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Thread: No 31 SFTS Kingston Ontario

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    Default No 31 SFTS Kingston Ontario

    I am looking for any information about this RAF Unit and Station

    My late father, 914573 Sgt J. Alan Cook served there from November 1940 to November 1943. He was a WEM and his primary duty was the repair and maintenance of the Station's Link Trainers. His CO was Gp Capt C.F. LePoer-Trench

    I have very few records of my Father before 1950, only a few photos but none during the War years. Any assistance would be appreciated.

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    Hi Ian;

    Not sure exactly what info you are after, but here is what I have, from notes I made when viewing the School Diary a few years ago.

    The School was originally RAF 7 SFTS at Peterbourough, UK. They moved to Kingston, Ontario in several stages in the fall of 1940, and were re-designated as 31 SFTS on 7 October 1940. Their first Battles arrived at Kingston on 2 October 1940, and their first Harvards arrived on 20 October 1940. They primarily conducted single engine pilot training for the FAA, with almost all the staff being RAF or RN, and most of the students being RAF or RN, with a scattering of RNZN and RAN.

    The Battles were used initally for pilot training, but found to be unsuitable. As more Harvards and Yales became available the Battles wound up as target tugs. Eventually the target tug flight also operated Lysanders, and the Battles were all gone to gunnery schools by the end of 1942. By 1942 they also operated a flight of Ansons for radar calibration and Army cooperation. They also recieved one Walrus in 1942, after several drownings after aircrew bailed out over nearby Lake Ontario. By 1943 they had one Gypsy Moth on strength, probably as a training aid.

    In addition to the main facilities at Kingston, the School maintained several "relief fields", including Gananoque to the east and Sandhurst to the north. They ran 2 bombing ranges, one at Millhaven Bay (now the site of a federal prison) and another over Lake Ontario near Bath, where depth charge dropping was regularly practiced with the Harvards.

    In mid 1944 the BCATP began to scale back and combine Schools. 14 SFTS moved from Aylmer to Kingston in August 1944, and the two Schools merged with the name of 14 SFTS on 14 August 1944. The new school seems to have continued with the 31 SFTS mix of staff and students, until disbanded on 7 September 1945. By then the units main function was storing aircraft pending disposal.

    Kingston airport still exists today, and a few of the old BCATP buildings are still there, most with modifications and new paint. One of the 31 SFTS Harvards that had ditched in Lake Ontario was recovered from the lake bottom in the 1960s and restored, and now sits on a concrete pylon at the entrance to the airport.

    The School Diary is available from Library and Archives Canada on microfilm, Group RG24 Reel C12,353. These are loaned out in Canada on the Interlibrary Loan system, you might be able to get them in the UK as well.
    Last edited by Bill Walker; 17th July 2009 at 12:37. Reason: added microfilm info

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    Hello Bill

    Thank you for that information. It is about 100 times more than anything I have about Father's overseas postings.

    Some years ago I managed to his statement of service from the MOD. Very little information on that; join date at Uxbridge, reclassification (AC1 to AC2) promotions, postings and discharge. His posting to Canada was simply listed as "26/11/40 - Canada". Nothing about what unit he was in, and there is no mention of RAF Peterborough, although my he did day that he had been at Peterborough so that fits,

    Initially he was Navigator, Radio Operator, Bomb Aimer on Wellingtons (which he called Wimpys?). He survived several bombing missions and then was grounded when he was shot in the backside while dropping leaflets in France (his MO told him that if the bullet had been two inches to the left, they would have been remustering him into the WAAFs!). While he was recovering, the RAF discovered that he was a wireless and electrical engineer, and they promptly grounded him. Apparently, skilled ground tradesmen were in much shorter supply than bomber aircrew.

    After that, I have no information. Father was posted to Canada for three years, then Ceylon for a year after that. I have no idea how he got to these various places (convoy perhaps) although he did say he repaired link trainers in Canada, and worked on some sort of ground radar in Ceylon.

    Anyway, thanks again for the information. It gives me a starting point to do some more research into the Canadian side of his service.

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    I researched the station and have a website with the story of No. 31/14 SFTS Kingston and the satellite station at Gananoque: www.harvardsabove.ca
    I have a photo of the staff which isn't on the website yet and it was too large to put in the book. I could share it via email though.

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    The trade of WEM (Wireless Electrical Mechanic) was a natural choice for Link Trainer maintenance, although other trades (and WAAFs) could be employed for the continued care of these "aircraft" including fabric workers, instument mechanics, and perhaps airframe mechanics (flight mechanics) and electricians. I think the Link Trainer relied on pressurised air for all physical movements. And yes, it was always the case that qualified (and skilled) tradesmen were regarded as being more valuable as a technical tradesman than as aircrew, the latter generally being regarded by the powers that be as of a rather temporary nature, and their continued presence was not to to be relied on year after year because of the depredations of the enemy, physics, and bad luck. However exceedingly few medals and certainly no 'glory' for techies.
    David D

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    Hello, I am new here, and appreciate this is an old thread, but I wonder if anyone can help me out with where to start finding my grandad's war records. He was stationed in No 31 SFTS Kingston Ontario, certainly in 1944, but not sure when he arrived. All I have is a picture of him next to a plane (perhaps a Harvard), and my gran has handwritten the date and ​No 31 SFTS Kingston Ontario. Where do I start? Really keen to know more, but there is no one left in the family who can help me. Thanks

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