R.A.F. Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, 25 September 1942 until 10 March 1944 (PDF and text versions) October 1941 – 25 September 1942 (PDF and text versions)


Research by Clarence Simonsen

RAF Relief Field Airdrie 4

Text version with images.


RAF Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta, 25 September 1942 until 10 March 1944

Chapter Four

The most important American trainer aircraft to arrive in the 1930s flew with the name Texan, J-Bird, AT-6, while in Canada and England it was called the Harvard. It was safe, reliable, yet very powerful and challenging for young pilots transitioning from elementary flying school to front-line fighters of that period, earning the name “Pilot Maker.” 

The founding of North American Aviation Inc. emerged in 1931 from several different aeronautical firms, constructing its first aircraft in 1933, when General Motors Corporation purchased twenty-nine percent of company shares. On 1 April 1935, a N.A.A. prototype aircraft NA-16 [charge number] flew for the first time and the U.S. Air Corps ordered 42 aircraft for trainers, under designation BT-9. As the aircraft was modified and more powerful engines emerged, the U.S. Army and Navy continued to purchase training models. In 1937, the model BT-9D [fixed landing gear] was manufactured with a Pratt & Whitney 450 h.p. R-985-25 engine and the U.S. Air Corps ordered 251 of the new trainers, which were designated BT-14s.

Two months later [1937] the U.S. Army Air Corps ordered a new competition [Army Circular Proposal 37-220] for a Basic Combat trainer aircraft and North American Aviation entered the race. They added retractable landing gear to the NA-26 prototype aircraft, [NX1990] redesigned the wings, and the test performance [11 February 1938] was outstanding. The U.S. Air Corps ordered 180 of these new aircraft at once [charge number NA-36] designated BC-1 [Basic Combat]. 

This North American Aviation ad appeared in Aviation Weekly magazine for February 1939, [one full year after the original prototype was test flown] showing the original production line of 180 [NA-36] Basic Combat BC-1 aircraft for the U.S. Air Corps. During this production run, thirty-six trainers were equipped as dual instrument trainers and designated BC-1-I, [Instrument]. These aircraft features became the future trainer with retractable landing gear, R-1340 Pratt & Whitney engine and the long greenhouse canopy. NOTE – The first built BT-9D [charge number NA26] prototype registration NX18990, was purchased by Canada, [second hand] as the first BC-1 [Basic Combat] for flight testing, given RCAF serial #3345 on 23 July 1940. Crashed 22 March 1942, Kingman, Maine, USA, on flight to Scoudouc, New Brunswick. 

Numerous BT-14 trainers [with fixed landing gear] were sold for overseas export to China, Sweden, Australia, Japan, Brazil, France and Great Britain. The British were impressed with their trainers [called Yale] but they wanted a more powerful advanced trainer and North American Aviation were very happy to oblige their request. The first Harvard Mk. I serial N7000 [NA-49], a Basic Combat version with special British equipment, came off the Inglewood, California, assembly line on 28 September 1938. [Jeff Ethell collection]

By 1940, the Harvard [AT-6] was firmly established as a priority military pilot trainer by several different countries. North American Plant and airport on 7 April 1941, collection from Fort Worth Star-Telegram, free domain. This is where the first RCAF Harvard Mk. I aircraft began their northern flight to RCAF Sea Island [Vancouver, B.C.] Canada, on 15 July 1939. 

Harvard Mk. I, civil serial N7000, first flight 28 September 1938, ad published May 1939.

The new Harvard Mk. I found favor with the British representatives who were present at Inglewood, California, where North American pilot Louis Wait flew Harvard N7000. In October 1938, the British ordered 200 Harvard Mk. I aircraft and another 200 were ordered in January 1939, all were crated and shipped to England. After reviewing British test results, the Canadian Government ordered thirty Harvard Mk. Is [Charge number NA-61] which were flown in ferry groups of two or three to RCAF Sea Island [Vancouver] and on to RCAF Uplands, [Ottawa] Canada, beginning 15 July 1939. On 10 September 1939, Canada declared war on Germany and that caused a Harvard flight delivery problem. The U.S. Neutrality Act prohibited the flying of American military aircraft to any country at war.  

This photo was taken by LIFE magazine on 19 November 1939, showing the first delivery of RCAF Harvard Mk. I serial #1338 which was flown to Sweetgrass, Montana, then pushed across the border into Coutts, Alberta. [published in LIFE 11 December 1939] N.A. Harvard Mk. I serial #1336, 1337, 1338, 1339, and 1340 were the first N.A.A. Harvard trainers pushed across the border on 19 November, and taken on strength by RCAF on 21 November 1939. More would follow, serial #1341 to 1350 were pushed across to Coutts, Alberta, on 26 November 39. 

The two RCAF Ferry pilots seen on the right of this photo would be F/L Berven, F/L Peterson, F/L Waterhouse, F/O Martin or F/O Hodgson.  The five Harvard trainers were accepted by the RCAF at the Alberta border ‘as is’ and then flown to RCAF Depot in Calgary for a close inspection. Next they were ferried East to RCAF Uplands, [Ottawa] ‘in bond’ for customs clearance and removing the U.S. National under wing markings. 

Note – for all model builders, these RCAF Harvard Mk. I aircraft carried under wing U.S. National Insignia, Type 1, [introduced 1 January 1921] centre red disc on white star over blue outer roundel, as required by U.S. law. For ‘unknown’ reasons, the LIFE magazine original 4” by 5” negative was edited by painting out the U.S. National markings. North American Harvard Mk. I serial #1324, was taken on strength 3 August 1939, then flown to RCAF Test and Development Flight at Rockcliffe, Ontario, and flight tested by F/Lt. Truscott on 13 September 1939, as recorded in their Daily Diary. These first thirty Harvard’s were assigned to RCAF Trenton and RCAF Camp Borden, Ontario, seven would be destroyed in 1940-41 accidents.

Library and Archives of Canada MIKAN 3205786. RCAF Harvard Mk. I, serial #1335, the 15th and last flown to RCAF Sea Island, [Vancouver] then to Uplands, [Ottawa] 2 September 1939, before Canada declared war eight days later. Image taken at RCAF Trenton, Ontario, February 1940.

RCAF PL1191 image taken 23 August 1940, F/O W.V. Mudray and Sgt. R. Hammill, Harvard Mk. I, serial #1344. Flown to Sweetgrass, Montana, and pushed across the border to Coutts, Alberta, 26 November 1939, taken on strength RCAF 1 December 1939. Crashed 15 February 1941.

Harvard Mk. I serial #1321 to #1335 were all flown from Inglewood, California, to RCAF Sea Island [Vancouver, B.C.] then to RCAF Uplands [Ottawa]. Harvard Mk. I serial #1336 to #1350 were all flown to Sweetgrass, Montana, and pushed into Canada at Coutts, Alberta. 

These first thirty RCAF Harvard Mk. Is were powered with a R-1340-S3H1 WASP engine with a fabric covered fuselage, but that was about to change.

In October/November 1938, North American were going through a fast progression of BC-1 trainers and many were being developed simultaneously by the company. Australia had obtained the rights to build the NA-32 and the NA-33 under license and the first Australia NA-33 [named Wirraway] flew on 27 March 1939. During this time, North American pressed ahead with a more powerful NA-33 which they designated NA-44, powered by a Wright R-1820-F52 Cyclone 775 h.p. engine, a three bladed propeller with an all metal fuselage.  

This is the first built NA-44 [NX18981] which was used as the demonstrator for several potential customers, [mostly for Thailand, Brazil and Chile] in November 1939. This original NA-44 was purchased by Canada on 6 August 1940, delivered in bare metal finish RCAF #3344, at No. 2 SFTS at Uplands, Ottawa, Ontario. [Image Pete Bowers via Jeffery Ethell]

Became the personal trainer of the RCAF Officer in Charge of No. 1 Flying Instructors School at Trenton, painted in toned down yellow with blue trim wing tips, code “AA” as seen above. Note – still has three blade propeller on 20 February 1947. [Internet image, location unknown]

The three bladed prop had very little improvement on the powerful R-1340 engine, so it was removed and the new aircraft became the BC-1A [NA-55]. Twenty-nine were manufactured for the U.S. Army National Guard and another fifty-four for the Air Corps Reserve. The last nine aircraft would be built under a new “Advanced Trainer” number, AT-6, and the first flew on 6 February 1940. From this point on the AT-6-NA would remain basically unchanged for the rest of its production life, and the manufacture number AT-6 remained forever. 

On 17 November 1939, the RAF ordered the first production [NA-66] of 508 Harvard Mk. II, which were identical to the AT-6-NA trainer, with serial numbers 2501 to 3013. A second production order [NA-75] produced 100 serials 3134 to 3233. A good number of these aircraft were pushed across the Canadian border at Emerson, Manitoba, and Coutts, Alberta. In June 1941, the U.S. State Department suspended the ridiculous process of pushing American aircraft across the Canadian border, and they were now flown directly to the RAF training bases in mostly Western Canada. A third production order [NA-76] of 259 Harvard Mk. II aircraft were given RAF serial numbers AJ538 [14 July 1941] to AJ986 [3 February 1942] constructed at Inglewood, California. The RAF serial numbers AJ538 to AJ757 were assigned to RAF No. 31 SFTS, Kingston, Ontario, RAF No. 32 SFTS Moose Jaw, Sask., and RAF No. 34 SFTS, Medicine Hat, Alberta.

RAF serial numbers AJ753 to AJ986 contained eighty-one Harvard aircraft assigned to No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, flight delivery [plant to base] beginning 16 October 1941. 

Peter Bowers from Jeff Ethell collection taken at N.A.A. Inglewood, California. 

The company posed photo was taken at North American Aviation, Inglewood, California, around the end of January 1942. These are the last two Harvard Mk. II trainers [NA-76] constructed in batch of 259 serial AJ538 to AJ987. They were both being tested for the flight north to RAF No. 39 S.F.T.S. at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada. 

Note – the U.S. National Insignia [Type 1] painted under wing as required by U.S. law, with mixed RAF British markings on upper wing and fuselage. Flown from North American Plant at Inglewood, California, to Swift Current Saskatchewan with these under wing markings, then painted with British roundel by RAF in Canada. 

Harvard Mk. I serial AJ987 never made the trip, it was destroyed in a test flight at Inglewood, and was never taken on strength by the RAF. The background Harvard Mk. I serial AJ986, was the last Harvard Mk. II taken on charge by the RAF No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Sask., on 3 February 1942, minor “C-5” accident on 18 March 1942, then flew with the RCAF until 6 July 1955. Harvard AJ986 trained RAF pilots at No. 37 SFTS Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta, from 1 October 1942 until March 1944, then transferred to RAF at No. 34 SFTS Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The first echelon of Royal Air Force No. 39 S.F.T.S. arrived at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, on 28 November 1941. On 6 December 1941, 34 RAF Flight Instructors, and 64 untrained pilot cadets stepped off the train in Canada. Course RAF No. 1 [Pilot Training] began with 73 British cadets on 15 December 1941. The RAF unit had 65 N.A.A. Harvard Mk. II trainers on strength, with more arriving each day. The peak Harvard strength would be reached in April 1942, with 105 Harvard trainers on charge. The following RCAF records show eighty-one Harvard Mk. II aircraft serial, date they were taken on charge and trainer remarks, crash, accident, etc., for No. 39 SFTS, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, 16 October 1941 to 3 February 1942.

The Royal Air Force “Thunderbirds of the Great White Chiefs” were now being moved from No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Saskatchewan [#1 on map] to No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, [#2] and their main pilot training base will become the RAF Relief Field at Airdrie, Alberta. 

The move of 100 RAF Harvard Mk. II trainers began on 24 September and was completed on 30 of the month. The Harvard’s departed Swift Current, Sask., flew West into the province of Alberta and refueled at RAF Station No. 34 Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Free domain from the internet. Taken by unknown RAF student pilot possibly from #56 Course.

This rare RAF color photo was believed to have been taken from a Harvard Mk. II [RAF pilot Course #56] on the transfer to No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, 24-30 September 1942. The airport seen in the bottom right [next to the South Saskatchewan River] is RAF No. 34 SFTS Medicine Hat, Alberta, the base fuel stops on the transfer flight. RAF pilot Course #56 began training on 25 May 1942, with 69 students, graduated 50 pilots on 11 September 1942, who were now assigned the ferry trip of 100 Harvard trainers from Swift Current to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta. N.A. Harvard Mk. II serial AJ930 [training #39] was taken on strength by RAF at Swift Current, Sask., on 26 March 1942, transferred on 24-30 September 1942, and began training RAF pilots at No. 37 SFTS at Calgary at their main training Relief Field located at Airdrie, Alberta, 1 October 1942, until March 1944.  This aircraft will be struck off strength by the RCAF on 4 December 1946.

The RAF No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, Daily Diary records in detail the flight of a two-hundred and eight RAF aircraft in southern Alberta, from 25-30 September 1942. I’m sure the Alberta farmers wondered if the air war had arrived over Canada. 

In June 1942, profound changes came to the BCATP when a new agreement was signed and the termination date was extended until March 1945. The RAF schools were now incorporated into the BCATP, with a few more training units added and existing training fields enlarged. RAF Relief Field, Airdrie, was enlarged and became a regular training base, with five new buildings [red] constructed for the increase of RAF and RCAF staff. The new RAF British pilot students were now joined by RCAF, Free French, Australian, New Zealand, Belgians, Dutch and Czechoslovakian trainees. 

This RCAF issued map shows the Harvard training areas [marked by unknown pilot] at Airdrie.

The 100 Harvard trainers were stored, fueled, and maintained at home base Calgary, however their training base became RAF Airdrie and their new Relief Field became the RCAF grass field at Inverlake, Alberta. [west of Strathmore] The City of Calgary and the area around their home base became a restricted flying zone, requiring the Harvard trainers to fly north to Airdrie. The area north of Airdrie, from Crossfield east to Beiseker, [yellow] became the Harvard “Low Flying Training Area” which also contained the RAF Wood Lake No. 1 Bombing Range.  Two Forced Landing areas [red] were located on the west and east of Nose Creek and their RAF training field Airdrie. A large area of farmland from Beiseker south to Carseland became the High Flying Area where high speed manoeuvers [dives and spins] were practised again and again until they were performed with pilot confidence. The Canadian Rocky Mountains were 55 air miles due West from Airdrie Field and the location for many student pilot photos. 

Harvard Mk. II trainer #91 [left] was serial AJ835, taken on strength Swift Current on 16 October 1941, flew at Airdrie 1 October 42 until March 1944, then transferred to RAF No. 34 SFTS at Medicine Hat, Alberta. Flew total of 2734:05 hours training, off strength by RCAF on 21 October 1945. Harvard trainer #34 serial number is unknown. Internet from Dave M. Lambert collection in 1944.

RAF No. 37 S.F.T.S. Relief Training Field, Airdrie, Alberta, began training RAF fighter pilots on 1 October 1942, Course #62.

On 5 October 1942, student pilot LAC John C. Darling #1560163 [Course #62] walked into the rotating propeller of a Harvard Mk. II, killed instantly. 

Burnsland Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta, contains 43 RAF WWII plots. In most cases the passage of time, the development by mankind and nature have erased the training fields from the past. The only official marker from that period of history are the well-tended graves of the British student pilots who came to Calgary to learn to fly 1941-44.  

On 12 October 1942, a number of RAF trainers were flying close air formation one and one-half miles west of the Airdrie Relief Field, when two Harvard aircraft collided mid-air. RAF Instructor F/O A.I. Phelps and his student pilot LAC H.C. Cromack [Course #64] were in Harvard AJ898, which collided with F/Lt. R.F. Warner [pupil course #64] flying Harvard AJ854. All three were killed, interned at Burnsland Cemetery in Calgary.

Close-air formation near Airdrie, Alberta, 1943. Harvard Mk. II, serial AJ835 [trainer #91] taken on strength RAF No. 39 SFTS 16 October 1941, flew at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, 1 October to March 1944. Internet Dave M. Lambert collection 1944. 

23 October 1942, Harvard Mk. II forced landing at Airdrie, Relief Field, Category “C” accident, landing gear would not lower. 

30 October 1942, 6:50 Hrs., P/O N.R. Saxton in Harvard AJ983, ran off runway, stuck in two feet of mud. 17:30 Hrs., LAC R.F. Scarlett in Harvard AJ901, crash landed, as the right landing gear would not retract. 

31 October 1942, aircraft on strength – 107 Harvard Mk. II, 6 Avro Anson and 57 RAF student pilots in training. 


November 1942

2 Nov. 42, accident 1452099 LAC W. Creasey, student pilot in Harvard AJ952, taxied into parked Harvard AJ975.

4 Nov. 42, three RAF Harvard’s did an air demonstration flight over the City of Calgary.

6 Nov. 42, RAF pilot Course #60 graduated 57 pilots, seven failed the course and five were transferred to Course #62 for further training.

8 Nov. 42, LAC J.J. Fitzgerald 658963 landed at Airdrie with the undercarriage retracted. 

10 Nov. 42, accident LAC A. Jarvis 658798 in Harvard AJ790 minor damage to aircraft.

11 Nov. 42, one complete flight [twelve Harvard aircraft] flew over Remembrance Day at Calgary.

14 Nov. 42, accident at Airdrie, LAC F.S.T. Chesterfield 1316104 in Harvard AJ758 minor damage.

18 Nov. 42, flying instructor P/O M.J. Gubbins and his student LAC L.A. Doward 658062 were conducting spinning exercise in Harvard #2698 when four engine side panels were lost in a farmer’s field. 

21 Nov. 42, LAC J.E. Brown 1234926 overshot landing Harvard AJ829, stopped in ditch, minor damage. 

25 Nov. 42, LAC G.D. Kynman 945562 force landed Harvard AJ835 at Conrick, Alberta, when engine quit. 

Total hours flown in November 7,039. Aircraft on strength – Harvard 105, Avro Anson 6, and Airspeed Oxford 16 trainers. RAF pilots in training 111 Airmen, and 11 officers. 

This impressive air-to-air shot was taken around No. 37 SFTS Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta, in 1942. Harvard Mk. II trainer number “41” was serial AJ904, taken on strength 2 April 1941 at No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Sask., began training Calgary and Airdrie on 1 October 1942. No recorded accidents, flew 2873:20 Hrs, struck off charge by RCAF on 5 March 1946. Internet Dave M. Lambert collection 1944. 

In 1989, the author corresponded and interviewed [by phone calls to Ottawa] one of the original RAF student pilots who came to Canada on troopship H.M.T. Letitia [“C” deck, Mess 21, Hammock #86]. RAF cadet Archie M. Pennie sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and four days later arrived at No. 32 E.F.T.S.  Bowden, Alberta. He trained in Tiger-Moth and American PT-27 Stearman aircraft, Course #64 and graduated in late November 1942, half of his class were selected for bomber pilots, posted to No. 36 SFTS at Penhold, Alberta. Archie was selected as a fighter pilot and posted to No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, Course #70, which began on 7 December 1942, flying Harvard Mk. II trainers.

RAF Cadet LAC Pennie explained – “the Harvard was a real airplane, in size and power, a great jump from the British Tiger-Moth and American PT-27 Stearman trainers we gained around 70 hours flying experience at RAF Bowden. After just three or four trips [four to six hours] in the Harvard the RAF flying instructor would let you go solo and what a delight it was to master that powerful and loveable aircraft. If you trained or just served at any Harvard aircraft school during WWII, you will never forget the sharp, loud, rasping characteristic sound of the Wasp engine. This loud noise and the opposition from the local population of Calgary was so strong from the inhabitants, all flight training was conducted several miles north on the Edmonton Trail at RAF Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta. Discipline on the ground and in the air was very strict at RAF Calgary SFTS and our numbers were gradually thinned out by poor performance or attitude, inability to cope with hours of ground school tests and, of course, our share of fatal accidents. My upper bunk mate, LAC Hall, was a keen bright-eyed British lad of nineteen years, a good promising future fighter pilot. On his first solo flight with his instructor [F/L Ford the Flight Commander] their Harvard engine quit, they stalled, and both were killed on the main runway at Relief Field, Airdrie, 10 December 1942.”

All Harvard training at Relief Field Airdrie was carried out without the benefit of radios. Harvard pilots and instructors used hand signals from the cockpit while the mobile and main hangar control tower used a Morse lamp, sending light flashes by Morse code. At night they took off and landed by simple coal oil gooseneck flares which smoked and flickered as they outlined the dark Airdrie runways. Graduation day finally came on 2 April 1943, Wings were presented to the 56 pilots who graduated RAF No. 70 Course by Group Captain D. Iron, O.B.E. F/Lt. Archie Pennie was one of the pilots who received his wings in the RAF Drill Hall, today the Hangar Flight Museum of Calgary, Alberta. It’s a pity, there is no mention of the RAF history in Calgary during WWII, or the thousands of British airmen who received their wings in the Drill Hall.

10 December 1942, crash site of Harvard Mk. II, serial AJ759, stalled during take-off. Bert Sharp collection.

F/Lt. Archie Pennie was selected for Flying Instructor School, graduated, and was then posted to No. 34 EFTS at Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, where he trained future RAF pilots. He published many stories on his days with the RAF in Canada and preserved so much aviation WWII history. He returned to his old base 14 years after he departed and it was all gone, only 16 graves of the British students remain, the only tangible evidence there once was an RAF Station Assiniboia in Canada. This story appeared in Flight Magazine 18 March 1959, titled “Assiniboia Revisited.” For the full history of F/Lt. Pennie go to the Vintage Wings of Canada website and read the story by Dave O’Malley, it’s well worth it. Archie never forgot his fellow pilots who trained and flew with him, including his bunk mate #1512542 LAC Harry N. Hall at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, who died on the main runway at Airdrie, Alberta, just before Christmas 1942. He is just a name on a stone marker, forgotten, but the author has been to visit six times. His RAF Airdrie photos and family history must remain somewhere forgotten in England today. 

RAF pupil 1004562 LAC Landells was in Course No. 70 with fellow student Archie Pennie. 

The North American Harvard Mk. II aircraft trained 862 student pilots, mostly British, at No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, beginning with Course #64 [30 December 1942] and ending with Course #94 on 10 March 1944. These sixteen RAF pilot Courses conducted their flying training at Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta, and graduated 771 fighter pilots for the Royal Air Force. Twenty-one RAF members were killed in Alberta, one in a drowning at Banff, one in a motor vehicle accident at Airdrie during a blizzard and nineteen were killed flying the Harvard Mk. II aircraft during training. One New Zealand student pilot [NZ421082 LAC W.D. Shaw] was killed in training at Airdrie, Alberta, Harvard Mk. II serial AJ966, 31 December 1943.  

“They flew together as Brothers-in-Arms. They died together and now they sleep together in Burnsland Cemetery at Calgary, Alberta. Canadians have a solemn obligation to never forget them.”

Located five miles north-east from RAF Station Airdrie you will find a half-mile body of water called Wood Lake. This became the WWII Royal Air Force No. 1 Bombing Range for Airdrie, Alberta. Today the lake is home to thousands of waterfowl and also contains tens of thousands of WWII RAF training smoke bombs, with a few that never exploded. The author’s photo was taken from the west side looking east, showing the size of the lake, which is government [Crown] private land. 

During WWII the center of this photo contained twelve telephone poles [in a circle] which had been pounded into the water and then painted red and yellow. The center aiming point contained tepee shaped telephone poles. The RAF Harvard pilots flew from north [justify] or south [right] depending on the wind direction and dropped two smoke bombs on the centre aiming point. Each Harvard aircraft contained eight 8.5-pound smoke bombs, four under each wing.

The original 1940 RCAF blueprint of the bomb assembly buildings located at RAF Station Airdrie, Alberta. Collection of Gwen Conroy 1995.

The north-east corner of the RAF field at Airdrie contained three buildings [all painted white with a bright red roof] for the storage and assembly of the 8.5-pound practice smoke bombs. Each bomb contained a nose loaded with lead-antimony balls and the bomb casing body was filled with a pale yellow liquid of Titanium-Tetrachloride. When the bomb comes in contact with water, a chemical reaction rapidly takes place and Hydrochloric Acid smoke is released and can be seen from a distance. Eight smoke bombs are loaded on each Harvard Mk. II trainer and the student pilot takes off for the Wood Lake Bomb Range. All flight directions are controlled by a Morse Lamp in the Mobile Traffic Control Car RCAF serial #31-129.

An RAF student pilot class with bombs loaded on Harvard aircraft at Airdrie, Alberta, 1944. Dave M. Lambert collection.

The RAF Traffic Control Car [shadow] signals [Morse Lamp] the Harvard student pilot to take-off and the bombing exercise begins. The three bomb storage/assembly buildings can be seen on the right, white with bright red roof. RAF Airdrie single aircraft hangar in background. Internet Dave M. Lambert collection 1944.

The location of three bomb storage/assembly buildings and position of Mobile Traffic Control Car RCAF serial #31-129. RCAF 1940 map from Gwen Conroy 1995.

The Harvard aircraft arrived over RAF Wood Lake No. 1 Bomb Range and took turns dropping two smoke bombs on each pass. 

On the east and west sides of Wood lake the RAF constructed two twenty-seven-foot-high observation towers.

An RAF L.A.C. sits in each tower, where he records the trainer number on each Harvard aircraft, and when the smoke bomb hits the water, he points his sighting instrument at the smoke and records the degrees from the disk. That evening the two bomb tower records are combined, which forms an X and the location of each smoke bomb dropped. The students bomb score [eight bombs dropped] is totalled and presented the following day. That was the simple but effective way the RAF at Airdrie, Alberta, trained Harvard pilots to drop bombs in 1942-44.

This original RAF No. 1 Wood Lake Bomb Tower survives on a local farm today, possibly the only one in all of Canada. [Below] RAF Harvard Mk. IIB serial FE824 over the Wood Lake RAF Bomb Range at Airdrie in October 1944, after the release of eight smoke bombs.

Harvard Mk. IIB, serial FE824 [trainer #97] was taken on charge RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, on 9 February 1943. The pilot has dropped his eight bombs and stunts high over the CNR railway snaking their way northwards around Irricana, Alberta. FE824 was transferred to RCAF 2 October 1946 and flew 2053:00 Hrs. RCAF LAC Bert Sharp collection.

The original Harvard Mk. II aircraft were fully painted with RAF aircraft markings at the North American plant in California and delivered to No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Each aircraft arrived with Gear Doors, which were the first items removed from the trainers, saving mechanical repairs and accumulation of snow and ice during winter months in Canada. The RAF aircraft training numbers were assigned and painted on each Harvard at Swift Current, Sask., and remained the same after the transfer of 100 aircraft to Calgary 24-30 September 1942. 

Nineteen RAF Harvard Mk. II aircraft received British serial numbers BW184 to BW207, with BW204 assigned to RAF Swift Current, Saskatchewan, on 14 May 1942, transferred to Calgary 24-30 September 42 and flew training at RAF Airdrie until 10 March 1944. Off Strength RCAF 2 February 1946. 

Harvard Mk. II serial AJ851, was taken on strength at Swift Current, Sask., 5 November 1941, suffered a minor landing accident [Cat. C-3] on 13 January 1942, delivered to Calgary 24-30 September 1942. Flew with a different style RAF Fin Flash which was introduced in July 1942, [18” wide by 24” high] Red 8” wide, White 2” wide and Blue 8” wide. Off strength by RCAF on 26 November 1947. RCAF LAC Bert Sharp image 1943. [author watercolor painting] 

American artist Clayton Knight [left] Leslie Roberts and F/O Beurling, Ottawa, January 1943.

Cover art by Eward John Sampson for Maclean’s 15 January 1943.

George Frederick “Buzz” Beurling from Verdun, Quebec, attempted to join the RCAF in 1940, but was rejected as he lacked academic qualifications. Accepted by the RAF in September 1941, they needed good pilots, not paper qualifications, and in Malta F/O Beurling shot down 27 Axis aircraft in 14 days, and damaged another three. He was a lone wolf, hard to control, always breaking RAF rules and orders, but he was a killer fighter pilot at the right time. Good in the air or bad on the ground, George became Canada’s most famous RAF fighter pilot in WWII, with 31 and one-half enemy kills, and earned the name “Falcon of Malta.” In peace time he would possibly have been a failure, but during WWII he was a Canadian hero and the RCAF used him for wartime public relations.

F/O Beurling came to RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, 1 March 1943, and lectured over 900 members of the Royal Air Force, including 237 student fighter pilots training in the Harvard Mk. II aircraft. 

The RAF Calgary permanent staff Flying Instructor Officers were also present for the lecture. 

A good number of these 68 RAF Flying Instructors [January 1944] had never flown in WWII combat.

Peter Charles Middleton was born 3 September 1920, joined the RAF Reserve in 1940, promoted to Pilot Officer 9 May 1941.  Became a Flying Instructor in the N.A.A. Harvard Mk. I aircraft which had been purchased by Britain in 1938-39. Promoted to F/Lt. Middleton, 9 March 1942, arrived in Canada [RAF Harvard Flying Instructor] May 1942 at No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan. [99 Harvard Mk. II aircraft on strength] Transferred with 62 Junior RAF Officers to No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, 25 September 1942, under command of W/Commander J.W. Slater A.F.C. and flew most of the 100 Harvard Mk. II trainers on strength at Calgary and their training field at Airdrie, Alberta.  

Picked by his Commanding Officer to lead the pupils of No. 80 and 82 Courses in the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede parade 5 July 1943. RAF No. 37 SFTS was disbanded 10 March 1944, special officers train departed Calgary at 20:00 hrs for Halifax, Nova Scotia. F/Lt. Middleton served with No. 605 [Reserve] Squadron flying Mosquito fighters, released in 1946. Flew Trident aircraft with British European Airways, became First Officer to Prince Philip on a two-month flying tour of South America in 1962. Prince Philip flew as co-pilot on 49 of the Royal tour’s 62 flights. The Duke of Edinburgh earned his wings in 1953 flying an RAF Harvard Mk. II trainer [KF729] and logged 5,986 hours in 59 different aircraft, including his helicopter pilot licence. I’m sure the two pilots had lots to talk about as they flew around South America. 

In June 2011, the Calgary and Canadian Press were alive with stories such as “City Soars with Royal Link” Calgary Sun newspaper. 

Thank goodness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her new husband Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, never attended the old Aero Space Museum at Calgary International Airport. The museum contains no history of the RAF in Calgary 1941-1944 and in fact the staff did not even know which aircraft Kate’s grandfather F/Lt. Peter Middleton had flown in Calgary during his nineteen months as flying instructor of North American Harvard Mk. II trainers. Today [2023] this original 1940 RAF Drill Hall is renamed The Hangar Flight Museum of Calgary and still no mention of the Royal Air Force who called this home from 1 June 1941 until 10 March 1944. A new generation has destroyed WWII City of Calgary aviation history.

F/Lt Peter Middleton possibly with RAF No. 605 [Reserve] Squadron 1945-46.  [Internet]

Witness statements report LAC Major was stunting over the City of Calgary which was a restricted fly zone during the war. Aircraft could only fly over the city from point A to point B.

Amber Airway No. 2 over Airdrie, Alberta, Canada.

In 1925, the United States Civil Aeronautics began forming American Air Corridor Routes for airliner traffic control to fly safely at night or in bad weather. Experiments were conducted with radio range beacon stations and by December 1935 the first Airway Traffic Control Center was located at Newark, New Jersey.  By 1938, airport control towers became a familiar sight across the United States and color coded air corridor maps designated the airspace an aircraft must remain during its transit through a given region in the United States. These established routes were called Airways, and each was given a color code. Green and Red routes ran East and West with all aircraft flying at 2 or 4 thousand feet. Amber and Blue routes ran North and South with all aircraft flying at 3 or 5 thousand feet. Each route had an equal spaced radio beacon station which sent out a signal to keep the aircraft on course and prevent mid-air collisions. 

