aircraft retains its eight-gun wing.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582154)
Boeing Stearman PT-27 Kaydet, RCAF (Serial No. FD975), 29 Apr 1942.
19 April 1942. The RCAF was supplied with 300 Stearman PT-17 biplane trainers in the summer of 1942, to expand its fleet of basic trainers. They served with No. 3 Flying Instructors’ School, Arnprior, Ontario and four Elementary Flying Training Schools, in the Prairies. After about four months they were traded in for Fairchild Cornells, because the open cockpit was found unsuitable for winter training.
01 May 1942. No. 130 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Mont-Joli, Quebec. The Squadron flew Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. IA and Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII on East Coast air defence. The squadron was disbanded at Goose Bay, Labrador, Newfoundland on 15 Mar 1944.
17 May 1942. No. 404 (Coastal Fighter) Squadron participated in an attack on the German cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Skagerrak.
18 May 1942. No. 423 (Coastal) Squadron was formed at Oban, Scotland, equipped with the Short Sunderland flying boat.
(IWM Photo, HU 91909)
Short Sunderland Mk. III (Serial No. DD867), coded 2-G, No. 423 Squadron, RCAF based at Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh, England. The Squadron flew the Short Sunderland Flying Boat, first out of Oban, then from Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland for most of the War.
19 May 1942. No. 162 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, equipped with the Consolidated Canso A. The squadron spent 18 months on East Coast anti-submarine duty. In Jan 1844 the squadron was loaned to RAF Coastal Command and stationed in Iceland to cover the mid-ocean portion of the North Atlantic shipping route. In June and July 1944 the squadron operated from Wick, Scotland. During it service, the squadron sank four U-boats and shared in the sinking of a fifth as the German submarines attempted to break through the North Transit Area near the Shetland Islands to atack the Allied fleet engaged in the D-Day invasion. F/L David E. Hornell was poshumously awareded the Victoria Cross for one of these engagements. The squadron was disbanded at Sydney, Nova Scotia, on 7 Aug 1945.
30 May 1942. No. 145 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Torbay, Newfoundland, equipped with the Lockheed Hudson Mk. I and Mk. II, and the Lockheed Vega Ventura GR Mk. V. The squadron was disbanded at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on 30 Jun 1945.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199519)
Flying Officer E.L. Robinson and his crew of No. 145 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, RCAF, pointing out the location in which they sank the German submarine U-658 on 30 Oct 1942. Torbay, Newfoundland, 31 Oct 1942.
30 – 31 May 1942. Nos. 405, 408, 419 and 420 (Bomber) Squadrons participated in the first 1000 aircraft attack on Germany, directed at Cologne.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581292)
Supermarine Walrus Mk. I pair, visiting an RCAF Station. Eight were in service with the RAF in Canada. Mk. I (2), RAF (Serial Nos. L2330, and W3089), Mk. II (6), (Serial Nos. Z1768, Z1771, Z1775, Z1781, Z1814, and HD909), for a total of 8 aircraft.
May - Aug 1942. The collection of Intelligence on the U-boat threat off Canada’s East coast during the Second World War became an absolute necessity early in the war. Because of sightings and Direction Finding (DF) reports of submarines in the vicinity of Sable Island off the Nova Scotia Coast, a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) detachment with radar-equipped Supermarine Walrus amphibious aircraft was sent to the island in May 1942. The RCAF provided a work party to build the station and later an observer for the aircraft. Under the orders of a controller in Dartmouth, the Walrus flew daily patrols from a small lake on the island whenever the weather permitted, until 20 August when it was lost. The patrol was abandoned for the rest of the 1942 season and the detachment was withdrawn. (W.A.B. Douglas, Creation of a National Airforce, Vol. II, RCAF Official History)
02-8 Jun 1942. Nos. 8, 111 and 118 Squadrons moved to Alaska to join No. 115 Squadron to work with US forces to defend against the Japanese.
(RCAF Photo via the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)
de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, RCAF (Serial No. KA100).
3 Jun 1942. No. 133 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Lethbridge, Alberta. The squadron flew on West Coast air defence until it was disbanded at Patricia Bay, Vancouver, British Columbia on 10 Sep 1945. It flew the Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII, Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. I and de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB Mk. 26.
4 Jun 1942. No. 417 (Fighter) Squadron arrived in Egypt to serve with the Desert Air Force.
(Collingwood Photo courtesy of Stuart Collingwood)
Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIs coded 1-R and 2-T in formation, No. 128 (Fighter) Squadron en route to Gander, Newfoundland, in 1942. No. 128 (Fighter) Squadron dispatched four Hurricane Mk. II's along with four from No. 125 (Fighter) Squadron to Gander on 24 Nov, 1942. They were escorted by a Douglas Digby from No. 119 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron followed by a Consolidated Canso from North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
7 Jun 1942. No. 128 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Sydney, Nova Scotia. It was employed on East Coast air defence, equipped with Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIs. The squadron was disbanded at Torbay, Newfoundland on 15 Mar 1944.
7 Jun 1942. No. 119 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Sydney, NS, equipped with Bristol Bolingbrokes.
Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks refueling, Patricia Bay, British Columbia, 20 Jan 1942.
15 Jun 1942. No. 135 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Mossbank, Saskatchewan. It flew the Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII and Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. IV on West Coast defence until it was disbanded at Patricia Bay, British Columbia on 10 Sep 1945.
25 Jun 1942. No. 425 (Bomber) Squadron, the first French Canadian squadron, was formed at RAF Dishforth in Yorkshire, England, flying Vickers Wellingtons. No. 425 Squadron RCAF 'Alouette Squadron' aircraft wore the code letters "KW". The squadron went into action for the first time on the night of 5/6 Oct 1942, bombing Aachen, Germany with a small number of aircraft. In 1943, the squadron flew to Kairoun, Tunisia, and from there, it conducted operations against Italy and Sicily, returning to the UK in November of the same year.
(Library and Archives canada Photo, PL-10810, MIKAN No. 4752227)
No. 425 (Bomber) Squadron aircrew with their Vickers Wellington bomber, standing left to right, Sgt Roland Dallaire, F/Lt Jean "Rocky" Saint-Pierre, Sgt André Peloquin, P/O Don Larivière, and Sgt Jean Raymond kneeling in front.
In Dec 1943, they were re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax heavy bombers and flew their first mission with these aircraft in February 1944. Their final operation took place on 25 April 1945, when they bombed gun batteries on the Frisian island of Wangerooge. Following the end of the war in Europe, in May 1945, No. 425 Squadron re-equipped again, this time with Avro Lancaster Mk. Xs. The squadron flew back to Canada in Jun 1945, to prepare for their role in Tiger Force for the continuing war against Japan. The use of atomic bombs and firebombing raids on Japan led to the end of the war and the need for Tiger Force. No. 425 Squadron was disbanded on 5 Sep 1945 at RCAF Station Debert, Nova Scotia, less than three weeks after the Japanese surrender.
(Library and Archives Canada Photos, MIKAN No. 4752278)
No. 425 (Bomber) Squadron Handley Page Halifax bombers preparing to take off on mission, 23 Nov 1944.
27 Jul 1942. Sgt GF Beurling, flying a Spitfire of No. 249 Squadron (RAF) destroyed four enemy aircraft over Malta.
1 Jul 1942. No. 127 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was employed on East Coast air defence, equipped with Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIs. Two Hurricanes operated from Gander, Newfoundland. Selected as one of six home fighter units for service overseas, it was redesignated No. 443 (Fighter) Squadron at Digby, Lincolnshire, England on 8 Feb 1944. Working up on Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vs from RAF Westhamnett, the squadron received Spitfire Mk. IXBs the following month when a move was made to Holmesley South to form No. 144 Wing, RAF, 2nd Tactical Air Force and the squadron became operational. The first sorties were flown as bomber escorts and until the invasion in June the squadron carried out deep penetration missions using 90 gallon drop tanks. During the landings themselves, the squadron provided low level fighter cover and on 15 June it moved to France in the close-support and armed reconnaissance role.
