First Pilots Receive Their Wings

On December 14, thirty-three pupils of No. 3 Course received their flying badges. In accordance with Royal Air Force policy, the badges were handed to the pupils in the classroom without ceremony. The R.C.A.F. held wing parades, but these first groups missed out on the satisfaction of having their wings pinned on justly-proud chests. Later, under the R.C.A.F., wing parades were held and the lists of graduates were printed in the newspaper. Unfortunately, the records for the station on microfilm do not give the names after the first half-dozen classes. From those we have, it is sad to learn that nearly fifty percent were casualties.

Some of the names of pilots who graduated in the early months the station was in operation are the following:

F. Ash, U.S. R67570 POW; *A. F. Bond R102701/J19439; *C. D. G. Brown R67587; *G. A. Chamberlain R68115/J15078; *H. L. Cook R67560/J15078; *G. E. Douglas R68205/J4742; *W. N. Hergott R10349; J. Howard, R71828; E. J. James R62696/J15130; T. V. Johnston R616873 POW; *B. A. Kerkhoff R102756; E. N. MacDonnell R60241/J15053; *R. B. Palmer R10311/J10015; D. F. Pickell R588168; *J. R. Spaetzel R103029/ J10016; and *G. P. Waite R6752/J15181.

While serving on operations, Ash and Johnston became prisoners of war and those with asterisks beside their name were killed, their names having been found on the Commonwealth War Graves website – see In Memoriam addendum.

Thirteen more Fairey Battles were delivered to the station and on December 21 one flown by LAC G. H. Temple crashed east of Watertown, New York. Several times during the next few years the residents of northern New York State had unexpected visitors ‘drop-in’ as pilots became lost in fog or snow and had to make emergency landings.

On the Saturday before Christmas, a young lady overheard the conversation of two lonely and unhappy officers in the booth at Morrison’s Restaurant. She introduced herself and the men were delighted to meet a Canadian girl, she said.

“After our chat, I took them home to meet my Mother. The next day we received bouquets of flowers. The next evening, they escorted me to the bountiful buffet with tiered tables surmounted by boar’s head and apple. A dance followed with an orchestra playing. Among the officers were F/O “Brad” Bradley and F/O Aldy Alderton, and Francis Charles, nicknamed “Black” because of his black hair and moustache. (A Battle of Britain survivor, she described him as “quite mad”.) Kingstonians had never enjoyed such festive board in other messes or wardrooms. This evening, in appreciation for the Kingston welcome, was the beginning of a four-year alliance between people in areas surrounding Kingston and the young flyers from the U.K. and around the Commonwealth. At first, ignorant of the distance, many walked from the airport to the city in the mud of autumn and the ice and snow of their first Canadian winter. Later the taxis prospered and a bus was arranged for the men.”

First Fatal Crash – 30 December 1940
LAC G. D. Lowe and LAC Henry Levy

On December 30, the last day of training for the pupils of No. 3 Course, a Harvard carrying two members of the R.C.A.F. crashed near Westbrook. The plane struck on one side of No. 2 highway, bounced over the road and piled into a stone house splitting the aircraft in two. Mrs. Mary McMorins was in the yard adjoining her home when the young airmen, who were on a routine practice flight, crashed at 10:30 a.m.

The pilots were LAC G. D. Lowe, aged 22, of Waterloo, Ontario and Safety Pilot LAC Henry Levy, aged 21, of Toronto. LAC Lowe, who had just received his wings, was given the rank of Sergeant posthumously. He was survived by his parents, George and Nellie Lowe, and his wife of one month, the former Hazel Ruth Chalmers. Burial was in the Mount Hope Cemetery, Waterloo. LAC Levy was the son of Lazarus and Annie Levy of Toronto and was buried in the Dawes Road Cemetery, Toronto.

Aerial view of No. 31 S.F.T.S.

harvardsabove07

 

Canadian Barracks Too Hot, and Too Dirty

Winter was fully established and presented the English airmen with yet another reason to complain. The cause was the barracks heating system which they deemed to be “too hot” and “too dirty.” Called the Iron Fireman, it was a coal-burning heater which was fed once a day by the airman on duty – the coal automatically replenished as it burned. There was no temperature control, which made the barracks too hot. The men who lived in the United Kingdom would definitely not have been used to warm quarters so it was a hardship that must be borne.

At the same time Canadian servicemen were shivering in the miserable damp cold of their quarters in the U.K., the reverse was happening here. One of the airmen described the infamous fireman in an issue of ‘The Pioneer’:

“It would appear that the purpose of this machine is fourfold:

(a) Through its exhaust pipe, which leads into my room and terminates approximately eight inches from my pillow, it can eject sufficient smoke and soot to blacken completely my bed linen within 45 minutes of the linen having been renewed.

(b) It can repeat the above operation on any other linen such as freshly laundered shirts, collars, towels, etc., located on a shelf at a distance of five feet from the exhaust pipe, in just a little longer space of time than is required for the bed linen.

(c) Through its open top this extraordinary machine can force sufficient dust to ‘hospitalize’ a normal man within two winters at the most.

(d) Provided I shut my window before retiring, this machine is guaranteed to burn up 70 percent of the oxygen that would otherwise have been available to me for respiratory purposes. This serves the dual purpose of increasing my nightly quota of carbon monoxide in direct proportion to the decrease in my ration of oxygen. The idea is, of course, to shake up my red corpuscles and the working efficiency of my mortal frame generally.

Next Chapter: First Fleet Air Arm Arrive In Canada

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