In 1939, Amber Civil Airway No. 2 ran North from Daggett, California, to Great Falls, Montana. 

1942 list of Amber Civil Airway No. 2 radio range stations required for the 1,138-mile flight. Each radio range station sent out a signal which kept the aircraft in their designated air corridor.

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor [7 December 1941] it became imperative to rush men and American war material to Alaska, with the most direct route over the province of Alberta, to the Yukon, and Alaska. Permission to fly was obtained from the Canadian Government in January 1942, and a contract was signed with Northwest Airlines on 26 February 1942, to fly priority cargo over this Canadian route. By May 1942, Northwest Airlines were making regular flights to Edmonton and on to Fairbanks, Alaska. In mid-May Western Airlines began flying the same route and by June 42, United Airlines were operating the same interior route to Alaska. These three civilian airline pilots extended “Amber Civil Airway No. 2” from Great Falls, Montana, to Edmonton, Alberta, and official or not, the name Amber Airway No 2 began appearing on RCAF, RAF in Canada, and American military maps. [It appears the Canadian Name “Amber Airway No. 2” became official by the USAAF on 15 October 1943] This new air corridor in the sky was ten nautical miles wide [19 k/m] and during first operation lacked radio directional aids from Edmonton west to Alaska. These early airline and military pilots followed the Alcan Highway which was under construction. On 20 July 1942, the USAAF 7th Ferrying Group began sending detachments to airports at Lethbridge, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort St. John, Watson Lake, and Whitehorse in Canada, for ferrying of American lend-lease aircraft to the Soviet Union. To fully understand this part of Alaska/Canada history please read the three volume history titled “The Forgotten War” published 1988 by Stan Cohen, it is the best. [Just amazing research]

From September 1942 until September 1945, 7,971 American lend-lease aircraft were delivered to the Russian pilots at Fairbanks, Alaska. Of this total 5,066 were fighter aircraft, mostly the Bell Aircraft Corp. Airacobra P-39M and Q [2,618] and the Bell Kingcobra P-36A [2,397]. Bell produced 9,584 fighter aircraft until July 1944, but the P-63 Kingcobra was never flown on operations by the USAAF, it was out-dated and all were delivered lend-lease to Russia by Amber Airway No. 2, Great Falls, Montana, directly over Airdrie, to Edmonton, Alberta.

RAF No. 37 S.F.T.S. at Calgary, Alberta, was not an aircraft stop on the ferry route to Edmonton, but many American aircraft landed for repairs, fuel, or bad weather conditions.

Daily Diary [Calgary RAF] records –

15 October 1942 – One American C-47 landed, fuel.

20 October 1942 – One American C-47 landed, fuel.

24 October 1942 – One American C-47 landed, fuel.

31 October 1942 – One USAAF C-46A Commando, serial 42-3640 landed, fuel.

6 November 1942 – 16:30 hrs., three USAAF P-39 Airacobra fighters landed, low cloud and snow conditions. Departed the following morning for Edmonton.  

This Airacobra serial 42-4725 [P-39M-1-BE] sits in the December 1942 winter snow at No. 37 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, wearing full Russian markings. The auxiliary ferry fuel tank held 250 U.S. gallons of fuel for the trip from Great Falls, Montana, to Edmonton, Alberta. The American radio range receiver is located on the belly of the aircraft, which received the ground tower signal and kept the aircraft on an air corridor course in Amber Airway No. 2 over southern Alberta. [Bert Sharp photo collection] No. 7 Ferrying Group Pilot Lt. H.E. Williams departed Calgary, 30 December 1942, then his engine caught fire near Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and he bailed out. Aircraft sections were recovered by Stan Reynolds, remaining in his museum collection and today parts from this [Russian] aircraft are being restored into another Bell P-39 airframe [recovered from New Guinea] under restoration at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton.  

The Northwest Sector of the Domestic Division [Ferrying Command] was activated in January 1942, [after Pearl Harbor] at Seattle, Washington. They became the 7th Ferrying Group under Ferrying Command of the USAAF, ferrying new B-17 bombers from the Seattle factory to modification centers and American air bases nationwide. The designation 7th Ferrying Group was first used 4 June 1942 when they were transferred from Seattle to Great Falls, Montana, officially 19 June 1942. They came under control of Air Transport Command of the U.S. Army Air Forces, primarily for ferrying Lend-Lease Russian aircraft and supplies from Great Falls, Montana to Fairbanks, Alaska. One-hundred and seventy-seven pilots were lost ferrying aircraft to Alaska, and Amber Airway No. 2 in Alberta has fourteen known crash sites. Keho Lake, Alberta, [N-E of Fort Macleod] still hides the remains of a crashed Russian Airicobra, while others [B.C. and Yukon] are still just missing.

RCAF Calgary Radio Beacon [VXC278] was a major course correction for the American ferry pilots flying at 18,000 ft. to Edmonton, Alberta. At the same time RAF Airdrie Harvard trainers were flying night and day, in the same air-space, at 3,000 to 5,000 ft., with no radio communication, only plane to plane hand signals.  

The United States military policy in Alaska showed total neglect until 25 April 1939, when Congress approved $4 million for building a military cold weather station, new aircraft, and an airport at Fairbanks, Ladd Field. The commander of the newly-created Alaska Defense Force was Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., who had to start fresh and build an almost non-existent military force. The first American troops arrived at Anchorage, Alaska, 27 June 1940, 780 men and officers of the 4th Infantry Regiment, the vanguard of the new Alaska Defence Force. On 9 August 1940, Major Evert S. Davis, chief of aviation for the Alaska Defence Force, and the first commander of the 11th Army Air Force, arrived at Merrill Field in an old Martin B-10 bomber. In March 1941, Major Davis ordered twelve United States Army Air Corps Douglas B-18A bombers and assigned six to the 73rd Medium Bomb Squadron [Elmendorf Field, Alaska] and the other six to the 36th Heavy Bombardment Squadron, 31 March 1941, Elmendorf Field. 

This photo from Evan Hill collection [ASL-P343-558] shows one of the first Douglas Bomber-1 [DB-1] bombers at Elmendorf Field, Alaska. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, these original twelve B-18A bombers flew first line coastal defence patrols from Nome to south-east Alaska. In 1944, this rare old bomber serial #37-627 was ordered to return to Great Falls, Montana, for storage and later scrapping. Air Transport Command, 7th Ferrying Group were given the task of returning the old bird by Amber Airway No. 2 to Great Falls, Montana.

In March 1944, the vintage American bomber was proceeding south from Edmonton, Alberta, on Amber Airway No. 2, and over Olds, Alberta, an engine was lost due to a broken oil line. The American pilot contacted Airdrie Relief Field and declared an emergency landing, but never made the airstrip.

A forced landing was made just short of the Airdrie runway, No. 1 hangar seen in background. Due to the spring melting, the bomber became stuck in the soft ground. Bert Sharp photo.

Bert Sharp and his fellow RCAF ground crew members extracted the B-18A from the mud and pulled it by Cat tractor to the hangar for oil line repairs. 

The veteran B-18A was flown by pilots of USAAF Air Transport Command, 7th Ferrying Group with a detachment [385th Squadron] based at RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary. American ground crews arrived, by jeep, replaced the oil line and the following day the Alaska bomber departed for Great Falls.

It’s not a heritage site, but with permission [private factory property] you can still relive the RAF and American past associated with No. 1 Hangar, RAF Airdrie, Alberta, Canada.

On 10 March 1944, No. 37 S.F.T.S. RAF Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta, was disbanded and 96 Harvard aircraft were flown to RCAF Edmonton, RAF North Battleford, Saskatchewan and RAF Medicine Hat, Alberta.

On 11 March 1944, Airdrie Aerodrome became RCAF Relief Field, flying RCAF Cessna Crane twin-engine trainers from No. 3 SFTS, Calgary, today the location of Mount Royal University.

RCAF [engine-mechanic] LAC Bert Sharp was posted to RAF Airdrie in the fall of 1942, and now he would work on Cessna Crane aircraft of the RCAF. LAC Sharp far right in both photos.


RCAF Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta, 11 March 1944 until 28 September 1945. Bert Sharp photo collection.

The same location today, 2023. A new cement wall factory attachment has been constructed on the east side of the original RAF/RCAF hangar doors. In the foreground is a section of the original WWII Royal Air Force H-Hut, moved from the north side of No. 1 hangar. 

Left photo by Bert Sharp showing RCAF ground crew members mopping the cement floor in Airdrie No. 1 Hangar in 1944. Right – a cartoon created by RAF F/Sgt. D.C. Hickling No. 32 EFTS at Bowden, Alberta, December 1943. Cartoons can sometimes become real.

RCAF Cessna Crane which crashed at Airdrie being removed to No. 10 Repair Depot, Calgary, winter 1944. Bert Sharp collection.

RCAF No. 3 S.F.T.S. and their Relief Field at Airdrie closed on 28 September 1945, and the Crown property went to War Assets for sale. The airport buildings were purchased by Gordon Bowers in 1948, and used for oil patch pipe construction. In 1969, Thomas Conroy purchased the remaining airport property and created a flying club he named “The Airdrie Country Club of the Air.” 

Family photo from Gwen Conroy [top left] and husband Thomas Conroy, with son and daughter. The “Flying Conroy’s” owned three WWII Harvard trainers and all four family members were qualified Harvard pilots. In 1979, Tom was flying with another pilot friend and something went wrong near the village of Irricana, where they crashed to their death in a farmer’s field. Gwen Conroy remained living on her Airdrie Airport property and running the business until 1998, when she sold to Airdrie Airpark Inc. In 1995, the author made three visits to interview Gwen and preserve the airport past, over a pot of coffee. Gwen passed away in 2003, but her memory lives on in the following photos [slides] which she gave to the author, and I do not believe have been published before this date. The images are not dated but clearly show the happy times at the Airdrie Country Club of the Air. I believe Harvard pilot Gwen Conroy took these images but the info. is not recorded in my past notes. 

1970-78 era –  Gwen Conroy.

Airdrie Country Club of the Air – Gwen Conroy

A high speed Harvard pass, just like WWII – Gwen Conroy 

Oh, the throbbing sound of those WASP engines – Gwen Conroy




The “Thunderbirds of the Great White Chiefs” still thunder over Calgary and Airdrie, Alberta, for special events, thanks to son Thomas P. Conroy.

And most of the original RAF Airdrie buildings survive.

RAF Medical Officer Doc. Walton and Air Force Police Crawford in 1943.         Author.

A special thanks to RCAF engine-mechanic LAC Bert Sharp who preserved so much of WWII Airdrie Relief Field, his home and work place for over three years.

24 July [Thursday] 1941, Chief of the Battle River Cree Nation, Sam Swimmer, “Ya Ya Num” extended a greeting to the R.A.F. pilot’s [King’s Braves] North Battleford, Saskatchewan, – “The Thunderbirds of the Great White Chiefs.”

R.A.F. Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, 1 October 1941 – 25 September 1942 (PDF and text versions)


Research by Clarence Simonsen

RAF Relief Field Airdrie 3

Text version with images.


R.A.F. Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, 1 October 1941 – 25 September 1942

Chapter Three


In March 1941, the British again revised the number of R.A.F. schools [twelve] they would like to move to Canada, in addition to the five which had moved in 1940. This added to the already growing burden placed on the RCAF, and the additional construction of RAF schools. It became clear to the Canadian government the air training plan was now outgrowing the dimensions of the original plans, and more extensive use of present facilities must be taken at once. With growing confidence in Canadian construction, training schools were now doubled in size and relief landing fields would be turned into full time training bases. The training establishment of a new RAF service flying training school in Canada now reached over one thousand, and the presence of the RAF in Canada was becoming a sizeable growth. No. 35 S.F.T.S. originally planned for Calgary, Alberta, would now be moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, on 15 July 1941, where two RAF troop trains would be arriving with almost 700 Royal Air Force Trainees. These British recruit future pilots would be training in British Airspeed Oxford aircraft which had been shipped from the U.K. and transported from Halifax, Nova Scotia, by train. The school was still under construction when the troop trains arrived and would not officially open until 4 September 1941, when Course #27 commenced flying training.

The newspaper clipping of the first RAF troop train arrival at North Battleford on 21 July 1941.

A special RAF greeting was made by Chief Sam Swimmer [son of Yellow Mud] of the Sweetgrass First Nations Reserve who welcomed the new British student pilots to their treaty land, reserve 113, calling them – “The Thunder Birds of Great White Chiefs.” The author believes this possibly influenced future RAF designs of two Thunderbird Totem symbols used at R.A.F. No. 37 S.F.T.S. Calgary, Alberta, beginning in November 1941. 

The RAF Service Flying Training School in Calgary, Alberta, was now re-numbered No. 37 S.F.T.S. and continued to train RAF students from No. 31 E.F.T.S., but that was about to change.


17 September 1941, RAF No. 31 EFTS were ordered to leave Calgary effective 16 October 1941.


The first troop train carrying RAF officers and airmen of No. 37 SFTS arrived at Calgary on 20 September 1941, and by the end of the month they had opened their Orderly Room and Section Offices. 

No. 31 EFTS completed their movement south to RAF Station De Winton, Alberta, on 14 October 41 and RAF No. 37 SFTS became official on 20 October 1941. RAF Relief Field at Airdrie, Alberta, had officially opened on 1 July 1941 as No. 35 SFTS and they now officially became No. 37 SFTS Relief Field on 20 October 1941. Course #31 arrived Calgary on 13 October and began ground lectures and flying training on 21 October 1941. On this date the first flying training of British Airspeed Oxford trainer aircraft took place at RAF Airdrie Relief Field, totalling eight hours flying time. Due to the progress of airport construction and lack of twin-engine trainer aircraft in Canada, it became necessary to open RAF No. 37 SFTS with “Ox-box” twin engine trainer aircraft which were not suited to the Calgary elevation of 3,606 ft. [1,099 metres] above sea level, but single-engine aircraft changes could not be made for one more year.  Officially on 25 September 1942, they converted to American AT-6 Harvard Mk. II single engine trainers. 



Between March 1941 and November 1943, 601 British Airspeed Oxford trainers were delivered by ship to Halifax, Nova Scotia, loaded on railway cars and shipped to RAF Station Repair Depots located in Canada. Most of these RAF trainers arrived in No. 4 Training Command, where thirteen RAF training schools were constructed. All retained their RAF camouflage paint and original RAF serial numbers. [Five were lost at sea, ship sunk during transport – AR809, AR810, AR813, AR814, and AR819]


The following serial numbers were taken on strength at RAF No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, and most flew training at Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, 20 October 1941 to 24 September 1942. 

AS.10 Mk. I serial T1180, V3379, V3393, V3426, V3434, V3439, V3463, V3479, X6539, X6544, X6549, X6557, X6589, X6590, X6593, AR969, AS475, AS599, AS603, AS610, AS612, AS614, AS616, AS617, AS619, AS625, AS629, AS666, AS691, AS699, AS701, AT442, AT444, AT446, AT447, AT452, AT455, AT458, and AT472. 

AS.10 Mk. II serial T1184, X6884, X6964, X6967, X7143, X7156, AS266, AS303, AS321, AS365, AS373, AS382, AS396, AS790, AS798, AS802, AS834, AS837, AS838, AS848, AS853, AS859, AS860, AS862, AS927, AS931, BG303, BG328, BG354, BG355, BG363, BG503, BM679, BM701, BM749, BM752, BM807, and BM810. 

Below is a Chris Charland rare color image of the Oxford trainer markings in Canada. X6559 was an AS.10 Mk. I constructed in a batch of 79 aircraft, assigned to No. 36 SFTS at Penhold, Alberta. The RAF camouflage [sand and spinach] was Pattern #2, for twin engine monoplanes of less than 70 feet.

Some of the first RAF Airspeed trainers arrived in Canada with RAF Type A [II] roundel fuselage markings which were Red, White, and Blue, [equal diameter colors] used on camouflaged surfaces for a limited period 1937 to 1939. The roundel Type A [I] was introduced in June 1940, Red, White, Blue, outer Matt Yellow [equal diameter colors] and generally used until 1942 on fuselage sides. The undersurface was yellow with aircraft serial numbers painted in opposite directions in black [one-half the wing chord length] on the main wing for easy identification from the ground. The fin flash was introduced in June 1940, 27 inches high with equal red, white, and blue 24 inches wide. This trainer carried nose art with what appears to be “Jimmy” in yellow. 


RAF Course #31 began flight training on 21 October 1941 and the first accident occurred on 5 November 41. 


The first RAF Sgt/pilot Howard to solo in an “Ox-box” at Airdrie Relief Field Course #31, November 1941. Photo by P/O Nimmo RAF Flying Instructor and art editor.

The first RAF station magazine was published at the end of November 1941, featuring a Golden outline of a First Nations Thunderbird Symbol, representing power, protection, and strength. The origin is unknown, but the author feels it was possibly connected to a greeting extended to the RAF at No. 35 SFTS at North Battleford, Saskatchewan, on 21 September 1941, by Chief Sam Swimmer of the Battle River Cree Nation. He called the new RAF arrivals “The Thunder Birds of Great White Chiefs.” The RAF art editors of the first magazine were Flying Instructor P/O N.D. Nimmo and LAC [student-pilot] E.J. Mansfield. Published by Phoenix Press Co. Ltd. Calgary, Alberta, it was a high quality magazine. The inside front cover featured an RAF welcome message from the Mayor of Calgary, Andrew Davison.


RAF cartoon art in first issue by Rodger, 1941. [possibly a student pilot in Course #31]

When the RAF first arrived in Calgary they were shocked by the backward Alberta Liquor Laws, as they were accustomed to attending a local pub with the whole family and enjoying a night of food and drink with adults and children. The Canadian prohibition of Beer, Wine, and Liquor in Alberta was not changed until 5 November 1923, and under the new Provincial Liquor Law only low content liquor and beer of 1% could be sold. Women were barred as customers and men drank alone, telling bar jokes, getting drunk, messing their pants, fighting, and acting like cowboy cavemen. In 1928, mixed drinking in Alberta was finally allowed, however, females must be with a male escort and they could only drink in a segregated area, away from single males. The advertising of Beer, Wine, or Liquor was forbidden in the province and the Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. could only display soft drinks. 




This RAF student pilot [possibly Course #31] was featured in the November 41 magazine ad, and he is smiling because it’s Horse-shoe and Buffalo Ginger Ale, not Calgary Beer.

This ad appeared in RAF magazine in 1942 featuring three women drinking Calgary soft drinks. Women were not allowed to drink with single men in Alberta until 1957, and real major liquor law changes did not come until 1971 when the Progressive Conservative government came to power. [above is original Calgary “Big Lime” soft drink from author collection]


First accident which took a student pilot’s life, 5 December 1941, Oxford serial AS365.



Airspeed Oxford serial AS365 was taken on strength 20 August 1941 – 5 December 1941.


In total six RAF student pilots would be killed during training in Oxford aircraft at Calgary and area. Oxford serial #AS365 – LAC Ernest Thomson 1387318, Calgary, 5 Dec. 1941. #AT457 – LAC W.J. McCarthy 656512, crashed near Airdrie, 10 December 1942. #AS382 – LAC E.C. Dunbavand 1218546, crashed near Three Hills, 16 January 1942. #AS610 – LAC W.J Stonebridge killed in crash near Langdon, 10 August 42. #AS666 – LAC Nimmo 420814, mid-air with #BM810 – LAC W.J. Webb, Calgary, 14 August 1942. 

The British Union Jack flies over Burnsland Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta, which contains over 22,000 burials, including the RAF section which contains 43 RAF student pilots and Flying Instructor graves 1941-45.

The second school magazine would appear in March 1942 featuring a new Thunderbird. This symbol possibly appeared on a few aircraft and was retained until March 1944.

This March 1942 second impressive First Nation Thunderbird was also printed on No. 37 SFTS stationary for writing letters home [above] and possibly even a few aircraft, however no aircraft photos have been found to date. Ox-box photos from Calgary are very hard to obtain.




Calgary: As some imagined it – drawing by P/O G.A. Brandreth, R.A.F. Flying Instructor.

The population of Calgary, Alberta, in 1942 was 88,904 and Canada had 11.6 million in total. The population of the Village of Airdrie, Alberta, in 1942 was 185, with not much to see for the RAF student pilots training next door at their relief field. Oxford Mk. I serial AT442 was practising landings at Airdrie, 17 April 1942, the port tire burst, which resulted in a Category “C” accident. Student pilot LAC Sunderland Course #51 was not injured, he graduated on 2 July 1942, with 41 fellow pilots, two being the first Free French pilots trained at Airdrie, Alberta.  

This crash image also captures [background] the RCAF aircraft recovery truck used by the RAF at Relief Field, Airdrie. The make is impossible to know as both the Ford Motor Company and General Motors of Canada produced over 300,000 military pattern vehicles of the same snub-nose design. The author believes it is a GMC of 1942-43 vintage. 

The Ford Motor Company at Windsor, Ontario, constructed 50,000 military vehicles, 40,000 for Great Britain and 10,000 for Canadian Forces during WWII. [Maclean’s 1941]

Canadian Maclean’s magazine 1 July 1942.

GM in Oshawa, Ontario, produced over 201,000 Canadian Military Pattern trucks during WWII, including special aircraft recovery trucks for use by the RCAF and RAF schools in Canada. 

In 1994, the author obtained permission from Mr. John Edwards, Commissioner of Correctional Services in Ottawa, to conduct exploratory excavations at RAF ex-No. 32 EFTS at Bowden, Alberta. Each WWII RAF school in Canada [twenty-four] contains a burial pit, with their complete WWII inventory, which was ordered to be buried in Canada. The reason was simple: the British Government could not afford to move the vast amount of RAF material back to the U.K. in 1944. In October 1991, and June 2001, digs were conducted at the old British base but the exact pit location could not be found. In September 2005, Professor J.M. Maillot and his wife donated a full day to carry out a magnetic ground survey of the site location, which was prison farm land, used as a garbage dump during WWII. Professor Maillot was in charge of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Calgary, Alberta. In short, after years of research, the RAF burial pit was found, but the Canadian Government said “No digging, it is Crown Property.” At noon hour, September 2005, I was taken by a guard inside the wire, where the most serious Canadian criminals manufacture prison furniture. There sits an original [mint] GMC 1943 RCAF aircraft recovery truck used by the RAF during WWII, and it has never left the site. Efforts to have this vehicle donated to a museum fell on deaf ears, so it is only driven by murders and rapists. So much for preserving Canadian RCAF history, thanks to my government and their small-thinking Correctional Bureaucrats in Ottawa. This original 1943 GMC RCAF Aircraft recovery truck, was the same style as used at No. 37 Relief Field, Airdrie, Alberta, 1941-44.

The RCAF also supplied RAF Stations in Canada with Mobile Air Traffic Control Cars, Library & Archives Canada RCAF photo, Car serial 35-723. 

 Airdrie Mobile Control Car [left] large “T” on roof and Dodge Ambulance #30-632. 


No. 37 SFTS R.A.F. Relief Field Airdrie Mobile Air Traffic Control Car in 1942, Airdrie Hangar and main control tower seen in left background.

The RAF Airdrie Control Car [with large “T” on roof] and their 1941 Ford Herrington 3-ton, 6×6 Fire truck serial 33-741, with aircraft crash fire rescue suit. [possibly AC1 P.G. Cleeve]

The RCAF vehicles assigned to the RAF in 1941-44 are long gone, however their original vehicle storage garage survives and is still in use today, 2023.

The original RAF hangar built in 1940 survives in 2023, photo looking south-east.

After training at No. 37 SFTS Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, the RAF Wings parade would be held in the Calgary Drill Hall, today [2023] the Hangar Flight Museum of Calgary. Nine RAF courses would graduate 257 pilots from 21 October 1941 until 24 September 1942. Course #31 [53 Wings] Course #33 [59 Wings] Course #35 [49 Wings] Course 47 [41 Wings] Course #49 [35 Wings] Course #51 [42 Wings] Course #56 [[38 Wings] Course #57 [40 Wings, on 24 September 41] with Course #59 graduating at No. 39 SFTS at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where the Oxford aircraft were transferred on 28 September 1941. 

This order dated 22 September 1942, details the reasons for No. 37 SFTS RAF Station Calgary being first equipped with Airspeed Oxford twin-engine trainers, and the date the 100 Harvard aircraft would be exchanged with No. 39 SFTS Swift Current, Saskatchewan. 

RAF No. 37 S.F.T.S. at Calgary, Alberta, would now begin training RAF fighter pilots, in AT-6 American Harvard Mk. II aircraft, beginning 1 October 1942.

End of Chapter 3


R.A.F. Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, June 1941- Oct. 1941 (PDF and text versions)

Research by Clarence Simonsen

RAF Relief Field Airdrie 2

Text version with images

Unofficial W.A.G. badge [above] was created by RCAF Canadian LAC Frank Raymond Scott, R80514, from Toronto, Ontario, Entry Class 16 at Calgary, assigned to RAF No. 102 [Ceylon] Squadron, Killed in Action – 5 October 1942, age 21 years.

R.A.F. Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, June 1941- Oct. 1942

Chapter Two

No. 2 Wireless School opened at Calgary, Alberta, on 16 September 1940, training wireless operator/air gunners who were becoming specialists in aviation radio work. The wireless course was extended from twenty weeks to twenty-eight weeks in 1942, and the gunnery programme was increased from four to twelve weeks. During the early wireless training the student would spend his last two weeks learning his trade [air experience] while flying in a DH.82C-2 [ten built serial 4935-4944] or a DH. 82C-4 [125 built serial 4810-4945] Menasco Tiger Moth trainer aircraft. The RCAF DH. 82C Tiger Moth was built by de Havilland in Toronto, fitted with a British Manufactured Gipsy Major engine [130 h.p.] and known as the Tiger Moth Mk. II used for elementary pilot training in Canada. Due to a shortage of engines being shipped from wartime England, the Canadian government purchased American manufactured Menasco D-4 Super Pirate 125 h.p. engines and fitted them in the Canadian built Tiger Moth aircraft. These aircraft were designated DH. 82C-2 and C-4 Menasco Tiger Moth Mk. I and Mk. II, with 125 Mk. IIs manufactured in Toronto. Because of the reduction in horse-power they could not be used for pilot training and most were shipped to Wireless Schools and used primarily as radio trainers.

No. 2 Wireless School, Flying Squadron, was formed at Calgary, Alberta, on 6 January 1941, composing three Squadrons, A, B and C. Flying operations began the same date at No. 3 S.F.T.S. RCAF Currie Aerodrome, which opened on 28 October 1940.

The Flying Squadron had on strength nine Canadian built Noorduyn Norseman trainers, serial numbers – 679, 693, 2461, 2462, 2463 2464 2465, 2466, and 2467. No. 3 S.F.T.S. at Currie Aerodrome had 93 RCAF pilot trainees under instruction and twenty-three Avro Anson aircraft on strength for 31 December 1940. For reasons unknown, the new No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron did not fit into the base training plans and a new home had to be found.

The new Service Flying Training School at the Calgary Municipal Airport was still under construction, however the new runways and one hangar could be used for training the Wireless Air Gunners. On 24 January 1941, No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron moved from No. 3 SFTS [Currie] to No. 35 SFTS [RAF] Municipal Airport at North Calgary. RCAF administration had assigned this new base to the Royal Air Force, numbering it No. 35 SFTS designated to train RAF pilots using American AT-6 Harvard trainers.

The new Calgary municipal hangar control tower [with modern radio equipment] served both the Wireless School Flying Squadron and the civil Trans-Canada Airlines. Training with the nine RCAF Norseman trainers continued till March 1941, when new DH.82C-2 and DH.82C-4 Menasco Tiger Moth [Pirate engines] wireless trainers began to arrive.

The first eight Menasco T-Moth wireless trainers arrived from Toronto by CPR rail on 18 March, serial 4834, 4835, 4836, 4837,4838, 4840, 4841, and 4842. Two days later eight more Menasco Moth trainers arrived by rail, serial 4833, 4839, 4843, 4844, 4845, 4846 4847, and 4848. Assembled at No. 10 Repair Depot in south-west Calgary, across from No. 3 SFTS Currie Aerodrome, test flown and turned over to No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron at TCA Municipal Airport in North Calgary.

The first class of 46 wireless air gunner trainees, [Class W.A.G. (9X] commenced training on 28 April 1941. On 30 April 41 the aircraft strength at TCA Municipal Airport was Norseman – 9, Fairchild – 1, Menasco T-Moth 82C2 – 2, Menasco T-Moth 82C4 – 24.


This RCAF photo was taken on 4 April 1941, 5,500 feet over RAF No. 35 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta.

The five aircraft in this photo show four DH Menasco 82C Tiger-Moth trainers [parked in line] and one Noorduyn Norseman trainer on the taxi strip, all belonging to No. 2 Wireless School, Flying Squadron. This RCAF image was most likely taken from another of the wireless school trainers.

This rare image was copied from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology [SAIT] archives thanks to Archivist Karly Sawatzky. This records the training of Class W.A.G. 9X on 28 April 1941, two Norseman [far end] and eight DH Menasco Tiger Moth [Mk. I and Mk. II] Wireless/Air Gunner trainers, No. 35 S.F.T.S. Municipal Airport, Calgary, Alberta. Wireless Flying School training continued at the municipal airport until 9 May 1941, when the RCAF advised the advance party of the RAF No. 31 S.F.T.S. would be arriving at Calgary on 10 May 41 and they would occupy the quarters and training field at No. 35 S.F.T.S. The RCAF Wireless Flying Squadron would move back to No. 3 S.F.T.S. at Currie Aerodrome effective 13 May 1941.

The author believes these RCAF Wireless Flying School aircraft were the very first to use the Relief Field at Airdrie, Alberta, however no mention of this can be found in their Squadron Daily Diary.

No. 31 E.F.T.S. is arriving at Calgary No. 35 S.F.T.S. and will begin Elementary Flying training.

No. 31 E.F.T.S. was formed at Kirkham, England, on 16 April 1941, arrived by train at Glasgow, Scotland, 23 April 41 and sailed on the S.S. Royal Ulsterman, arriving at Reykjavik, Iceland on 29 April 1941. They sailed the same date for Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the H.S. California and arrived in Canada 6 May 1941. Their home base at No. 31 EFTS De Winton, Alberta, was only half completed, and still in a state of hangar and barracks building, with no roads, no water, and mud everywhere. It was decided they would take temporary accommodation at No. 35 SFTS Calgary, Alberta, where ground instruction and pre-flight training could begin. One CPR troop train departed Halifax at 13:45 hrs. on 6 May 41 and arrived at Calgary on 10 May, where the RAF were trucked [by No. 2 Wireless School] the five miles from the main train station to the new base still under construction.

Photo taken by R.A.F. P/O Don Webber, arrival of Course #30 student pilots at RAF No. 32 E.F.T.S. Bowden, Alberta, 15 September 1942. This scene was being repeated all over Western Canada from 1941 to 1944.

This March 1943 air image shows Calgary downtown core with frozen Bow River, the RAF base [re-numbered No. 37 S.F.T.S.] located at top of the photo, five miles North-East.

Original drawing from unknown member of RAF No. 31 EFTS at Calgary.