(IWM Photo, CL 614)
A Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX of No. 443 Squadron taxies to dispersal at B-2 Bazenville, France, alongside a field where French farmers are gathering in the wheat, with a horse-drawn harvester and binder.
No. 443 Squadron became heavily involved in ground attack sorties and continued to move forward following the Allied advance through Belgium and into the Netherlands, to maintain its close air support of the ground forces. Having returned to RAF Warmwell for an air-firing course the squadron missed the Luftwaffe's New Years attack on Allied airfields. Unlike its two fellow squadrons, it did not return to Britain, but stayed on the continent, following the Allied armies advance into Germany equipped with the Spitfire Mk. XIV and Mk. XIVE. With the end of the war the squadron joined the British Air Forces of Occupation until disbanding at Uetersen, Germany, on 21 Mar 1946.
Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk. XIV (Serial No. TZ141), coded 2I-J, No. 443 (Fighter) Squadron, RCAF, Utersen, Germany, Jan 1946.
(443 Squadron Photo)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXs, No. 443 (Fighter) Squadron, c1944.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521026)
Fairchild Bolingbroke Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 702), 22 Nov 1939. This aircraft was flown by No. 147 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron from Jul 1942 to Mar 1944)
1 Jul 1942. No. 147 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia. The squadron flew the Fairchild (Bristol) Bolingbroke Mk. 1 and Mk. IV onWest Coast anti-submarine duty until it was disbanded at Tofino, British Columbia on 15 Mar 1945.
31 Jul 1942. S/L NE Small and crew in a Lockheed Hudson of No. 113 Squadron sunk the German submarine U-754 southeast of Cape Sable, NS – the first sinking of an enemy vessel by Eastern Air Command.
19 Aug 1942. Six fighter and two Army Cooperation squadrons of the RCAF supported the Canadian attack on Dieppe, France.
28 Aug 1942. No. 129 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was employed on East Coast air defence, equipped with Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIs. The squadron was disbanded at Gander, Newfoundland on 30 Sep 1944.
Two Hawker Hurricane-equipped squadrons had detachments at Goose Bay, Labrador, No. 129 'Micmac' (Fighter) Squadron (8 April, 1943 to 15 October, 1943) which was replaced by No. 130 'Panther' (Fighter) Squadron (26 October, 1943 to 15 March, 1944).
Aug 1942. Canadian heavy bomber squadrons begin shift to No. 4 Group airfields in Yorkshire in preparation for the stand-up of No. 6 (RCAF) Group.
23 Sep 1942. The Canadian DH.98 Mosquito prototype was test flown at Downsview, Ontario by G.R. Spradbrow and F.H. Burrell.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650675)
de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito B Mk. 25 (Serial No KB380), coded R, No. 8 Operational Training Uniti (OTU), RCAF, 16 Oct 1944.
25 Sep 1942. S/L KA Boomer, CO of No. 111 (Fighter) Squadron, destroyed a Japanese Nakajima A6M2-N (Rufe) floatplane fighter over Kiska, Alaska – the only RCAF air combat in the North American theatre of war.
14 Oct 1942. P/O GF Beurling flying a Supermarine Spitfire of No. 249 Squadron (RAF) destroyed three enemy aircraft over Malta but was himself shot down and wounded.
15 Oct 1942. No. 426 Squadron was formed at RAF Dishforth, England. The squadron was initially equipped with Vickers Wellington Mk. IIIs and Mk. Xs. The squadron flew with No. 4 Group, RAF, carrying out its first operational mission occurred on the night of the 14th and 15 January 1943, when seven Wellingtons bombed Lorient, France. The squadron flew its missions at night, principally over Germany. Unlike the other RCAF Wellington squadrons it did not go to Tunisia that year, but remained operating over Germany. In 1943 No. 426 Squadron was transferred to No. 6 (RCAF) Group, and in June it moved to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, where it was re-equipped with the Bristol Hercules radial-engined Avro Lancaster Mk. II heavy bomber. Shortly afterwards, No. 426 Squadron resumed the offensive, and continued with the night campaign from Linton for the next ten months. On April 1944 it began to re-equip with Handley Page Halifax Mk. IIIs and Mk. VIIs, and for the next year continued to operate with these bombers as part of No. 6 (RCAF) Group.
During the war it flew 261 operational missions (242 bombing missions and 19 mining excursions) involving 3,213 sorties, and in doing so lost 88 aircraft. Its last operation took place on 25 Apr 1945, when 20 Handley Page Halifax aircraft bombed gun batteries on the island of Wangerooge. On 25 May 1945, the squadron was renamed No. 426 Transport Squadron.
15 Oct 1942. No. 424 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at RAF Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, England, as the sixth RCAF Overseas bomber squadron. It was allocated to No. 4 Group, RAF, where it was initially equipped with the Vickers Wellington Mk. III medium bomber, and later with Mk. Xs. No. 424 Squadron joined No. 6 (RCAF) Group and began operations on 15 Jan 1943, after moving to RAF Leeming, and then to RAF Dalton. By the end of Apr 1943, No. 424 Squadron had bombed Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Bochum, Hamburg, Cologne, Essen, and took part in a third trip to Duisburg.
On 10 Apr 1943, No. 424 Squadron was selected to become part of No. 205 Group, RAF, forming part of No. 331 (RCAF) Medium Bomber Wing, flying Vickers Wellington B Mk. X bombers, for operations in North Africa. The Wellingtons were tropicalized for use in the heat, sand, and frequent dust storms, and offered much improved performance including the ability to fly on one engine. Its first new mission was in support of Operaton Husky, the invasion of Sicily (9/10 Jul 1943), while based in Tunisia. The squadron bombed airfields, harbours, freight yards and rail junctions.
No, 424 Squadron was declared operational at Zina (Kairouan West) Airfield, Tunisia on 26 Jun 1943, operating from a rough and primitive airstrip scraped out of scrubby unused olive groves, initially bombing 'pre-invasion' targets, then bombing in support of Allied Ground Forces in Sicily, and Operation Avalanche, the invasion of Southern Italy (3 Sep 1943). Flying almost nightly, the 'Tigers' operated from Zina Airfield until 29 Sep 1943. The squadron moved to El Hani East Landing Ground (Kairouan), from where they continued to support Allied Ground Forces in Italy. The last mission of No. 331 (RCAF) Wing was on 5 Oct 1943 when twenty-one Vickers Wellington B Mk. X aircraft of No. 424 and No. 425 Squadrons bombed the airfield at Grosseto, Italy, half-way between Rome and Pisa. They departed on 15 Oct 1943.
Handley Page HP 57 Halifax Mk. III bomber “O” for Oscar, with No. 424 “Tiger” Squadron, RCAF, taxis for takeoff from Skipton-on-Swale in England, ca 1944. During its career with the Tigers, it completed 62 sorties on enemy targets. This Halifax Mk. III is equipped with Bristol Hercules radial engines, but other versions used the more well-known Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.
No. 424 Squadron arrived back in Yorkshire, on 6 Nov 1943, and was assigned to No. 63 Base, RCAF, at RAF Skipton-on-Swale, arriving in time for yet another North Yorkshire winter. The squadron was re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk. III heavy bombers. Operating out of Skipton-on-Swale, it continued in the night offensive against Germany throughout 1944. In October 1944, a Mat Ferguson 'Squadron Badge' was submitted to the Chester Herald of the Royal College of Arms and 'much modified' came to be approved by King George VI in Jun 1945. No. 424 Squadron gained its "Tiger" nickname.
In Jan 1945, No. 424 Squadron was re-equipped with Avro Lancaster Mk. Is and Mk. IIIs and flew its final sortie in April 1945. After VE Day, the squadron served with No. 1 Group RAF 'Bomber Command Strike Force', flying POW repatriation missions from Italy from 30 Aug 1945. The squadron was disbanded at Skipton on 15 Oct 1945, having received fourteen battle honours.
