Intermission – It’s about time we have an intermission…

Eugene Gagnon unknowingly led me to Allan Todd.

Eugene BCATP

Allan Todd unknowingly led me to Eugene Gagnon.

Eugene Gagnon record of service

Life at No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto

Mr. Todd had little to say about his stay at No. 1 Manning Depot and no pictures to show and tell. This is what he told me…

It took seven days to prepare the grounds to “welcome” back the horses and the cattle for the exhibition, and only one to prepare the grounds for the recruits when they got back.

There are several descriptions on the Internet on how life was for recruits at No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto. Here’s one description…

The source is here.

Training of Ground Crew Trades

The mightiest and most powerful air forces would soon find themselves short of serviceable aircraft if it were not for members of the ground crew who maintained, repaired and in their eyes “owned” the aircraft that the aircrews “borrowed”. At Recruitment Centers across Canada the recruits for these trades were judged on their work backgrounds and aptitude tests. Although some knew what trades they wanted to be trained to from the very start others were steered into what was thought to suit them. And being the military what you wanted and what you were best suited for was not always where you ended up.

Manning Depots

Once accepted and upon receiving orders by mail they headed to their Recruiting Office. From there they would be sent to one of the many Manning Depots around Canada. The two primary ones at the begining being Brandon Manitoba and Toronto, with more added as the war went on.

For those lucky enough to be sent to Toronto it would provide them many great places to see and visit. If you could get a pass for the night, which were not all that freely given out from what my father wrote. And of course there were the lavish accommodations provided at No. 1 Manning Depot in the Canadian National Exhibition fair grounds namely the Equine Building or what most called the Horse building. Four to a stall and as my father wrote the horses had a better deal, they at least each got their own stall. My father had been a stable boy in his youth and many of the recruits were from rural towns and farms to them it was familiar if not fully comfortable. To the city born recruits, even without there being many horses in the building, they found the accommodations more colourful and aromatic then they were used to.

Manning Depots took the civilian and, as my father wrote, ever so gently awakened them to the pleasures of military life. It was the place where you were given uniforms that didn’t fit and needles you didn’t want in places that were already aching from the last needle. The new recruits were taught marching, saluting, personal grooming, hygiene and basically learning the ways of military life as the bottom peg in a system. For my father it was not completely new. His whole family had been Seaforth Highlanders for many generations.

Training for some of the new comers was transferred abruptly from Toronto to Brandon. So my dad and a whole train load of recruits left sunny oh so a warm Toronto late in the fall and arrived in the middle of a blizzard in Brandon with only their Summer dress uniforms to wear. Brandon didn’t have all the amenities of Toronto, but it didn’t matter. Passes were still just as stingingly handed out here as they had been in Toronto.


Another one here…

To start with, they sent us to manning depot in Toronto, and we arrived there, and then, you know, you were allowed one suitcase when you left home, so you packed, you got into your best suit, best coat, best shoes, and all your best things were in the suitcase, and you went to Toronto and six of us from Saskatoon, went together. In manning depot, the manning depot was housed in the Toronto Exhibition grounds, in the various cattle barns and the horse barns. Well, the winter fair has just finished when we arrived, and I recall we were all lined up and a sergeant came out and said, “Okay,” he said, “First of all, how many of you here can ride a motorcycle?” So a number of eager chaps stepped out and they were marched off and we were marched off behind them in our suits, civilian clothing. They were all handed a wheel barrow and we were handed pitch forks and shovels and brooms and we cleaned out the stables, the stalls in the horse barns.

Last one… and I guess you get the picture…

Life at manning depot was strenuous, rigorous, and gave recruits their first introduction to military discipline and organization. Flight Lieutenant Asbaugh describes the daily regime of life at manning depot, which he remembers as being a shock to new recruits unused to military life:

Manning depot was quite a shock…It was our first introduction to the air force and military discipline…We were in the cow barn, in double-tiered bunks. There was just a mass of people in there…And we had drillsand marching, and learnt to use the Ross rifle, and all that good stuff…The food was terrible; it was really shocking…They had some sort of arrangement with a caterer, and he could make the best rubber eggs you ever had in your life. The one thing that was really good about it was you got all the milk you could drink and all the bread and butter you wanted. The rest of the food was bad.