The RAF had arrived at their temporary base No. 35 SFTS Calgary with not one DH.82 Tiger Moth training aircraft on strength. One RCAF DH82-C Tiger-Moth serial 4505 was loaned from RCAF No. 2 Wireless School on 15 May 1941 and ground instruction training could begin.

The following DH.82C Tiger-Moth RCAF aircraft were shipped or flown to No. 35 SFTS at Calgary, Alberta, and taken on strength by the Royal Air Force No. 31 EFTS so they could begin pilot training. These twenty-five serial numbers were constructed and taken on strength by the RCAF from 22 May 1940 until 7 December 1940, all were now allotted to RAF.

4016,4024,4056,4096,4131,4133,4144,4150,4200,4237,4239,4247,4248,4249,4250,4285,4292,4297,4301,4303, 4310,4321,4323 and 4325.

RCAF DH.82C serial #4505 loaned on 15 May was re-allotted to RAF on 2 June 1941. On 5 June 1941, RCAF DH.82C serial #4304 was flown from No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron and allotted to the RAF at No. 35 SFTS north Calgary.

RAF Flying Training commenced at No. 35 SFTS Calgary [plus Airdrie Relief Field] on 18 June 1941, RAF Course #22 with 96 untrained pilot students, 74 graduated on 22 August 1941, wastage of 23 students. Airdrie Relief Field officially opened on 1 July 1941 and twelve accidents were recorded in the month of July, all at Calgary main training field. 5 July 41, 87 untrained RAF students arrived for course #25, Flying Training began on 12 July with 34 DH.82C RCAF Tiger-Moth trainer aircraft on charge. Course #25 began pilot training on 15 July 41, 90 untrained student pilots, 62 graduated on 8 September 1941. Ten accidents were recorded in the month of August, two very serious when Tiger-Moth crashed 1-mile S-W of Chestermere Lake. Deceased – P/O D.G. McLeod J5071, 3 September 41 and P/O B.A. MacCallum J5075, 5 September 41. On 1 September, Course #30 began with 98 student pilots in Flying training, graduated 56. 17 September, 90 untrained RAF student pilots arrived, and assigned to Course #33.

First RAF personnel from No. 37 SFTS arrived by CPR train in Calgary, 01:00 hrs., 20 September 1941, 9 Officers, 8 Senior NCOs, and 421 RAF airmen.

Course #33 with 90 untrained RAF student pilots began Training at Calgary on 25 September. First Category “B” crash [heavy landing] at Airdrie Relief field on 25 September 41. First heavy snow falls on 26 September, and Flying was suspended for the day. RAF had 54 RCAF DH.82C Tiger-Moth trainers on charge at the end of September. 1 October 1941, the first serious accident near Airdrie Relief Field, Tiger-Moth with solo pilot LAC Whittaker crashes one-mile south-west of Balzac, Alberta.

On 1 October 1941, 13 R.A.F. Officers and 444 other ranks of No. 37 SFTS take command of R.A.F. Station Calgary, renumbered [from No. 35 SFTS to No. 37 SFTS] and No. 31 EFTS prepares for the move south to their home base under construction at De Winton, Alberta.

No. 31 E.F.T.S. begin their move to home base at De Winton, Alberta, on 13 October 1941 and the main party arrives on 15 October. Course #35 with 102 RAF student untrained pilots arrives at Calgary during the move and one of the student pilots is named LAC Gafney.

LAC Gafney [Course #35] takes this image from a Tiger-Moth trainer flying over the new numbered [No. 37 SFTS R.A.F. Calgary] and the back of the photo only records the month as October 1941. RAF Pilot Course #35 began Flying Training on 19 October 1941, at Calgary, and moved to De Winton on 24 October, to complete Flying Training, ending 16 January 1942.

Future RAF pilots cleaning floors at De Winton, [Thursday Morning Inspection] image taken sometime after 24 October 1941. [Gafney photo]

LAC Gafney [right] and his first RAF Flying Instructor F/O Reg Eastwood at De Winton, Alberta, 5 November 1941. DH.82C serial 4304 in background, taken on charge at Calgary, 5 June 1941.

5 November 1941, Gafney standing by Tiger Moth serial 4304, which was taken on strength 5 June 41 from No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron at Calgary. [RCAF on strength 7 December 1940]

December 1941, unknown RAF student pilot at De Winton, Alberta, Course #35 which began training on 19 October 41, 102 students, graduated 58 on 16 January 1942. [LAC Gafney photo]

Air photo of No. 31 EFTS at De Winton taken by LAC Gafney from DH Tiger-Moth [possibly RCAF serial #4304] 9 December 1941.

Fellow RAF Course #35 student pilots of LAC Gafney, at De Winton, Alberta, on 9 December 1941. L to R – Ian Reekie, Ted Jones, Ted Ivison, and Geoff Knowles.

On 1 January 1942, No. 31 E.F.T.S. published their first unit journal at De Winton, Alberta, and a new chapter was beginning. “Adastrian” was named for the Greek mountain goddess Adastreia, the daughter of Melisseus, and identified with Nemesis, goddess of divine retribution. “Punishment by God.”

Some of the first pilots trained at RAF De Winton had a feeling this new base was a punishment by God. Good British humor is shown in their first RAF history of De Winton published 1 January 1942.

Five RAF student pilots in training, RAF Course #35, 23 December 1941, playing soccer on grass in front of the two hangars at De Winton, Alberta. The temperature is mild, no snow on the ground, and 58 of these lads will graduate as pilots on 16 January 1942.

Today, [same location] only the two RAF WWII Hangar foundations and cement floors remain, a ghost from our past, home once again to Alberta gophers.

The pine trees planted by the Royal Air Force in 1942, still silently guard the closed entrance to the old No. 31 E.F.T.S. RAF base, and the main gate Administration abandoned building still stands in the wind. The full history of RAF De Winton from 15 October 1941 until 23 September 1994, can be found on other websites, with many more photos. Training School numbers 31 and above were reserved for R.A.F. schools transferred to Canada or formed in Canada by the Royal Air Force during WWII. The B.C.A.T.P. operated thirty-six E.F.T.S. in Canada and six were RAF, No. 31 EFTS being the first to move to No. 4 Training Command in Alberta. With home base at De Winton still under construction the RAF were forced to begin Flying Training at No. 35 SFTS in Calgary, Alberta, on 18 June 1941. Forgotten in this past confused history is the fact these first RAF student pilots began training at RAF Relief Field located at Airdrie, Alberta, officially on 1 July 1941. RAF Course #22 graduated 74 pilots, Course #25 graduated 62 pilots, Course #27 graduated 54 pilots, Course #30 graduated 56 pilots and Course #33 graduated 66 pilots. RAF pilot training began at RAF Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, with 34 RCAF DH.82C Canadian built Tiger-Moth aircraft on strength and by October 1941, these aircraft had increased to 74 T-Moth trainers. RAF Relief Field Airdrie provided a training base which graduated 312 RAF fighter or bomber pilots for further training in Canada and war in Europe.

End of Chapter 2

Royal Air Force Relief Field Airdrie, Alberta, 1940-1941 (PDF and text versions)

Research by Clarence Simonsen

raf-relief-field-airdrie-1 (1)

Text version

Royal Air Force Relief Field

Airdrie, Alberta, 1940-1941

Chapter One

Just before midnight on 16 December 1939, a small group of men gathered in the office of Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King at Ottawa, Canada. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan signing took place on 17 December [King’s birthday] titled “Agreement Relating to the Training of Pilots and Aircraft Crews in Canada.” That same evening, the Canadian people listened to a radio broadcast by King, describing Canada becoming the greatest air training plan of the world. It would take another eight months for the scope and size of the plan to be fully settled, with a satisfactory cost sharing arrangement for all four countries. A new policy of command and control was adopted, while the selection of new RCAF air training fields was already in progress.

Canada went to war on 10 September 1939 with only five RCAF airfields, with another six still under construction, plus 153 selected airport sites with only half suitable for flying training. On 3 October 1939, RCAF Air Vice Marshal G.M. Croil and the controller of Canadian civil aviation [Mr. J.A. Wilson] agreed to co-operate on the rapid expansion and construction of RCAF landing fields. RCAF training site selection and ground survey work began in early November 1939, before the BCATP agreement was even signed. The Canadian Department of Transport would select the future airport site, survey the site, and estimate the cost of land purchase [mostly from Canadian farmers]. Airport drawings and blueprints were next submitted to the RCAF Aerodrome Development Committee for final approval, and construction of the new training field began at once, before the onset of the harsh Canadian winter. The RCAF would design and construct the required buildings for each selected training site.

In the first four years of WWII, one and three-quarter million airfield blueprints were submitted, with 33,000 final drawings, and 8,300 RCAF buildings would be constructed by the newly formed [January 1940] RCAF Directorate of Works and Buildings. Mr. R.R. Collard, vice-president and general manager of Carter-Halls-Aldinger Construction Company of Winnipeg, was brought into the RCAF as deputy director of works and buildings with the rank of Wing Commander. To ensure effective supervision of the new RCAF training site construction program, he organized engineering sections in the field, to supervise and correct problems in their work.

Many of the workers I have interviewed, described this as being the best years of their lives, as they had suffered during the Great Depression. At last they had a job, pay, good food, dances, parties, all because of the war. Many also described how they were given a construction job with no experience, and were required to learn a trade [on-the-job] as they worked, and that is the reason engineering supervision was so important.

The new selected RCAF sites needed level, safe approaches, with firm well drained ground plus available public utilities. Each main selected airfield usually had two emergency landing ground airstrips called “Relief Fields” which were used for alternative landings if the main airfield was closed down and practice landing training sites for pilots. Service flying training schools were also located with access to practice bombing ranges, or close to crown owned property such as non-farm land or small lakes and ponds.

Airdrie was selected as the relief field for these reasons, attached to the main RCAF aerodrome to be constructed at North Calgary, Alberta, Municipal Airport, McCall Field.

15 March 1940, the RCAF Officer in charge of Air Training, A.V. Marshal G.M. Coil, AFC.

In 1935, it took an ex-WWI Canadian Army Field Artillery Officer to inform the Canadian public that Canada was far behind the whole world in long distance aviation travel. George Alexander Drew P.C. C.C. Q.C. became leader of the Federal Progressive Conservative Party, and was a WWI veteran, Lt. Col. of the Canadian 11th Field Brigade. He penned many articles which in fact told the truth about Canada Armed Forces, the RCAF, and civil aviation in Canada.

His article in Maclean’s magazine 1 November 1935, was very powerful and putting politics aside, possibly made the Liberal party in power get their heads out of their “behinds.”

In 1936, the Canadian Liberal Government began construction of the Trans-Canada Airway, with a framework of 94 airfields situated across Canada. The original plans had been published in the 15 August 1935 issue of Canadian Maclean’s magazine, titled WINGS for Tomorrow.

At the time of publication, the Canadian public had no idea how important this political decision would be or how far behind the rest of the world Canada was in airline long distant travel. By 1938, the new airfields were completed or nearing completion, [Trans-Canada Airlines was formed ‘1937’] which would soon [unknowingly] become a major blueprint for the future building of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in 1939.

Maclean’s magazine 1 June 1939, told the full story of “Canada Flies” displaying the original new Calgary Municipal Airport terminal “McCall Field” used by TCA.

A new Canadian Trans-Continental Airway and Trans-Canada Air lines were born. A new Lockheed airliner [with TCA Insignia] wings its way across the Rocky Mountains towards a main junction at Calgary, Alberta.

The American aviation world had been waiting and watching Canada for two years.

In 1938, the City of Calgary purchased farmland in the north-east for $31,126.00, and construction began on their fourth, but its first modern designed municipal civilian airport, TCA terminal, with control tower and aircraft service hangar. Calgary was a major stop with the only north-south, east-west, junction on the new Trans-Canada Airways, and the Federal Government aided with construction costs and modern radio range service, providing $96,000 to the City of Calgary. The Municipal Airport was named “McCall Field” for Calgary WWI ace Freddie McCall and officially opened on 25 September 1939, just two weeks after Canada had declared war on Germany. The Canadian Department of Transport assumed full control of the new airport during World War Two.

In December 1939, the Department of Transport, accompanied by RCAF officers, surveyed the Calgary Municipal airport and selected this site for a future RCAF Service Flying Training School. The RCAF approved the plans and construction began at once, and continued during the bitter cold winter of 1940, when temperatures dropped to -35 degrees F and even the gravel had to be steam heated before it could be mixed with the cement.

The D.O.T. also surveyed and began winter construction of the new S.F.T.S. Relief Field located north at Airdrie, Alberta.

This is a copy of the original D.O.T. survey map prepared in January 1940, for Relief Field Airdrie. This was sent to the RCAF Aerodrome Development Committee, a body of RCAF officers who would reject, recommend reductions in cost for promising sites, or approve suitable plans. RCAF Relief Field Airdrie was approved, with a bomb range located in a lake five miles east.

In three short years Canada had advanced from the stone-age of aviation to the fastest Trans-Canada Airlines schedule in North America, thanks to Lockheed Model 14 transport aircraft. Now, the Dept. of Transport would build one RCAF Service Flying Training School beside their controlled TCA Municipal terminal at North Calgary.

On 29 April 1940 a major reorganization was made when the RCAF formed No. 4 Training Command.

Eight RCAF Elementary Flying Training Schools opened in 1940 : No. 1 Malton, Ontario, 24 June, No. 2 Fort William, Ontario, 24 June, No. 3 London, Ontario, 19 August, No. 4 Windsor Mills, Quebec, 19 August, No. 5 Lethbridge, Alberta, 14 October, No. 6 Prince Albert, Sask., 14 October, No. 7 Windsor, Ontario, 9 December, and No. 8 Vancouver, B.C. 9 December. Fourteen other RCAF E.F.T.S. were under construction and would open from February 1941 to February 1942.

Five RCAF Service Flying Training Schools would open in 1940 : No. 1 Camp Borden, Ontario, 22 July, No. 2 Ottawa, Ontario, 2 September, No. 3 Calgary, Alberta, 16 September, No. 4 Saskatoon, Sask, 28 October and No. 5 Brantford, Ontario, 9 December. Eleven other S.F.T.S. were under construction and would open from 20 January 1941 to 13 April 1942.

The BCATP was proceeding to plans, the work was progressing, and the Canadian government now devoted more attention to the BCATP than to any other aspect of Canadian military policy.

The primary task of the RCAF in the first year of war was sending trained pilots and aircrew to England and meeting the challenge of building the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. After the fall of France, the British government sought permission [13 July 1940] to transfer four existing Service Flying Training Schools to Canada, provided they did not interfere with BCATP production.

Canadian Air Minister C.G. Power [Quebec ex-Postmaster General, appointed minister of National Defence for Air on 23 May 1940] conferred with Cabinet colleagues, the Chief of Air Staff and Sir Gerald Campbell, the British High Commissioner. The four British RAF schools could be accommodated and if the RAF wished to transfer more schools to Canada, “room for them could be found.” All costs for the RAF schools must be borne by the United Kingdom. On receiving this good news, the RAF revised their original request to include eight service flying training schools, two air observer schools, one bombing and gunnery school, and one torpedo bombing school. Never before had the Canadian construction industry experienced such a demand for airfield site completion. Construction planned to take two years was now pushed forward and must be 90 per cent complete by November 1940.

In March 1941, the British again revised the number of schools they wished to move to Canada, and again the government said yes. This added to the already over-loaded burden of the RCAF, the Canadian tax-payer, and cost of the additional construction sites. Many schools were doubled in size and relief landing fields were turned into full size training schools. Five RAF schools moved to Canada in 1940 and twelve more RAF schools were accepted in 1941. In total twenty-six RAF training schools would move to Canada, plus one Radio Direction Finding School, No. 31 RAF Clinton, Ontario, and the main RAF reception centre No. 31 Personnel Depot at Moncton, New Brunswick. The above map of No. 4 Training Command in 1943, showing the location of all BCATP schools [RCAF and RAF] in Western Canada. Twelve RAF [yellow No. 31 and above] were located in Alberta and Saskatchewan, three in Manitoba, with one in British Columbia, Patricia Bay being a Torpedo Bombing School.

The RAF movement to Canada was delayed by the Battle of Britain, then resumed in October 1940, when four complete schools arrived before the end of the year. No. 32 Service Flying Training School [S.F.T.S]. was the first RAF school to arrive in No. 4 Training Command [Moose Jaw] and the following history appeared in their Daily Diary dated 12 November 1940.

The school was selected for RAF fighter pilot training and received new American AT-6 Harvard Mk. II aircraft with training beginning on 9 December 1940.

End of Chapter 1

Greek Mythology “Icarus” and Third Reich Insignia

Greek Mythology “Icarus” and Third Reich Insignia

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Link to the PDF file below.

Greek Mythology


This 5th Century Greek Athenian Oil Flask [Terracotta Lekythos] is believed to contain the painted figure of the most famous story in Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus and his father Daedalus. The identity of the winged figure is not recorded but the contorted position of the man and the diving bird [father – Daedalus] suggests to Greek experts it was the beginning of the end for Icarus, as the scorching heat of the sun melts his wings made of wax and feathers and Icarus falls into the sea and drowns.

Despite its small place in the vast repertoire of Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus is still well known today in the 21st Century. Icarus was not a God, but a simple mortal who died because he didn’t listen to his wise father’s advice not to fly too close to the sun. This Icarus phenomenon warns mankind of the dangers of power and still teaches and haunts males in the transition from boyhood to manhood. This same changing power struggle from boyhood to manhood was used with great success by the German Third Reich during the original formation of the German Air Sports Association in March 1933.

In 1925, as Adolf Hitler and his Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei [Nazi Party] began their rise to power in Germany, they promoted sports organizations as a way to attract youth for the future of the National Socialist movement. These early Hitler Youth children were cultivated by way of sports events and judged on individual team work, initiative, and leadership qualities. These German children were outfitted with Nazi uniforms and attended summer camps where they took part in physical exercises for both camaraderie and paramilitary training. They were also judged on each person’s ability to perform physical tests and meet prescribed paramilitary criteria, then presented with awards and promotions. Paramilitary Nazi propaganda was also directed at German children age six to ten years in posters and postcards, painted waving [and wearing] the New Nazi Sports Flag Emblem, with the Swastika flying in the background. [Internet public domain]

Text version (images seen in the PDF version to be added later)

Greek Mythology “Icarus” and Third Reich Insignia

This 5th Century Greek Athenian Oil Flask [Terracotta Lekythos] is believed to contain the painted figure of the most famous story in Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus and his father Daedalus. The identity of the winged figure is not recorded but the contorted position of the man and the diving bird [father – Daedalus] suggests to Greek experts it was the beginning of the end for Icarus, as the scorching heat of the sun melts his wings made of wax and feathers and Icarus falls into the sea and drowns.

Despite its small place in the vast repertoire of Greek Mythology, the myth of Icarus is still well known today in the 21st Century. Icarus was not a God, but a simple mortal who died because he didn’t listen to his wise father’s advice not to fly too close to the sun. This Icarus phenomenon warns mankind of the dangers of power and still teaches and haunts males in the transition from boyhood to manhood. This same changing power struggle from boyhood to manhood was used with great success by the German Third Reich during the original formation of the German Air Sports Association in March 1933.

In 1925, as Adolf Hitler and his Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei [Nazi Party] began their rise to power in Germany, they promoted sports organizations as a way to attract youth for the future of the National Socialist movement. These early Hitler Youth children were cultivated by way of sports events and judged on individual team work, initiative, and leadership qualities. These German children were outfitted with Nazi uniforms and attended summer camps where they took part in physical exercises for both camaraderie and paramilitary training. They were also judged on each person’s ability to perform physical tests and meet prescribed paramilitary criteria, then presented with awards and promotions. Paramilitary Nazi propaganda was also directed at German children age six to ten years in posters and postcards, painted waving [and wearing] the New Nazi Sports Flag Emblem, with the Swastika flying in the background. [Internet public domain]

German boys aged 10 to 18 joined the Hitler Youth and wore a short-pants version of the S.A. [Storm Troopers] Sturmabteilung uniform. Girls aged 10 to 21 joined the League of German Girls and wore a navy blue skirt with white blouse, which identified them as future mothers of the Third Reich. Created in 1930, Hitler Youth was mandatory by 1936. Internet image

Nazi ideology placed great importance on Aryan health and physical strength. This was forced on young German women to make themselves fit and strong to become healthy mothers of large “Aryan” families for the Reich. On 12 December 1935, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler, created the Lebensborn Program, [Fountain of Life] dedicated to producing a master Aryan race for the new Germany. Maternity homes were created throughout greater Germany, some were resort hotels, health spas, and villas which had been confiscated from the Jewish owners. The League of German girls were thoroughly indoctrinated in their duty to bear children for the Reich, in or out of wedlock. The SS men became the stud Bulls at these arranged sports camps and large scale Nazi rallies. It is well documented that over 100,000 Hitler Youth attended the Nuremberg Rally in 1936, and over 900 League of German Girls age 14 to 18 years returned home pregnant. These young women were also urged to mate with Aryan or Nordic pedigree men such as members of the Luftwaffe and they did not have to get married. The new baby ‘parcel’ was raised in the maternity home by preteen student nurses called “little blond sister.”

The little blond sisters were learning their role in Reich motherhood and they also had to fulfill their duty to the Third Reich and get pregnant. This became a marvelous time for the radical elite German male as all women, married or single, were encouraged to produce children for the Fuhrer as ‘their’ sacred duty. LIFE magazine image.

For the past fifty-five years the author has researched, collected, and painted replica aircraft nose art, badges, and unit insignia, including the Luftwaffe in WWII. It is a fact that from the first days of the Luftwaffe in March 1935, Germany had organized and painted the best and most colourful aircraft markings and emblems flying in the world. During WWII the Luftwaffe created unit emblems and badges that possibly reached 1,800 different designs. The Luftwaffe placed great value in the origin, design, and display of unit insignia, yet anything and everything seemed to be a source of inspiration for the unit artist. The only exception to this rule was the non-appearance of nude or even clothed women on aircraft or in unit insignia or emblems. The reason for this is very understandable as the Nazi Party placed the German female in her special role of producing children for the Fuhrer and the new Aryan race.

In March 1933, the new Luftwaffe requested a battlefield observation aircraft and the Henschel Hs-122B was born, first flight spring 1936. This model was redesigned and became the Hs-126B in early 1938. It flew in Spain, France, North Africa, and Russia. In the late fall of 1942, a few flew front-line duties as night harassment aircraft in the Balkans. The unit insignia of 2./NSGr-12 featured a rare nude German female thumbing her nose at the enemy.

The pioneering research and publication of Luftwaffe markings by Karl Ries in June 1963 gave the world the first data and look at identifying WWII German aircraft emblems and insignia. His work has been republished, with more photos, replica paintings, knowledge, and every year the internet seems to find more lost Luftwaffe photos of insignia. Other than a few nude witches, it appears the German nude lady riding the red and black hornet was possibly the only insignia to break the Nazi ideology on WWII aircraft markings. Personal Luftwaffe pilot aircraft markings were not rare, however, the author can only find one which featured a nude German lady or girl.

Internet free domain

Fighter pilot Gunther Scholz was a Luftwaffe veteran who flew in the Spanish Civil War, Polish Campaign, Battle of France, Battle of Britain, Operation Barbarossa, Norway and Northern Finland. He was one of only a few to fly in every major Luftwaffe operation and survive the Second World War air battles. He died on 24 October 2014, at the age of 102 years.

The history of Gunther Scholz and his aircraft markings can be found on at least three websites and just as many modeling publications. The history of his personal fuselage art is unknown, however the use of any form of German female nudity was very much “Verboten” [forbidden] by the Nazi Third Reich.

Full scale replica in colour by author

If you take years of research, then analyze and repaint the combined Nazi art design incorporated in around three thousand badges, emblems, plus the insignia used on U-boats and Luftwaffe aircraft of the Wehrmacht [Nazi German United Forces – Heer “ARMY” – Kriegsmarine “NAVY” – Luftwaffe – “AIR FORCE”] they all contained the same mass production of the Nazi Swastika and Iron Cross. You will also find that German Nazi ideology controlled and prevented the use of the German female image in any nude form other than sports, health, or giving birth to the new Aryan race. In short, the Nazi party turned Germany into one huge legal “Aryan” brothel and at the same time protected and prevented the use of the female form on any military emblem, insignia or personal art, unlike Allied Forces in WWII who painted thousands of Pin-up girls. All of Germany was controlled by this strong Nazi ideology except a secret rocket research and test sight situated on the North Baltic Coast called Peenemunde, Germany.

In my pre-teens, the author found this rocket tail art image on a captured WWII German A/4 rocket which was about to be test fired at White Sands, New Mexico, 10 May 1946. On and off, for the next fifty years the author researched, repainted, and with luck found the German artist [Gerd Wilhelm Luera de Beek] who painted this rare nude lady insignia art in the United States of America. [White Sands Missile Test Range – U.S. Army B.M.A. photo]

Author replica “American” A/4 rocket insignia painted in Mexico City, 2 October 2012

From 23 March 1942 until 18 August 1943, at least fifty-four A/4 test rockets [Aggregat] had been constructed at Peenemunde, Germany, and thirty-eight received special individual tail art paintings. The historical background on these rockets, with launch date and performance, were all recorded in a large German photo album called Helmet [home] Artillerie [artillery] Park II [HAP-11 BILD with numbers] which also contained each tail art painting in black and white images. When Dr. von Braun, his English speaking brother Magnus, and 150 top German rocket personnel surrendered to the American Army, this became the most important date in American Space development history. The Americans soon learned and located 14 tons of documents which von Braun had hidden in a tunnel in the selected British sector of Germany. These were stolen under the nose of the British and trucked to Paris, then to the United States. [this caused major Allied problems between U.S. and England] The Americans next salvaged everything they found in the underground factory in the Hartz mountains, all German launching vehicles, including A/4 rockets and shipped all to the U.S. The U.S. reaped the biggest harvest from the dismantling of the Nazi German missile establishment, which jump-started the new American Space program. When the Russian troops arrived at Peenemunde, 200 remaining German rocket scientists, and what was left behind by the Americans, were loaded onto trains for Moscow. And from these Nazi German ashes the American/Russian Space Race began.

As American intelligence [Fort Eustis] began to photograph and analyze the 14 tons of German A/4 rocket research from 1923 onwards, they also discovered the HAP-11 BILD Peenemunde photo album, with 1,458 pages, which contained 5,178 images of each launch and the tail art painted or glued on each rocket before launch. The tail art paintings gave an identifier to each rocket and for a short time [4 to 90 seconds] captured in the human mind of the Germans each special test event. The A/4 tail art was then destroyed when the rocket exploded or crashed into the Baltic after each test launch, only the black and white photos remained. At this same time, Dr. Wernher von Braun [33 years of age, born 23 March 1912] and his top test team of A/4 rocket experts and scientists were beginning to reshape the course of the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency, the future American Space Program, and America’s approach to landing Americans on the Moon. The American government and press also began publishing stories in which von Braun was shown as being much more interested in space exploration than war rockets, and he was opposed to his V-2s being used against England. The author has many such publications from 1962-1969, and one titled “Moonslaught” states von Braun wished to escape to England and give his rocket secrets to the British, which was pure American Space Race propaganda.

As the American authorities analyzed the A/4 records it soon became apparent the German rocket art painted at Peenemunde was not the normal Third Reich emblems, badges and Swastika insignia, but a different art form. In fact, not one Swastika or Iron Cross appeared on any of the A/4 rockets, however nude German females appeared a good number of times.

Peenemunde rocket launch #10 took place on 17 February 1943, and this rocket had two tail art V12 images painted by technical artist Gerd de Beek. The full nude painting of a lady with sword, riding a fiery Wolf to the Moon is shown on the prelaunch photos HAP-11, Peenemunde Album sheet 35, photo #B44/43. This rocket suffered steam generator problems and the flight lasted 61 seconds, travelled 196 kilometers.

This art is very close to the nude pin-up art painted by Allied Nations during WWII, however it would never be allowed under the Third Reich in Germany. German scientists under control of Dr. von Braun were allowed to paint and fly German fully nude females on the A/4 test rockets fired at Peenemunde.

One original page from the Peenemunde HAP-11 photo album, showing tail art and launch of V3 on 16 August 1942. The “V” stood for Versuchsmuster [test model] and should not be confused with the title V-2 Hitler called all these rockets. From this date on each rocket received a launch number V3 to V50 incorporated into each A/4 rocket tail art painting by de Beek.

The first fifteen A/4 rockets manufactured at Peenemunde were prototype models used to simplify and improve on the original rocket design for mass production. Artist Gerd de Beek became the head graphic designer in charge of TB/D4 Group at Peenemunde in 1939. In November 1941, field testing of the new A/4 rocket began and the first V1 test was made ready for flight on 18 March 1942. During the static test the rocket exploded. During the early test phase each rocket was painted in a contrasting black and white paint scheme so observation devices and film could track the rocket in flight. These test rockets’ paint tracking schemes changed and in the first four launches, four different paint designs were used. The first two rockets [V1 and V2] were both painted in the same checkerboard tracking paint scheme No. 1. [the complete 360-degree rocket pattern can be found on the internet]

It is important to note the third A/4 rocket was painted in a new ‘striped’ tracking paint scheme No. 2 seen below on V3 prelaunch.

The Peenemunde album contained four different images of the A/4 “Witch” rocket tail art paintings. V3 – Gluckliche Reise – meaning Bon Voyage. Painted in striped body tracking rocket scheme No. 2. [this complete 360-degree rocket paint scheme can also be found on the internet]

The fourth A/4 rocket test on 3 October 1942, contained a full nude German lady, which was painted in the original checkered tracking scheme but a different pattern No. 3. RAL 9010 clear white and RAL 9011 Graphite Black. [again, this 360-degree tracking paint scheme is found on internet]

The most world famous Space Rocket art created by Gerd de Beek in September 1942, and it is almost unknown. This fully nude German lady should never appear in Nazi Germany, but she did. The original A/4 rocket [V4] and possibly even this tail art could survive in the Baltic today. Are any underwater deep-sea diving producers looking for a famous part of WWII history?

The launch of V4 on 3 October 1942 became the very first historic flight which achieved a maximum speed of 2,998 mph and a maximum altitude of 52.8 miles. Today the restored A/4 rocket at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is painted in this German V4 rocket 360-degree tracing scheme No. 3 test colours. You will not find the nude lady painted on the rocket tail and it’s not because they are a family museum, as they like to tell the visiting public.


By 1947, the American government soon discovered three Peenemunde rockets carried tail art showing their use as weapons of mass destruction by Nazi Germany in WWII. These images could possibly embarrass the United States, Dr. von Braun and the Space Race. In 1957, the original HAP-11 photo album was returned by the U.S. to Deutsches Museum at Munich Germany, and forgotten. The original Peenemunde full collection [5,178 images] and much more, remains protected in Germany today.

These two V tail art photos [and one sketch V50] were found in the HAP-II photo album dated July 1943, and V41 clearly shows the rocket being used to destroy England in a mass of flames. V41 was launched on 9 July 43 and V47 was being prepared for one of the next test flights. V47 shows the rising might of the German Eagle which could also be connected with the power of the Third Reich, [Eagle head looking forward] however it was never launched and it is believed this art was destroyed in the RAF attack on 17/18 August 1943. The 50th rocket contained special anniversary images of past test rockets and it is unknown if it was ever painted. These last known A/4 tail art images leave a very strong image in the human brain and the author leaves it up to the reader to decide if they show any signs of the German rocket being constructed for just Space travel.