26 Oct 1942. No. 149 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron was formed at Patricia Bay, Vancouver, British Columbia. The squadron was the only home unit to be equipped with the Bristol Beaufort to meet the Japanese naval threat from the Aleutians. When the Japanese withdrew in the summer of 1943, the unti was redesignated No. 149 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, and re-equipped with Lockheed Vega Ventura GR Mk. V aircraft. The squadron was employed on West Coast anti-submarine duty until it was disbanded on 15 Mar 1944.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PB-1406, MIKAN No. 3225024)
Bristol Beaufort Mk. I (Serial No. N1030), coded N, No. 149 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron, RCAF, on patrol over Patricia bay, British Columbia, 18 June 1943.
30 Oct 1942. F/O DF Raymes and crew in a Douglas B-18 Digby of No. 10 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron destroyed the German submarine U-520 far out in the Atlantic Ocean.
30 Oct 1942. F/O EL Robinson and crew in a Lockheed Hudson of No. 145 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron destroyed the German submarine U-658 320 miles east of St John’s NL.
05 Nov 1942. The Canadian government expropriated the facilities of the Aircraft Division of the National Steel Car Corp. at Malton, ON, and began their operation as a crown corporation, Victory Aircraft Ltd.
07 Nov 1942. No. 427 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at Croft, England as a part of No. 6 (RCAF) Group, RAF Bomber Command. The squadron flew Vickers Wellington Mk. IIIs and Mk. Xs, from its first operational mission on 14 Dec 1942, a minelaying sortie to the Frisian Islands, until May 1943 when it was relocated to Leeming, North Yorkshire. Re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk. V aircraft, the squadron flew intensely until early 1944 when it replaced its inventory with Halifax Mk. III aircraft. This fleet saw the greatest number of missions and in slightly more than a year's time they were then replaced by Avro Lancaster bombers prior to the end of the Second World War. The Lancasters were used for prisoner of war repatriation until the end of May 1946. No. 427 Squadron was stood down on 1 Jun 1946.
(DND Archives Photo, PL-40064)
Handley Page Halifax B Mk. III bomber, nicknamed "Gutsy Girty", from No. 427 Squadron, shown at Leeming, Yorkshire, with its crew before a night operation. No. 427 Squadron RCAF (Lion Squadron) aircraft wore the code letters ZL.
07 Nov 1942. No. 428 (Bomber) Squadron, also known as the Ghost Squadron, was the ninth long-range heavy bomber Article XV squadron formed overseas during the Second World War, at RAF Dalton in Yorkshire, England. The squadron was initially assigned to No. 4 Group, RAF. With the creation of No. 6 (RCAF) Group, the squadron was reallocated on 1 Jan 1943 operating with it until 25 Apr 1945.
The squadron was initially equipped with Vickers Wellington Mk. III and Mk. Xs. It carried out its first operational mission on 26-27 Jan 1943, when five Wellingtons bombed the U-Boat base at Lorient in Brittany, on the Bay of Biscay. In the early part of Jun 1943, the squadron moved to RAF Middleton, St. George, where it remained for the remainder of the war. Around this time the squadron was converted to Handley Page Halifax Mk. V heavy bombers, later supplemented by Mk. IIAs.
In Jan 1944, Halifax bombers from No. 428 Squadron participated in the first high-level mining raid (Gardening), when mines were dropped by parachute from 15,000 feet (4,570 m) over Brest on 4/5 Jan and Saint-Nazaire on 6/7 Jan 1945. The squadron flew its last sortie with the Halifax on 12 Jun 1944. Shortly afterwards, No. 428 Squadron converted to the Canadian-built Avro Lancaster B Mk. X, with the first sortie taking place on 14 Jun 1944.
For the final phase of the air campaign against Germany, the squadron took part in day and night raids, with its last operational sortie taking place on 25 Apr 1945, when 15 Lancasters bombed anti-aircraft gun batteries defending the mouth of the Weser River on the Frisian Island of Wangerooge. No. 428 Squadron RCAF remained in service in the United Kingdom until the end of May 1945. By the middle of June the squadron had moved to RCAF Station Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, where it was disbanded on 5 Sep 1945.
(Chris Sheehan Photo)
Avro Lancaster, No. 428 Squadron, RCAF, "Goofy", with Radar Mechanic Harold Greer, Middleton St George, UK, 1944.
07 Nov 1942. No. 429 (Bomber) Squadron was initially assigned to No 4 Group at RAF East Moor. It was reassigned to No 6. Group, RCAF, and flew until it was disbanded on 31 May 1946. The squadron moved to RAF Leeming in 1943. During the war No. 408 Squadron flew Vickers Wellingtons in the Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role from Nov 1942 to Aug 1943, then the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber from Aug 1943 to March 1945, then the Avro Lancaster B Mk. I and Mk. III from March 1945 to May 1946. The squadron also flew the Douglas Dakota transport aircraft. No. 429 (Bison) Squadron aircraft wore the code letters AL.
(NAC Photo, PL42838, e999920460-u)
Handley Page Halifax (Serial No. LV993), coded M for Mother, No. 429 (Bison) Squadron, RCAF. LV993 was a veteran of 95 trips on enemy targets. LV993 is shown here with its ground crew, and the pilot who flew it on its last 12 trips. In all the Crew flying this aircraft totalled 232 years in age, probably one of the oldest in No. 6 Group, RCAF. Left to right, LAC W.H. Rollinson, Langstaff, Ontario, rigger; LAC W.H, Patterson, Toronto (182 Morse St.) Ontario, fitter; F/L J.L. Brown, Domremy, Saskatchewan, pilot of the aircraft; Sgt. E.A. Smith, Brandon, Manitoba, fitter: and LAC R.W. Wright, Toronto, (2722 Yonge St.) rigger.
08 Nov 1942. Pilots of No. 807 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm carried out the first combat operations in history equipped with a G-suit: the Canadian-designed Franks anti-G suit, flying Supermarine Seafires over Oran, Algeria.
11 Nov 1942. No. 431 (Bomber) Squadron, nicknamed the "Iroquois" squadron, was formed at RAF Burn, in North Yorkshire England. The squadron was initially equipped with Vickers Wellington B Mk. X medium bombers and assigned to No. 4 Group, RAF.
(IWM Photo, CNA 2699)
Vickers Wellington B Mk. X, No. 20 Squadron, RAF in Italy, similar to the bombers flown by No. 431 Squadron.
No. 431 (Bomber) Squadron moved to RAF Tholthorpe in mid-1943 as part of the move to bring all RCAF squadrons into No. 6 (RCAF) Group. Here, it converted to the Handley Page Halifax B Mk. III heavy bomber. In Dec 1943 the squadron moved to RAF Croft where it was re-equipped with Halifax Mk. IIIs and later, Avro Lancaster B Mk. Xs. The squadron moved to RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, after the war, and was disbanded there on 5 Sep 1945.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-PL-30752, MIKAN No. 5129633)
Aircrew of No. 431 (Bomber) Squadron, No. (RCAF) Group's Iroquois squadron are shown examining model of an airborne lifeboat such as is dropped from aircraft to fliers floating in Mae Wests or dinghies. The squadron concentrated on night and day bombings of flying bomb targets. Left to right are: F/0 J.R. Poste, navigator; F/O D.R. Wiley, rear gunner; and P/O T.A. Rhodes, pilot.
05 Dec 1942. The Canadian Vickers prototype of the Consolidated Canso was test flown at St. Hubert Airport, PQ, by ECW Dobbin and crew.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2222007)
1942. Canadian 6-cent postage stamp with a Harvard trainer.
01 Jan 1943. No. 6 (RCAF) Group assumed operational status at 0001 hours. Under the command of Air Vice Marshall G.E. Brookes, the group was initially comprised of six RCAF bomber squadrons located aft four stations with No. 427 Squadron at Croft, No. 428 Squadron at Dalton, No. 425 and No. 426 Squadrons at Dishforth, and No. 419 and No. 420 Squadrons at Middleton St. George. No. 408 Squadron at Leeming joined the group on 2 Jan 1943, and No. 424 Squadron at Leeming joined the group on 3 jan 1943. Skipton-on-Swale was under construction as the group's seventh station. By the end of the war, the group was to grow to 14 squadrons based at eight stations. Throughout the war the bomber offensive was highly centralized and closely controlled by Bommber Command Headquarters.
