Paying homage to all who served in the BCATP
Source Comox Air Force Museum
BCATP ORGANIZATION AND FACILITIES ~ HOW DID IT WORK?
BCATP activities were managed through four Training Commands. Each command was responsible for activities in a region of Canada:
•No. 1 Toronto, Ontario covered southern Ontario
•No. 2 Winnipeg, Manitoba covered northwestern Ontario, all of Manitoba, and part of Saskatchewan
•No. 3 Montreal, Quebec, covered Quebec and the Maritimes
•No. 4 Regina, Saskatchewan, covered most of Saskatchewan, all of Alberta and British Columbia: moved to Calgary, Alberta in October 1941
Recruits began their military careers at one of seven Manning Depots where they learned to bathe, shave, shine boots, polish buttons, maintain their uniforms, and otherwise behave in the required manner. There were two hours of physical education every day and instruction in marching, rifle drill, foot drill, saluting, and other routines. Remedial high school education was offered to bring 17 and 18 year old recruits up to the RCAF academic level. There was also a standard aptitude test: the RCAF Classification Test.
After 4 or 5 weeks a selection committee decided whether the recruit would be trained for aircrew or groundcrew. Aircrew “Wireless Air Gunner” candidates went directly to a Wireless School. “Air Observer” and “Pilot” candidates went to an Initial Training School.
Recruits were often assigned “tarmac duty” to keep busy. Some were sent to factories to count nuts and bolts, some were sent to flying schools and other RCAF facilities to guard things, clean things, paint things, and polish things. Tarmac duty could last several months or more.
No. 1 Toronto, Ontario (it was the Coliseum Building on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds and it accommodated up to 5,000 personnel).
No. 2 Brandon, Manitoba moved to Swift Current, Saskatchewan
No. 3 Edmonton, Alberta
No. 4 Quebec City, Quebec
No. 5 Lachine, Quebec
No. 6 Toronto, Ontario (Women’s Division, October 1941 – May 1942)
No. 7 Rockcliffe, Ontario (Women’s Division, Fall 1942)
AIRCREW TRAINING FACILITIES:
Initial Training School (ITS)
Pilot and Air Observer (later Navigator) candidates began their 26 or 28 week training program with four weeks at an Initial Training School (ITS). They studied theoretical subjects and were subjected to a variety of tests. Theoretical studies included navigation, theory of flight, meteorology, duties of an officer, air force administration, algebra, and trigonometry. Tests included an interview with a psychiatrist, the 4 hour long M2 physical examination, a session in a decompression chamber, and a “test flight” in a Link Trainer as well as academics. At the end of the course the postings were announced: you were to become a Pilot or an Air Observer. Occasionally candidates were re-routed to the Wireless Air Gunner stream at the end of ITS.
No. 1 Eglinton Hunt Club, Toronto, Ontario
No. 2 Regina College & Regina Normal School, Regina, Saskatchewan
No. 3 Sacred Heart College, Victoriaville, Quebec
No. 4 Edmonton Normal School, Edmonton, Alberta
No. 5 Ontario Provincial School for the Deaf Belleville, Ontario
No. 6 Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ontario
No. 7 Saskatoon Normal School & Bedford Road Collegiate, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS)
An Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) gave a student pilot 50 hours of basic flying instruction on a simple trainer like the De Havilland Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch, or Fairchild Cornell over 8 weeks. EFTS were operated by civilian flying clubs under contract to the RCAF and most of the instructors were civilians. For example, No. 12 EFTS Goderich was run by the Kitchener-Waterloo Flying Club and the County of Huron Flying Club. The next step for a pilot was the Service Flying Training School.