The third A/4 tail art image was painted for launch 23 test of V29 which took place on 11 June 1943. This painting was approved by Dr. von Braun and just four years later American authorities were looking at this image in the United States. The rocket [bowling ball V29] will destroy the Soviet Union, United Kingdom and the United States of America. [National Flags]

In late May 1943, Dr. von Braun approved this A/4 rocket tail art in Peenemunde, Germany. The only known image of the flag of the United States used on Nazi Germany A/4 rocket art. Not a good image to expose to the American public or Russians during the Cold War Space Race.

Dr. von Braun also approved the use of political art as P.M. Churchill appeared on two A/4 rockets in a very drunken condition. V19 was launch #14 which flew on 25 March 1943. V40 was launch #29 which flew on 29 June 1943.

HAP-11, Karlshagen – BLD-Archiv 1943. V19 image B385/43 BSM and writing B382/43 BSM.

This rare writing appeared on the rocket base of V19 [Drunken P.M. Churchill] photographed and glued to Blatt [Sheet] 50, March 1943. In April 1943, Arthur Rudolph endorsed the use of prisoner-of-war forced labor in the production of the A/4 rockets being constructed at Peenemunde. Ostarbeiter was the German name given to foreign slave workers from Poland, Soviet Union and Ukraine Soviet subjects. This rocket drawing displayed the Soviet Union Hammer and Sickle with the Jewish most recognizable six-pointed Star of David symbol. Why did the center symbol of the Israeli Flag appear on a Nazi rocket in Peenemunde, Germany, March 1943? The words Rot-Front [forward] are clear but the remaining writing is hard to understand. Nerden [Nerds], Gott – [God], Der – [The] and Dunken – [Dunking]. Was this writing made by a Soviet-Jewish “Ostarbeiter” used as slave labor by Dr. von Braun?

For the past seventy years the A/4 rocket art painted in Peenemunde Germany has been hidden and kept from the public eye by the Government of the United States, and ignored by historians at the U.S. Rocket and Space Museum in Huntsville, Alabama, and even the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. In July 2016, the full research by the author was published in eleven chapters on the internet by my close friend Pierre Lagace.

Preserving the Past – Table of Contents

Today [2022] the Simonsen replica A/4 rocket tail art colour paintings and original black and white photos by Gerd de Beek are on display at the Historisch-Technisches Museum Peenemunde, Germany, where the original art was created in 1942-43. A book titled Art and Weapons, [Kunst und Waffen] has also been published by Philipp Aumann and Thomas Kohler in Peenemunde. Finally, this missing [hidden] collection of WWII Third Reich A/4 rocket art can and should be further analyzed and inspected by historical experts. I fully understand it is a shock to some Americans born in Huntsville, Alabama, however it is also world rocket history and the world’s first space art which in fact later flew under the flag of the United States of America in 1946.


The research and test rocket establishment at Peenemunde contained no known emblem, badge, or official insignia, unlike the rest of the German Third Reich. The secret ‘hidden’ rocket motto could have been a “Pig with Wings?”


13 June 1942, engineer Hans Huter and the “rocket/engine-man” himself, Walter Thiel [right]. A/4 rocket with a smiling pig in background, between rocket fin #1 and #2.

The famous phrase “When Pigs Fly” originated in a Latin-English dictionary in 1616, defined as being used by writers to express disbelief.

Dr. von Braun was obviously very proud of the smiling pig rocket tail painting with disbelief motto – “When Pigs Fly. This became the first ‘known’ recorded A/4 rocket tail art painted by de Beek at Peenemunde, early June 1942, on tracking paint scheme No. 2.

HAP-11 photo album image taken on 1 August 1942, showing pre launch work being conducted on A/4 rocket prototype V3, [rocket tracking paint scheme No.2] which will be test fired in fifteen days. The German is working on the rocket engine between fin #1 [left] and fin #2 [right], just below the area where the smiling Pig art was originally painted.


Known facts:

The first smiling pig A/4 tail art appears in Peenemunde photo album #92, dated 13 June 1942.

This A/4 rocket is painted in the colour scheme No. 2 which first appeared on the third constructed prototype test rocket launch V3, constructed and painted in June 1942.

Pre Launch preparations 1 August 1942, on V3 showing new test scheme colours, but no tail marking.

Photo dated 13 June 1942, and position it was painted on rocket tail.

Author image of smiling pig tail painting.

The July 1942 HAP-11 Peenemunde photo album contains two close-up images of the prelaunch work on A/4 rocket V3 showing the new tail art with a witch. It also contains the above image of Walter Theil [pipe] and fellow A/4 rocket engineers in front of V3 with tracking paint scheme No. 2. I believe the original smiling pig art was painted over, [with witch] and it possibly never flew on a test rocket. The July 2021 publication “Art and Weapons” by Philipp Aumann and Thomas Kohler, credits the pig art as flying on the second built prototype rocket V2 which was launched on 13 June 1942. These first two prototype rockets were both painted in a checkerboard tail tracking scheme, which is very confusing, as the smiling pig art photo appeared on the second striped tracking paint scheme No. 2, first appearing on test rocket V3 in June 1942.


The first A/4 prototype rocket [left A] V1 was painted in a black and white checkerboard scheme for tracking purposes. During the first test firing on 16 March 1942, the engine and tail section exploded. The second prototype A/4 [right B] V2 was also painted in the same test tracking scheme, [the middle section of white is ice which has formed around the rocket body as liquid oxygen is pumped into the tanks] 16 August 1942, achieved lift-off but crashed into the Baltic covering only .81 miles. It is important to note the first two rockets tested at Peenemunde [V1 and V2] were both painted in the same black and white checkerboard tracking design. This black and white tracking design would change with the third constructed prototype A/4 [V3] in July 1942.


It now seems probable the very first A/4 rocket tail art in Peenemunde became this modified painting of the original ‘smiling pig’ design. This modified “Flying Pig with wings and jet exhaust” is found in one photo #93 [top of page] of the Peenemunde photo album, dated 1942. The big unanswered question being – did this A/4 tail art ever fly on a test rocket?

This A/4 rocket art was also recorded at Peenemunde, Germany, in 1942 on prelaunch German 16mm film. The little flying Pig also appears in twelve frames along with the tail section of the rocket [seven frames] painted in V3 launch tail markings. This [American copied] German captured Peenemunde film can be purchased on the Critical Past website for $190.00 [US].



This hidden Peenemunde rocket A/4 tail art is a continuing research process, and without the proper files located in Germany and the United States of America, it remains a lot of guesswork. It is still impossible to state the little smiling pig with wings ever flew at Peenemunde on an A/4 test rocket. The HAP-II photo album and captured German Peenemunde 16 mm test film show the tail art painted on prototype number three which was launched on 16 August 1942. This launch is well recorded showing the de Beek tail art of a flying witch with turned up nose HAP-11 Album # BLD-Nr. B476/42 BSM.

I believe the original pig art [with wings and jet exhaust] was painted over and replaced with the [above] witch tail art. This space vehicle became the first rocket to break the sound barrier, and after 194 seconds of flight broke apart in mid-air. From this date on all Gerd de Beek tail art contained the V [Versuchsmuster] and launch number in each of his paintings.


The Luftwaffe test section located at West Peenemunde used their official Eagle badge as identification, and one unofficial [fake] rocket belt bucket badge was offered for sale on the internet in 2014, however the real “unofficial” motto and badge had to be the little smiling pig with wings and jet exhaust. A third and last flying pig tail art appeared on V17, launched 3 April 1943. Official or not, I feel the “Flying Pig” became a most powerful art insignia at Peenemunde, Germany, and was only for Space exploration.

The Nazi Party [Parteiadler] used a black eagle with a stylised oak wreath, with a swastika at the center, which was created by Adolf Hitler on 5 November 1935. This Eagle was looking over his ‘left’ shoulder or wings.

On 7 March 1936, the Fuhrer created the national emblem of the German Reich [seen above] which used the same design, but the head of the Eagle was turned to his right shoulder or wings. This is possibly the same style Eagle art which was painted for rocket V47 at Peenemunde. Above is the magazine cover of Der Adler [The Eagle] which was published in English for the United States and sold for 8 cents, 14 January 1941. This English version was created to encourage isolation and keep the U.S. out of WWII. It also contains the badge of the Luftwaffe which was possibly the third most powerful Nazi badge during WWII.


The German National Socialist Flying Corps created another very powerful Nazi badge and this was hijacked from the Greek myth of Icarus.

With the ending of WWI, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and it stated Germany had no right to possess an Air Force of powered flight. [Gliders and rockets were never included] In the following years a highly organized civilian aviation network appeared all over Germany using balloons and gliders.

This early glider design by aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal flew on 1 May 1930.

Few of these early gliders carried any form of identification and the first markings carried the capital letter D [for Deutschland] followed by the name of the manufacturing company. The lettering was black in capitals and could appear on the nose or fuselage of the gliders. Photos also record some gliders carrying an aircraft name painted in white on the nose. Two standard markings used in early 1930 were [D-MOAZAGOTL or D-MUSTERLE]

This excellent image from the Bundesarchiv collection shows German Glider Pioneer Wolfram Kurt Erhard Hirth and the markings of his glider on 1 June 1931. The glider is a H2-PL Musterle which also contains the insignia of his private flying school. In March 1933, the German Nazi Party created Deutscher Luftsportverband [DLV] German Air Sports Association. The DLV was a secret cover organization for the future German Air Force the Luftwaffe, and their chairman became the future Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe Hermann Goring and vice-chair Ernest Rohm. The real purpose of the DLV was to channel and develop all air-mined German youth and to hire and rally the veteran pilots from WWI for Nazi propaganda aims. Veteran heroes such as Bruno Lorzer and Ernet Udet joined and played a very significant role in the secret forming of the new Luftwaffe. Hermann Goering next created a cloth emblem for the DLV and a special Aircrew Badge [Fliegerschaftsabzeichen] which was the first German military decoration to be awarded to official DLV civilians who trained in gliders for the future Luftwaffe. The badge was made of silver and featured the German national eagle clutching a Nazi swastika surrounded by a wreath, which would be worn on the left breast pocket by pilots and observers.

[Internet image] This simple DLV German Air Sports Association badge became the first qualification badge [pilot/observer] recognized by the newly formed Luftwaffe on 19 January 1935. On orders of Hermann Goering the original badge was retired and replaced in November 1935. Today this rare DLV badge is not only hard to find for collectors, it is considered to be the first official badge of the secret Nazi Luftwaffe formation in 1933.

The March 1933 German Air Sports Association, [DLV] cloth emblem is also very high on collectors lists.



On occasion, you will find the March 1933 German Air Sports Association aircrew cloth badge also appearing on the nose of early German DLV training aircraft, such as the Klemm L25 successful training monoplane. Developed by German Hanns Klemm in 1928, this low wing, fixed landing gear aircraft, was designed as a leisure and sport aircraft. It was produced in over 600 airframes in thirty different versions, and also manufactured under license in the United Kingdom and the United States. The above Klemm L25d trainer is still wearing the badge in 1938, although the DLV was dissolved and replaced by the NSFK on 15 April 1937.

Hitler’s rise to power was completed in August 1934 when President Paul von Hindenburg died and Adolf soon became the Fuhrer of Germany. On 1 March 1935, Adolf Hitler authorized the founding of the Reich Luftwaffe, the new Air-Arm of the German Wehrmacht. This new Air Force organization soon grew in size and purpose as the Nazis began to take full control of all existing civilian aviation clubs and organizations in Germany.

In the summer of 1935, the United States top aviation magazine was able to visit Germany and report on the new German air power. The articles appeared in three issues and can be read free online.


American Aeronautical Engineer Edmund T. Allen reported in 1935 Germany was the new land of paradise and fulfillment, as that is what he was shown and appeared on the surface. The new German Air Force was being constructed as the first line of defense for the new Germany. He then reported on the glider camps which were training 4-5 thousand German pilots per year, but nobody in the Western World was reading or learning the complete truth.


On 18 June 1963, the collection, research, and preserved archives of Karl Ries were published under the title “Markings and Camouflage Systems of Luftwaffe Aircraft in WWII.” Today aviation historians owe a great deal of thanks to his skill and endeavours to preserve these lost and destroyed aircraft markings. These are his words in describing the early Luftwaffe training markings in Nazi Germany 1934-35.




The German Air Sports League [DLV] continued to operate after the Luftwaffe was formed, but slowly began to lose members to the regular military and power was slipping away. The main core of the DLV senior members were staunch Nazi party members which gave the new Luftwaffe a very strong Nazi ideological base, and this must be protected. On 15 April 1937, the DLV was dissolved by Hermann Goering and replaced by a new organization called “National -sozialistisches Fliegerkorps.” The new National Socialist Flying Corps [NSFK] was partly financed by voluntary contributions, private Nazi party individuals and of course the Luftwaffe. Under the Third Reich Nazi Regime the National Flying Corps [NSFK] instructed the new Aviation Hitler Youth in all aspects of Balloon, Glider, and early powered aircraft flight. Closely related to the Luftwaffe and the Nazi Party, the new organization was male-dominated but a few females were allowed membership and it is reported they in fact had female aircrew, but little else is known. This was partly due to the strong Nazi party ideology that wives and mothers of all soldiers were not used in combat and would never appear in any badge, insignia, or other party identification. The NSFK organization was formed on other German military units such as the National Socialist Workers Party – SA, [Strom Troops – Brown Shirts] Hitler’s Protection Squadron – SS, [Schutzstaffel] and the National Socialist Motor Corps – NSKK, comprising Rotten [Squadrons], Sturmen [Companies], Sturmbannen [Batteries], Standarten [Regiments], and Gruppen [Divisions]. The new German Flying Corps [NSFK] would be used to channel energy, to explore the German youth in training and technical support of the Luftwaffe, and most of all maintain a reserve of young aviation troops in active glider and powered aircraft training. As a Nazi paramilitary group the NSFK were issued with new uniforms and followed the same rank structure as the SA, SS, and NSKK. The NSFK now received their own distinctive Nazi insignia which came from the Greek Mythology featuring the winged man figure of Icarus. The Luftwaffe put a much greater value on the design and creation of their unit insignia and the German Nazi Party introduced and hijacked many past military events and German heroes for use by the party. When the Luftwaffe was first revealed to the world in May 1935, early units were named for past military battles and WWI fighter aces, and the new badges were presented in elaborate military presentations. Favourite German themes painted as unit insignia were the Eagle and Lions combined with the natural forces of lightning and thunder in the sky. Norse and Greek mythology featured all of these elements and Icarus became a perfect fit for the silent Glider wings of the NSFK teaching young Hitler Youth German males to fly.





The new Third Reich NSFK badge of Icarus would appear on Flying Corps documents, handbook covers, flight magazines, postcards, insignia, flags, postcards, posters, plus the nose of training gliders and aircraft. The NSFK badge enticed German male youth into training, flying, and dying for both the Fuhrer and the Fatherland by creating an immense feeling of German pride.

The Backside of a German NSFK Postcard

The Postcard front, with powerful symbols of Icarus and a German Eagle, combined with the transition from boyhood to manhood was now building a mighty Nazi Third Reich Luftwaffe.


From Hitler’s Wartime Picture Magazine Signal, published March 1940. Today’s living record of Nazi propaganda and living under the Third Reich at war.

The new Nazi badge [Greek man Icarus] would exploit German male youth enthusiasm to train as potential Luftwaffe pilots, beginning at age fourteen years. Internet.

Another Nazi propaganda color page from Hitler’s Signal magazine March 1940

The Grunan Baby II was introduced in 1933, designed by Edmund Schneider, with 4,104 constructed between 1933-44. This was the most popular glider used by the NSFK and many carried the decal NSFK badge [top] under the pilot position [20” high] as seen in these photos.

Over 16,000 Gliders were constructed in Germany from 1933 – 1944, and the NSFK was a male-dominated flying association. Female glider members were rare but one became the most famous in the world. On 25 July 1938, Luftwaffe pilot Hanna Reitsch is seen wearing her NSFK Glider pilot badge and the larger Luftwaffe pilot badge.

Hanna Reitsch remained a National Socialist until her death and stated – “She should have died at the side of her Fuhrer in 1945.” It is speculated she took the cyanide capsule Hitler gave her 26 April 1945. Died Frankfurt, Germany, 24 August 1979.

If a German citizen donated money to the NSFK this gift certificate was signed, dated, [1 March 1939] and returned with thanks for the contribution. The two powered trainers are Heinkel He-51 fighter-trainer aircraft showing the growing early power of the Luftwaffe.


The Heinkel He-49 was a single-seat biplane which first flew in 1932, as an advanced trainer aircraft, but it fact was designed as a German Nazi fighter aircraft. The advanced He-51 aircraft was designed to replace the Arado AR65 and both also flew side by side as trainers. [Full details on the internet]

The Arado 68 was one of the early fighters produced by Germany when they began rearming in 1935, and entered service with the Luftwaffe in 1936. It was replaced by the Messerschmitt Bf 109 in 1938 and became an excellent fighter trainer aircraft. The NSFK powered-flight trainer aircraft had their own badge featuring the German Luftwaffe Eagle and Greek Icarus.

By 1938, the NSFK had trained seventy-eight thousand potential Luftwaffe pilots and continued to grow. Oberstleutnant Herman Adler’s assessment of the Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps stated “The work of the NSFK is bearing its fruits for the benefit of the Luftwaffe and thus for German air legitimacy, for the good of all German people and their future.” The top trainer aircraft is a Klemm KI 35 which carried many forms of aircraft markings from 1935 to 1944.

The Klemm KI 35 and Bucker Bu 133 training aircraft both appeared in NSFK Commemorative badge awards in 1938. They belonged to Gruppe 16 Sudwest, June 1938.

In 1920, Adolf Hitler took the Swastika, which was a good luck sign of the Aryan Nomads in India, and turned it into the most hated world-wide anti-Semitic symbol mankind has ever created. The Nazi Party then showered its eight million card carrying members with thousands of medals and insignia designed to enhance their German self esteem using the Swastika.

The main post card read – “Learn to Fly” and the NSFK badge could be found on just about everything from German stamps to their training gliders and powered aircraft as nose art. This strong male figure of “Icarus” became the most powerful Nazi emblem and decoration in the Luftwaffe, only the German Eagle displayed more power as a symbol.


The NSFK emblem exploited German male youth [14 years] to learn to fly and become potential Luftwaffe pilots for the new Germany. They learned the complete theory of flight, wireless communications and maintenance of gliders and powered aircraft. At the same time these young boys were taught the Nazi ideology, pro-Hitler songs, and printed anti-Semitic material in their magazine “German Air Watch.” As they matured and entered the Luftwaffe they had been totally “Nazified” in part by their NSFK god-like figure of Greek Icarus and his huge wings.

On 3 September 1939, war was declared, and the Luftwaffe had 373,000 members, which included 208,000 flying troops. British intelligence estimated 43% of these German Luftwaffe personnel had received pre-war flying training by the NSFK, and almost all had been totally Nazified as they went to war. Today the Greek symbol of Icarus appears in tens of thousands of paintings, drawings, and historical artifacts in world museums. Just as many images are carried on human skin as tattoos during their lifetime.

The death of the Greek mythological figure “Icarus” still survives today in many forms and collector items, including NSFK badges and emblems.

The Nazi “Icarus” NSFK emblem died on 8 May 1945, and ironically its demise came beside their very creator, the German Third Reich, who hijacked Icarus and encouraged German males to learn to fly under his powerful image.

Author painting on WWII RCAF Norseman aircraft skin. The bottom sketch replica was created in 1644 by Stefano della Bella, the death of Icarus.

Mouse before Moose No. 419 (PDF and text version)

Mouse before Moose No. 419 (PDF and text version)

Message from Clarence Simonsen

The 419-nose-art has found a new home at Cold Lake. The photos attached are in the Public Museum.


Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Courtesy Cold Lake Air Force Museum

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Dedicated to Ley Kenyon, this is my serious effort to document and preserve on original WWII RCAF aircraft skin, his forgotten “Canadian” No. 419 [Moose] Squadron nose art, where he painted the Mouse before the Moose.

RCAF original caption

Equalling the record for a Halifax bomber, “V” for “Vic” from the Moose squadron of the R.C.A.F. Bomber Group in England, recently completed its 48th operational sorite over enemy territory with an attack on the German capital of Berlin.  In the above picture is the picturesque design indicating 47 trips over enemy territory.  it shows one of the characters in the comic section heaving bombs out of a silk hat.  On its final trip “V” for “Vic” was piloted by WO2 R.G. Herbert.

Link to the PDF below.

Mouse before Moose No. 419

Text version with all the images

No. 419 Sqn.

RCAF 1942 -1944.

“The Mouse before the Moose”

The forgotten “Canadian” nose art painted by British Rear Gunner R.A.F. #112179 –  P/O   B. Ley Kenyon.

In 1984, the author was a volunteer with HMCS Drumheller Naval Reserve, involved in research, lectures and taking photos for local Navy Cadet events. In February 1984, [HMCS Drumheller Cadets] were the guests of CFB Cold Lake, Alberta, and we spent six special days living, learning, and touring the large Canadian Air Force training base. To my surprise, there was very little WWII aviation nose art history connected with No. 419 [Moose] Squadron in their base Archives, or at least that is what I was told. Three years later, I found myself conducting No. 419 [Moose] Squadron Nose Art research and that is how I made contact with WWII veteran RCAF pilot Jack McIntosh, from Calgary, Alberta.

Jack McIntosh was born in the town of Medicine Hat, Alberta, on 26 June 1922, his Scottish father was a member of the local Police Department, and played the bagpipes. Jack joined the local Militia [South Alberta Regiment] in the summer of 1938, followed by three weeks Army summer camp being held on the Sarcee military training area, located on the south western outskirts of the City of Calgary. As Canada went to war, Jack was hired by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada, but continued his Militia training, reaching the rank of a qualified infantry Sergeant in March 1941. At age nineteen, Jack decided to enlist and joined the RCAF on 30 June 1941, posted overseas on 15 April 1942, a new pilot in No. 419 Squadron, where he flew his first 2nd Dicky operation on 13 February 1943. After eighteen months of training, twenty-year-old pilot Jack McIntosh became the leader of his five or six man RCAF aircrew, and they were all older in age than their boss.

Jack explained on his third operation, 27 February 1942, they were shot up very badly and one German night fighter killed two of his aircrew [Sgt. A.D. Grogan, Flight Eng. and rear gunner Sgt. G.I. Dunbar] and wounded a third, [Sgt. A. Mellin], they were set on fire and he made a crash landing back at base. Jack continued: stating he was flying Halifax Mk. II DT619, the bomber of S/L D.Clark, [New Zealand] which was painted with a “Kiwi Bird on a Bomb” by aircrew rear gunner P/O Ley Kenyon, the squadron artist. That was the first time I heard the name of the 419 squadron artist, but Jack knew little about him, other than he pocessed great talent and even drew caracutures of the squadron senior officers.

On 6 May 1942, Jack and his crew air tested a new Halifax B. Mk. II Special serial JD114, and this became their aircraft code VR-O. After flying six operations, the crew decided to name their bomber and pilot Jack was asked to select the new name. He picked his home town of Medicine Hat, Alberta. The squadron artist then painted Walt Disney’s Goofy picking bombs from a hat which were dropped over Germany, and after each operation a new bomb was added. Jack never met or learned the name of the nose artist, however he believ it was Ley Kenyon, and for historical records, I believe that is correct. This drawing of Halifax JD114 proudly hung in the home of Jack McIntosh, and I snapped an image.

Over the next years I would often visit Jack and his wife Jan, where a great amount of Moose squadron information was obtained for my new upcoming book on RCAF Nose Art. I also painted the replica nose art of “Medicine Hat” which were donated to two RCAF aviation museum’s [Trenton, Ontario, and Nanton, Alberta] and one for the original pilot Jack McIntosh.

This scale replica painting on original Halifax skin from NA337, was donated to Karl Kjarsgaard, Vice-president of “The Halifax Aircraft Association” in 1998, original art was painted by P/O Ley Kenyon in July 1943. Location of nose art painting today unknown, as these panels intended for RCAF Trenton, Ontario, museum display, were given away to WWII RCAF senior veterans belonging to the Halifax Aircraft Association. This author nose art research involving No. 419 Squadron in fact began ten years earlier after my week long visit to CFB Cold Lake, Alberta.

In July 1988, No. 419 [Moose] Squadron “Canada-wide” two-day reunion was being held at Calgary, Alberta, and Jack McIntosh invited me as his guest. I can fondly recall standing beside Jack in the then Canadian Army Officer’s Mess special log building, constructed in the tree covered area on the Sarcee military training area. Jack proudly explained, this was where his first Army training began back in 1938, when he was only sixteen years of age. At this reunion, Jack introduced me to a very special “unofficial” RCAF Moose squadron historian, Mr. Arthur Herbert Vincent Elmer, known to all as Vince. Vince displayed five large No. 419 photo albums from his vast research collection, and they contained many new 419 early Halifax nose art images. Vince gave his permission, allowing me to make 35 mm copies and record the information attached with each photo in his historical special Moose Squadron Nose Art collection. Today his vast historical collection is part of the No. 419 [Moose] Squadron archives stored at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta. The major part of my Ley Kenyon nose art collection came from the Vince Elmer collection, later painted as replica nose art on original WWII RCAF aircraft skins, and published here for the first time.

This WWII British map pin-points over 95 RAF airfields in use during the Second World War. No. 419 Squadron, RCAF’s third Bomber Squadron was born at Mildenhall, Suffolk, England, [yellow #70] on 15 December 1941.

Canadian Wing Commander J. [Moose] Fulton, [RAF/RCAF] DFC, assumed official duties of No. 419 Squadron on 21st December 1941, arriving from RAF Farnborough, England.

The first two Vickers Wellington Mk. IC aircraft arrived on the airfield on 4 January 1942, and eight were on strength five days later. The fifteen original aircraft serial numbers are as follows: A serial Z1145, B – X9748, C – Z1067, D – Z9920, E – Z1146 and Z8967, F – Z1053, G – Z9894, H – Z8981, N – Z9757, O – Z1083, P – Z1077, Q – Z1095 and Z1572, S – DV509.

The first operation to Best was flown on 11 January 1942, two Wellington aircraft serial X9748 and Z1145, followed on 15th of the month to bomb Hamburg, Germany, the same two Wellington bombers took part and Wellington “A” Z1145 crashed in the sea off Spurn Head. The first four No. 419 Squadron airmen missing in action.

From 1 to 5 February, No. 419 Squadron was grounded due to wet snowy weather, then on 6 February, four Wellington aircraft bombed Brest and all returned safely. S/L F.W.S. Turner and his crew flew Wellington Mk. IC on the raid, serial Z8981, coded VR-H, the other three were A – Z1091, N – Z9757, and P – Z1077.

L to R – 9 February 1942, S/L F.W.S. Turner, P/O K.E. Hobson, F/Sgt G.P. Fowler, F/Sgt. C.A. Robson, F/Sgt. N.G. Arthur, and F/Sgt. H.T. Dell. [RCAF Public Relations photo #PL7096] They would fly this same Wellington bomber to bomb Paris on 3 March 1942.

This well published image of No. 419 Squadron Wellington Mk. IC, [Type 423] covered conversion aircraft, serial Z1572, VR-Q, was one of four taken on charge 14 February 1942. No. 419 Squadron was on stand down due to wet snowy weather from 1 to 5 of February, and the first new Wellington Mk. III bombers began to arrive on 13 Feb. 1942. Four Wellington Mk. IC [type 432], arrived on 14 February, including VR-Q seen above, transferred from No. 75 New Zealand Squadron.  On 21 February 1942, the squadron became non-operational and intensive training began for conversion to the Wellington Mk. III aircraft. They had on charge Wellington Mk. III – three, Wellington Mk. IC – fifteen, and Wellington Mk. IC [type 423] – four. RCAF [Canadian] aircrew officers – thirteen, RCAF other ranks aircrew – eighty-five, RAF aircrew officers – seven and other ranks RAF – eleven. On 10 March 1942, W/C J. Fulton made a hand written entry in the squadron Daily Dairy, “It appears that Wellington IC’s were last used by 419 squadron on 10-3-42.” For some reason Z1572, VR-Q, remained on charge and flew twenty operations from 30 May 42 until late November, then went to No. 427 Squadron. She flew until April 1945, training aircrews at No. 16 O.T.U.

On 26 March 42, Flight Lt. D.L. Wolf assumed command of “B” Flight in No. 419 Squadron. A new Canadian squadron “nose art” era was about to begin, but nobody realized what was about to take place.

In January 1942, F/Lt. D.L. Wolfe was the new Captain of four sprog aircrew fresh from operational schooling at a Heavy Conversion Unit, and now their months of training and new-found aviation skills would be put to the real test. It was common knowledge their odds of survival were not very good, however the overall RCAF casualty figures were not posted and became a heavily guarded secret until late in 1944. Before a sprog aircrew were permitted to fly operations their skipper had to fly on one or more operation trips as “Second Dicky.” This was a British RAF term from the WWI days when bombers had two pilots and the co-pilot was called Second Dickey.

F/Lt. Wolf flew Second Dickey to Captain S/L Turner on 21 January 1942, and three of his aircrew Sgt. Pearce, Sgt. Goodwin, and Sgt. Morrison came along on their first combat operation. If the first operation was uneventful, no German fighter attacks, burning aircraft exploding in the air, or aircrew death, the C.O. would send the sprog crew on another introductory sortie over France or Germany. On 28 January 42, F/Lt. Wolfe [Second Pilot] and crew flew their second operational trip to Boulogne, Z1053 came home on one engine, an outstanding quality other twin-engine aircraft could not manage to do.

9 February 1942, image shows RCAF ground crew placing 303 cal. guns in Wellington Z1053, code VR-F, flown by F/Lt. Wolf that night, 10 February 1942. P/O Ley Kenyon flew his first RCAF operation in Wellington Z1053, 8 March 1942. [Vince Elmer collection 1988]

Bad weather delayed flying operations in February, 1-5 and again on 7-9 of the month, wet snow, clouds, and rain. The Wolfe crew flew Wellington Z1053 “F” on 10 February 1942, [above] then the remainder of the month was used for conversion flight training to the Wellington Mk. III which began arriving on 13 February. On 3 March 42, F/Lt. Wolfe and crew flew Z1053 “F” for the very last time, and conversion training continued. On 5 March, a new fair haired, slim, soft-spoken British air-gunner reported to No. 419 Squadron, P/O Bennett Ley Kenyon, RAF #112175. Born on 28 May 1913, in Kensington Church Street, above the family owned undertaking business, he was educated at Marylebone Grammar School. He loved the underwater life, swimming, snorkeling, photography, and painting in watercolors. Ley attended art schools in London and Paris, specialising in water colours, and even taught his favorite subject, water color design and shading. He was very mild mannered and while he fully understood his many talents, to others Ley appeared as being on the shy side. With the outbreak of war in September 1939, Ley volunteered for service in submarines of the Royal Navy, then was informed to go home and wait. Ley was called up as a lorry driver in the R.A.F. in 1940, re-mustered to Air Gunner in March 1941, and graduated with a commission of Pilot/Officer in October 1941. He was posted to RCAF Canadian No. 419 Squadron in late April 1942, flying his first operation 8 March, as rear gunner for F/Sgt. Fawcett, in Wellington Z1053.

Painted on original 1938 RCAF skin fabric [17” by 21”] from Fleet Fawn 7C, serial 123, RCAF #264, trained RCAF pilots at Camp Borden, 1939-1945.