01 Jan 1943. No. 430 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, "City of Sudbury", was formed at Hartford Bridge, Hampshire, England as the RCAF's 30th (3rd and last) AC squadron formed overseas. On 28 Jun 1943 it was redesignated No. 430 (Fighter Reconnaissance) Squadron. This unit flew Curtiss Tomahawk Mk. I and II, North American Mustang Mk. I and Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk. XIV fighters on air intelligence work, carrying out photographic reconnaissanc for Allied invasion planners and before-and-after photographs of air attacks on German "No-ball" V-1 flying bomb launch sites. After 6 Jun 1944 the squadron provided tactical photographic reconnaissance for ground forces in North-West Europe. The squadron was disbanded at Luneburg, Germany, on 7 Aug 1945.
North American Mustang Mk. I (Serial No. AM148), coded G-RM, No. 26 Squadron, RAF, based at Gatwick around June 1942. AM148 later served with No. 430 Squadron, RCAF.
01 Jan 1943. The RCAF badge was approved by HM the King.
04 Jan 1943. The Avro 652A Anson V prototype was test flown at Montreal, PQ.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583160)
Supermarine Spitfire F Mk. VI, RCAF (Serial No. X4492), in flight, 26 Feb 1944. Built as X F Mk.1 4492, later converted to X F Mk. V. This Spitfire flew with No. 13 (P) Squadron out of Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario.
14 Jan 1943. No. 13 (Photographic) Flight was formed at Rockcliffe, at the request of the British Air Ministry to carry out photgraphic research, flying Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V, and Hawker Hurricane fighters and North American Mitchell bombers on tri-camera high altitude aerial photography missions. The squadron was redesignated No. 13 Photographic) Squadron on 1 Apr 1947, and flew North American Mitchell Mk. II, Consolidated Canso A, Avro Lancaster Mk. XP, Noordyn Norseman Mk. IV and de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito B Mk. 25 aircraft.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643717)
Lockheed Lodestar, RCAF (Serial No. 555), No. 164 (Transport) Squadron, Rockcliffe, Ontario, 23 Nov 1943.
23 Jan 1943. No. 164 (Transport) Squadron was formed at Moncton, New Brunswick. The squadron flew the Lockheed Lodestar and Douglas Dakota aircraft on East Coast transport duty. It was the RCAF's premier transport squadron and the cornerstone of the peacetime Air Transport Command. The squadron provided trained aircrews as the nucleus of other air transport units formed both in Canada and overseas.Post-war, it was retained on the peacetime establishment and on 1 Aug 1946 it was re-organized into two transport units. The squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, became No. 426 Squadron and the detachment at Edmonton, Alberta, became No. 435 Squadron.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583496)
Douglas Dakota Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 664), serving with No. 165 (T) Squadron at RCAF Station Sea Island, 18 Sep 1944.
23 Jan 1943. No. 165 (Transport) Squadron was formed at Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia. The squadron flew the Lockheed Lodestar and Douglas Dakota aircraft on West Coast transport duty until it was disbanded on 1 Nov 1945.
21 Feb 1943. The movie "Captains of the Clouds" is released in which the RCAF and the old RCAF Station Ottawa play starring roles.
(DND Archives Photo, PCN-3898)
Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII (Serial No. 5584), (520199),No. 163 (Fighter) Squadron, Canada Aviation and Space Museum collection.
01 Mar 1943. No. 163 (Army Co-operation) Squadron was formed at Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia. The squadron flew the Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft as part of Western Air Command on West Coast photographic work. The squadron also flew the North American Harvard Mk. II in close air support training for Canadian troops at Wainwright, Alberta. It converted to the Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII in Jun 1943. On 14 Oct 1943 the squadron was redesignated No. 163 (Fighter) Squadron and was re-equipped with the Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. I and Mk. III. The squadron was employed on West Coast air defence until it was disbanded on 15 Mar 1944.
22 Apr 1943. The Air Cadet Corps was made a component of the RCAF by Order-in-Council.
26-27 Apr 1943. No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron, now transferred to No. 8 Pathfinder Group (RAF), carried out its first Pathfinder operation.
Consolidated Aircraft Model 28-5AMC Canso A, RCAF (Serial No. 9750), 3 Jan 1942. This aircraft was flown by No. 161 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron from Oct 1943 to May 1945.
28 Apr 1943. No. 161 (Bomber Reconnaiddance) Squadron was formed at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The squadron flew the Douglas Digby and Consolidated Canso A on East Coast anti-submarine duty over the Gulf of St Lawrence until it was disbanded at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on 31 May 1945.
01 May 1943. No. 432 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at RAF Skipton-on-Swale as part of No. 6 (RCAF) Group, RAF Bomber Command. The unit was initially equipped with Vickers Wellington Mk. X medium bombers. The squadron deployed to RAF East Moor in mid-Sep. In Oct 1943, it was re-equipped with Avro Lancaster Mk. II heavy bombers. In Feb 1944 the squadron converted to Handley Page Halifax Mk. IIIs, upgrading these to Halifax Mk.VIIs in Jul 1944.
As part of a RCAF public relations plan, the town of Leaside officially "adopted" No. 432 Squadron, RCAF. The squadron took the town's name as its nickname, becoming 432 "Leaside" Squadron RCAF. The sponsorship lasted the duration of the war. The squadron was disbanded at East Moor in May 1945.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3615003)
Avro Lancaster B Mk. II (Serial No. DS848), coded QO-R with aircrew, No. 432 (Leaside) Squadron, RCAF, 1944.
03 May 1943. No. 160 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia. In Jul 1943 the squadron moved to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, flying the Boeing (Consolidated) Canso A on East Coast anti-submarine duty until it was disbanded at Torbay, Newfoundland on 15 Jun 1945.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 358979)
Boeing Canada Canso A, RCAF (Serial No. 9793), flown by No. 160 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron.
04 May 1943. First paratroop training jumps were carried out at Camp Shilo, AB by the Canadian Army and No. 2 Detachment of No. 165 (HT) Squadron.
04 May 1943. S/L BH Moffitt and crew of a Consolidated Canso of No. 5 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, Eastern Air Command, attacked and damaged German submarine U-438 in the West Atlantic Ocean.
13 May 1943. F/L J Musgrave and crew of a Short Sunderland W6006 of No. 423 Squadron attacked and sunk German submarine U-753 (shared with HMCS Drumheller and HMS Lagan).
14 May 1943. LAC KG Spooner was awarded the George Cross posthumously. Spooner, a student navigator with no pilot training took over the controls of an Avro Anson of No. 4 Air Observers School, London, Ontario, after the pilot had fainted, allowing three other occupants to bail out, the aircraft crashed in Lake Erie and Spooner was killed.
16-17 May 1943. No. 617 (RAF) Squadron, led by W/C GP Gibson (RAF), breached the Mohne and Eder Dams in the German Ruhr. Twenty-nine of the 133 men in the attack were members of the RCAF and seven of them were decorated.
May 1943. Three RCAF bomber squadrons, Nos. 420, 424 and 425, all equipped with Vickers Wellington B Mk. X bombers, were detached from No. 6 (RCAF) Group and sent on loan to North Africa. As part of No. 331 (Medium Bomber) Wing (RCAF), they took part in the heavy bombardment preparations for and in support of the Allied landings in Sicily and Italy.
Jun 1943. The first four-engine civil aircraft was registered in Canada, a British-built Avro 683 Lancaster Mk. III, CF-CMS, operated on Transatlantic service by Trans-Canada Air Lines.