No. 1 Malton, Ontario (Moth)
No. 2 Fort William, Ontario (Moth)
No. 3 London, Ontario (Finch)
No. 4 Windsor Mills, Quebec (Finch and Moth)
No. 5 Lethbridge, Alberta, moved to High River, Alberta (Moth and Cornell)
No. 6 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (Moth and Cornell)
No. 7 Windsor, Ontario (Finch)
No. 8 Vancouver, British Columbia, moved to Boundary Bay, British Columbia (Moth)
No. 9 St. Catharines, Ontario (Moth)
No. 10 Hamilton, Ontario, moved to Pendleton, Ontario (Moth and Finch)
No. 11 Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec (Finch and Cornell)
No. 12 Goderich, Ontario (Finch)
No. 13 St. Eugene, Ontario(Finch)
No. 14 Portage la Prairie, Manitoba (Moth and Finch)
No. 15 Regina, Saskatchewan (Moth and Cornell)
No. 16 Edmonton, Alberta (Moth and Finch)
No. 17 Stanley, Nova Scotia (Finch and Moth)
No. 18 Boundary Bay, British Columbia (Moth)
No. 19 Virden, Manitoba (Moth and Cornell)
No. 20 Oshawa, Ontario (Moth)
No. 21 Chatham, New Brunswick (Finch)
No. 22 L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec (Finch)
No. 23 Davidson, Saskatchewan, moved to Yorkton, Saskatchewan — operated by the RCAF. (Cornell)
No. 24 Abbotsford, British Columbia (Cornell)
No. 25 Assiniboia, Saskatchewan — originally No. 34 RAF (Cornell)
No. 26 Neepawa, Manitoba — originally No. 35 RAF (Moth)
No. 31 DeWinton, Alberta — taken over by the Toronto Flying Club. (Moth, Stearman and Cornell)
No. 32 Bowden, Alberta (Moth, Stearman and Cornell)
No. 33 Caron, Saskatchewan (Cornell)
No. 34 Assiniboia, Saskatchewan — taken over by Winnipeg Flying Club as No. 25 EFTS (Moth)
No. 35 Neepawa, Manitoba — taken over by Moncton Flying Club as No. 26 EFTS (Moth and Cornell)
No. 36 Pearce, Alberta (Moth and Stearman)
Service Flying Training Schools (SFTS)
Graduates of the EFTS “learn-to-fly” program went on a Service Flying Training School (SFTS) for 16 weeks. For the first 8 weeks the student was part of an intermediate training squadron; for the next 6 weeks an advanced training squadron and for the final 2 weeks training was completed at a Bombing & Gunnery School. The SFTS were military establishments run by the RCAF or the RAF.
There were two different types of SFTS. Recruits in the fighter pilot stream went to an SFTS where they trained in the North American Harvard or North American Yale. Recruits in the bomber, coastal or transport pilot stream went to an SFTS where they learned multi-engine technique in an Airspeed Oxford, Avro Anson or Cessna Crane.
•No. 1 Camp Borden, Ontario (Harvard and Yale)
•No. 2 Uplands, Ontario (Harvard and Yale)
•No. 3 Calgary, Alberta (Anson and Crane)
•No. 4 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Anson and Crane)
•No. 5 Brantford, Ontario (Anson)
•No. 6 Dunnville, Ontario (Harvard and Yale)
•No. 7 Fort MacLeod, Alberta (Anson)
•No. 8 Moncton, New Brunswick (Anson)
•No. 9 Summerside, Prince Edward Island, moved to Centralia, Ontario (Anson and Harvard)
•No. 10 Dauphin, Manitoba (Harvard)
•No. 11 Yorkton, Saskatchewan (Harvard, Crane and Anson)
•No. 12 Brandon, Manitoba (Crane and Anson)
•No. 13 St. Hubert, Quebec, moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan (Harvard and Anson)
•No. 14 Aylmer, Ontario (Anson, Harvard, Yale, and Supermarine Walrus)
•No. 15 Claresholm, Alberta (Anson)
•No. 16 Hagersville, Ontario (Anson and Harvard)
•No. 17 Souris, Manitoba (Anson and Harvard)
•No. 18 Gimli, Manitoba (Anson and Harvard)
•No. 19 Vulcan, Alberta (Anson)
•No. 31 Kingston, Ontario (Battle and Harvard)
•No. 32 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Oxford)
•No. 33 Carberry, Manitoba (Anson)
•No. 34 Medicine Hat, Alberta (Harvard and Oxford)
•No. 35 North Battleford, Saskatchewan (Oxford)
•No. 36 Penhold, Alberta (Oxford)
•No. 37 Calgary, Alberta (Oxford, Harvard and Anson)
•No. 38 Estevan, Saskatchewan (Anson)
•No. 39 Swift Current, Saskatchewan (Oxford)
•No. 41 Weyburn, Saskatchewan (Anson and Harvard)
AIR OBSERVER SCHOOLS
Air Observers were what we could call “navigators” today. For recruits in this stream, the training path after ITS was 8 weeks at an Air Observer School (AOS), 1 month at a Bombing & Gunnery School, and finally 1 month at a Navigation School. The Air Observer schools were operated by civilians under contract to the RCAF. For example, Nos. 7, 8, and 9 were run by CP Airlines. However, the instructors were RCAF. The basic navigation techniques throughout the war years were dead reckoning and visual pilotage, and the tools were the aeronautical chart, magnetic compass, watch, trip log, pencil, Douglas protractor, and Dalton Navigational Computer. Recruits also studied Aerial photography. They trained in the Avro Anson.
No. 1 Malton, Ontario (Anson)
No. 2 Edmonton, Alberta (Anson)
No. 3 Regina, Saskatchewan, moved to Pearce, Alberta (Anson)
No. 4 London, Ontario (Anson)
No. 5 Winnipeg, Manitoba (Anson)
No. 6 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (Anson)
No. 7 Portage La Prairie, Manitoba (Anson)
No. 8 L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec (Anson)
No. 9 Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec (Anson)
No. 10 Chatham, New Brunswick (Anson)
BOMBING AND GUNNERY SCHOOLS (B&GS)
The Bombing and Gunnery School (B&GS) offered instruction in the techniques of bomb aiming and machine gunning to Air Observers, Bomb Aimers, and Wireless Air Gunners. These schools required large areas to accommodate their bombing and gunnery ranges, and were often located near water.