On 10 March, Kenyon flew with Sgt. Foy in Wellington Z1077 [2nd Operation], and on the 25 March with F/Sgt. Shannon, in Wellington X3703 [3]. On 26 March, Flight Lieutenant D.L. Wolfe assumed command of “B” flight in No. 419 Squadron, and he assigned the new British gunner to his own aircrew, flying 28 March 42, in Wellington X3467 [4th Operation].

Op. #      Date                        Pilot                                       Aircraft Serial

5.         8 April 42                   S/L Wolfe [promoted]          Wellington X3711 “R”

6.         10 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

7.         12 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

8.         14 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

9.         22 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3711

10.       23 April 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3703             “S”

11.       28 April 42                 W/C Fulton                            X3711             “R”

12.       7 May 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3486             “U”

Wellington X3486, VR-U, most likely painted with Donald Duck nose art in April 1942.

13.       8/9 May 42                P/O Cavaghan                      X3715             “G”

14.       17 May 42                  S/L Wolfe                              X3360             “R”

15.       29 May 42                  S/L Wolfe                              X3360

16.       30 May 42                  S/L Wolfe                              X3404

17.       1 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

18.       2 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

19.       3 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

20.       8 June 42                    S/L Wolfe                              X3360

21.       16 June 42                  S/L Wolf                                X3360

22.        25 June 42                S/L Wolfe                              X3360

23.       2 July 42                     S/L Wolfe                              X3360

24.       6/7 July 42                 S/L Wolfe                              X3360

25.       13 July 42                   S/L Wolfe                              X3360              “R”

On 1 August 1942, No. 419 was ordered to stand-down, and prepare for the movement of the complete squadron.

12 August 1942 from No. 3 Group, at Mildenhall, Suffolk, to No. 4 Group, Leeming, Yorkshire, 13 August to 17 August. Then on 18 August they moved to Topcliffe, Yorkshire, until 30 September, then on to Croft, Yorkshire, 1 October 1942 until 9 November 1942.

26.       13 October 1942        W/C M.M. Fleming DFC        X3659             “B”

W/C J. Fulton was killed in action 28 July 1942, [Wellington X3488, “H”] replaced by W/C A.P. Walsh, 5 August to 2 September 1942, killed in action. W/C M.M. Fleming assumed command on 8 September 1942 until 8 October 1942. Rear gunner Ley Kenyon flew Operation #11 with W/C Fulton and his #26 Operation with W/C M. M. Fleming.

Wing Commander John “Moose” Fulton, DFC, 1942, age twenty-nine.

W/C Fulton failed to return on 28 July 1942, Wellington X3488 “H” and his last message was –  “Fighters wounded 500.” The radio fix was ten miles of the Frisian Islands, and this German drawing gives some idea of the last moments of W/C Fulton and his crew.

The RCAF soon discovered that his artistic talents made Ley Kenyon an exceptionally good rear-gunner, able to recognise enemy aircraft in a split second. In August 1942, he was promoted to “Gunnery Leader” teaching aircraft recognition, gunnery instruction, and evasive tactics for escape from Germany if aircrews were shot down. Before going on combat operational squadron flights, sprog aircrews flew in various exercises designed to prepare them for the realities of operational flying. These operations were called “Bulls-eye” and took place over large British cities, where they learned how to avoid searchlights and night fighters. These crews also flew “Nickels” which required them to find a target over France, and sometimes Germany, then drop night leaflets. Other crews in training took part in minor raids, designed to take the German night fighters away from the main bombers force. These operational training flights were just as dangerous, sometimes even worse than the operational operations, as these new ‘sprog’ training crews had no combat flying experience. My Calgary friend pilot Jack McIntosh related how he attended eleven funerals in two weeks of his operational training. RAF Bomber Command did not count these training operational deaths in their causality total, a chilling fact in the cat and mouse game of war, never telling the aircrews or public the whole truth. Gunnery leader P/O Ley Kenyon survived fourteen of these training sorties which were never counted as combat operations. During his own spare hours, Ley began to paint large Walt Disney nose art images on the No. 419 Wellington bomber nose sections.

On 10 November 1942, No. 419 Squadron moved to their final base at Middleton St. George, Durham, England.

This Vickers Wellington Mk. III, code VR-M, is being serviced for an operation in late November 1942, at Middleton St. George. [RCAF PL7091]

The ground crew are L to R: LAC James Gardiner, Lac Fred Fitzhugh, LAC Fred Scott and unknown RAF. The Ley Kenyon nose art of Mickey Mouse stood for the aircraft call sign, “M for Mickey or Mouse” Note large code letter “M” painted on nose, serial unknown. [Vince Elmer image 1988]

This Wellington bomber could be serial X9757, X9874, X9920, Z1085, or Z1085, which had no known assigned code letters flying with No. 419 Squadron.  Nose art artist was British RAF rear gunner P/O Ley Kenyon.

Replica scale nose art painting of VR-M [M for Mouse], correct colors unknown.

Wellington Mk. III, serial X3486 flew her first operation on 25 March 1942, F/Sgt. Elliot, 28 March, F/Sgt. Elliot, 5 April F/Sgt. Swanson, then 8 and 12 April F/Sgt. Elliot. It appears the Donald Duck art was possibly painted for the crew of F/Sgt. Elliot.

Flight/Sgt. William Chester McGuffin, J15712, DFC, came from Calgary, Alberta, flying his first operation as Second Dickey with F/Sgt. Dutton on 2 May 1942, in Wellington Mk. III, X3486, VR-C, decorated with Donald Duck nose art by P/O Ley Kenyon. The bomber code letter was changed to “U” on 8 April. This was the sixth operation for the Wellington bomber and the above photo was taken 2 May 42, at Mildenhall, Suffolk, England. [Vince Elmer collection]

His second operation was flown in the same Wellington Mk. III, serial X3486, and he would survive his first tour of thirty operations.  S/L William McGuffin was nearly finished his second tour, 54 trips, when he was killed in a No. 419 [Moose] Lancaster on 23 October 1944, he was 22 years of age.

It appears this Donald Duck nose art might be the very first painted [April 1942] by RAF rear-gunner P/O Ley Kenyon who arrived at No. 419 Squadron, Mildenhall, Suffolk, on 5 March 1942. The aircrew of S/L Wolfe, with rear gunner nose artist Ley Kenyon flew this bomber [he painted] on 7 May 1942, their 12th Operation, the 9th Operation for the Wellington bomber. The use of Donald Duck was not just another Walt Disney cartoon choice, but closely reflected the Canadian and British spirit of the war in 1942. His anger, desperation, belligerent nature, and red faced aggression made Donald the number one choice in WWII aircraft nose art. Wellington VR-U survived a total of fourteen operations, X3486 went missing on 5/6 June 1942, F/Sgt. Dutton, bombing Essen, Germany. F/Sgt. Joseph Mervyn Dutton R60552 was from Calgary, Alberta, flying his thirteenth operation, age 23 years, his aircrew have no known grave. This replica painting on original WWII Norseman aircraft skin displays how RCAF nose art can be used as a memorial to a long lost Canadian aircrew from the past, rather than just a list of names on a cold marble wall in England.

W/C John [Moose] Fulton, 37095, began his wartime career with RAF No. 99 Squadron flying Wellington aircraft. He was flying his second tour of operations, his 66th on 28/29 July 1942, when his aircraft X3488 “H” was reported missing in action, he was twenty-nine years old.  W/C Fulton has no known grave and his name is inscribed on the Runnymede War Memorial, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey, England.

From August 1942, onwards the squadron began to unofficially use the name “Moose” derived from the nickname of their first squadron commander W.C John [Moose] Fulton. In January 1943, the City of Kamloops, British Columbia, adopted No. 419 “Moose” Squadron as a gesture of commemoration of their native son. In late August 1943, the unit badge and motto [Beware of the Moose] were designed [Ley Kenyon] and submitted for official Chester Herald approval.

The last three Wellington Mk. III aircraft, serial X3659 “B”, BK364 and K3390 flew on 6 November 1942, and the next day the squadron was ordered on “Stand Down” and operations creased. The Squadron prepared for the move to Middleton St. George and conversion to the Halifax Mk. II, Series I, “Special” with five bombers on strength by the end of November. On 31 December 1942, No. 419 had eighteen Halifax Mk. II Series 1, [Special] bombers on strength and they were fully trained to begin operations on 1 January 1943. They now came under control of No. 6 [RCAF] Group, No. 64 [RCAF] Base, Middleton St. George, Durham, England.

In the summer of 1942, a modification of the Halifax Mk. II Series I aircraft was introduced to the RAF, which was a new clean up of the original design, aimed at reducing the over all weight of the large bomber. The front turret was removed and the top half of the nose section was covered over by a fairing. Officially known as modification #398, it was called “Tollerton” after the Tollerton Aircraft Services where the first modification began. A number of these Halifax modifications also included the removal of the old Boulton Paul Type “C” mid-upper gun turret, saving a total weight of 1,450 lbs., which was equal to a further saving of 849 lbs. of fuel and oil over an average flight range of 1,800 miles. This new designed Halifax was officially designated B. Mk. II, Series I, [Special] beginning RAF service in August 1942.

Two-hundred and fifty were constructed by English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, serial numbers W1270 to W1276, and DT481 to DT808. Another one-hundred and fifty were constructed by English Electric, serial numbers W7801 to W7939. A further seventy-four were constructed by LPTB, Leavesden, serial numbers BB236 to BB313.

The following Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. II [Special] aircraft serial numbers were assigned to No. 419 Squadron, beginning mid-November 1942.

W7857            “O”

BB283             “O”

DT548             “B”

DT615             “P”                 Kenyon rare ditching tent art

DT616             “K”

DT617             “C” & “G”

DT619             “Q”                Kiwi Bird on Bomb with red Maple Leaf

DT623             “S”


DT629             “V”                  V for Victory sign

DT630             “T”

DT634             “E”                  Stork and Baby Bombardier [Disney]

DT639             “B”

DT641             “R”

DT646             “C”

DT669             “L”

DT672             “D”

DT689             “N”                 Moose menacing Hitler [flew record 45 Ops.]

No. 419 Squadron ground crew preparing a Halifax B. Mk. II, Series I, [Special] for Operations.

S/L David Walter Sealy Clark RAF #36213 was posted to No. 419 Squadron in early November 1942, appointed as the new Halifax Flight commander. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1916, he served in the RNZAF in 1938, and was commissioned in the RAF in 1939. He completed his Heavy Conversion training from Wellington to Halifax Mk. II bombers at No. 1653 HCU and reported to No. 419 Squadron on 9 November. He flew his first operation in Halifax VR-Q serial DT619 on 9 January 1943, and this became his aircraft which he piloted on 21 January, 2/3 February, 14 Feb., 16/17 Feb., 18 Feb., and 19 February, his last flight. During this time period the nose art of a New Zealand Kiwi bird diving on a bomb [with Maple Leaf] was painted by Ley Kenyon on the Halifax nose and named “Kiwi.” The Kiwi is a flightless bird species endemic to New Zealand, and that is what S/L Clark wanted on his bomber.

Nose Art image of “Kiwi” from Vince Elmer collection 1988.

This was Halifax Mk. II Special serial DT619 which was assigned to pilot Sgt. Jack McIntosh on 27 February 1943. While carrying out mining operations in the Frisian Islands area, they were attacked by an enemy fighter and the bomber was severely damaged by 20 mm cannon fire, killing two crew members and badly wounding the navigator. McIntosh made a successful forced landing at RAF Coltishall, with three mines on board his bomber. Jack confirmed this nose art to me in person, and he believed the Halifax was repaired and transferred to a Heavy Conversion Unit somewhere in England.

Kiwi replica size 16” by 16” painted on original skin from Fairchild Aircraft Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV, serial 9041. T.O.S. by No. 8 Squadron RCAF Station Sydney, Nova Scotia, 3 October 1941.

With the loss of DT619, the Flight Commander S/L David Clark began flying Halifax Mk. II serial W1271, which he piloted on 1/2 March, 8/9 April, 10/11 April, 14/15 April and his last operation flown on 16/17 April 1943.

It has been recorded [Ian Duncan] that Halifax W1271 carried the same nose art of the Kiwi bird, also painted by P/O Ley Kenyon. It has also been reported that W1271 carried the nose art image of an Australian Kangaroo with name “Have Another” but never confirmed. To add to this confusion, the exact very same Kiwi Bird nose art will later appear on a No. 419 Squadron Lancaster KB718, code VR-J, with confirmed photo images. Ley Kenyon was shot down on 16/17 September 1943 in LW240, so he did not paint the last “Kiwi” Lancaster nose art. KB718 first flew on 1/2 May 1944, and was piloted most operations by C18516 P/O G.R.H. Peck and his aircrew who were posted to No. 419 Squadron on 31 March 1944. Why they painted the very same Kiwi nose art which first appeared on Halifax DT619 is a mystery, and most likely will never be known.

The author believes, this Ley Kenyon nose art was possibly painted on Halifax serial W1271, VR-P.

In August 1942, the English Electric Company began to manufacture the new Halifax B [Bomber] and GR [General Reconnaissance] Mk. II, Series I [Special] for the R.A.F. They were built in serial blocks with gaps to confuse the German intelligence. The first to arrive with No. 419 Squadron came from RAF serial block W7801 to W7939, Halifax Mk. II W7857 was first to arrive 9 January 1943, assigned code letters VR-O. Next came W7817, “A” 29 Jan., W7889, 19 February and W7869, 24 February. The fifth to arrived was Halifax Mk. II serial W1271, “P” which flew first operation on 1/2 March 1943, S/L D. Clark.  The Halifax completed six operations in March, five in April, never flew in month of May and continued operations on 12/13 June, 19/20 June with the last flight on 21/22 June 1943. Shot down, all No. 428 Squadron attached aircrew killed in action.

This 17” by 31 “replica nose art was painted on original RCAF WWII aircraft skin fabric taken from Noorduyn Norseman RCAF serial #494, taken on strength 9 September 1942 and crashed into Lake Allen, N.W.T. on 25 August 1947. Recovered from the lake in 1993, restored by Alberta Aviation Museum to static condition in 1997, the original aircraft skins were saved from the garbage by pilot Tony Jarvis in 1999, and obtained by the author for painting.  The full history of this aircraft can be read online at the Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, Alberta. This original nose art was painted by Ley Kenyon No. 419 Squadron and appeared on one of their Halifax. B. Mk. II bombers, the serial and code letters are not confirmed.

This image is a nose art blow-up from the collection of Vince Elmer, Halifax B. Mk. II, Series I, “Special” which arrived with 419 Squadron in early January 1943. The Halifax came from a batch serial DT612 to DT649, constructed by English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, in December 1942. Given the code letters VR-E, she was assigned to the aircrew of Sgt. B.F. Heintz, flying first operation on 21/22 January, gardening at Nectarine, thirty-five attacked and two bombers were lost. Sgt. Heintz flew the next two operations and on 4/5 February Sgt. L. Bakewill flew DT634 to Turin, where he lost two engines on the return flight. The Halifax was parked for repairs during the next three weeks, [6 to 26 February] and that is when the most interesting Walt Disney insignia nose art most likely appeared painted by Ley Kenyon.

Ellington Field, Texas, was constructed in 1917, to train American pilots for service in WWI. In October 1940, construction began on a much larger airfield, five control towers, two large hangars, and 74 barracks for navigation, bombardier, and pilot training in the United States Army Air Corp. The huge airbase opened on 26 June 1941, and soon became known as “the Bombardment Academy of the Air.” In October 1941, the first bombardier class wrote to Walt Disney to create a new base insignia. [Disney artists created over 500 insignia for U.S. government and military units in pre-war year 1941] The new insignia [above] arrived just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and seems to have been lost or forgotten in the following months of confusion as the United States prepared for entry into World War Two.

When the Disney artist’s designs were published in an aviation magazine, [Insignia Industry by Kurt Rand, February 1942] the RCAF were quick to adopt and copy this insignia on aircraft training in Canada and England. No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mont Joli, Quebec, officially opened on 15 December 1941, and training began with British Fairey Battle aircraft. New Canadian built Avro Anson Mk. II bombers began to arrive on 17 February 1942, and nineteen were assigned to the base. These Avro Anson yellow training bombers were all painted [May-June] with the Walt Disney stork and baby [on white circle] dropping bombs, a most fitting RCAF Bombing and Gunnery insignia.

More Avro Anson Mk. II bombers in training at No. 5 S.F.T.S. at Brantford, Ontario, soon followed and the Disney insignia next began appearing on bombers in Heavy Conversion Units training in England. The Domino effect was taking place and the stork next began to appear painted on combat bombers in the RCAF. The stork first appeared in the movie Dumbo which was released to the American public 23 October 1941, not released in Canada until 31 March 1942. The movie was also released to the American Armed Forces and shown in combat theatres around the world, obviously when the Disney military insignia appeared the Dumbo stork was well known to thousands. During the filming of Dumbo, 29 May 1941, the Disney Studios went on a bitter strike, led by union leader animator Art Babbitt. Disney fired Babbitt, then had to rehire his animator when the union strike was settled, however they remained life-long enemies. The Art Babbitt Western Union stork would not appear in other Disney war created military insignia, but soon found a new home in Canada and England adopted by the RCAF. No. 405, 408, and 419 Squadrons all carried this Stork nose art on Halifax and Lancaster Mk. II bombers during WWII.

Lancaster Mk. II, [Hercules VI engines] serial DS692, in No. 408 Goose Squadron began operations in October 1943. Code “S” she wore the Disney Stork, airframe mechanic is LAC J. A. Talbot from Pictou, Nova Scotia. Crash landed Marston Moor on 23 July 1944. RCAF image PL26028.

The aircrew of Sgt. B.F. Heintz were assigned a new Halifax DT634 and flew seven operations in ‘their’ bomber, 21 January, 23 Jan., 29 Jan., 1/2 March, 3 March, 5/6 March, and 9/10 March. It is believed they were the crew which picked the Walt Disney stork for their bomber nose art painting by Ley Kenyon. The little stork came from the 1941 movie Dumbo, which became one of Disney’s most direct, appealing, and most American of all his movie tales. The stork delivers Dumbo to Mrs. Jumbo dressed as a Western Union messenger, all created by animator Art Babbitt, who hated Walt Disney, and headed the animator union which got him fired. Forced to rehire Babbitt, Art and Walt would be enemies for life. The new military insignia using the Western Union stork was created by animator Hank Porter, and now it was going to war painted on a Canadian RCAF Halifax bomber.

The Walt Disney stork and baby dropping bombs nose art was possibly painted on Halifax DT634 during the three weeks the aircraft was in for repairs and double engine replacement, 6 to 26 February 1943.

F/O Charles Edward Porter J9668, was hit by flak south of Bremen, Germany, and lost one engine, then decided to bomb Magdeburg, instead of Berlin. After his bombing run was completed, his Halifax was attacked by a German night fighter and a second engine was set on fire. The fuselage caught fire and the escape hatches became jammed by the heat, they had to be kicked or cut open with a fire axe. All of his aircrew finally jumped safely, pilot F/O Porter remained at the controls too long [saving his crew] and went down with his bomber.

This 18” by 24” scale replica nose art image was painted on original aircraft tail fin skin taken from Fleet Fawn 7C, RCAF serial 264, constructed in 1938. The tri-color tail markings are original RCAF standard when they were applied in 1938. This is painted as close as possible to the original Ley Kenyon nose art painting completed on Halifax VR-E, serial DT634.

F/Sgt. Harling was one of the original Wireless/Air Gunners in No. 419 Squadron, flying with a number of different pilots, F/Sgt. J.A. Clark, S/L P. Dart and F/O D.H. Kennay.  On 13 September 1942, Harling was flying in Wellington Mk. III, VR-O, serial X3308, piloted by F/Sgt. Cameron. They were hit by flak over the target of Bremen, Germany, and two fuel tanks were pierced and leaking.  They made a forced landing in the sea, just three miles from Southwold, Suffolk, England, around 5 am. Ditching diagram RAF Wellington Dinghy installation and exit points.

In the darkness, second pilot R.A.F. Sgt. A. Donlin released the aircraft dingy, but he failed to exit the sextant escape hatch and went down with the aircraft, the remainder of the aircrew survived in the dingy raft for over two hours and were saved at sunrise.

DT615 became the first new Halifax Mk. II to wear the code letter VR-P in 419 Squadron, flying operations 3/4 Feb., 18 Feb., 19/20 Feb., 24/25 Feb., and 26/27 February. On the 27th the aircrew of Sgt. Bill Gray were assigned Halifax “P” DT615 on a mining operation to the Frisian Islands. The rear gunner was F/Sgt. Russ Harling, and again his bomber was hit by flak and developed engine trouble, forcing them to ditch in the sea. They spent a very wet and cold night [nine hours] in the dinghy, were found the following morning and brought safely home with no injuries. Rear gunner F/Sgt. Russ Harling was the only member of No. 419 Squadron to survive two ditching’s in the cruel Atlantic Ocean. A very lucky Canadian rear gunner.

I interviewed Russ Harling in 1989, and he was kind enough to sent me this image from his collection. This special ground crew tent art of the second Halifax DT615 ditching was painted by fellow rear gunner RAF P/O Ley Kenyon.

The second Halifax Mk. II to wear the 419 Squadron code letter “P” became serial JD270, nicknamed “Popeye.” Constructed by E.E. in a batch of 35 serial JD244 to JD278, she was the last of four delivered to No. 419 Squadron, serial JD256, JD257, JD258, and JD270.

Pilot Sgt. William Donald Leslie Cameron R116979 was born in Sarnia, Ontario, after training his aircrew were posted to No. 419 Squadron in mid-June 1943. Flew his first operation as 2nd pilot with P/O B.F. Haintz, Halifax JB900, 22/23 June 1942. First operation as pilot was flown in Halifax Mk. II serial JD163, 28/29 June 1943, to bomb Cologne, Germany. The sprog aircrew were now assigned a new Halifax Mk. II aircraft, serial JD270, coded VR-P [Popeye]. They flew their first operation in JD270 on 3/4 July, part of 68 RCAF aircraft which were despatched to attack Cologne, Germany, six of these aircraft failed to return. [Which means over forty aircrew members were P.O.W.s or killed in action that night] The Popeye throwing red bombs nose art was picked by the Cameron crew and painted by Ley Kenyon possibly in the stand-down period of ten days 14 to 24 July 1943. The Halifax bomber JD270, VR-P, would be despatched on fourteen operations and eleven were piloted by Sgt. Cameron and his aircrew.

Vince Elmer collection image, ground crew name unknown.

Operations flown by Halifax Mk. II serial JD270, red circle piloted by Sgt. William Cameron.

Scale replica Ley Kenyon nose art painted on original RCAF Norseman skin from #494.

After completing their bomb run over the City of Berlin, Halifax JD270 was in a mid-air collision with a German night-fighter aircraft, and RCAF F/Sgt. Boos, F/Sgt. Scharf, and RAF L. Duggan were able to bail out of their bomber and were taken Prisoners of War. The other four members of the crew were killed in action, buried in the Berlin War Cemetery, Charlottenburg, Germany.

WO2 pilot William Donald Leslie Cameron, age 22 years, killed in action 1 September 1943.

Vince Elmer photo 1988, DT629, VR-V, artist Ley Kenyon.

Halifax B. Mk. II serial DT629 arrived with No. 419 Squadron in late January 1943, flying only one operation 23/24 of the month. The Ley Kenyon nose art was very simple, featuring the famous Churchill WWII sign “V for Victory” for the Halifax code letter VR-V.

In February 1943, DT629 flew six operations, 2, 3, 7/8, 14, 16/17, and her last trip on 18 of the month. The last trip was flown by aircrew of F/Sgt. R.G. Goddard, mining operation to Frisian Islands, where they were attacked by a German night-fighter. Rear Gunner F/Sgt. W.T. Gaunt fired a long burst and tracers were seen to hit the enemy fighter which broke off attack and went into a drive. Claimed as one Enemy fighter probably damaged. The RCAF bomber then disappears from the squadron records, no crash report, possibly transferred to another RCAF Squadron, or most likely to an RCAF Heavy Conversion Unit in England for sprog aircrew training.

Halifax DT689 was constructed in October 1942, by English Electric Co. at Salmesbury, Preston, in British block serial numbers DT665 to DT705. Delivered to No. 419 Squadron in early November she was assigned code letters VR-N, and began aircrew training at Middleton St. George, Durham, sometime after 10 November 1942. This aircraft was soon taken over by the new C.O. Wing Commander M.M. [Mervin] Fleming [his drawing by Ley Kenyon, shown in the cockpit above] and the Halifax became known to all as the “Winco’s Bomber.” The front nose fairing known as the “Tollerton” nose had two factory horizontal widows above the bomb aimer’s panels and this is where Ley Kenyon created his next truly nose art special painting.

Vince Elmer 1988 image

This nose art was dedicated to the squadron’s first C.O. W/C J. [Moose] Fulton, DFC, and AFC, showing a Moose head which has just taken a bite out of the ass of a running Adolf Hitler. This nose art became an inspiration for all squadron members as Halifax DT689 was never shot down, and set a record for 45 operations over Europe and Germany. Her operation record follows; the red circles stand for the eleven operations flown by W/C M. M. Fleming, DSO, DFC, 8 September 1942 until 8 October 1943.

This replica nose art painting was created by the author to honour W/C J. Fulton, DFC, AFC, painted on an original skin panel [16” by 27”] from Handley Page Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial number NA337. Lost on a combat operation [dropping war supplies] 23/24 April 1945, the bomber laid on the bottom of Lake Mjosa, Norway, for the next fifty years. The full history can be found on many web sites, books, and videos, showing the correct restoration to the specifications of a British Halifax A. Mk. VII. This is not the combat version bomber flown by Canadians during WWII, however that is what the Halifax Aircraft Association RCAF veterans decided, and so be it. In the beginning, [1998] it was decided the author would paint replica nose art on original Halifax salvaged parts, but in the end, the replica panels were given away to WWII veteran senior association members. The black paint patches on the image are the original British WWII matt paint which survived fifty years in the lake in Norway, and today is preserved on this original Halifax skin panel dedicated to “Moose” Fulton.

RCAF Halifax B. Mk. II, Series I, “Special” serial DT689, became the pride and joy of No. 419 Squadron in the first eight months of 1943, dedicated to their first Commanding Officer “Moose” Fulton. British rear gunner Ley Kenyon painted this first nose art of the Moose chasing Hitler in honour of his missing in action C.O., which he flew one operation with as his tail gunner. All this history was saved by Vince Elmer and after his death was donated to No. 419 Squadron archives, where it has been forgotten with the passage of time.

For correct No. 419 Squadron historical records it should be noted that the idea, design, and approval of the “Moose” Squadron crest did not begin until August 1943, then it was submitted to the Chester Herald for British approval on the last day of the month.

The author has searched, but no record can be found naming who designed the original Moose drawing for approval by Wing Commander Mervin Fleming, DFC, in August 1943. It should be very clear to any historian this person was No. 419 British nose artist Ley Kenyon, who painted the first unofficial Moose nose art on Halifax DT689. The official Moose Badge, Motto and authority by King George VI were later approved in June 1944.

Halifax B. Mk. II “Special” serial JB859 “Thundering Heard”

The original replica nose art painted on salvaged skin from NA337, donated to the Halifax Aircraft Association in July 1999, given away, private location today unknown.

Halifax B. Mk. II, “Special” serial JB859 was one of 123 constructed at Handley Page Ltd. Cricklewood and Radlett, serial numbers JB781 to JB974. The bomber was from the second batch of 42 built between 28 February to 23 March 1943. Four of these bombers were delivered to RCAF No. 419 squadron by ferry pilots, serial JB859, JB860, JB861 and JB862. The Halifax would begin operations on 22/23 March 1943, and completed thirteen, with six different Canadian aircrews up to 12/13 May, when it was damaged by German flak and required major repairs.

12th operation was on 4/5 May 43, P/O J.D. Dickson and 13th operation 12/13 May, when the Halifax was hit by flak, rear turret out of action, flak holes in fuselage and port prop holed.

After repairs were completed Halifax JB859 was assigned to the aircrew of F/O Stanley Mervyn Heard, J5535, a twenty-three-year-old farm lad from Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

The Heard aircrew flew six operations in their Halifax, the 14th to 19th operations for the bomber. During this time period Ley Kenyon painted the special nose art of a stampede of cattle called “Thundering Heard.” The Halifax flew two more operations on 10/11 August to Nuremberg and 12/13 August to Milan, Italy. The Halifax was transferred to No. 1666 Heavy Conversion Unit, for training and survived the war, struck off charge by RAF on 1 November 1945, then soon after scrapped.

The Ley Kenyon nose art painting which flew only 5 or 6 operations during WWII. Image from Vince Elmer collection in 1988.

F/L Stanley Mervyn Heard, 23 years, was killed in action on 17 August 1943, raid on Peenemunde, Germany, shot down in Halifax JD158, “Three-headed Dragon” crashed Baltic Sea near Greifswald, Bodden, Germany. Body recovered and buried in Greifswald Cemetery, Germany. 15” by 32“painting on original skin from RCAF Norseman #494.

Halifax serial JD158, VR-D for “Dragon” by Ley Kenyon, from Vince Elmer collection 1988.

Halifax B. Mk. II, Special, serial JD158 was constructed by English Electric Co., Salmesbury, Preston, a batch of thirty-eight serial JD143 to JD180, built between 7 May to 28 May 1943. Five of these new Mk. II bombers were delivered by British female ferry pilots to RCAF No. 419 Squadron, Middleton St. George, Durham, JD143, JD147, JD158, JD159 and JD163. Halifax JD158 was assigned the code letters VR-D, and flew her first operation on 23/24 May 1943, assigned to pilot J8170 F/O Charles Edward MacIntosh and aircrew flying their 12th operation. Charles MacIntosh was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1916, and enlisted in the RCAF on 3 March 1941. Trained at No. 2 ITS, Regina, Sask., graduated 25 May 1941, No. 8 EFTS, Vancouver, B.C., graduated 26 July 1941, No. 3 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta, received his wings, graduated and commissioned 17 October 1941. Aircrew came together as a unit at No. 22 OTU, Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire, and trained at No. 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit at Topcliffe, Yorkshire, 20 February 1943, posted to No. 419 Squadron on 11 March 1943.

Upon arrival at No. 419 Squadron they flew their first operation in Halifax DT789 on 12/13 March, and the Daily Diary [above] spelled the new pilot’s surname incorrectly. The correct spelling should read F/O C.E. MacIntosh, Captain. They completed ten more combat operations in Halifax JB861, DT672 [2], DT616, DT798 [2], BB376, JB859, and BB384 [2]. Assigned new Halifax JD158 on 23/24 March 1943, they would fly her eleven times, marked with red circle.

The aircrew of Flying Officer J8170 C.E. MacIntosh finished their tour on 13/14 July and the Halifax JD158 was taken over by S/L G.A. McMurdy who flew her seven times marked with letter M. The Three-headed Winged Dragon was most likely painted by Ley Kenyon in early June and the reason is not known. The Three-Headed Dragon exist in drawings, myths, and legends created in many different countries, some with wings and others without.

On his second operation in JD158, Flying Officer Charles MacIntosh took part in a 43 plane attack on Essen, Germany, and the bomber was hit by flak. One port and one starboard engine were knocked out of service, plus the rear turret and port wing were heavy damaged by flak holes. With great skill and determination, pilot MacIntosh was able to return across the North Sea on two engines and make an emergency landing at Coltishall, no aircrew were injured. For his actions he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, effective 1 September 1943. It is possible the Three-Headed Winged Dragon nose art reflected on this dangerous operation and was painted during the two-week repair period, 29 May to 12 June 1943.