13 Jun 1943. No. 434 (Bomber) Squadron was formed at RAF Tholthorpe, England on 13 June 1943. It was initially equipped with the Handley Page Halifax Mk. V. On 13 Aug 1943 it flew its first operational sortie, a bombing raid across the Alps to Milan, Italy. In May 1944 the unit received Halifax Mk. IIIs to replace its Mk. Vs. The squadron was adopted by the Rotary Club of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and to show its connection to the city adopted the nickname "Bluenose Squadron", the common nickname for people from Nova Scotia and a tribute to the schooner Bluenose. An image of the schooner is on the squadron badge.
The squadron moved to RAF Croft in Dec 1943 and re-equipped with Avro Lancaster Mk. Is and Mk. Xs in Dec 1944. After VE, the squadron was earmarked for Tiger Force to carry on the war against Japan, but was never deployed to the Far East. The unit was disbanded at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on 5 Sep 1945.
(DND Archives Photo, PL-22973, via Chris Charland)
No. 434 (Bomber) Squadron photo, taken on 9 Feb 1944. Original caption, “These three airman from the Bluenose Squadron of the RCAF Bomber Group in England are now members of the ‘Caterpillar Club’ which is limited to those who have bailed out of an aircraft and walked home. During an attack on Berlin their aircraft was shot up by flak from the enemy’s defences which set the incendiaries on fire in the bomb bay, shot the rudder control away, making the aircraft hard to handle. On the way home they also ran short of petrol and were forced to ‘hit the silk’. Shown adjusting parachute harness locks are (left to right) Sergeant Don Tofflemire, rear gunner; Sergeant W.G. “Bill” Whitton, mid-upper gunner; and Flight Sergeant Jim Campbell, bomb aimer.”
(CFJIC Photo, PL-36903)
Avro Lancaster (Serial No. KB824), coded WL-E, "The Hairy Chop", No. 434 (Bomber) Squadron. KB824 was struck in its starboard elevator and wing between both starboard engines by cannon fire from a Messerschmit Me 210 Hornisse night fighter while on a mission to Pforzheimon, Germany on 23 Feb 1945. The aircraft was repaired. It was struck again on another mission, this time in the nose by flak while on a day light mission to Leipzig, Germany on 10 Apr 1945. The aircraft was repaired.
23 Jun-01 Jul 1943. First Transatlantic glider flight: A Waco CG4A, co-pilot S/L FM Gobeil (RCAF) was towed from Montreal, PQ to Prestwick, Scotland, in stages by a Douglas C-47 Dakota piloted by F/L WS Longhurst, a Canadian in the RAF.
11-12 Jul 1943. F/O JH Turnbull, a Canadian in No. 600 Squadron (RAF), flying a Bristol Beaufighter, destroyed three Junkers Ju 88 bombers in a night interception over Sicily.
22 Jul 1943. The first regular Canadian transatlantic air service was inaugurated, operated by Trans-Canada Air Lines for the Canadian Government using one Avro Lancaster Mk. III for freight/mail service and priority passengers and nine 10-passenger Avro 691 Lancastrian aircraft for freight/mail service and priority passengers from 1943 to 1947.
28-29 Jul 1943. No. 6 (RCAF) Group despatched over 200 bombers for the first time on an attack on Hamburg, Germany. 22 bombers did not return.
29 Jul 1943. The Canadian prototype of the Curtiss Helldiver, designated SBW-1, was test flown at Fort William, ON.
01 Aug 1943. The prototype Avro 683 Lancaster Mk. X was test flown at Malton, Ontario by EH Taylor and crew, the aircraft was later christened “Ruhr Express” on 6 Aug.
04 Aug 1943. F/L AA Bishop and crew of a Short Sunderland of No. 423 Squadron sank the German submarine U-489. The Sunderland was shot down by the submarine; five crew members were lost and six saved.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650735)
Douglas Digby Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 749).
15 Aug 1943. No. 167 (Communications) Squadron was formed at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The squadron flew the Avro Anson Mk. I, Grumman Goose, Noorduyn Norseman, Douglas Digby, Lockheed Hudson Mk. III and the Beechcraft Expeditor. These aircraft transported staff officers of Eastern Air Command until the squadron was disbanded on 1 Oct 1945.
07 Sep 1943. P/O EM O’Donnell and crew of a Vickers Wellington of No. 407 Squadron sank the German submarine U-669 to the west of the Bay of Biscay.
15 Sep 1943. First Avro 683 Lancaster Mk. X arrived in England after a transatlantic delivery flight.
16 Sep 1943. No. 166 (Communications) Squadron was formed at Sea Island, Vancouver, British Columbia. The squadron flew the Canadian Vickers Stranraer, Cessna Crane, Lockheed Electra, Grumman Goose Mk. II, Noorduyn Norseman Mk. VI and Mk. IVWA, North American AT-6A Harvard Mk. IIB, Beechcraft Expeditor Mk. 3T, and the Avro Anson Mk. V. These aircraft transported staff officers of Western Air Command until the squadron was disbanded on 31 Oct 1945.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581732)
Cessna Crane Mk. IA, RCAF (Serial No. 7658), 22 Feb 1941.
19 Sep 1943. F/L RF Fisher and crew of a Consolidated Liberator of No. 10 Squadron sank the German submarine U-341 in the North Atlantic.
23 Sep 1943. The Avro 652A Anson Mk. VI prototype was test flown at Cartierville, Quebec.
25 Sep 1943. No. 433 Squadron was formed at RAF Skipton-on-Swale, but was without aircraft for nearly two months until it was equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk. III. It began operations on 2 Jan 1944. For the next year the squadron was continuously operational with Halifaxes over the Continent by night. In Jan 1945 the Halifaxes were replaced by Avro Lancaster Mk. Is, which the squadron flew until the war ended in Europe. As part of No. 1 Group, No. 433 Squadron confinued to serve, flying trooping flights from Germany and Italy, bringing back troops and POWs. This continued until 15 Oct 1945, when the squadron disbanded at Skipton-on-Swale.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3614993)
Handley Page Halifax B Mk. III (Serial No. HX290), No. 433 Squadron, RCAF tail gunner in front of his Boulton Paul four gun turret.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-29379), MIKAN No. 5109404)
Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. III (Serial No. MZ808), coded BM-P, "Pride of the Porcupines", with aircrew and grondcrewmembers of No. 433 (Porcupine) Squadron, RCAF, No. 6 Bomber Group. Aircrew and groundcrew piled onto a miniature English automobile owned by one of the aircrew members. Left to Right: LAC D.W. Higgins, LAC Tom Collins, AC "Duke" Ducarme, Sgt. Sandy Grant, air gunner; Sgt. Bill Keen, bomb aimer; F/Sgt. Bob Thomas, navigator; LAC Gordon Austin, Sgt. Bill Mackay, flight engineer; Warrant Officer Jack McNaughton, pilot. MZ808 crashed on Fynn Island, Denmark after being shot down by a 1./ NJG 3 night-fighter flown by Oberleutnant Herbert Koch while returning from a Gardening mission in Kiel Bay on 17 August, 1944.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3614992)
Debriefing of aircrew of No. 433 (Bomber) Squadron, RCAF, after a raid on German flying-bomb sites in France, 1944.
Sep 1943. No. 404 Squadron converts to the Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk. XIC, becoming the first and only Canadian Torbeau squadron.
08 Oct 1943. F/L AH Russell and crew of a Short Sunderland of No. 423 Squadron sank the German submarine U-610 in the North Atlantic.
18 Oct 1943. No. 168 (Heavy Transport) Squadron was formed at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario. The squadron flew the Lockheed Lodestar, Boeing Fortress Mk. IIA, Douglas Dakota Mk. I, Mk. III and Mk. IV, and the Consolidated Liberator GR Mk. VIT. The squadron delivered mail to Canadian servicemen in the United Kingdom and on the Continent until it was disbanded on 21 Apr 1946.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643725)
Boeing B-17 Fortress Mk. IIA (Serial No. 9205), No. 168 (Heavy Transport) Squadron, RCAF, 8 Aug 1944.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643737)
Consolidated Liberator GR Mk. VI T (Serial No. 570), No. 168 (Heavy Transport) Squadron, RCAF, 14 Nov 1944.
