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Thread: Canadian training for RAAF aircrew

  1. #1
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    Default Canadian training for RAAF aircrew

    At the end of May there is a small reunion of ex 460 Sqdn (RAAF) crew to be held in Canberra.

    My grandfather's cousin died in the Black Thursday (16 December 1943) debacle. While my grandfather has long passed, his elderly brother will be attending and I'm writing up a brief history of his cousin's service.

    Being aircrew under the Empire Air Training Scheme / BCATP, he completed some of this training in Canada. I would appreciate some pointers to useful resources to flesh out the history a little in Canada, namely the type of training undertaken at each establishment and an explanation of what each establishment was and where it was located (key questions in brackets below).

    The following information was gleaned from his service records and casualty file held at the National Archives of Australia (had to pay to have them digitised):

    AUS414349 F/Sgt William Kevin HALSTEAD (RAAF)

    27Apr42 – embarked Sydney for Canada and UK (any idea which convoy/ship?)
    20May42 – disembarked Canada (anywhere in particular? it's a big country!)
    20May42 – posted to No. 2 “M” Depot, Brandon (is 'Brandon' correct? unclear on file)
    06Jun42 – posted to No. 5 A.O.S., Winnipeg (what is 5 AOS?)
    09Jun42 – Remustered as Air Navigator
    25Sep42 – Awarded Air Navigators Badge
    25Sep42 – promoted T/Sgt (authority No. 5 A.O.S.)
    25Sep42 – Remustered as Air Navigator “Special” authority No. 5 A.O.S. (Pay Classification I) (what is "special"? Previous muster was Aircrew II(O))
    26Sep–06Oct42 – leave
    05Oct42 – posted to No. 1 “Y” Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia
    26Oct42 – Reprimanded for “being outside the limits of the station” No. 1 “Y” Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia
    27Oct42 – posted to RAFLP? RGFLP? (file is difficult to read)
    27Oct42 – embarked Halifax for UK (any idea what convoy/ship?)
    05Nov42 – disembarked UK (Bournemouth? Liverpool? Bristol?)

    His service record also has mention of a "58 course" at a random point, but with no dates attached to it. His earlier training at ITS are courses 20 and 23 (and washed out as pilot at No. 12 EFTS, which may possibly be the "58 course").

    Regards

    Adrian
    Interests include Spitfires in Malta 1942 and 460 Sqdn 1943-44 (including Black Thursday)

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    Hi Adrian,

    This should answer the vast majority of your questions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_Commonwealth_Air_Training_Plan_fac ilities_in_Canada#Air_Observer_Schools

    No. 5 Air Observer School is now the Winnipeg International Airport.

    Brandon is definitely correct.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Much appreciated Dave.
    Interests include Spitfires in Malta 1942 and 460 Sqdn 1943-44 (including Black Thursday)

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    Some informed speculation on his routing:

    Coming from Australia to the Manning Depot at Brandon (mid-west of the country) he probably landed at Vancouver, and then travelled to Brandon by train. It would have been a 2 or 3 day trip. Brandon to 5 AOS at Winnipeg would have been 4 or 5 hours by train, maybe less on a through train.

    In the last half of 1942 No. 5 AOS would have been operating a mix of UK built Anson Mk. I and Canadian built Anson Mk. II.

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    He appears to have arrived in California!

    From ancestry.com records:

    May 1942: the ship 'Klipfontein' sailed from Sydney on April 28th 1942.

    On board was one William Kevin Halstead age 20 and 10 months, single, occupation airman, he was born Australian and place of birth is listed as Cairns. Part of a large shipment of airmen. Now, its not clear that they disembarked here for Canada.

    On 27th September 1942 a Wiliam Halstead crossed the border into the USA as a visitor, the recrod card is vry bad quality but I think it lists place of birth as Townsville? This is the date of his going on leave! he crossed at Bullfalo. Date of birth is about 1921.

    I've saved them to my pen drive and can email you the images, my email address is on my profile and website, see below.

    Dennis,
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Can I ask what seems to be a reasonable question? Here we have a citizen of Australia which had, at that time, a reasonable infrastructure, exporting its personnel half way round the globe to Canada for Empire Air Training Scheme training. Why? Why was Australia not used for EATS? Some of the sub-Saharan countries in WW2 had a lesser infrastructure than Austrailia, and yet they were used. Why, indeed, was India not used more than it was?
    Are we to assume that Canada (per se) was the likely abode of the UK Govt and Royal Family in the event of the German invasion of UK and, therefore, should have funds ploughed into it? Or, as is possible, were there met conditions in parts of Canada that more closely resembled the conditions in NW Europe within which the trainees would, eventually, have to fly?
    This is not an attempt to stir the soft brown stuff - but just an attempt to seek enlightment!
    Rgds
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Just a guess, Peter, but perhaps the chance in 1941-2 of the Japanese invading Australia?

    From December 41 until the battle of Midway there was a very real thought of Japan getting their hooks into Oz.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Dave,
    Point taken. Although what our Samuriah Warriors would have made of the "Six O'Clock Swill" in Melbourne remains a fascinating unknown! Darwin, Queensland, and them parts far north may well have fallen to the Japanese. But I suspect that crossing the somewhat inhospitable interior of Oz may just have been beyond our Japanese experts. In any case, if Australia had been overrun then the remaining Strines could always have sought sanctuary in NZ - but then we'd have had WW3 taking place within the confines of WW2. Dave, don't tempt me!
    Yrs Aye
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Adrian
    This is a website address for Pier 21 Halifax Nova Scotia from where troop ships sailed for England .My RAAF father has a brick on the virtual wall of honour .I also arranged for a photo of his ship "Pasteur" to be sent to me .He disembarked at Bournemouth April 1943.He had already trained in Australia & did further training in Britain .

    https://www.pier21.ca/wallofhonoursingle.php?id=3240

    A Pier 21 researcher Research AT pier21.ca [sub @ for AT] arranged this for me .I can't remember the cost.

    I only knew of the correct ship because my father's RAAF friend had kept a diary of their travels to England.They sailed from Melbourne, March 1943, disembarking at San Francisco, by train to Massachusets then sailed from Pier 21 Halifax NS .It is now a museum .

    I presume the Suez canal was too dangerous so servicemen from Australia & NZ sailed to Britain via US & Canada ?

    Anne
    Last edited by aestorm; 1st May 2009 at 15:49.

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    Peter,

    In addition to Canada's location as a "safe place" to train aircrews, the "industrial might" of the United States of America was taken into account by those who designed the BCATP well before America was involved in the war. Franklin Delano Roosevelt later described Canada as "The Aerodrome of Democracy" .

    The proximity of Canadian training facilities and American aircraft production capabilities made Canada an ideal flight training location. Meteorlogical conditions encountered in Canada are of no consuqeunce in regard to the selection of Canada as a training area.

    No Commonwealth country other than Canada could have fulfilled the mandate of the BCATP; Australia was simply too remote, think of the logistics of sending some of the thousands of American-built basic training aircraft employed by the BCATP to the Antipodies.
    Last edited by Ken MacLean; 30th April 2009 at 17:55.

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