This author 22” by 17” scale replica nose art painting was completed on one original skin panel from Halifax B. Mk. A, serial NA337. While the WWII colors are not known, this is very close to the original nose art by Ley Kenyon, and helps preserve his lost Canadian 419 Squadron Halifax aircraft “Dragon” nose creation.

RCAF No. 1691 [Bomber] Gunnery Flight was formed at Dalton, Yorkshire, England, on 2 July 1943, and promoted pilot F/Lt. Charles MacIntosh J8170 was posted to the new unit effective 14 August 1943. On 1 September 1943, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, AFRO 2322/43, dated 12 November 1943.

The Three-Headed Winged Dragon Halifax JD158 was assigned to the aircrew of F/Lt. Stanley Heard on 17/18 August raid on Peenemunde, Germany. Attacked by German night-fighters, they crash into the Baltic near Greifswald, Bodden, Germany, all killed.

Author painting of F/Lt. Heard from original 1943 sketch drawing by Ley Kenyon.

On 22 April 1943, the English Electric Co. Salmesbury, Preston, England, began production of 223 Halifax B. Mk. II, Series 1, “Special” aircraft, serial numbers JD105 to JD476. The first production batch of twenty-four bombers received the serial numbers JD105 to JD128, and they were constructed without the mid-upper gun turret, which was faired over, shown in the flying drawing of JD114, above left. Later production aircraft had the British Boulton Paul ‘A’ Mk. VII mid-upper turret added, as shown in the above Halifax line drawing. Five of these first batch new bombers were assigned to RCAF units, JD107 to 408 Squadron, JD113 and JD114 to No. 419 Squadron, and JD123 and JD124 to No. 405 Squadron. For many new sprog aircrews in Bomber Command, the full risks of death associated with combat flying did not become evident until they began flying operations. A tour of combat was based on the accumulation of 200 hours of combat operations, or roughly 30 operational trips. If they survived a first tour, members were assigned to a training period for the next six months, thirty days leave, followed by a second operation tour of 30-35 trips. During the war, the odds of aircrew survival varied considerably due to the bombing campaign, enemy aircraft involved, ground flak, and always the weather.

The actual RAF odds against combat survival were somewhat withheld from the aircrews and the public during the war, and it was generally accepted that aircrews had a 50-50 chance of survival. In reality it was not that good.

While facts and records could be hidden by RAF High Command, the psychological impact of a battle-damaged aircraft returning to base with dead and wounded had a major impact on both RCAF air and ground crews. Jack McIntosh described his own recollected experience with death, survival, and the level of stress he had to deal with in his early combat operations.

Jack McIntosh flew his first operation [second Dickey] to F/Sgt. Gray in Halifax DT548, code “M” on 13 February 1943. He flew his crew in Halifax DT689 “N” on 26/27 February 1943.

Jack explained he was motivated to join the RCAF out of respect for his Scottish father, who had been wounded twice while serving with British forces in WWI. Rigorously selected and trained as a pilot for the RCAF, the grim realities of operational combat and the high death toll suddenly dispelled the more glamourous ideas in the young pilot’s mind. On their third operation of dropping mines in the area of the Frisian Islands, Halifax DT619 was attacked by a German fighter and two crew members were killed with the navigator serious injured. On landing back at base pilot McIntosh saw the battle damage done to the rear of his bomber, and the death of his two crew members. The psychological impact of seeing the remains of his rear gunner F/Sgt George Irving Herbert Dunbar R108858, age 22 years, had an instant impact on Jack. The 20 mm cannon shells from the German fighter had destroyed the rear gun positon, and the entire gunner cockpit was covered in blood, bone, and brain tissue as his rear gunner had been decapitated. Jack was now overcome with a fear of making a mistake, killing more of his crew, and mostly the fact he would never survive his tour of 30 operations. Jack was taken off combat operations, assigned two new crew members, and began training flights with his new aircrew, navigator F/O G.J.M. Harvey, F/Engineer [RAF] Sgt. E.S. Mulholland, and rear gunner F/Sgt. K.N. Doe, who had been his original mid-upper gunner. They flew together on 1st operation Halifax DT629 “V” on 30 April/1 May 1943, 4th operation for original four crew members.

On 1 May 1943, Sgt. McIntosh was instructed to report to the Commanding Officer W/C Mervin Fleming, where he had a long talk with both his C.O. and the squadron padre. His feelings about the war, life and dead in real combat operations were questioned by both officers. After the talk, the C.O. informed Jack a new Halifax bomber was coming from the factory and he could take this bomber as his own if he wished. Jack made a point to get a ride over to meet the young British female ferry pilot, and could still recall how upset she was to see him. This lady would not look him in the eyes, and refused to talk with him, she did not want to meet any operational pilots as she knew he would be dead in a few weeks. Once again the harsh realities of war casualties during combat operations were confronted by twenty-year-old pilot Jack McIntosh. On 6 May 43, Halifax serial JD114 was ready for her first test flight by the crew of Sgt. McIntosh, assigned the squadron code letters VR and her initial call sign “O for Orange.” After the completion of four operations the aircrew decided to give their bomber a name and nose art painting. Jack was asked to pick the aircraft name and he selected his home town in Alberta, Canada, Medicine Hat. Aircrew photo taken 6 July 1943, McIntosh collection.

The nose art painting of Walt Disney’s Goofy picking bombs from a hat and dropping them on Germany was painted by P/O Ley Kenyon. The painting was completed in one day and first flew on operation number seven, 21/22 June 1943, when fifty-seven RCAF bombers struck Krefeld, Germany, and eight were shot down.  Operations flown by Jack McIntosh aircrew marked in yellow.

During the last three operations Jack and his aircrew experienced an increase in tension and stress, but nothing like some historians have described. Jack McIntosh – “The name and nose art made it feel she was ‘our’ aircraft and would always bring us home.” That was the psychological power of WWII nose art, which is impossible to understand by most of today’s generation of modern jet pilot’s. The navigator and flight engineer required three more operations to hit thirty trips. This was operation number 31 for P/O McIntosh and his Halifax JD114 had completed 32 operations by 28 September 1943.

I ask Jack for the operation which stood out the most and he replied it was number nineteen, bombing the secret German A/4 rocket testing base at Peenemunde, Germany.

The RCAF despatched sixty-two Halifax and Lancaster aircraft and forty-seven hit the primary target, twelve were shot down.

No. 419 Squadron despatched the most RCAF Halifax aircraft with seventeen hitting the primary target and three failed to return.

1          JB965              21:07 hrs.

2          JD210              21:10 Hrs.       nose art Happy Valley Sally.

3          JD114              21:13 hrs.       nose art Medicine Hat [Flying 20st Operation].

4          BB376             21:15 hrs.

5          JD382              21:18 hrs.

6          JD270              21:20 hrs.       nose art Popeye.

7          JD325              21:22 hrs.

8          JD163              21:25 hrs.       “N” Sgt. Patterson, ditched in sea, no trace found.

9          JD158              21:27 hrs        Three-Headed Dragon “D” F/Sgt. Heard, shot down.

10        JD459              21:29 hrs.

11        JD204              21:31 hrs.

12        JD420              21:35 hrs.

13        JD457              21:36 hrs.

14        DT734             21:37 hrs.

15        JB929              21:39 hrs.

16        JD458              21:40 hrs.       “C” F/Sgt. Perkin, Australian, shot down.

17        JD456              21:41 hrs.

This 18”by 24” painting was completed on original aircraft skin from Fleet Fawn 7C, constructed in 1938, trained pilots at Camp Borden, Ontario, until 1946. The nineteenth operation flown by Jack McIntosh to bomb Peenemunde, Germany, 18 August 1943. JD114 took off at 21:13 hrs [third] and arrived back at base at 05:53 hrs, the last RCAF bomber to return. Medicine Hat was the last RCAF Halifax bomber to bomb the rocket testing site at Peenemunde, Germany. Halifax JD114 went on to set a 419 [Moose] Squadron record of 50 operations.

On 30 September 1943, Medicine Hat had a complete aircraft overhaul and her original four engines were changed. During repainting the Halifax was assigned the code letter “V.”

Goofy failed to return from the 51st operation, no trace found and no known grave for aircrew.

Halifax B. Mk. II Special serial JD210 “Happy-Valley Sally”

Vince Elmer 1988 photo of JD210 taken after operation #14 to Remscheid, Germany, 31 July/1 August 1943. JD210 was constructed by English-Electric in a batch of twenty-one JD198 to JD218, 28 May to 7 June 1943. This new Halifax code VR-S was chosen to fly the 1,000th sortie by No. 419 Squadron on her first combat operation 11/12 June 1943, piloted by P/O R.A.H. Bell. One-hundred and one RCAF bombers were despatched to bomb Dusseldorf, Germany, and eight struck the primary target, seven were shot down.

On the 18 June 1943, JD210 was assigned to the aircrew of F/Lt. A. N. Quaile, and they would fly ‘their’ Halifax for a total of seventeen operations until the end of August 1943. It is assumed they were the aircrew which picked the nose art name and Esquire magazine pin-up girl from May 1943, painted by RAF nose artist Ley Kenyon, in June.

The nose art by Ley Kenyon came from the May 1943 “Varga” pin-up from Esquire magazine.

Vince Elmer image 1988, eighteen operations, around 20 August 1943. The Ice Cream cone was the attack on Milan, Italy, 12/13 Aug. 1943, a “Milk Run” target with very little enemy resistance, plus many Italians operated ice cream stores in England.

16”by 22” replica painted on original Halifax skin from NA337.

The 22nd operation to Berlin was flown by F/Sgt. Marjeren, 31 August and 1 September 1943.

Operation #23 took place 3/4 September 43, to Foret de Raismes, France.

A sprog crew piloted by American F/O James Arthur Studer J14875 were assigned to fly the 24th operation to Mannheim, Germany, 5/6 September 1943. F/O Studer flew his first operation 2nd Dickey with veteran pilot Jack McIntosh on 30/31 August 43, in Halifax “Medicine Hat.”

This would be their third operation, from which they never returned.

F/O James Arthur Studer, age 21 years, born Hennepin County, Excelsior, Minnesota, USA, buried in war cemetery at Durnbach, Germany. One of 6,129 Americans serving in the RCAF, after the Pearl Harbor attack, 1,759 were released and enrolled in the service of the United States. Seven Americans would be killed in action flying Halifax bombers in No. 419 Squadron.

P/O Ley Bennett Kenyon [RAF #112175] flew his 25th Wellington Mk. III rear gunner operation in aircraft X3360 on 13 July 1942. He was now promoted to No. 419 Squadron as gunnery leader, teaching sprog air gunners and flying training “Bulls-eye” operations over Europe. In addition to his gunnery training duties he also taught RCAF aircraft recognition and evasive escape tactics for aircrew who might be shot down. It would appear he had little time to paint aircraft nose art during the months of August, September, and October 1942. On 13 October 1942, he flew rear gunner with his C.O. Wing Commander M. M. Fleming, [X3659] his 26th operation and last in the Wellington Mk. III aircraft. In November 1942, the new Halifax B. Mk. II, series I, “Special” aircraft began to arrive at No. 419 Squadron. Halifax DT689, coded VR-N had the front nose painted by Kenyon for his new C.O. Fleming, in honour of their first C.O. “Moose” Fulton. On 4/5 May 1943, Ley Kenyon flew 2nd gunner in DT689 containing the art of a Moose chasing Hitler. This trip became his 28th operation and the pilot was his C.O. W/C Mervin Fleming. The 29th operation came on 10/11 August 1943, Halifax serial BB376, and now Ley Kenyon required only one more combat trip to complete his tour of duty. Kenyon had actually survived 14 training operations “Bulls-eye” trips, three trips to Berlin, and now he would take off on his 44th operation in Halifax serial LW240, fifty-five bombers attack Modane, France, 16/17 September 1943. On the return trip they were attacked by two German night-fighters as they approached the English Channel. Kenyon shot down one German Me 110 but the other night-fighter set two aircraft engines on fire and the crew had to jump. Ley Kenyon avoided capture, made contact with the French Resistance, who attempted to smuggle him to Spain, but the Gestapo arrested him on a train at Bordeaux, France.

The target 16/17 September 1943, tunnel and marshalling railway yards at Modane, France [A], the area around Lisieux, France, [B] where Halifax VR-S, serial LW240 was shot down. F/Lt/ Ley Kenyon was able to evade the Germans and proceeded south by train attempting to reach the Spanish border. He was arrested by the Gestapo changing trains at Bordeaux, France. He was taken to Stalag Luft III, the POW north camp for RAF escapees, [no Americans] and became involved in the Great Escape. His artistic skills allowed him to forge passes, train tickets and identity papers, plus he also manned the all important air-pump supplying air for the tunnel diggers. His tunnel drawings and history have been published many times in books, videos, documentaries and the 1963 American fantasy WWII Hollywood movie “The Great Escape.”

A wonderful 1944 drawing of F/L Bennett Ley Kenyon by a fellow artist in Stalag Luft III.

In the postwar Kenyon became Britain’s greatest painter of underwater scenes, joined Cousteau in 1951, and spent five months with him on the Calypso. Wrote books illustrated with many of his undersea paintings, artist, author, photographer and underwater film maker, taught Prince Philip to deep sea dive in the Buckingham Palace swimming pool. He painted for himself where ever he went and gave free water color lessons to others, lectured thousands of students using his paintings and under water films. In 1988, while camping in the rough jungle in Malaysia he caught typhus, but survived to return home and organize an art Exhibition. In February 1991, while visiting friends in New Mexico, United States, he collapsed and died.

In 2001, [after twenty-two years’ research] the author published the very first RAF/RCAF nose art book which featured many firsts for Canadians, model builders, historians, and generations who were only educated with American Aircraft Nose Art. The cover of my book was dedicated to WWII pilot Jack McIntosh and his Ley Kenyon painted nose art of Walt Disney’s Goofy, named “Medicine Hat.” In 2002, a two-page story appeared in the Calgary Sun Newspaper by British born journalist friend Peter Smith, and veteran pilot Jack was very, very, proud.

Today our RCAF aircrew from the greatest generation are mostly gone and forgotten by a new age and a new generation of Canadian military male and female jet pilot’s. The old nose art from WWII is lowbrow stuff, and the pin-up girls from 1940’s get occasional complaints from even our present-day RCAF pilots of both sexes’. Art historians, sociologists, and even pop culture researchers are starting to look at past war art for clues to their value in time of conflict and social change. They should be looking at the awful military death toll in war, and the murderess effect it has on civilian populations, women, children, the helpless old and sick. After fifty-five years, I have found nose art did in fact boost WWII military morale, they had little else, and if an aircraft returned time and time again, it became famous and was considered lucky. The young RCAF aircrews of WWII knew the survival odds were heavily stacked against them, and painting nose art gave their aircraft an identity, they hoped might just help bring them back home. Sadly, it only worked for a small few like Jack McIntosh from Calgary, Alberta. The Royal Air Force lost 55,358 personnel during WWII, 8,240 of those were Canadians flying combat operations. No. 6 [RCAF] Group lost 127 Wellington bombers, 149 Lancaster bombers, and 508 Halifax bombers over enemy territory.  For the past fifty-five years the author has attempted to document, repaint, and educate Canadians on our forgotten RCAF nose art paintings, which our Canadian RCAF museum’s refuse to properly define or display.

P/O [later promoted to F/Lt.] Bennett Ley Kenyon was one of seven British born RAF officers posted to No. 419 Squadron RCAF on 3 March 1942. Ley was part of the original squadron roots and for the next eighteen months he served as rear air gunner, flying 29 combat operations, promoted to Canadian squadron gunnery leader, flying 14 operations [Bulls-eye] training fellow gunners, and in addition to flying duties he taught enemy aircraft recognition and enemy evasive tactics if they were shot down over enemy territory. During his busy duties he also found the time to decorate at least twelve No. 419 Squadron bombers with Canadian nose art, which today has been forgotten even by his original RCAF Squadron, training NATO pilots, based at Cold Lake, Alberta. Two of his decorated bombers set 419 Squadron records flying 45 and 50 operations, safely bringing the aircrews back to England.

Dedicated to Ley Kenyon, this is my serious effort to document and preserve on original WWII RCAF aircraft skin, his forgotten “Canadian” No. 419 [Moose] Squadron nose art, where he painted the Mouse before the Moose.

Canada’s “Thunder-Gander” PDF and text version

Canada’s “Thunder-Gander” PDF and text version

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Canada’s Thunder-Gander


Robert B. Cornelius Noorduyn was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1893, and after receiving his formal education began his aviation career in Germany and England.

In 1926, he made his first trip to Canada, selling Fokker aircraft to the Canadian Government and Mr. James A. Richardson, the ‘father’ of Canada’s earliest airlines. [Richardson would be destroyed by the Canadian Government and dirty politics]

Noorduyn soon realized Canada was a virgin playing field filled with huge possibilities for air transport in the far frozen north. In 1933, Robert began on and off designs of a new ski/float-equipped aircraft, which could operate in the Canadian intense cold winter climate.

In 1934, he rented an office on the top floor of the Canada Cement Building on Philips Square in Montreal, Canada, where a full sized mock-up in wood was created.  His new concept was based on many years of experience with the design work on the Fokker Universal and Bellanca Skyrocket aircraft.

This in depth history can be found online and in many excellent published books. Noorduyn stated – “his new design, would have to be tough as a rhino, and water adaptable as a duck.”

Text version with images.

Canada’s “Thunder-Gander”


Robert B. Cornelius Noorduyn was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1893, and after receiving his formal education began his aviation career in Germany and England.

In 1926, he made his first trip to Canada, selling Fokker aircraft to the Canadian Government and Mr. James A. Richardson, the ‘father’ of Canada’s earliest airlines. [Richardson would be destroyed by the Canadian Government and dirty politics]

Noorduyn soon realized Canada was a virgin playing field filled with huge possibilities for air transport in the far frozen north. In 1933, Robert began on and off designs of a new ski/float-equipped aircraft, which could operate in the Canadian intense cold winter climate.

In 1934, he rented an office on the top floor of the Canada Cement Building on Philips Square in Montreal, Canada, where a full sized mock-up in wood was created.  His new concept was based on many years of experience with the design work on the Fokker Universal and Bellanca Skyrocket aircraft.

This in depth history can be found online and in many excellent published books. Noorduyn stated – “his new design, would have to be tough as a rhino, and water adaptable as a duck.”

In 1942, Robert Noorduyn was interviewed by a Montreal reporter Mr. Lawrence Earl, and one page is worth reading for Canadian Aviation history sake.

The 29th built Norseman Mk. IV #2456 was used for world-wide publication.

The 94th constructed Norseman Mk. IV aircraft was taken on strength by the RCAF on 9 September 1942, given the serial #494.

Photo Tony Jarvis – Edmonton

First assigned to No. 3 Training Command [Montreal, Quebec] it remained in storage until 8 January 1943, transferred to No. 1 O.T.U. [Operational training Unit] at RCAF Station Bagotville, Quebec, where the above photo was taken. On 8 November 1944, the aircraft was returned to reserve storage at Eastern Air Command, Montreal. On 18 October 1945, the Norseman was flown to RCAF Station Mount Pleasant, Prince Edward Island, and placed into long term storage. On 1 August 1946, the aircraft was taken off strength by the RCAF and transferred to War Assets for disposal. On 5 May 1947, Norseman 494 was sold to Associated Airways at Edmonton, Alberta, for one dollar, and registered as CF-EIH. It was re-sold to McDonald Aviation Company in Edmonton on 29 May 1947, and passed its Certificate of Airworthiness on 8 August 1947. Flown by Charter Airways Ltd of Yellowknife, N.W.T., the aircraft crashed at Allen Lake on the Cameron River, 25 August 1947. Damaged beyond repair CF-EIH remained on the shore line for the next 46 years, and most of the original parts and wing sections were removed by first nation people who put them to a new use. In 1993, the remains of the aircraft were recovered by members of the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, and slowly missing parts were located and restoration began.  The full history can be found in the archives of the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Cover from Alberta Aviation Museum Journal magazine 1998. – Tony Jarvis.

A well-known Alberta businessman, Mr. Sandy Mactaggart, and his U.K. based family donated $25,000 towards the restoration of CF-EIH and many missing parts were donated by Joe McBryan owner of Buffalo Airways, [“Ice Pilots”] fame]. After over 8,000 volunteer hours of labor the restored aircraft was unveiled on 18 April 1998, and dedicated to volunteer Chuck MacLaren.

Pilot Tony Jarvis [left] and author in front of “Thunder-Chicken” CF-EIH, 2013.

During the restoration of CF-EIH the remains of the original RCAF Norseman skins were not saved but thrown in the garbage. Pilot Tony Jarvis called the author and ask if I wanted them for my paintings and the answer was – Yes, Yes, please, Yes. I fully understood those were the original skins placed on the Norseman aircraft in Montreal, mid-August 1942, and not only flew the next three years with the RCAF, they also survived 46 years in the ice-cold waters of Allen Lake, N.W.T. That was just the type of original historical aircraft canvas I wanted for preserving my aviation paintings.

In 2010, the author retired and headed south to Mexico City, the birth place of my wife and where I had lived three or four weeks every year since 1990. The next four years would be spent living at many different locations where new relatives resided, both rich and poor. Two full years were spent a four-hour drive north of Mexico City, called San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato. It has a small lake and a tiny beach, but it is truly a gem of the art world, and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is best known as – “A Community of Artists” and it is a most special place which is still hidden from other tourist sites. Please Google the name and read, it is all true, and a hard place to leave, but always good memories.

It is impossible to describe and must be seen and enjoyed just once in your life, the streets are lined with mural art. The large main museum has every type of Mexican art in one huge street-like ex-factory complex, plus excellent food and drink.

My art room was bedroom size, where I painted four to six hours everyday and mixed Mexican true aviation with original Aztec and Maya history, which I had seen in person.


Mexican main building material is cement and stone of all shape, size, and colour. For the first time in my life, I was introduced to painting replica Maya art on original rock that dates back to ancient America, and you can really become immersed in all this skilled artistic past history. The above rock art was painted for a special day I experienced on 21 December 2012, the end of the Maya calendar known as the long count. This replica was the scene painted on the 14th century A.D. Codex which survives today in Dresden, Germany, [also survived WWII allied bombing] depicting the Maya sun and moon gods with a catastrophic flood. The Maya Long Count odometer turns over every 5,125.37 years, which was 21 December 2012, and there I stood with hundreds of Mexicans at the base of an ancient site and waited for the Apocalypse. Many Mexicans believed the end of the world was coming, with food offerings and prayers to their ancient gods. Nothing happened, the Gods were happy, no flood, so I went back to painting aircraft nose art.  We can all thank our Christian Gods for not naming an exact date of death and only stating in their Bible, the end will come on Judgement day. During my four years in Mexico, I had also transported soft aircraft skins taken from Noorduyn Norseman RCAF #494, for future aviation paintings.

This RCAF Tactical Helicopter war art was painted for the aviation component who were fighting in Afghanistan, original skin from Norseman #494, painted at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and later presented to 1 Wing Headquarters, Kingston, Ontario, 16 December 2013.

The Canadian/Dutch Noorduyn Norseman is often called the “Thunder-Chicken” and will always be connected with two aviation accidents because of the famous personalities killed. Major Glen Miller, Director of the USAAF band, boarded a UC-64A Norseman in England on 15 December 1944, but never arrived in Paris.

On 20 May 1948, top-scoring RCAF fighter pilot ace George F. Beurling was ferrying a Norseman to Israel, when it caught fire over Rome, and he died in the fiery crash landing.

On 20 December 2012, I sent an email to Mr. Dennis M. Spragg, Senior Consultant, Glenn Miller Archive, American Music and Research Center, University of Colorado Boulder

Mr. Spragg had just finalized a comprehensive study on all aspects of the circumstances surrounding the Major Glenn Miller Norseman crash 15 December 1944, including over 5,000 pages of documents and first-hand reports. The research would soon be published in his book titled “Resolved.” I was not sure Mr. Spragg would even answer my email, [from Mexico] however he not only answered, he shared his research, answered all my questions, and gave in-depth advice on the correct painting of the Glenn Miller aircraft, Norseman USAAF serial 44-70285.

My painting began [2 January 2013] with a basic outline of the famous U.S.A.A.F. UC-64A type Norseman aircraft on original skin from RCAF Norseman serial #494. Photos were taken and submitted online to Dennis Spragg, who in turn replied with corrections and pages from his relevant documents and photograph base.

No complete aircraft photos of 44-70285 are known to exist, and many paintings have been completed showing different Glenn Miller Norseman markings. My interpretation would be based on the intense research conducted by Mr. Dennis Spragg and the Glenn Miller Archives at Boulder, University of Colorado, and Mr. Alan Cass. The Glenn Miller Norseman aircraft 44-70285 was the 550th aircraft constructed at Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in early July 1944.


Departure RAF Twinwood Farm at 1:55 pm, 15 December 1944.


The flight was charted over Beachy Head, England, via the normal American transport flight path. It did not reappear over Fecamp, France, [between 57 and 58 on map] on the other side of the English Channel, the standard route for American transport aircraft flight.

Photo sent by Dennis M. Spragg, showing Alconbury ground crew S/Sgt. Arthur Nanas posing with right foot on left wheel strut of Norseman #44-70285. Nanas testified the Norseman had maintenance repair on 12 December 1944, due to carburetor de-icing equipment malfunction, which was common in the UC-64A Norseman. The Board of Inquiry took this documented maintenance information into account when determining possible causes of the 15 December 1944 accident.

Painting completed in Mexico on 22 January 2013.

Original skin from Norseman RCAF #494

The author painting was based on the recorded known facts combined with the relevant documents and investigation conducted by Mr. Dennis M. Spragg, Glenn Miller Archives, American Music Research Center, University of Colorado Boulder, USA. The painting was mailed to Mr. Spragg in April 2013 and passed on to Mr. Alan Cass, Glenn Miller Archives.


Due to the fact this Canadian art was painted on original skin from RCAF Norseman #949, the Noorduyn Aviation Insignia and #94 [construction number] were included in the painting. An original strip of skin from Norseman #949 was also sent to the Glenn Miller Archives in an attempt to determine how many years the original skin of Norseman 44-70285 might survive in the English Channel.  RCAF Norseman #494 spent 46 years in fresh water at Allen Lake, [N.W.T.] Northwest Territories, Canada. The author’s surviving original #494 silver painted skin looked and felt like new material.


The RCAF was very slow to order their first Norseman aircraft, which had been offered to the Canadian Government in 1937, by Noorduyn himself, as a Canadian advanced trainer. Canadian officials still looked to Britain for building cheaper obsolete aircraft, and shipping British manufactured engines across the ocean, due to the simple fact Canadian’s could not manufacture top quality aircraft engines. The first major RCAF contracts came in May 1940, when 47 Mk. IV Norseman were ordered for navigational trainers. In total 759 Norseman were constructed for the USAAF and 79 for the RCAF. After fifty years of searching for a few good nose art examples that were painted on the famous Canadian [Thunder-Chicken] Norseman, I can still only find one, and it appeared in the RCAF at Gander, Newfoundland, which was not even part of Canada. I call this special forgotten simple “Canada Goose” Norseman aircraft nose art, “The Thunder Gander.”

The years between the two World Wars saw a great deal of turmoil in the Dominion of Newfoundland, which saw it revert back to the status of a British Crown colony. The “Rock” had become the Dominion of Newfoundland on 26 September 1907, but staggering under horrendous debt, they gave-up on self-governing and selected British rule by an appointed Commission of Government, with three members from Newfoundland and three from United Kingdom. In 1935, the Newfoundland airport originated in a signed agreement between Canada, United Kingdom, the free state of Ireland, and Newfoundland. In 1936, construction of the airbase commenced beside Gander Lake, and adjacent to the Newfoundland Railway line, which was very important for building supplies, etc. When the British Government declared war on Germany, 3 September 1939, Newfoundland was a British colony and this automatically brought Newfoundland into a state of war against Germany, seven days before the Canadian government declared war. With the United Kingdom struggling for survival and unable to find the resources to defend an invasion of Newfoundland, [Labrador] who had no money for any defence, negotiations for Canadian protection began. In May 1940, the Newfoundland airport was the largest in the world and with the fall of France, the defence of Newfoundland became even more precarious. As soon as an agreement for protection from Canada was signed by the Government of Newfoundland, the Newfoundland airport was placed under control of the RCAF and Canadian Department of Transport personnel. The RCAF moved in on 5 May 1941, Commanding Officer Group/Capt. A. Lewis, while most of the buildings were still under construction at RCAF Station, Newfoundland Airport. On 1 November 1941, the name in the Daily Diary becomes RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland. On 1 December, the first edition of the station magazine is published, title – The “Gander” RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland.


The first RCAF Gander base aircraft, a D.H. Fox Moth arrives on 17 December, given RCAF Instructional Airframe #A135.

The second edition Vol. 1, #2, arrives in early January 1942, complete with impressive cover art of a flying Goose by squadron artist Sgt. R.G. Falconer.


The back cover contains a single drawing of a Canada Goose, wearing a pilot helmet, and saluting with his right wing. This art by Sgt. Falconer becomes an instant hit with all members, and the RCAF Gander will now become the mascot, badge, insignia, trademark, and even rare aircraft nose art at RCAF Gander, Newfoundland.

Crest Craft in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, manufactured a number of different “Gander” crests which were worn by RCAF members from Canada and Newfoundland with pride.

The next Crest Craft design was created for the Gander Signals Section, a rare “Ganderia Wogosid” wireless bird.

In July 1934, Imperial Airways of London, England, purchased two D.H. 83 aircraft equipped with floats, for operation in the Newfoundland Government Air Service. In August 1934, they were registered as VO-ABC [#4093] and VO-ADE [#4094]. While anchored during a windstorm, 25 September 1934, both aircraft were damaged by a log boom and VO-ABC could not be repaired. VO-ADE was salvaged and required extensive repairs before returning to service. On 11 January 1938, VO-ADE made the first inauguration flight into the new Newfoundland Airport, and this history can be found online.

This free domain image dated 12 January 1938, records the special aviation moment, and the special markings on D.H. Fox Moth VO-ADE. The special orange markings on the Fox Moth can be found online in model sites and other fine publications. This aircraft made the last official Newfoundland Government Air Service flight from St. John’s to Gander on 24 February 1941, and was then turned over to RAF Ferry Command. On 17 December 1941, the Fox Moth was taken on strength at RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, and used as an Instructional Airframe, given RCAF # A135. At some unknown date the aircraft was painted RCAF yellow and received the famous nose art of the Newfoundland Gander.

The author believes these were the possible RCAF colours applied to A135, but photos are very hard to find. In 1944, F/O Horace William “Jimmy” Westaway C10734, RCAF Gander Mercy Flight pilot, had his photo taken in front of Fox Moth A135. This image was found in the Daily Diary and is very bad quality, however it confirms the unofficial “Gander” nose art did in fact appear on the famous Fox Moth airframe. The correct colours of the aircraft striping are unknown. This trainer aircraft did not require any RCAF code letters of national markings, only the A135 which most likely appeared on the tail fin. Any RCAF images of this aircraft would be appreciated by the author. The RCAF Fox Moth was damaged beyond repair at Gander Bay on 22 February 1944, struck off strength by Government of Newfoundland on 24 October 1945.

The first Norseman #2479 to arrive at RCAF Gander was the 52nd built, assigned to No. 12 Squadron, Rockcliffe and Search and Rescue Command on 9 March 1942. Taken on strength Gander in mid-July 1942, crashed at Ochre Pit Cove, [near St. John’s] Newfoundland, 21 August 1942.