26 Oct 1943. F/L RM Aldwinckle and crew of a Consolidated Liberator of No. 10 Squadron sank the German submarine U-420 in the North Atlantic.
06 Nov 1943. Spilsbury and Hepburn Ltd, Vancouver, BC, purchased YKC-S, CF-AWK and started flying operations on what later became Queen Charlotte Airlines Ltd.
On 18 Nov 1943, No. 118 (F) Squadron at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario. Initially equipped with Hawker Hurricanes, this unit was the first of six home squadrons transferred overseas in preparation for the invason of Europe. On 18 Nov 1943, the squadron was redesignated No. 438 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron at Digby, Lincolnshire, England, flying the Hawker Hurricane Mk. IV and the Hawker Typhoon Mk. IB. It was disbanded at Flensburg, Germany on 26 Aug 1945.
(RCAF Photo via Francois Dutil)
Hawker Sea Hurricane (Serial No. BW837), No. 118 Squadron, RCAF, at Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick, 1942. 50 Canadian built Sea Hurricanes destined for the Royal Navy were retained in Canada. All were placed on strength of No. 118 Squadron in Nov 1941. These fighters were test flown by No. 118 Squadron pilots upon arrival or reasembly. Many were put in temporary storage, the few others still leaving with the RAF were also test flown by No. 118 Squadron pilots prior to fitting to catapult equipped merchant vessels. No. 118 Squadron formed a “Hurricane Flight” and more than a dozen were regularly flown by squadron personnel. The squadron was operating a full complement of Curtiss Kittyhawks, Hawker Sea Hurricanes, and a few North American Harvard Mk. IIs, and was still flying its CCF Gobblins well into Jan 1942.
These catapult spool and arrestor hook equipped Sea Hurricanes were painted in a RN Fleet Air Arm (FAA) paint scheme of dark greys with ROYAL NAVY painted on the fuselage, looking oddly out of place on an RCAF ramp. On 27 Apr 1942, the Sea Hurricanes, many of which with their naval modifications now removed, along with many No. 118 Squadron personnel from the “Hurricane Flight” formed the nucleus of the newly formed 126 (F) Squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The squadron code displayed on all unit aircraft was "RE" from January 1941 to May 1942 when it changed to "VW".
With the entry of American into the war following the Japanese 7 Dec 1941 attack on Pearl harbor, Hawaii, the Canadian Government of Prime Minister Mackenzie King offered military naval and air support to the then limited American capabilities facing Japanese expansion in the Aleutian Islands. Two fighter and light bomber wings were formed for service on the Pacific coast, X and Y Wings composed of Curtiss Kittyhawk fighters and Fairchild (Bristol) Bolingbroke light bombers under RCAF Western Command. No. 118 Squadron would join No. 115 Squadron forming Y Wing.
The Squadron thus left Dartmouth on the morning of 6 June 1942 for their epic 4,000-mile trip to Annette Island, Alaska. They arrived on 21 June with A Flight being armed and refuelled ready for action within 15 minutes of landing. The crossing of the North American continent in those days of quite limited navigational aids and support facilities is worthy of inclusion into the annals of Canadian military aviation. The squadron moved to Sea Island, British Columbia on 20 Aug 1943 and would remain there until ordered overseas. Five pilots perished in non-combat-related crashes during this period of home defence.
Leaving their Kittyhawks behind, the 142 strong squadron crossed Canada by rail embarking on 2 November 1943 in Halifax for the sea voyage to England. On 18 Nov 1943 the squadron was redesignated, this time as No.438 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron upon arriving at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire. The squadron moved to RAF Ayr, Scotland on 10 Jan 1944 learning to fly the Hawker Hurricane, easing their conversion to the Hawker Typhoon. No. 438 Squadron became one of 3 RCAF Typhoon squadrons forming No. 143 Wing, RCAF, itself part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force.
(DND Photo, PL-42101)
Hawker Typhoon Mk. IB, No. 438 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, 143 Wing, RCAF, taxiing an airfield in the Netherlands, c1945.
In mid March 1944, No. 438 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron began cross channel offensive operations against pre-invasion targets from RAF Hurn and RAF Funtington in England. After D-Day, its main task was close support to allied ground forces by dive-bombing and strafing enemy strong-points, bridges, rail and road traffic. The front lines moving further inland, on 27 June the squadron moved to forward airfield B-9 Lantheuil n France. This base was still well within the range of German artillery and on 15 July Flying Officer Ross Johnson, a 21 year old squadron pilot was killed during a barrage directed at his motor transport. The Wildcats moved from airfield to airfield following the front lines ever deeper within the European Continent. B.24 St. André on 31 Aug, B.48 Glisy on 3 Sep, B.58 Melsbroek on 6 Sep just in time to participate in Operation Market Garden. It moved into the airfield at Eindhoven, Netherlands on 26 Sep. The base had just been recently vacated by the enemy as a result of the operation. There they lost their new Commanding Officer Acting Squadron Leader Peter Wilson on the very day he took command, 1 Jan 1945, during the Luftwaffe's Operation Bodenplatte against allied airfields.
(RCAF Photo via Francois Dutil)
Destroyed RCAF Hawker Typhoons at Eindhoven, Netherlands after the Luftwaffe's Operation Bodenplatte against allied airfields on 1 Jan 1945.
On 19 March 1945, after nearly 6 months in Eindhoven, with the end of the war in sight, the squadron was pulled from combat operations and sent back to RAF Warmwell for rocket firing training. The RCAF Typhoon squadrons did not use this weapon in combat preferring bombs, earning them the nickname "Bombphoons". It is during this Armament Practice Camp that their latest CO, Squadron Leader James Easson Hogg, DFC, a seasoned veteran, failed to pull out of a dive and crashed into the channel dying instantly. The squadron returned to the fight on 3 Apr 1945 in Germany proper this time to B.100 Goch, to B.150 Hustedt on 21 April and finally to B.166 Flensburg on 29 May, where the squadron was disbanded on 26 Aug 1945.
10 – 11 Dec 1943. F/O RD Schultz, No. 401 Squadron, flying a DH.98 Mosquito, destroyed three Dornier Do 217 bombers in a night interception sortie.
15 Dec 1943. A Boeing Fortress of No. 168 (HT) Squadron, piloted by W/C RB Middleton left Rockcliffe, Ontario with mail for Canadian servicemen overseas, thus beginning RCAF air transport operations on a global scale.
1943. Construction of Abbotsford Airport (CYXX) in Abbotsford, British Columbia, was completed as a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) base and was initially home to No. 24 Elementary Flying Training School (24 EFTS). The RCAF Station closed in 1946.
(Toronto Star Photograph Archive)
Fairey Battle and a twin-engine Airspeed Oxford Mk. I (Serial No. 1514), provide the background to an RCAF Wings parade at Camp Borden in 1944. These pilots received their flying training under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. They were among 133,554 pilots, observers, bomb aimers, navigators and flight engineers from all parts of the Commonwealth produced by the plan.
12 Jan 1944. The Cabinet approved the manning of the aircraft carriers HMS Nabob and HMS Puncher by RCN crews.
(Bruce Jones Photo)
HMS Nabob (D77)
(Shearwater Aviation Museum Photo)
HMS Puncher (D79).
11 Feb 1944 F/O PW Heron and crew of a Vickers Wellington of No. 407 Squadron sank the German Submarine U-283 in the North Atlantic.
01 Mar 1944. No. 170 (Ferry) Squadron was formed at Winnipeg, Manitoba. The squadron ferried training and operational aircraft in western Canada until it was disbanded on 1 Oct 1945.