No. 1 Jarvis, Ontario (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 2 Mossbank, Saskatchewan (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 3 Macdonald, Manitoba (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 4 Fingal, Ontario (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 5 Dafoe, Saskatchewan (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 6 Mountain View, Ontario (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 7 Paulson, Manitoba (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 8 Lethbridge, Alberta (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 9 Mont-Joli, Quebec (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 10 Mount Pleasant, Prince Edward Island (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
No. 31 Picton, Ontario (Anson, Battle, Bolingbroke and Lysander)
AIR NAVIGATION SCHOOLS (ANS)
Nos. 1 & 2 Air Navigation Schools offered 4 week courses in astronavigation and were the last step for Air Observers. The RAF schools, Nos. 31, 32, and 33, provided the same training as Air Observer Schools.
No. 1 Trenton, Ontario moved to Rivers, Manitoba and redesignated Central Navigation School
No. 2 Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick (Anson)
No. 31 Port Albert, Ontario (Anson)
No. 32 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
No. 33 Hamilton, Ontario (Anson)
No. 2 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Students in the “Wireless Air Gunner” (WAG) stream spent 24 weeks at a Wireless School learning the theory and application of wireless communications. This included signalling with lights and flags as well as radio. Their “WAG” training was completed with 4 weeks at a Bombing & Gunnery School.
No. 1 Montreal, Quebec moved to Mount Hope, Ontario (Norseman, Moth, Stinson 105)
No. 2 Calgary, Alberta (Harvard and Fort)
No. 3 Winnipeg, Manitoba (Moth, Stinson 105)
No. 4 Guelph, Ontario (Norseman, Moth, and Yale)
NAVAL AIR GUNNER SCHOOL (NAGS)
This school was unique: it provided trained Air Gunners for service with the Royal Navy`s Fleet Air Arm.
No. 1 Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (Swordfish)
FLIGHT ENGINEERS’ SCHOOL
The flight engineer was the member of a heavy bomber aircrew responsible for monitoring the fuel, electrical systems and the engines. He also controlled the throttle settings and was the pilot’s “assistant”. Flight engineers were not co-pilots but they had some flying training and were expected to be able to take over the controls in the event the pilot was killed or disabled.
No. 1 Aylmer, Ontario (Halifax)
GENERAL RECONNAISSANCE SCHOOLS
The General Reconnaissance School trained pilots and air observers in the techniques required for ocean patrol, as conducted by Coastal Commnad. It was the equivalent to an Operational Training Unit (OTU), and last stop before aircrew were assigned to operations. The topics included DR Navigation, Astro Navigation, Compasses and Instruments, Meteorology, Signals, Reconnaissance, Coding, Ship Recognition, Aerial Photography, and Visual Signals. Aircrew spent 9 weeks at a General Reconnaissance School.
No. 1 Summerside, Prince Edward Island (Anson)
No. 31 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (Anson)
OPERATIONAL TRAINING UNITS (OTU)
The Operational Training Unit (OTU) was the last stop for aircrew in training. Students spent 8 – 14 weeks learning to fly specific operational aircraft. Their instructors had experience in actual operations, and often were posted to OTUs after their operational tour.
No. 1 Bagotville, Quebec (Hurricane)
No. 3 Patricia Bay, British Columbia (Canso, Catalina)
No. 5 Boundary Bay British Columbia and Abbotsford, British Columbia (Liberator, Mitchell)
No. 31 Debert, Nova Scotia redesignated No. 7 OTU (Hudson, Mosquito))
No. 32 Patricia Bay, British Columbia moved to Comox, British Columbia and redesignated No. 6 OTU and moved to Greenwood, Nova Scotia (Beaufort, Hampden, Swordfish, Anson)
No. 34 Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick (Ventura)
No. 36 Greenwood, Nova Scotia redesignated No. 8 OTU (Hudson, Mosquito)
Central Schools developed syllabus and training plans, provided standardization, and trained instructors and standards officers.
Central Flying School (CFS): was located at Trenton, Ontario.
Central Navigation School (CNS): was located at Rivers, Manitoba (Anson).
Instrument Navigation School (INS): was located near Deseronto, Ontario.
Flying Instructor Schools (FIS):
No. 1 Trenton, Ontario
No. 2 Vulcan, Alberta, moved to Pearce, Alberta (various)
No. 3 Arnprior, Ontario (various)
RELIEF LANDING FIELDS
Every principal airfield (e.g. EFTS or SFTS) had one or two relief airfields located within 10–15 km. The No. 1 Relief Airfield is called “R1” in RCAF Station diaries. Some of the relief fields were paved, some were just grass, and some had hangars, barracks, and maintenance facilities.
Special thanks to Jon Ambler, our Volunteer Coordinator and Program Manager, for providing the text to this post.