Norseman #3527, the 71st built was assigned to No. 3 Training Command 14 September 1942, placed into reserve storage, arrived RCAF Gander in early April 1943. Flew Newfoundland training and mercy flights the next five months. On 19 September 43, transferred to E.A.C. and assigned No. 121 “C” Squadron. Flew in Western Canada [Alberta] until 12 June 1947. Destroyed in No. 1 Hangar fire at Edmonton, Alberta. [#2485 was also destroyed in fire].

On 7 October 1942, two D.H. 82C Tiger Moth aircraft with floats were taken on strength at RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, used for rescue work. It is unknown if these different aircraft, Norseman #2479, Lysander #447, and Tiger Moth float planes #9693 and #9695 ever carried RCAF Gander nose art. [Needs research]

RCAF #491, the 91st constructed Norseman, 9 September 42, arrived Eastern Air Command on 7 November 42, to RCAF Gander April 1943. Category “A” accident at Torbay, Newfoundland, 26 October 1944. The author believes this Norseman possibly carried the first unofficial RCAF Gander nose art, however photos are required for proof.

The fourth and last Norseman assigned RCAF Gander on 13 August 1943, the 138th built, serial RCAF #789. Constructed for the USAAF the aircraft was Lend-Least to the RCAF for Air-Sea rescue missions.


Photo – Gander RCAF magazine Summer 1945

Constructed for the USAAF as 43-5147, delivered 10 June 1943, and then lend-lease to the RCAF, receiving serial #789, arrived RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, August 1943. RCAF pilot F/O “Jimmy” Westaway was posted to RCAF Gander on 13 June 1943, and this became his main “Mercy” flight sea/rescue aircraft.

Norseman RCAF #789 was painted with impressive “Gander” nose art.

The main pilot for “Mercy” flights was Officer-Commanding RCAF Air-Sea rescue at Gander, Flying Officer “Jimmy” Westaway. The second pilot was F/O Labreche, and the mechanic, who flew on all missions was Cpl. Upton, [above] with nose art on Norseman #789. The 6 September 1944, rescue flight was published in RCAF Wings magazine September the same year, with F/O Westaway standing beside “Gander” nose art on trainer RCAF Fox Moth #A135.


The RCAF Gander, Newfoundland, continued to be used in Victory Loan drive art and even the Officer’s Christmas Menu for 1945.



The RCAF Gander insignia appeared on the rear cover of the Gander magazine on the last issue published in June 1945. The USAAF side of the base even copied and used the same insignia on two humorous certificates [Master Fog Eater] issued for time posted in Newfoundland.


The little Canadian nose art lady “Sierra Sue” landed at Gander on her return to Canada from England. RCAF Lancaster Mk. X serial KB746, VR-S [for Sue] flew the fourth most trips of all Canadian built Lancaster’s, surviving 68 operations. Above photos taken at Pearce, Alberta, September 1945, where “Sue” was scrapped two years later.


In the summer of 1945, [August] RCAF Gander demobilized while the airport remained an important commercial transport landing base. As the years passed, the WWII RCAF Gander was slowly forgotten and just disappeared. The military returned in 1957, however a Gander did not reappear until 1 April 1993, the date CFB Gander was renamed 9 Wing Gander with an official flying Goose insignia and badge. RCAF history had repeated itself with a design close to the original that was created in December 1941, for a foreign country, Newfoundland.

The Flying Gander created by RCAF artist Sgt. R.G. Falconer in December 1941, [when Newfoundland was a British Colony] once again flies with 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. On 1 April 1924, the prefix “Royal” was officially adopted to the Canadian Air Force, and 1 April 2024 marks their 100th Birthday. The original Gander insignia is eighty-three years old.

Author replica “Gander” painting on original Norseman aircraft skin from RCAF #494, aircraft preserved today at Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, Alberta. Will the WWII “Thunder Gander” even fly over Newfoundland again?  How about April 2024, the 100th Anniversary of the RCAF, over to you “Mother Goose” [Lt. Colonel Lydia Evequoz] C.O. of 9 Wing Gander Newfoundland, Canada. This nose art flew with the first RCAF sea/rescue flight at Gander, Newfoundland, 1942-45.

Mentioned in Despatched

Clarence Simonsen is sharing this February 1943 issue of Mentioned in Despatched.


Painting by Clarence Simonsen


Transcription (all transcriptions will be added later).


In one month, not so long ago, over 500 aircraft were involved in accidents. As a result, these aircraft were put out of action for periods ranging from half a day to eternity. This means that, in one month, over 500 aircraft – DOUBLE THE COMPLETE PRE-WAR STRENGTH OF THE RCAF – were rendered useless to us for the work in hand. Meanwhile, the war goes on just that much more slowly.


This 70 per cent resulted from :

You know the type of accident we mean …

INSTRUCTOR forgets to lower undercarriage and fails to see airmen flashing red lights.

A “C” crash.

INSTRUCTOR carries out unauthorized low flying. Aircraft stalls in steep turn close to the ground.

Aircraft and instructor lost.

INSTRUCTOR taxying too fast, runs off end of runway, hits rough ground, wipes out undercarriage.

INSTRUCTOR taxies into gasoline tender.

INSTRUCTOR fails to hold control column back while running up engine. Machine goes up on nose.

INSTRUCTOR fails to notice parked aircraft and whacks into its propellor while demonstrating gliding approach.

Not one of those accidents had to happen. Yet there, are hundreds like them,and this dismal story seems to drag on ad infinitum. Leadership must come from your instructors. Then, and only then, can you reasonably hope for the pupils you dream about.


Painting by Clarence Simonsen



They say this chap’s face is still red,

He and two stupils were up instrumenting. The laddie under the hood couldn’t keep the Crane straight. It kept swinging to the left.

Our instructor (#11 SFTS) took control, and found that not only did it want to go to the left, but that it’s nose was heavy. Also, as he expressed it, he “felt a surging.”

So he cried “Jump, jump,”‘ in duly-prescribed fashion.

And out they all went.

The Cessna – well, believe it or not, the Cessna made “an almost normal landing.”

All by itself, too.

Investigators said the controls operated normally, though perhaps they were a bit stiff.

Command commented: “All symptoms described are those which occur when the door of a Crane is inadvertently left open … It is believed this may have been the cause of the strange behavior of the aircraft.”

Court of inquiry said: “The crash was due to an excited pilot ….”

An excited pilot – with over 500 hours!!!

Yes, McGurk takes great pleasure in awarding this month’s BOOT for the above performance.


Painting by Clarence Simonsen



We don’t like to think that instructors and pupils are flipping coins to see who’ll look out for other aircraft while in the air.

But they certainly seem to be doing something of the sort.

It has been found necessary at one school (No. 1 SFTS) to suggest that “STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS ARE TO WARN EACH OTHER OF AIRCRAFT IN THE VICINITY.”

This suggestion followed an accident which occurred after the the toss (presumably) resulted in a tie. Anyway, no one was looking. Two Harvards, each containing an instructor and a pupil, were flying very close to each other..


One plane dropped.

One flew back.

Luckily, nobody was hurt.

Painting by Clarence Simonsen



If you don’t want to live – O.K.

But PLEASE remember the aircraft!



If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Look at this –

A navigation instructor was “stooging along,” stressing the differences between a river and a main highway, when one engine stopped.

Unable to maintain height on the other, he promptly whipped into the correct forced-landing procedure, and was all set to put her down when – a bunch of cattle stampeded in front of him.

Instead of coming to a graceful rest on the greensward, the aircraft achieved a gloomy end in a coulee.

A complete wreck.

They say the pilot no longer eats beef.


Painting by Clarence Simonsen



Read these, fellows …




Our second instructor (No. 8 SFTS) was also giving a masterly demonstration of low-flying. Apparently he’d never heard of 250 feet either that, or he thought it sissy stuff.

But anyway


Yes, his logbook was endorsed,

And yet again:

The sergeant (No. 32 SFTS) was showing the eager student how to low fly in perfect safety while navigating, map-reading, pin pointing, etc. at the same time…




When you get that low, you might, as well. take a train.





More crashes found on the Internet.
















Another Clarence Simonsen’s painting


July 1943 issue of Mentioned in Despatched found on the Internet .



You may not know this, chaps, but people have been shot down right in their own circuit.

Yes, when only a few moments away from a quick snort and a good meal they and their aircraft have been turned into a heap of rubbish by an enemy sharpshooter.

There was only one reason –



Fighter pilots who have lived to fight another day will tell you that when in the combat area, and even at home,


That is, if you want to live.

That “looking around” habit is one you MUST develop now.

There are no enemy planes, but there are plenty of pilots around who seem to think their eyes are for ogling girls only, certainly not for watching out for other aircraft.

Despite the fact there’s enough sky to give each aircraft a few million cubic feet, there were about 50 mid-air collisions during the last six months.


In four days four collisions took 12 lives.

Somebody didn’t look around.

From his first flight, a student should be taught to keep his head swinging as though on a pivot. Slap hangar duty at him if he doesn’t.

And you staff pilots and instructors don’t you be afraid of straining your necks either.

It’s good insurance.





THIS ONE (No. 1 OTU) was flying in formation when his engine, with a disheartening cough, quit. Our pilot and his Hurricane wound up most ungracefully amid the rocks and shrubbery. A quick cockpit check (on the ground) showed his reserve tank empty– his main tanks FULL.


THIS ONE (No. 32 SETS) couldn’t make his starboard undercarriage light turn green. He took “preliminary emergency measures”, but still no green. So in he whistled on his belly. The landing wasn’t bad, but not half as good as the one he could have made with his wheels down had he used the emergency undercarriage system.

THIS ONE (No. 1 NAG) was lumbering along in his Swordfish when he spotted another Swordfish. He decided a bit of formation might be in order. The fact that the pilot in the other machine didn’t know anything about it would add to the sport. So up he pounded.

He overshot.

He also struck the other plane with his tail. 

“BAD AND CARELESS FLYING”, said the report.


THIS ONE (No. 35 EFTS) was really hot stuff. With 1,000 hours, he didn’t need as much take-off run for his Tigerschmitt as others normally did. SO-O-O-, even though there was no wind, he allowed himself only 200 yards.


THESE TWO (both instructors at No. 13 EFTS) were enlivening an otherwise dull afternoon with a spot of low flying up a river. They didn’t get burned when they hit the high tension wires, but were in for a real scorching when they arrived back at the airport. The accident was ascribed to

1. Low flying.





THIS ONE (No. 9 B and G) is no more. He decided to visit his home village by air. To make sure everyone saw him, he went down low, and circled the place. Hundreds of people looked up and waved. He probably waved too. On the third round he hit some telephone wires, then a house, then piled into a wharf.


It was his first solo flight on the type.

THIS ONE (a student at No. 34 EFTS) is probably wondering if it’s really worthwhile. He got lost in bad weather and with loss of much sweat and perhaps some hair set his Moth down in a big field – – unharmed. His instructor came to fly it out. He wrecked it shooting up the field.


THIS ONE (another young innocent – – No. 23 EFTS) also got lost in poor weather. He did a quite good precautionary, breaking only his prop. The chief instructor, a flight lieutenant, flew the Cornell back to the airport. He wiped out the undercarriage and propeller on the signal area. We admit the visibility wasn’t the best.

THESE TWO (No. 7 EFTS) were taking off out of a field. They failed to notice a single wire in their path. This slowed the aircraft down. The boys finished up on their back. A five-foot fence was credited with the assist.

Both pilots got an endorsement.




THIS ONE (a flight looie with 1200 hours  – – at No. 1 OTU) led a formation of two Hurricanes on an exercise over the Lake St.John area. They flew merrily about for a while, then changed over, flew about for another 20 minutes, changed over again. They had been going around in circles so long, they didn’t know where they were, despite the fact it was the only large lake in the area, and familiar to both. So they separated. No. 2 man flew east and landed safely.

The flight looie flew round and round until his fuel ran out. Then he landed, wheels up, in a field. 



McGurk takes great pride in awarding No. 3 B and G the wooden medal for the “suggestion of the month”.

Two pupils wandered into a Battle prop. One was killed, one hurt.

They had failed to look around when walking across the taxi strip, even though looking about is almost effortless and definitely worthwhile.


A flight lieutenant, for OC flying, recommended, as means of…


…avoiding future similar accidents : –


Perhaps nurses to feed them would be helpful, too.


It isn’t often that McGurk, Pontifex Maximus of Flight, finds himself without words.


Not that he is “windy”, as the vulgar would say. But he is generally able to come through with the proper though perhaps caustic comment for a particularly flagrant performance.

However, in the following shocking case, he feels that the words of the station itself (No. 9 EFTS) are ample.

He contents himself with announcing that the instructor involved is awarded

The Boot

The report reads :

The instructor (with 1100 hours–ed.) was giving dual on forced and precautionary landings.

“After a practice approach WHEN HE ALLOWED THE AIRCRAFT TO COME WITHIN 20 FEET OF THE GROUND, the instructor levelled off and opened the throttle to gain speed. AT THIS POINT HE ceased giving instruction on forced landings and STARTED TO PREPARE THE STUDENT FOR INSTRUMENT FLYING BY TELLING HIM TO GET UNDER THE HOOD.

“The instructor was then taking over control.

“By this time the aircraft had flown across the forced landing field and was nearing the windward side where there are trees approximately 30 feet high. Noticing he was close to them, he pulled up (really quick thinking – McGurk) and opened the throttle fully.

The engine coughed, and apparently lost power momentarily due…



… to the rapid opening of the throttle. By this time the airspeed was close to the stall and the left wing dropped. Noticing this (remarkable perception McGurk), the instructor attempted to right the aircraft. At this point the throttle was fully opened and the engine had started to pick up.



“The aeroplane slipped inward, turned to the left, struck some trees, then some hydro wires and


Reading it, McGurk, who admite his own flying is faultless, just shook his head.

When his Oxford started to shake and lose height, our instructor (No. 32 SETS) figured it high time to get down.

He did – crashing on landing.

Technical examination showed no reason for the shuddering. Other pilots experienced the shakes, too, attributing it to “weather inversion caused by rapidly rising temperature.”

So investigators reported:

“…….THE VIBRATION WAS CAUSED BY AN INVERSION and the pilot jumped to the conclusion there was something radically wrong with the aircraft. He forced-landed immediately without a careful and Intelligent inspection as to the cause of vibration”.

Cloudy Joe, in his lofty eyrie in Penquin Palace, is upset no end. He says: “an inversion means peace and serenity,not turbulence”.




It may be the pupils.

Perhaps it’s the instructors. it might even be pixies.

But whatever it is, the boys at no. 11 EFTS recently seemed to be finding it a bit difficult to make a good landing.

In five days the poor old Finch took an awful beating. Aircraft ended up in nearly every conceivable position.

There were only so many things that can be done incorrectly while landing. 

They were all nearly done.

Read these :-

Student on his first solo on wheels landed in 150 degree crosswind (their own words) with slight drift. The aircraft swung to the right and the left wing went down. He applied corrective measures too late. The left wing dug into the ground.


Student landed too far up on the field. tried to change direction at high speed.


Student failed to correct swing after a crosswind landing. THE AIRCRAFT groundlooped violently and went up on its back.

During the landing run the student evidently touched his brakes




While landing, the student’s right wing dropped. In the attempt to recover he overcontrolled, causing the aircraft to FLIP ON ITS BACK.

The student evidently landed with his feet on the brakes. There was a 60 degree crosswind at the time. The left wing dropped. In attempting to correct, brakes were applied.


The student overcontrolled on his second solo, and GROUNDLOOPED.

The student bounced, stalled, and did not use corrective measures.


The pupil swerved on his landing run, applied rudder in the direction of the turn.


And you’ll like this last one :

“When practising a precautionary landing at the airport, the student came in high (10 feet) and closed his throttle immediately after going over the boundary fence.

“The instructor attempted to ease the aircraft down with throttle, but the engine wouldn’t respond. The aircraft hit hard, and fractured the right oleo leg.”


My My!

Frankly, we think a 10-foot.





My, my, life is embarrassing at times!

Look at this :

During a night take-off the Anson (No. 7 B and G) swung violently to the right, the undercart crunching like an eggshell.

But that wasn’t all.



By the light of the flaming plane (it was just about 1 a.m.) the pilot explained that seizure of the starboard brake caused the swing.

And just read this :

A staff pilot and four others (No. 4 AOS) were on a night cross country. It was snowing quite hard and the pilot was letting down to get a definite pinpoint.

His navigator told him to go easy, as the land was a bit higher at this point.

The pilot levelled out.

But it was too late.

As he turned to the left, the wing tip hit something and everything went black.

When daylight came, investigators nearly fainted when they saw where the plane had gone.






The pilot admitted :

“I was concentrating so hard on the direction gyro, artificial horizon and airspeed indicator


And this is good, too :

Our instructors were on the BA course at No. 1 IFS. They were so senior, and so good (1400 hrs.) they could fly without thinking.

That’s just what they were doing.

They were on the final approach, and at 250 feet when the port engine out.



The Oxford took matters into its own hands.


Said the “pilots”:

“We were so intent on the beam procedure WE FAILED TO SWITCH ON THE AUXILIARY PETROL TANKS.”

Frightful, isn’t it!


Clarense Simonsen is also sharing this January 1944 issue of Mentioned in Despatched.



Our subject for today is donkeys.

Not the kind with the big long ears, but the kind that need only those ears to make the resemblance complete.

These are the flying donkeys.

The antics they pull in the air are described as “asinine.” Any dictionary will tell you that asinine means “pertaining to asses,” or “belonging to, or resembling the ass.”

Frankly, we hardly think it fair to put the harmless and very useful long-eared donkey in the same class as the short-eared flying donkey.


No self-respecting long-eared donkey would think of doing the things that the short-eared type pull off in their flying machines high in the air or very close to the ground.

There are all kinds of flying donkeys.

There is the show-off type, such as this one which flew Harvards at No. 13 S.F.T.S.

Now most donkeys are very hard to get going, and they aren’t steeplechase material at the best. Manoeuvreable would hardly be the word to describe them. But this donkey wanted to show the world how fast he was; how he could run rings around a speed artist like a train.



He shot this way and that way, and over and alongside – all at 200 feet.

Then he did three slow rolls.


Most donkeys are the dare-devil I-don’t-give-a-damn-for-rules and-regulations type. Frequently they are paranoiacs, with an emphasis on the delusions of persecution. They think everybody is just out to spoil their fun.

DEATH never deters them.

If some donkey smears himself doing something which the book of rules warns is bad medicine, the other donkeys never concede that there must be something in that regulation after all.


They conclude that their late friend, Joe Donkey, forgot to look at his airspeed, or did something equally stupid, and they would never be as careless as that.


This donkey (late of No. 31 B. and G.) thought regulations against aero batting twin-engine aircraft a lot of twaddle.


He’ll never do it again.

But even before the body was cold, so to speak, another donkey, (No. 9 S.F.T.S.) was doing the same thing. This donkey (who survived to be the main feature of a court-martial) was an even bigger donkey from another standpoint.

He was due to graduate in a week – AS TOP MAN.


And, of course no list of aerobatic donkeys would be complete without that at No. 8 B.


This desire to be close to the ground has, of course, killed a lot of donkeys.


This donkey (No. 19 S.F.T.S.) was on a low-level cross-country flight, and his student got somewhat off track.

While the student pin-pointed, our donkey friend decided to take in a baseball game. He couldn’t read the names on the program sheet, and he just had to know who was playing, so he went a little lower,


Other fielders had to flop to the ground.

Another low-flying member (No. 32 E.F.T.S.) of the donkey fraternity sighted a car belonging to friends roaring along the highway. He thought he’d say how-do-you-do.

Since theirs was a very close friendship, the greeting had to be warm. He whacked the top of the car.

And in the midst of all these salutations, a telephone wire reared its ugly head. The donkey couldn’t get over, so he tried to go under.




This donkey (No. 118 Squadron, Sea Island, B.C.) was ordered up to 25,000 feet to do an oxygen test.



It seems that after he’d been up that high, he decided to come down a bit to improve his sight before landing. As his sight got better, he spotted a fishing vessel and noticed it had no identification. And as his sight sharpened he noticed. “an unusual number of men on deck.”



The next donkey of whom we are going to speak was a senior member of the tribe. He was an instructor at No. 1 F.I.S. and is now, so far as the R.C.A.F. is concerned, a member of the great unemployed.

He took off in a Harvard at 9 p.m. and the donkey in him took control.


And out he went.

This donkey (No. 13 E.F.T.S.) has a passion for livestock. He loves farms and everything connected thereto.

Apparently that’s why he descended to 25-50 feet over a farm recently, though at the court-martial he said no. He stated that while pounding along at 2000 feet, minding his own business, he saw some people on the ground. One of them was holding something white, and waving.

“Think that SOMEONE MIGHT BE IN DISTRESS,” and he might get an A.F.C. out of it,


His friends, the livestock, scattered,

After shooting hither and thither for a few moments, just nicely off the ground, he decided that it was just a false alarm, and that the people were just waving at him.


Another lover of farm life was this donkey (No. 3 S.F.T.S.). Instead of doing a bombing exercise, as ordered, he did a few steep turns then hurried down to the donkey tribe’s natural level –


Livestock and people went in all directions.

He said he wanted to be a fighter pilot.

There’s a good chance he won’t fly at all.

Being a family man, himself, this donkey (No. 16 S.F.T.S.) thought he’d like to visit his home in view of the fact this was his last trip ere graduation. His home was Toronto, and of course he had to go down low enough to get the house number or otherwise he might bother the other residents by mistake.


Four times he roared low over the general area, undoubtedly having difficulty in getting the number as there was a tree or garbage pail or something in the way.

Kids were screaming to high heaven.



He didn’t.


An instructor donkey (No. 4 S.F.T.S.) was down on a low-level cross-country flight when a school house came into his sights, so to speak. The school house brought back old memories to him, so he thought he’d give the youngsters a slight relief from the general tedium.


The donkey said he noticed the kids waving and being a hero worshipper himself, he gave them a few sharp short turns. And, he admits, THEY LOVED IT.


Now we want to tell you about a very rare type of donkey. This donkey (No. 8 A.O.S.) was not a pilot, but an observer. However, flying looked pretty simple to him, so he climbed into an Anson, and away he went. This, of course, very, very solo.

2 hours.

He was up for

He got quite a reception on landing, and many plans had already been made for recognition of the flight.

They included the court-martial.



A pilot (No. 5 B & G), asked by a visiting flight to fly a certain compass course, couldn’t set the required course on the verge ring. Asked how he flew a course, our pilot replied: “Oh. I always have a pupil bomb timer set it for DI”. And he’d been flying on exercises for eight months, too.




An instructor (No. 17 S.F.T.S.), he landed his Anson, to discover that he had no brakes. However, he decided that he would be a “hot pilot”, rather than a smart pilot –

He’d taxi without brakes.

After all, when you’re the confident, determined type, like our hero, brakes are just something else to wear out.

Going straight down the taxi strip was simple. But then he started turning corners, and weaving between other aircraft, etc., etc., etc.


He was picking his way through two rows of parked aircraft when, to his dismay, he noticed that “a collision was imminent”, which means, in the language of the street, that he was about to smear another aircraft. He banged open the port throttle.



Then he groundlooped.








This Flight Lieutenant (No. 12 S.F.T.S.) with over 1000 hours. thought he’d save a little time on take-off and get his under cart up a bit ahead of time.

Besides, it’d

reduce his drag, and get him up faster.


on his belly !

Said his station : “It is impossible to instil common sense in a pilot of such experience. With an ordinary amount of common sense this accident would never have occurred.


Our pupil (No. 41 S.F.T.S.) was doing steep turns, and after getting himself thoroughly tied up in circles, he came out to learn that he didn’t know where he was. He hunted here, and scurried there, and finally, since his gas was running low, he landed in a field – WHEELS DOWN- NOSE DOWN.

He DID NOT carry maps.

This instructor (late of No. 31 E.F.T.S.) spun in and died. So did his pupil.


This student (No. 10 E.F.T.S.) was doing circuits and bumps (with an emphasis on the bumps) in a Moth. On one circuit, he dropped his wailing aircraft in from a great height, but figured that since it would still run there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong.



His next landing was a beaut.


A staff pilot (No.33 A.N.S.) landed downwind, overshot and whacked a fence. As he cringed from the wreckage, he admitted he’d seen the landing T “but made a little mistake.”


Another instructor (No. 33 S.F.T.S.) was demonstrating single engine landings. He removed the horn fuse so he could hear himself think. He obviously didn’t hear a peep; that is, not until he saw his props gradually whittle themselves down to hub size along the tortured runway. The silence must have lulled him into a false sense of security, for


Generally one demonstrates stalling at 1000 feet ONLY ONCE.

This pilot (No. 2 W.S.) found that out.


This pupil (No. 13 E.F.T.S.) got permission to take off, and was so happy about the whole thing he didn’t care where he did it.


The roar of the engine was exceeded only by the roar as he tore into the taxi post.




Another pupil (No. 6 E.F.T.S.) was doing medium turns, and on recovering from one (his last), his port wing dropped and his Tigerschmitt started slipping toward earth.

This was all very strange.

No matter what our student tried, the aircraft apparently just didn’t want to come out, and thinking that the whole world was about to fall apart, OUR STUDENT BAILED OUT.


This instructor (late of No. 10 E.F.T.S.) apparently wanted to see where a certain river ran to. So that he wouldn’t miss anything he went right down over the water.


He died.

So did his pupil.

Yet another instructor (No. 7 S.F.T.S.) saw smoke issuing from his port engine, and presumed it was on fire. So he promptly shut down that engine, and headed back for the airport. So far so good.


He was so excited he forgot that sequence popularly described as a downwind check.




We’d like to tell you about a staff pilot (No. 1 C.N.S.) who had poor eyesight.

He’s dead now.

So are EIGHT other people.

This pilot was given glasses to wear because his eyesight wasn’t good enough without them.

But he never wore them.

He didn’t like them.


We’re not blaming him entirely.


However, it is reasonable to presume that had the other pilot worn his glasses he would have seen the other plane, and there’d have been no collision.

“Without the glasses,” said the Medical Officer, “his vision would not have been good enough for night flying.”

Glasses are not given to fill up your pockets.

They’re provided to wear.


Wireless Air Gunners War Art

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Wireless Air Gunners War Art

Click on the link above for the PDF version

Text version with all the images

Wireless Air Gunners War Art

From October 1940 to March 1945, 18,496 Wireless/Air Gunners were trained in four RCAF Wireless Schools in Canada. Aircrew W.S. graduates by country were:

RCAF – 12,744,

Royal Australian Air Force – 2,875,

Royal New Zealand Air Force – 2,122,

Royal Air Force – 755.

Today [2022] a large part of RCAF Wireless School training history is still preserved in forgotten photo albums in Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada. Please share and help the author preserve our past, mostly lost aircraft markings and art from the war era.

The majority of young RCAF aircrew volunteers began their wartime career at the local RCAF Recruiting Centre, which was full of inspiring WWII air force painted poster art. Secretly, each one wanted to be the handsome hero pilot painted on many posters, but only a selected few would become pilots, and the majority would become bomber pilots, not fighter pilots. The BCATP trained 131,533 aircrew members in Canada, which included 49,808 pilots, 29,963 navigators, 18,496 Wireless Air Gunners, 15,674 Air Bombers, and 14,996 Air Gunners.

In 1940, the aircrew selection began with the recruiting officers, who accepted candidates in two broad categories “Pilot or Navigator.” Next came a Manning Depot, and after five weeks the recruit learned the basic elements of life in the RCAF. The course at Initial Training School lasted another four weeks, class room lectures, navigation, mathematics, armament, aerodynamics, mixed with parade square foot drill and daily physical training to keep in shape. The final and vital concern to all trainees was the sorting of students into five aircrew categories, and deciding for some they would remain on the ground and never fly.

Once again the RCAF used official training poster drawings which stressed the importance of teamwork and working together in aircrew positions. In the first 166 recruits who entered No. 1 Initial Training School on 29 April 1940, eight failed, ninety-two were chosen as pilot, forty-one air observer [air navigator] and twenty-five wireless operator/air gunner.

No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal, Quebec

The first wireless operator/air gunner trainees were sent to No. 1 Wireless School at Montreal, Quebec. First formed at Trenton, Ontario, in January 1937, the Wireless School transferred to Montreal, beginning 16 February 1940, [advance party] with the new formed Flying Squadron located at St. Hubert, Quebec. After twenty-four weeks of wireless instruction and in-flight training, the first wartime class graduated from Montreal on 16 August 1940. They now attended four weeks of gunnery training at a bombing and gunnery school, then off to England.

During this early BCATP construction and growing period, the training of wireless / air gunners was a haphazard learning experience and many arrived overseas never using the equipment they would fly with on combat operations. On 20 December 1940, a simple line in the Daily Dairy read – “2,000 copies of the new No. 1 Wireless “Review” newsletter was distributed to unit personnel.

The front cover came with a new unit insignia created by artists LAC A.E. Danes and AC2 Woodman the school cartoonist.

The first RCAF Wireless School “unofficial” unit insignia designed by RCAF members in Canada. Coloured by the author, which gives a better idea of this first created wireless image which most likely appeared on Mess walls and possibly even painted on trainer aircraft, or beside the W.A.G. poem of 1941.

On 3 March 1941, LAC Woodman drew a page dedicated to the Staff of the Newsletter, including the two artists who created No. 1 Wireless School Insignia.

A busy [cartoon] training day at No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal, 3 April 1941.

“Personalities” cartoons from LAC Woodman, W.A.G. Class 9A.

The first twenty-three DH 82C-2 Menasco Moth II aircraft constructed were all assigned to No. 1 Wireless School at Montreal, St. Hubert Airport. Menasco Moth II #4816-4817 and 4818 arrived St. Hubert on 3 January 1941. On 22 January 41 Moth – #4812-4813-4814-4819-4821 and 4822 arrived. The next day #4810-4815 and 4820 arrived, all recorded in Daily Diary.

DH.82C-2 Menasco Moth I, [ten built] D-4 Super Pirate 125 h.p. inline inverted 4-cylinder engine. Opposite rotation of propeller and reversal of the cowling openings.

DH.82C-4 Menasco Moth II, [125 built] same as the DH82C-2 but with reduced fuel capacity and minor alterations for wireless radios.

DH.82C-4 Menasco Moth III [one built – serial 4934] fitted with American AT-1/AR-2 radio, which was intended to be a radio trainer. Cancelled when British Gipsy Major engines arrived at de Havilland, [Toronto] Canada.

The ten DH 82C-2 Moth I trainers built by de Havilland in Toronto, Ontario, assigned RCAF 15 May and 11 June 1941.

Only one DH 82C-2 Menasco Moth I was assigned to No. 1 W.S. Flying Squadron at St. Hubert, Quebec, serial #4943.

Grant Macdonald was an official War Artist and one of Canada’s most famous portrait artists. This is his self-portrait completed in December 1943. He drew and painted men and women in all three services of Canada. His WWII sketch art sells for average $1,000 on today’s market.

Grant Macdonald came to No. 1 W.S. in 1942 and completed a number of drawings.


On 14 September 1944, No. 1 Wireless School moved to Mount Hope, Ontario, [today home of Warplane Heritage] where they operated until 31 October 1945. The new magazine was called “The Circuit.”