15 Mar 1944. The following units were disbanded: No. 119 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, No. 128 (Fighter) Squadron, No. 130 (Fighter) Squadron, No. 147 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, No. 149 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, and No. 163 (Fighter) Squadron.
24-25 Mar 1944. Nine Canadian prisoners of war take part in “The Great Escape”. They are recaptured and six are executed by the Gestapo.
17 Apr 1944. F/O TC Cooke and crew of a Consolidated Canso of No. 162 Squadron sank the German submarine U-342 southwest of Iceland.
24 Apr 1944. F/L FG Fellows and crew of a Short Sunderland of No. 423 Squadron sank the German submarine U-311 southwest of Ireland.
02 May 1944. Two DH.98 Mosquitoes of No. 418 Squadron crewed by S/L CC Scherf (RAAF) with F/O WAR Stewart, navigator, and F/O JT Caine and P/O EW Boal, destroyed ten enemy aircraft on the ground, damaged four more on the ground, and destroyed one in the air, during a daylight intrusion to the Baltic coast.
16 May 1944. Two DH.98 Mosquitoes of No. 418 Squadron crewed by S/L CC Scherf (RAAF) with F/O CG Finlayson, navigator, and S/L HD Cleveland with FS F. Day (RAF), navigator, destroyed six enemy aircraft in the air and two on the ground during a daylight intrusion to the Baltic coast.
04 May 1944. F/L LJ Bateman and crew of a Vickers Wellington of No. 407 Squadron sank the German submarine U-846 west of the Bay of Biscay.
03 Jun 1944. F/L RE McBride and crew in a Consolidated Canso of No. 162 Squadron sank the German submarine U-477 north of the Shetland Isles.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PL-30295, MIKAN No. 4002575)
Hawker Typhoon, Supermarine Spitfire, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and North American Mustang Mk. I aircraft at an Allied mobile repair section, Normandy, France 25 June 1944.
06 Jun 1944. D-Day, the invasion of Normandy and liberation of Europe, begins; RCAF provides air superiority. Thirty-seven RCAF bomber, fighter and coastal squadrons took part in operations supporting the invasion of Normandy, France.
07 Jun 1944. No. 126 (RCAF) Wing (Nos. 401, 411 and 412 (Fighter) Squadrons) destroyed 12 enemy aircraft and probably destroyed or damaged five more over the Normandy beaches.
08 Jun 1944. F/O KO Moore and crew of a Consolidated Liberator of No. 224 Squadron (RAF) sank two German submarines, the U-629 and U-373 in 22 minutes off the French island of Ushant (Oessant).
10-27 Jun 1944. Three RCAF fighter wings moved to France, Nos. 144, 127 and 143.
11 Jun 1944. F/O L Sherman and crew in a Consolidated Canso of No. 162 Squadron sank the German submarine U-980 north of the Shetland Isles.
12 Jun 1944. While attacking Cambrai, France, an Avro Lancaster X of No. 419 Squadron was shot down in flames. P/O AC Mynarski, the mid-upper gunner was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for repeatedly trying to free the trapped tail gunner, who miraculously survived the crash.
12 Jun 1944. No. 14 (Fighter) Squadron was unfficially formed at Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario, flying Avro Anson Mk. VP and Douglas Dakota Mk. III and Mk. IV aircraft. On 15 Nov 1946 it was designated No. 14 (Photographic) Squadron. On 1 Apr 1947 it was renumbered No. 414 (Photographic) Squadron.
13 Jun 1944. W/C CGW Chapman and crew in a Consolidated Canso of No. 162 Squadron sank the German submarine U-715 north of the Shetland Isles.
13 Jun - 31 Aug 1944. No. 418 Squadron was the most successful RCAF Squadron countering the German V-1 bomb attacks on England with 82 destroyed. S/L R Bannock, with navigator, F/O RR Bruce, were the most successful team with 18 ½ destroyed.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4002569)
16 Jun 1944. RCAF Fighter Squadron groundcrews flown to Normandy by Dakota.
24 Jun 1944. F/L DE Hornell and crew in a Consolidated Canso of the No. 162 Squadron sank the German submarine U-1224 north of the Shetland Isles. Badly damaged, the Canso landed, on fire, on the ocean and sank. The crew was picked up 21 hours later, but two of the crew and Hornell succumbed to exposure. Hornell was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for this action.
28 Jun 1944. A/C AD Ross, Sgt JR St Germain, Cpl M Marquet, LAC MM McKenzie and LAC RR Wolfe made repeated attempts to rescue the crew of a burning bomber of No. 425 Squadron in spite of bomb explosions. All the crew were saved. Ross lost his right hand and McKenzie, and Wolfe were also injured. For their actions Ross, St Germain and Marquet were awarded the George Medal and McKenzie and Wolfe the British Empire Medal.
28 Jun 1944. Twenty-six enemy aircraft were destroyed by the three RCAF fighter wings over Normandy.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205648)
10 Jul 1944. Canadians celebrating the liberation of Caen, France. The one in the centre is J.D. Orr, an RCAF Forward Air Controller (FAC) pilot from No. 403 Squadron. He is carrying a captured German MP40 9-mm SMG. The soldier wearing a helmet on the left is carrying a a .303 SMLE No. 4 rifle, The pilot and the officer on the right are both armed with Enfield revolvers.
17-20 Aug 1944. Three RCAF fighter wings destroyed or damaged over 2,000 enemy vehicles in the Falaise area.
26 Aug 1944. No. 404 squadron becomes part of the Dallachy Strike Wing, an unusual unit consisting of four Commonwealth Beaufighter squadrons, one from each of RAF, RCAF, RAAF and RNZAF.
14 Sep 1944. No. 437 (Transport) Squadron was formed at RAF Blakehill Farm in Wiltshire, England, equipped with Douglas Dakota Mk. III and Mk. IV aircraft. The squadron was disbanded at Odiham, Hants on 15 Jun 1946.
Douglas Dakota Mk. III (Serial No. KG425), coded Z2-M, "Fort Rae", diamond OM, No. 437 Squadron, RCAF, No. 120 Transport Wing, RCAF at RAF Odiham, UK, Oct 1945.
17-23 Sep 1944. No. 437 (T) Squadron took part in the airborne landings at Eindhoven, Grave and Arnhem in the Netherlands.
Oct 1944. Canadair Ltd a Crown company, was formed and later took over the aircraft operations of Canadian Vickers Ltd, at Cartierville, Quebec, on 17 Nov.
05 Oct 1944. Five pilots of No. 401 Squadron destroyed a Messerschmitt Me262, the first jet fighter brought down by either the RAF or the RCAF.
06-07 Oct 1944. No. 6 (RCAF) Group sent 293 bombers to attack Dortmund, the largest force sent out by the Group.
09 Oct 1944. No. 435 (Transport) Squadron "Chinthe" was formed at Gujrat, (then) India, equipped with the Douglas Dakota Mk. III and Mk. IV. It was disbanded at Down Ampney, Gloster, England on 1 Apr 1946.
(RCAF Photo via Don Dygert)
Douglas Dakota Mk. IV (Serial No. KN665) coded W, No. 435 (Transport) Squadron in European Theatre of Operations (ETO) markings with a C1 roundel on the fuselage. The photo may have been taken on 1 Apr 1946 during the squadron disbandment ceremonies.
09 Oct 1944. No. 436 (Transport) Squadron was formed at Gujrat, Punjab, India. It was the third transport squadron formed overseas. The squadron flew the Douglas Dakota Mk. III and Mk. IV in support of the British 14th Army in northern Burma. At the end of the war the squadron moved to England where it provided transport service to Canadian units on the Continent until it was disbanded at Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England on 1 Apr 1946.