About some pictures…

I found these two on the Internet.



This one is from Walter Neil Dove’s collection.


He was a Spitfire pilot with 403 Squadron.


No. 5 I.T.S. Belleville, Ontario

How many pictures from No. 5 I.T.S. Belleville, Ontario are found on the Internet?
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Not many…

Collection Allan Douglas Todd

So this is why this picture is so precious. Even more since James and I used the 600 dpi settings.

Click on the image and try to find the kid I met last September.

the kid

You can share it but credit the source and to whom this group picture belongs: Allan Douglas Todd, a navigator who flew 31 sorties with 427 Squadron.

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The pictures

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Petawawa – November 5, 1983

Left to Right: Allan Todd, Stan Miller, Harry Hollands, George Storey, Dan Foster, Vernon White, Jack Smith, Les Horton, Al d’Eon

The ceremonial sword is presented to the Squadron by WW II members

Allan Todd is sitting on the left.

This is what he wrote on the back.

Allan Todd History 002 Petawawa Nov. 5, 1983

Allan Todd’s son and I scanned all of his father’s pictures at 600 dpi settings so everything is BIG.

When you click on each image a new window will open up.

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Every caption is important.

Those pictures that had no captions I asked Allan Todd about them.

I brought my Olympus VN-5200 PC digital voice recorder along just in case.

This picture was taken at Belleville.

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And it had this caption…
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The recruits had received their flying suits. 

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 What about all that we have scanned?

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All about the BCATP

I had seen this booklet on the Internet before.

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I got all excited when I saw it in Allan Todd’s memorabilia.

Now I can post it since it was in Allan Todd’s personal collection… and he gave me the green light.

No 5 Initial Training School – RCAF – Belleville, Ontario

Opened in Belleville by the RCAF in August 1941 at the Provincial School for the Deaf. It was initially a five-week, later expanded to 10 week course in armaments, aeronautics and navigation. It was here that personnel were funneled into either pilot, observer, wireless operator or air gunner trades. The school closed in June 1944 and the school returned to its original function. It is now the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

Source Material: “Abandoned Military Installations in Canada Vol I: Ontario” by Paul Ozorak.

No 5 ITS Belleville


The kid I never met

I met the kid on the left, but not the one on the right.

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Allan Todd had his picture taken with Neil Hammond. It did not take long to find him on the CVWM Website. He was the only Hammond who died in 1943.

Allan Todd History 004

Leading Aircraftman
Richard Neiland Hammond
Royal Canadian Air Force
22nd September 1943, aged 20
Beechwood Cemetery
Ottawa, Ontario

Richard Neiland Hammond was born August 8, 1923, on the family dairy farm in Ironside, a village in West Hull that was then four miles north of Hull’s city limits. His parents were Watson and Jane (Barber) Hammond. Neiland, as his family called him, attended the local elementary school and then Hull Intermediate for high school. When he was a child both parents died- his mother in 1930 and father 1935. The farm was then managed by two uncles, who hired housekeepers so that Neiland, his sister and two brothers could stay on the family property.

A short time after finishing high school, Neiland started work at the Electric Reduction Plant in Buckingham, Quebec, but gave up this job to enlist in the RCAF in 1942. He went to Belleville Training School, and then on to elementary flying at Pendleton, Ontario (east of Ottawa). After his graduation from Pendleton, he came back to Uplands (Ottawa) for his service flying training. Here he had to learn to fly the Harvard, a powerful, heavy, single-engine aircraft. On the night of September 22,1943, he was assigned to practice night take-off and landing at a relief field near Carp, Ontario, the present site of Carp Airport. During take-off something went wrong, and he crashed into nearby bush. The authorities listed the cause as “obscure.”

Left to mourn were his girlfriend Frances Copping, his sister Jean and brother-in-law William Brisenden, brother James and sister-in-law Mabel (who still live in Chelsea), and brother Felton. Jim Hammond recalls that the news of Neiland’s death was delivered to him on the family farm at Ironside on the night that his wife Mabel was in labour for the birth of their first child, Barbara.

Neiland was doing well on the course and would have graduated in a few weeks. He is buried in Beechwood Cemetery’s Veterans Section.