The cover art for No. 2 Wireless School at Calgary, Alberta. [The complete author history with school art can be found on Preserving the Past II]



No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary, AB, “W.A.G. magazine” contains some very good art, insignia, maps, and cartoons. [Today the large collection is stored in archives at SAIT Campus, Calgary]

The Calgary Wireless School Flying Squadron was formed 6 January 1941, flying eight D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II trainers which had been ferried from Montreal, No. 1 Wireless School. They flew training flights from the Municipal Airport TCA [Trans Canada Airlines] hangar at RAF No. 35 SFTS North Calgary. [Later became No. 37 SFTS R.A.F. Calgary] On 12 May 1941 they moved to a hangar at No. 3 SFTS [RCAF] which is today the campus of Mount Royal University, Calgary. The third and final move was made on 25 November 1942, to “their own” RCAF No. 2 Wireless School Flying Squadron at Station Shepard, [South Calgary].

Today the WWII Wireless training base is a huge industrial area, however, the original C.P.R. Railway station, used by the RCAF during training, survives at Heritage Park, Calgary, Alberta. The author has been inside many times, sadly, the world visitors to Heritage Park have no idea it had roots with the W.A.G. trained in Calgary during WWII. The Flying Squadron also created a “Willie the Wolf” Walt Disney inspired training badge, which was manufactured by Crestcraft in Saskatoon, Sask. [A few Wolves survive, the author has seen them, but they are way over-priced by collectors]

No. 2 W.S. Flying Squadron at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, “The Shepard Wolves.”

No. 2 Wireless School Trumpet Band, March 1941, Calgary. [SAIT Archives]

Painting by author based on original cloth badge [from private collection] used at RCAF Shepard, Alberta, November 1942 to 30 March 1945.

The RCAF H-hut ‘Wolves’ living quarters [top] and Airmen’s Lounge, No. 2 W.S. Calgary.

This was the standard Combined Training graduation diploma presented at the four RCAF Wireless Schools in Canada by the RCAF. This New Zealand student at No. 2 Calgary graduated with 22 words per minute and no errors, Class 100, 9 February 1945. [SAIT Archives] I’m sure his life was spared, as the war would be over in Europe [three months] 8 May 1945.

No. 2 W.S. Calgary closed on 14 April 1945.

No. 3 Wireless School, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The wireless training at No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg was delayed because of inadequate facilities and an embarrassing shortage of training aircraft.  The first non-Canadian personnel trained under the BCATP in 1940 were forty Australian pilots. They were the vanguard of 9,606 who would sail to Vancouver, B.C., then disembark and board special trains for their RCAF trades training location across Canada. No. 3 W.S. at Winnipeg, Manitoba, was first selected as the main wireless training school for Australian and New Zealand recruits, and in the first year they outnumbered RCAF recruits four to one.

The Wireless Training rooms as described in their Daily Diary – 31 March 1941.


Aerial photo of No. 3 W.S. which appeared in the first issue of W.A.G. Vol. 1, #1 – December 1941.

On 1 March 1941, 118 New Zealand Air Force recruits arrived by train from Vancouver, B.C., and Course 13 began wireless training on 19 of the month, with 145 students. The R.N.Z.A.F. recruits were divided into four groups of 36 students and numbered Squadron 13, Flights A-B-C and D. The students in No. 13D Class [Flight] mailed a letter to Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, requesting a Disney Wireless Insignia for their training class. Disney artists would design over 1,200 insignia for American and Allied Nations in WWII.

[On file at Walt Disney Archives, Burbank, California, – 1986]

When Hank Porter [Disney artist] designed the Royal New Zealand Air Force Squadron No. 13 insignia, his choice of a Canadian Bear became an instant hit. The Insignia included a Canadian Brown Bear [Winnipeg] standing on a 500 lb. blue bomb, as he directs wireless signals to the ground. [The author has painted this replica wireless Bear many times, one hangs in the Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton, Alberta, and the second in the Western Canada Aviation Museum at Winnipeg, Manitoba] This Disney insignia is a big hit with museum visitors of all ages, and I’m sure it was painted on walls and a few trainer aircraft. The needed proof might still be contained in a long forgotten Australian or New Zealand photo album, like the image seen below.

Internet New Zealand Air Force Museum – MUS0604812. The inside of a RNZAF H-Hut at No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg, 1941. [Below] The Wireless Air Gunners badge they would earn on graduation.

On 31 March 1941, the RCAF trainees were out numbered by four to one, 290 New Zealand and Australians to 73 Canadians.

The BCATP number of training aircraft allotted to No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg, 19 December 1940.

The Canadian constructed D.H. 82C Tiger-Moth, Primary Training Biplane, was powered with a 130 H.P. Gipsy-Moth four cylinder in-line inverted air cooled engine. When British engine delivery to Canada stopped, 136 DH 82-C, T-Moth aircraft were fitted with American purchased Menasco D-4 Pirate engines, and became D.H. 82C-2 [ten built] and D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II trainers. One-hundred and twenty-five [serial #4810-4945, see list at end of history] were fitted with the D-4 Menasco Pirate 125 H.P. engine, and assigned to RCAF wireless schools for [air experience] wireless trainers.

Twenty-five D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II from the above block were assigned to No. 3 W.S. at Winnipeg in early April 1941. The ten marked in yellow were confirmed, including a rare survivor serial 4861, below DND Archives PCN-4631. [Can. Air and Space Museum at Ottawa]

On 18 May 1941, three flights from No. 3 W.S. Flying Squadron, D.H. Menasco Moth II aircraft took part in the Winnipeg Decoration parade. On 31 May 41, forty-four wireless trainees were given their first air experience training flight in five Norseman and twenty-one Menasco Moth II aircraft.  The R.N.Z.A.F. students from Squadron 13, Flights A-B-C- and D [Bear] began their wireless air training [air experience] on 13 July 1941, and graduated 1 August 1941.

This image from the WAG magazine December 1941, shows the very basic markings used on the Menasco Moth II trainers. Only a single trainer tail fin letter was painted on the Moth IIs.

D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II serial 4870 was taken on strength RCAF 29 March 1941, arrived No. 8 R.D. Winnipeg, 30 April and was assembled, assigned No. 3 W.S. Burnt 17 May 1944, at Winnipeg.

The first Canadian built Fleet Fort was taken on charge No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg on 4 April 1942 and in total forty-three would be used as trainers until 14 July 1944.

Air-to-air photo Fort 3614 which arrived No. 8 Repair Depot, Winnipeg, 23 February 1942. Caught fire mid-air made forced landing, scrapped 23 October 1943. [Norman Malayney]

Fort 3622 No. 3 W.S. Winnipeg. [Norman Malayney]

The Question remains: – “Was the Winnipeg “Wireless Bear” even painted on a Norseman, Menasco Moth or Fleet Fort Wireless Flying Squadron aircraft?” Replica on original Norseman skin painted by author for Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton, Alberta.

The new No. 3 W.S. insignia appears in 1943.

The W.S. closed at Winnipeg on 20 January 1945.

No. 4 Wireless School – Guelph, Ontario

Opening day RCAF free domain image. The citizens of Guelph did not want the Wireless Training School.

In February 1942, the first edition [Vol. 1, #1] of the local wireless magazine was published, with small cover header created by L.A.C. Lynn J. Chapters, entry class No. 39.

Training classes began at No. 4 W.S. on 7 July 1941, the official opening on 9 August 1941. The original wireless program was twenty weeks, followed by four weeks of gunnery training.

No. 4 W.S. Guelph was the fourth and last wireless school formed, yet, they became the first to select the “Fist and Sparks” official trade badge as their cover newsletter title. The official wireless air gunner sleeve trade badge is giving Hitler a punch in the nose, which was a very truthful drawing by artist LAC Chapters.

The magazine was very professional, high quality, and contained very good informative articles, but it totally lacked any humor, art, unit badge, pin-up girls, or RCAF cartoons. It was very British style conservative, [southern Ontario] to the point of being boring. I believe this was possibly due to the two consulting editors who were both man of the cloth. [See above]

The first full cover art appeared in Vol. 1, #7, for September 1942, created by RCAF Armament Section Sgt. “Tex” Wilson, and I believe the original was painted in full colour. Dedicated to the Vickers-Armstrong Wellington bomber, where thousands of Canadian wireless operators flew combat operations, and died. [RCAF lost 127 Wellington aircraft with aircrew of five]

Colour painted by author. The wireless trainee is seen sending a Morse signal from his D.H. 82C-4 Menasco Moth II trainer and three Wellington bombers fly in formation, [top] Mk. II, Mk. III, bottom Mk. X aircraft.

February 1943 issue cover was dedicated to the RCAF Mosquito. Top aircraft is a Mosquito Mk. VI, center a Mk. XIII, and bottom a Mk. XXX fighter, with up-turned ‘radar’ nose section.

In July 1942, RCAF aircrew special categories and wireless training changed, thanks to the new fast de Havilland Mosquito fighter/bomber aircraft. In September 42, navigator “B” and navigator “W” categories were formed and training began in November. The navigator “B” remained with RCAF bomber squadrons, [gunnery training] while the new navigator “W” was a special trained wireless operator trained to navigate, provide wireless, and read radar, in the fast twin-engine Mosquito. This special trained recruit spent twenty-eight weeks at a wireless school, then another twenty-two weeks at an air observer school, where he earned his navigator’s badge, while wearing his “Fist and Sparks” wireless sleeve badge. This special aircrew member became the eyes, [navigation-radar] ears, [wireless-radar] and mouth [wireless] for his pilot in the fast RCAF Mosquito night-fighter squadrons. The Luftwaffe feared these Mosquito RCAF intruder night-fighters.

No. 410 [Cougar] Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force earned the distinction of becoming the top-scoring night-fighter squadron in the Second Tactical Air Force, from 6 June 44 [D-Day] to 8 May 45, flying Mosquito Mk. XXX aircraft. They saved thousands of Canadian Army lives.

Patrick Anderson photo

This image was taken at Glisy, France, early March 1945. The RCAF pilot was F/L Stan R. King J27022, [Markham, Ontario] and the ground crew of No. 410 [Cougar] Squadron, Mosquito code “W.” The photo was taken by [Air Navigator] F/O Alexander “Patrick” Anderson, [note Cougar door art], who flew training in this Mosquito [“W”] once. Pat flew 15 operations as a Mosquito navigator, wireless, radar operator, plus numerous training flights, eleven in “G” MM757, six in “O” MM767, nine in “P” NT491, and ten in “Y” serial NT377. This image clearly shows the up-turned ‘radar’ nose on the Mosquito Mk. XXX aircraft, the first twelve arrived with No. 410 in the first days of August 1944. This was the reason Sgt. Wilson dedicated the February 1943 cover of Sparks magazine to the Mosquito aircraft and the new Navigator/Wireless aircrew members. The Mosquito “W” could be serial MM757, MM786, MT485 or NT377.

The No. 410 Cougar door art was painted by LAC Donald Jarvis from Vancouver, B.C. [1923-2001]. Born in Vancouver, he became a cartoonist in his teens, enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art and Design after WWII, graduated in 1948, becoming a well known Canadian abstract artist. He also decorated RCAF Mess buildings with mural art during 1944-45, his forgotten lost wall war art, and painted at least three No. 410 [Cougar] Squadron Mosquito Night-Fighter nose and one Mosquito door art – “Death in the Dark.”

The author replica “Door” art is painted in correct colours.

Beginning November 1942, the four RCAF Wireless Schools in Canada trained 4,298 Navigator/Wireless aircrew members, 3,847 were R.A.F. and 412 were RCAF. Most of these graduates served in RAF/RCAF Mosquito radar intruder squadrons during 1944-45.

Records on the Flying Squadron at No. 4 W.S. are very difficult to locate. The citizens of Guelph did not want the Wireless School during the original formation and their air exercise station was constructed 43 [air] miles south at RCAF Burtch. Students were bused [1 ½ hours] to the airfield for their ‘air experience’ training.

This little No. 4 W.S. Flying Squadron “RCAF Gremlins” cartoon [LAC Pinnegar] appeared in 1943 and it just might be the best way to preserve their Menasco Moth II past at Burtch, Ontario.

Photo MIKAN 4820767 of RCAF Burtch on 9 December 1941, taken from the control tower, showing one two story H-Hut, one fire hall, one aircraft hangar, and one D.H. Menasco Moth II, serial 4896, [engine running] delivered and taken on charge by RCAF 3 June 1941. Involved in Category “C” accident on 28 October 1941, and it is possible this photo records the return of the aircraft after repairs had been completed. Major aircraft repairs and maintenance were completed at RCAF Station Jarvis, Ontario. This aircraft was struck off charge by RCAF on 25 February 1944.

The Flying Squadron moved to No. 5 SFTS St. Catharines on 25 February 1944, the school closed 12 January 1945.

The total of 136 DH.82C [Menasco Moth I, ten built] DH.82C-4 [Menasco Moth II, 125 built] and one DH.82C-4 [Menasco Moth III] serial #4934.

Manning Airman – No.3 Manning Depot Edmonton PDF and text versions

Manning Airman – No.3 Manning Depot Edmonton PDF and text versions

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Click on the link below for the PDF version.

Manning Airman – No.3 Manning Depot Edmonton

Text version below  with all images.

Manning Airman – No.3 Manning Depot

There was nothing funny about WWII air war, yet, thirty-one young creative RCAF recruits could find humor in almost everything they did during basic training at No. 3 “M” Depot, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, from July 1941 to August 1944. Their ‘very own’ Manning Depot Pin-Up girl became Milton Caniff’s – “Miss Lace.”

R.C.A.F. No. 3 Manning Depot, Edmonton, Alberta.

The early WWII RCAF aircrew selection programme first began at the recruitment centers, however these soon became overloaded and it was gradually shifted to new constructed manning depots by 1942. These large reception centres were where new recruits were funnelled, sifted, tested and during this process civilians became airmen, ready to move on to their new selected air force trades.

In January 1942, the RCAF had created five large Manning Depots: No. 1 in Toronto, Ontario, No. 2 at Brandon, Manitoba, No. 3 at Edmonton, Alberta, No. 4 at Quebec City, Quebec, and No. 5 at Lachine, [near Montreal] Quebec. Most Eastern RCAF [English speaking] recruits attended No. 1 Manning Depot, at the Toronto Exhibition Grounds, where over 6,000 were trained. In the West, No. 3 Manning Depot at Edmonton local exhibition grounds trained over 4,000, the second most RCAF recruits in Canada, followed by Brandon, Manitoba, and Quebec. The new life at each manning depot [Basic Training] was usually four to five weeks, where the men were interviewed, tested, and tested again, lectured and learned to march, “Square-bashing” with long hours spent on the parade square. He was issued with his first uniform, boots, socks, and all the air force items which went with it. The recruit learned how to iron clothing, spit-shine boots, polish buttons, polish and shine floors, clean toilets, arrange everything he owned in proper order for inspections, and for this he earned $1.30 per day. The famous WWII song correctly went … “You’ll never get rich, you-son-of-a-bitch.”

During this selection process, a number of recruits were found to have artistic talent and a few were selected for special units in the RCAF, where their talent could be put to good use. Many of these long forgotten Canadian artists displayed their first skill in the local station news magazines and No. 3 M.D. in Edmonton had the best in all of Canada. This is a “Show and tell” past history of the thirty-four young men who passed through Edmonton, Alberta, and left their mark [cartoon history] in the many pages of the local “Manning Airman” wartime news magazine. These forgotten WWII RCAF cartoon pages are Canadian military history.

RCAF No. 3 Manning Depot was [Temporary] formed at Ottawa, Ontario, 15 June 1940. One year later [21 July 1941] the unit was moved to the large exhibition stadium located in the center of Edmonton, Alberta. [Today home to Commonwealth Stadium]

Flying Officer LeVerne Haley’s private collection (images used with his son’s permission in 2014).

Just pictures?




Upon arrival a new recruit was issued with an RCAF blue cover record book titled – Helpful Hints for “Acey Deuceys.” Recruits liked to play the two card poker betting game called Acey-Decey. The first inside page read – “My Life in the RCAF”



The booklet information on RCAF “M” Depot [circle] contained photos of the base, plus a map of Edmonton 1941-42. Street car colors to and from base were also marked on map.

The first use of cartoons for RCAF teaching aids was at “M” Depot, Edmonton, August 1941.

The little RCAF record book also contained five cartoons which were used to educate the new civilian recruits to the rules and discipline in the air force depot. The artist was Corporal D.L. Rodger who was a staff instructor at the depot.  The use of humor in cartoons for teaching young students was nothing new, it had been used effectively by the RAF in England during the first World War.

Flying Officer LeVerne Haley’s private collection
Images used with his son’s permission in 2014

The first FREE issue of RCAF No. 3 “M” Depot magazine “Manning Airman” appeared in October 1941, a very simple one-page typed newsletter with news, sports, and a small cartoon header by Cpl. D.L. Rodger, Instructor, editor, art director, publisher.


March 1942, the first RCAF Coca-Cola ad [$$$] appears and the first small cartoon [right] by Official RCAF cartoonist LAC Huge Rickard, “Ricky” but his name is not shown. LAC Rickard began his RCAF career on a drawing board in Air Force Headquarters at Ottawa, 1940, and some of his early cartoons were not signed. I believe this is one of his early works, [1940-41] two years before the cartoon title “AC2 Joe Erk” appeared. “”Aero Flips” was a single cartoon page which appeared in each issue of The Airman magazine.

A new RCAF recruit spent five weeks at “M” Depot in Edmonton and during that time 31 students, 2 corporals and one [Australian] Captain created cartoons for the “Airman.”

AC2 – A.D. Bates

AC 2 – Al Beaton – Alexander Beaton J13842, killed 28 May 1943.

AC2 – Beller

AC2 – M.O. Bodle

AC2 – Butterfield

AC2 – Coulson

AC2 – Dick Coulin

AC2 – P. Ewing – Peter Ewing J17210, killed 3 January 1944.

AC2 – Gitter

AC2 – Hambleton

Capt. Harrison – [only non-Canadian, from Australia]

AC2 – K.M.

AC2 – Kaye

AC2 – Keate

AC2 – Kavanaugh

AC2 – G.J. La Rue

AC2 – J. McLean

AC2 – Bert Nightengale

AC2 – Jock P.

AC2 – L. Potvin

AC2 – M.H. Prizek

AC2 – Richie

AC2 – Rudger

Cpl. – E.A. Rodberg

Cpl. – D. L. Rodger – Art Director, Editor- Publisher The Airman.

AC2 – Sargent – became famous Sgt. cartoonist at RCAF Trenton, Ontario.

AC2 – J. Schell

AC2 – T.S. Sparrow – Thomas Sparrow J89691, killed 22 August 1944.

AC2 – Del Stuckby

AC2 – Study

AC2 – Taylor

AC2 – Ted Tiley

AC2 –  Willis

AC2 – J.M.

These forgotten Canadian cartoonists received no official artistic training, just inherited drawing talent, and in their spare time produced the best RCAF magazine in all of Canada.

First known “Aero Flips” cartoon page, likely by Cpl. Rodger, 3 April 1942, Easter.

10 April 1942, artist Cpl. Rodger, and the beginning of an insert called Air Force IKE Says: which would appear in “Aero Flips” for the next twenty-four months.

Early artwork of AC2 M.O. Bodle [in RCAF basic training] 17 April 1942, “The Airman” Edmonton. A new recruit spent five weeks in basic training, and if he processed cartooning talent he was invited to contribute. At least thirty-one drew RCAF cartoons in over two years.

17 April 1942, art from AC2 Bodle and Art Director Cpl. Rodger. 2nd Air Force IKE Says”

1 May 1942, art by Cpl. D.L. Rodger and another new recruit AC2 G. La Rue.

3 June 1942, a new artist has arrived in training, AC2 M.H.D. Prizek.

6 June 1942, AC2 L. Potvin.

18 June 1942 Cpl. Dodger.

AC2 Prizek liked to draw the “Petty” pin-girls from Esquire magazine. This is the third inset cartoon titled AIR FORCE IKE SAYS: – created by Cpl. Rodger, 19 June 42.

19 June 1942, Prizek drew the most famous “Petty Girl” from April 1941 Esquire.

From Esquire magazine April 1941, became the famous B-17F “Memphis Belle”

19 June 42, page by Cpl Rodger and pin-up by Prizek, another “Petty Girl” top right.

The Esquire magazine October 1938 “Petty” girl appeared in Boudoir with a trademark white phone. The original caption reads: “I just told the electric company where to head in!”


Please note the RCAF were using the unofficial Maple Leaf on British Roundel in 1942.

Cpl. Rodger art page in July 1942.

Cpl. Rodger 14 August 1942.

21 August 1942, AC2 Butterfield, first erotic female humor. The total all ranks at No. 3 for August was 2,489, which included 1,842 AC2 recruits in basic RCAF training. Only four females RCAF [W.D.] were on staff, two were – C27600 M.M. Lowden and C276601 A.C. Olson.

4 September 1942, artist unknown, likely Cpl. Rodger.

11 September 1942, Cpl. Rodger.

18 September 1942, Cpl. Rodger.

25 September 1942, AC2 Dick Coulin. No Air Force IKE says, just the life of basic training.

9 October 1942, Cpl. Rodger.

Halloween 30 October 1942, new artist AC2 Cairns. The old Padre gets an eye-full.

6 November 1942, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Cairns.

27 November 1942 Cpl. D.L. Rodger. The Edmonton Q.M. Section staff are named.

November 1942, Australians and Edmonton weather, Capt. Harrison. In November 1942, 23 – [R.A.A.F.] Australian and 106 [R.N.Z.A.F.] New Zealand recruits took basic RCAF training at Edmonton, “M” Depot.

Blizzard of November 1942, by Capt. Harrison, Australian artist.


16 October 1942, the first full page training cartoon by official RCAF artist LAC H. Rickard and first signed by him – “Ricky.”


In 1942, LAC H. Rickard worked from RCAF H.Q. in Ottawa, producing training posters.

Christmas 1942 was a busy time for Edmonton Manning Depot artists – Sgt. Rodger [promoted] Cpl. Jack McCaugherty, AC2 – Al Beaton, L. Potvin, G.J. la Rue, and Bert Nightengale.

AC2 Al Beaton, Christmas 1942. A clever way to slip in a nude lady.

The February pose [far right] was in fact from the 1938 Esquire magazine Petty Girl.

Sgt. Rodger, good cartoon skills.

Art by AC2 Al Beaton – A MERRY CHRISTMAS 1942.

Xmas 1942 – artist Rodger, BLESS ‘EM ALL, dedicated to living Edmonton officers and men.

To A Victorious New Year – 2 January 1943 artist Sgt. Rodger.

15 January 1943, new artist AC2 Hambleton with a different style.

22 January 1943, Sgt. Rodger and Hambleton.

29 January 1943, Rodger and Hambleton.

5 February 1943, artist Hambleton. AIR FORCE IKE – always drawn by Sgt. Rodger.

“The Wolf” – first appears in issue 5 February 1943.


Created by Cpl. Leonard Sansone for the American Camp Newspaper Service, it soon became the best known and read cartoon for all Allied soldiers during WWII. “The Wolf” was even clipped and mailed home to family members who could not find the cartoon in civilian newspapers. When the feature began in Edmonton “M” Depot magazine “The Airman” [5 Feb. 43] Sansone mailed them a 10 by 12-inch original drawing of the Wolf wearing an RCAF uniform. This colour original hung with pride in the Airman magazine office, and inspired many up and coming RCAF artists to the world of military cartooning.

22 February 1943, Cpl. Rodger and new cartoonist AC2 Taylor.

26 February 1943, Cpl. Rodger and another new cartoonist AC2 Ritchie.

5 March 1943, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Ritchie.

19 March 43, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Study.

26 March 1943. Cartoonist AC2 Del Stuckby and K.M.

9 April 43, Cpl. Rodger.

A few cartoon ladies were very sexy for the times, such as this saucy semi-nude beauty published 9 April 1943. The cartoon appeared with no words, and needed no words. Having a sexy girl-friend was the only area where a rookie AC2 could out-rank a Senior RCAF Officer, with a very controlling [her hand over his] overweight wife. Good cartoon for recruit moral.

16 April 1943, Sgt. Rodger and new artist AC2 Sargent.

22 April 1943, sexy mind of another” Wolf” by AC2 La Rue.

23 April 1943, Easter – Sgt. Rodger and cartoonist AC2 Sargent.

30 April 43, appears to be new cartoonist AC2 Beller, with AC2 Sargent and Sgt. Rodger.

7 May 1943, Cpl. Rodger and AC2 Sargent. [Sgt. Sargent would later become a famous RCAF WWII cartoonist at Trenton, Ontario].

Sgt. Sargent’s RCAF Trenton history and art was published in 1985. It all began at Edmonton, Alberta, as a rookie in basic training, April 1943.

14 May 43, new cartoonist AC2 Keate and last for AC2 Sargent.

21 May 43, new cartoonist AC2 Gitter.

4 June 1943, AC2 Gitter also liked pin-ups.

4 June 1943, new artist AC2 Ewing.

11 June 1943, more art by AC2 Ewing.

18 June 1943, not signed, cartoon style of AC2 Ewing.

9 July 1943, another recruit arrives AC2 Bates.

16 July 1943, artist AC2 A.D. Bates.

23 July 1943, AC 2 Bates.

30 July 1943, AC2 A.D. Bates.

In early August the original Cpl. Sansone special RCAF drawing of “The Wolf” was stolen from the Edmonton office of the Airman magazine. American artist Cpl. Sansone [below] replied he would send another original to “M” Depot at Edmonton.

6 August 1943, AC2 J. Scheel cartoon art first appears.

20 August 1943, AC2 Willis.

27 August 1943, AC2 Willis.

“The Wolf” and original “Miss Lace” are back together at No. 3 “M” in Edmonton.

The total staff at No. 3 “M” Depot at the end of August was 2,489, including 1,842 AC2s in training. Over 3,000 RCAF troops marched in the Edmonton parade, a most impressive sight.

3 September 1943, Sgt. Rodger and AC2 Willis. “Aero Flips” features a nude lady.

The first drawing of RCAF Flying Willie Wolf [bottom left of page] appears twice in the 10 September 1943 issue.

10 September 1943, AC2 Willis art. RCAF Flying Wolf appears in the Aero Flips header.

17 September 1943, new cartoonist AC2 Kaye.

24 September 1943 Sports Supplement.

24 September 1943, AC2 Kaye, and Ted Tilly, the “Flying Willie Wolf” appears a third time.

The “Flying Willie Wolf” becomes an unofficial badge, [below] the Wolves Den.

“The Wolf” #2 original colour drawing arrives from artist Sansone.

The new RCAF Wolf drawing arrives from Sansone on 1 October 1943, which was published with caption –

“All hail again to Corporal Sansone, who came through with this additional original Wolf drawing, which shall take his place beside Nude with Cheese Sandwich in THE AIRMAN office. This Wolf, drawn as “Joe Airman” is replete with good conduct stripe, though those have not been leased since the beginning of the war, and never to Airm—never to wolves. Catch the patch-pocket bottoms. Perhaps the Corporal is hinting that a first-class Wolf is potential officer material.

Corporal Sansone sends his greeting with the paw of the Wolf. He signs his letters, Woof! Woof! We wonder if, perhaps, Corporal Sansone isn’t taking his art so literally that it will be rather difficult for him to readjust to civilian life. Rumors have him more-hairy every day, and that he is beginning to pace up and down his New York office on all fours. Getting the proper atmosphere is alright Corporal Sansone, but be careful, please.”

The RCAF Airman magazine also ran the cartoon strip Male Call featuring the famous “Miss Lace” with the first appearing 16 April 1943, titled – Something Hot at the PX [top strip]. Caniff also sent a special colour drawing of Miss Lace, for RCAF No. 3 Depot.


Milton Caniff also drew this special ‘second’ original “Miss Lace” colour cartoon wearing the future RCAF roundel on her chest. This Anniversary drawing for “The Airman” became a very rare collector’s item 10 September 1943, but I’m sure it no longer survives.

Caniff Did It Again – Feast your eyes. We salute to Milton Caniff, creator of “Terry and the Pirates” and, for station newspaper circulation, “Male Call.” He has gladdened our anniversary and our office with a technicolor version of what is only hinted at here.

The original is so shattering, that in order to get the staff to do any work, our editor unveils it for only one minute periods, twice a day. The first time, at 08:30 hours, to shock the boys into action. The second time, at 17:00 hours, is to madden them before turning them loose for the evening. Caniff’s drawing’s are causing a real revolution in the medical field, and rapidly replacing the grandular method of rejuvenation.

GENERAL ORDERS by Milton Caniff, Camp Newspaper Service.

The Airman also published this rare strip by Milton Caniff titled – GENERAL ORDERS. This American strip was not connected to “Male Call” and did not feature the famous Miss Lace, but Caniff created a look-alike and the strip appeared in Camp Newspaper Service. This was also mailed to the RCAF “M” Depot at Edmonton, Alberta, and published 9 July 1943.

Original Milton Caniff art brings $5 – $10 thousand per drawing in today’s [2022] American market. I wonder what a rare WWII Canadian RCAF Caniff signed cartoon is worth?

Milton Caniff “Male Call” strips were also being used [with permission] as an RCAF recruit training aid.

Published in “Male Call” on 7 November 1943, the RCAF magazine used this one comic strip block to educate new Canadian RCAF recruits on American Forces rank structure. Appeared in “The Airman” 6 August 1943, which means this Canadian strip was sent to Edmonton by Caniff himself, two months before it was published by American Camp Newspapers.

1 October 1943, art by AC2 J. McLean, and Jock P. The term P-38 [Bra.] was also a famous American fighter aircraft, good military humor. The “flying Willie Wolf” appears a fourth time.

8 October 1943, art by AC2 Ted Tiley. The RCAF flying “Willie Wolf ” targets a stunning lady, and becomes a regular drawing feature.

15 October 1943, J. McLean, Willis, and Ted Tiley. The RCAF Willie Wolf appears for the last time. The sexy cartoon lady originally published 6 April 1943, reappears a second time.

15 October 1943, new artist known as J.M. The famous “Willie Wolf” himself appears.

22 October 1943 good pin-up Victory Bond girl art by AC2 – J.M. [name unknown]

29 October 1943, more cartoon humor by J.M. The silk stocking [windsock] is very good.

29 October 1943, Airman Supplement issue drawn by J.M. This will be the last art until March 1944. [It’s possible this missing supplement art was just never saved]

On 26 November 1943, Canadian cartoons and the normal high standard of publication in “The Airman” was recorded in the Daily Diary.

American military cartoons were still being published, at the same time the Canadian cartoon content called “Aero Flips” just stopped. The reasons are still not clear; the last three cartoons appear in March 1944.

3 March 1944, cartoons by Cpl. E.A. Rodberg [Staff NCO] and AC2 Coulson.

10 March 1944, art by AC2 Dick Coulson.

Vol. 3 #25, 31 March 1944, the last “Aero Flips” cartoon by an unknown artist signed IRU.

On 9 June 1944, “The Airman” magazine began publication every two weeks and the end was near.

On 27 July 1944, all RCAF documents [with cartoons] were sent to No. 1 “M” Depot, Toronto, Ontario, and Edmonton staff were gone by 31 of July. Organization Order No. 415, dated 15 August, officially disbanded No. 3 “M” Depot, Edmonton, Alberta, 18 August 1944.

The End of Willie Wolf at Edmonton.

This RCAF “M” Depot cartoonist history is dedicated to the hundreds of young Canadian men who joined the RCAF during WWII, and with limited artistic talent produced unit badges, published unit news magazines, with cover art, painted full size mural art, pin-up girls, and most of all decorated combat aircraft with Canadian “Nose Art.” When the war ended, their artistic wartime record of history was soon forgotten and their creations just vanished.