No. 436 Squadron Dakota, Gujrat, India
20 Oct 1944. Tiger Force, a very long range bomber force was proposed for operations in the Pacific theatre. It was to consist of three bomber groups, one RAF, one RCAF, and a composite group of British, Australian, New Zealand and South African squadrons. Ech group was to have 22 squadrons, 12 bomber, six fighter, three transport and one air-sea rescue. The Japanese surrender on 15 Aug 1945, signed on 2 Sep 1945, resulted in Tiger Force being disbanded early in Sep 1945.
9 Dec 1944. No. 664 Squadron was formed at Andover, Hants, England. It was one of three Canadian Air Observation Post (AOP) squadrons formed overseas which initially were authorized as Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Canadian AOP Squadrons RCA in Jun 1944. In Sep 1944 it was decided to follow British pecedent in the command and control of AOP squadrons. On the recommendation of the Army Commander, the War Cabinet re-authorized the three units as squadrons of the RCAF, Nos. 664, 665 and 666 Squadrons, with the pilots drawn from Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA). The squadrons were formed under RAF Fighter Command's No. 70 Group and trained at No. 43 Operational Training Unit (OTU) to observe artillery fire from the air and to co-ordinate correction orders by the maneuvering of their aircraft. They flew the Auster AOP Mk. IV and Mk. V. Although the Auster aircraft were flown by members of the RCA, the squadrons were administered and serviced by the RCAF. As the squadrons were declared operational, they were sent to the Continent and placed under the operational control of the First Canadian Army. No. 664 Squadron was disbanded at Apeldoorn, Netherlands on 1 Jun 1946. It reformed as a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit at Hucknall on 1 September 1949 and finally disbanded there on 10 March 1957. Although the unit was originally formed as an RAF squadron, its badge was not approved until it had reformed as an RAuxAF squadron.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3520806)
Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. III aircraft of the R.A.F. operating from the beach at Ortona in support of regiments of the Royal Canadian Artillery, 10 Feb 1944.
29 Dec 1944. F/L RJ Audet, flying a Supermarine Spitfire of No. 411 (Fighter) Squadron near Rheine, Germany, destroyed five enemy fighters in his first combat.
30 Dec 1944. S/L CGW Taylor and crew flying a Vickers Wellington of No. 407 Squadron sank the German submarine U-772 in the English Channel.
16 Jan 1945. No. 1 Air Command was established at Trenton, Ontario.
22 Jan 1945. No. 665 Squadron was formed at Andover, Hants, England. It flew the Auster AOP Mk. IV and Mk. V on spotting and ranging of artillery fire. No. 665 Squadron was disbanded at Apeldoorn, Netherlands on 20 Jul 1945.
(Library and Archives canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650488)
12 Feb 1945. Consolidated Liberator GR Mk. VI (Serial No. 3728), No. 11 (Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron) had serious engine trouble while on a convoy patrol over the North Atlantic. F/L A.A. Early had to set the aircraft down before reaching home base and ditched on the beach at Sable Island, Nova Scotia.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524495)
Captain N.H. Chase returning from artillary observation flight in Taylorcraft Auster AOP Mk. III aircraft of the RAF, supporting the 17th Field Regiment, RCA, Castel Frentano, Italy, 10 Feb 1944.
05 Mar 1945. No. 666 Squadron was formed at Andover, Hants, England. It flew the Auster AOP Mk. IV and Mk. V on spotting and ranging of artillery fire. No. 665 Squadron was disbanded at Apeldoorn, Netherlands on 1 Nov 1945.
31 Mar 1945. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was terminated as scheduled, a total of 131,553 aircrew had been trained.
25 Apr 1945. The last bombing attack was carried out by No. 6 (RCAF) Group with 192 aircraft on Wangerooge Island in the North Sea off the north coast of Germany.
02 May 1945. A de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito of No. 404 Squadron shared in the sinking of the German submarine U-2359 in the Kattegat – the last RCAF submarine sinking.
07-08 May 1945. The ceasefire becomes effective after all German forces surrendered unconditionally on 7 May 1945. The instrument of surrender was signed at Berlin, Germany, on 8 May, commemorated as Victory in Europe (VE) Day. The Second World War ends in Europe. During the war, 249,662 men and women wore the uniform of the RCAF. Of this total, 93,844 personnel served overseas, the majority with British rather than Canadian units.
The successes of Bomber Command were purchased at terrible cost. Of every 100 airmen who joined Bomber Command, 45 were killed, 6 were seriously wounded, 8 became Prisoners of War, and only 41 escaped unscathed (at least physically). Of the 120,000 who served, 55,573 were killed including over 10,000 Canadians. Of those who were flying at the beginning of the war, only ten percent survived. It is a loss rate comparable only to the worst slaughter of the First World War trenches. Only the Nazi U-Boat force suffered a higher casualty rate.
During the RCAF’s Handley Page Halifax bomber operations between March 1943 and February 1944, the average loss rate was 6.05%, producing a mere 16% survival rate (for a tour of 30 operations).
May-Jun 1945. No. 6 (RCAF) Group flew back to Canada in their Canadian Avro Lancaster Mk. Xs with the intention to re-equip them with Avro Lincoln bombers for the war against Japan, but this was abandoned with the subsequent surrender of Japan.
04 Jun 1945. The Fleet 80 Canuck prototype, designed and built by JO Noury, was test flown by Thomas Fredric Williams.
09 Jul 1945. An RCAF Supermarine Spitfire from Rivers, MB, photographed the eclipse of the sun, for the first time in history from 34,000 feet.
Summer, 1945. Four ‘Canadianized’ squadrons were formed by the Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm.
(IWM Photo, A24787)
Fleet Air Arm Chance-Vought Corsair fighters, with Fairey Barracuda torpedo bombers behind, ranged on the flight deck of HMS Formidable, off Norway.
09 Aug 1945. Lt Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR, a Canadian naval officer flying a Vought Corsair from the deck of HMS Formidable, attacked a Japanese destroyer. His Corsair hit and on fire, Gray continued the attack and sank the destroyer before plunging into Onogawa Bay. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for this action, one of only two members of the Royal Navy's (RN) Fleet Air Arm (FAA) to have been thus decorated in that war.
09 Aug 1945. Lieutenant (P) Gerald Arthur Anderson was a Canadian fighter pilot who served in the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) during the Second World War. As a pilot in No. 1842 Squadron Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) on HMS Formidable, Anderson flew the Chance Vought F4U Corsair Mk. IV (Serial No. KD 548). On the same day that Lt Gray was lost, Lt Anderson participated in an aerial attack on Onagawa Bay in northern Japan. Anderson’s Corsair was struck, causing it to leak fuel rapidly. On his final approach to landing, Anderson’s engine cut out, causing him to hit the after end of the flight deck of HMS Formidable, his plane broke in two, and plunged into the Pacific Ocean. Lieutenant Gerald Anderson was the last Canadian to die in the Second World War. He was 22 years old.
14 Aug 1945. Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender which was signed on 2 Sep. Victory over Japan (VJ) Day. The Second World War ends.
22 Sep 1945. Trans-Canada Air Lines received its first Douglas DC-3. The type went into operation on TCA’s routes the following year.
(RCAF Photo courtesy of the Shearwater Aviation Museum)
Gloster G.41D Meteor F Mk. III, RAF (Serial No. EE311), being flight tested in Canada, Oct 1945.
28 Sep 1945. The RCAF accepted its first jet aircraft, a Gloster Meteor Mk. III, EE311, which is believed to be the first jet aircraft to have flown in Canadian skies.
Avro Lincoln B, Mk. XV, RCAF (Serial No. FM300).
25 Oct 1945. The Victory Aircraft built Avro 694 Lincoln XV prototype was test flown at Malton, Ontario, by EH Taylor.
01 Dec 1945. Avro Canada Ltd was formed and took over the facilities of Victory Aircraft Ltd at Malton, Ontario with about 400 key personnel who had been kept on from the wartime production programme.
01 Dec 1945. A Royal Canadian Naval Air Station (RCNAS) was established at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
19 Dec 1945. The cabinet approved the formation of an Air Component of the Royal Canadian Navy.