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Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland Coastal Command

The RCAF
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RCAF Ensign

Active 1924–1968

Role Northern development, sovereignty/home defence, civil air operations, military training and operations, search and rescue, peacekeeping support.

Part of Department of National Defence
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario

Motto "Per Ardua Ad Astra"—"Through Adversity to the Stars"
March "RCAF March Past"

Engagements Battle of Britain, Battle of the Atlantic, European Bombing Campaigns, Battle of Normandy and subsequent land campaigns
 
 
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was the air force of Canada from 1924 until 1968 when the three branches of the Canadian military were merged into the Canadian Forces.
 
 
 

The Second World War
 
 
 
 
The outbreak of the Second World War saw the RCAF fielding eight of its eleven permanent operational squadrons, but by October 1939 15 squadrons were available (12 for homeland defence, three for overseas service). There were over 20 different types of aircraft at this point, over half being for training or transport, and the RCAF started the war with only 29 front-line fighter and bomber aircraft. By the end of the war, the RCAF would be the fourth largest allied air force.
 

On 15 August 1940, during the Battle of Britain, No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron became the first RCAF unit to see action.
 
During the war, the RCAF had the following three key responsibilities:
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), Canada's massive contribution to training military aviators would see the RCAF expand to a ubiquitous presence across the country.

Home War Establishment (HWE), fielding 37 squadrons for coastal defence, protection of shipping, air defence and other duties in Canada
Overseas War Establishment (OWE), headquartered in London, fielding 48 squadrons serving with the Royal Air Force in Western Europe, the Mediterranean and the Far East.
 
Bomber Command Lancaster over HamburgThe RCAF played key roles in the Battle of Britain, antisubmarine warfare during the Battle of the Atlantic, the bombing campaigns against German industries (particularly with No. 6 Group, RAF Bomber Command), and close support of Allied forces during the Battle of Normandy and subsequent land campaigns in northwest Europe.
 
The RCAF reached peak strength of 215,000 (all ranks) in January 1944 (including 15,000 women). Of that total, 100,000 were training air and ground personnel in the BCATP, 65,000 with HWE, and 46,000 with OWE. At that time there were 78 squadrons, 43 at home, 35 overseas. Approximately 13,000 RCAF personnel were either killed or died as prisoners of war, and another 4000 died during training or from other causes.
 
Women of the RCAF Women's Division ("WD"s) took over many wartime responsibilities from men, who were made available for combat and other operational duties and to instruct in British Commonwealth Air Training Plan schools across Canada. Many WDs also served overseas. Thirty WDs would die during the Second World War.
 
On the homefront, the RCAF developed a volunteer organization called the Aircraft Identity Corps to assist in the early detection of enemy aircraft.

The Royal Canadian Air Force used a rank structure similar to that of the Royal Air Force, with the exceptions of the RCAF having the rank of Warrant Officer 2 and not having the rank of Senior Aircraftsman. Ranks are listed with the most senior rank at the top.

Air Chief Marshal / maréchal en chef de l'Air
Air Marshal / maréchal de l'Air
Air Vice-Marshal / vice-maréchal de l'Air
Air Commodore / commodore de l'Air
Group Captain / colonel d'aviation
Wing Commander / lieutenant-colonel d'aviation
Squadron Leader / commandant d'aviation
Flight Lieutenant / capitaine d'aviation
Flying Officer / lieutenant d'aviation
Pilot Officer / sous-lieutenant d'aviation
Officer Cadet / élève-officier
Warrant Officer, class 1 / adjudant de 1re classe
Warrant Officer, class 2 / adjudant de 2e classe
Flight Sergeant / sergent de section
Sergeant / sergent
Corporal / caporal
Leading Aircraftman / aviateur-chef
Aircraftman / aviateur

 

In 1964 the Canadian government decided to merge the RCAF with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army to form the unified Canadian Forces. The aim of the merger was to reduce costs and increase operating efficiency.[12] The Minister of National Defence, Paul Hellyer stated on 4 November 1966 that "the amalgamation...will provide the flexibility to enable Canada to meet in the most effective manner the military requirements of the future. It will also establish Canada as an unquestionable leader in the field of military organization."[13] On 1 February 1968, unification was completed and the RCAF ceased to exist.

Initially air force and naval aviation personnel were scattered among five commands of the new force, but in 1975, Canadian Forces Air Command (AIRCOM) was created, and most aviation units were placed under it. AIRCOM preserves many traditions of the RCAF, such as the RCAF tartan and the command march, "RCAF March Past." In 1988, Canadian air force personnel returned to the traditional blue uniform colour used by the RCAF, and in 1993 air force formations called wings were reintroduced within AIRCOM, echoing the similar structure of the RCAF thirty years previously. The army-style ranks which were instituted upon unification, however, were retained and the RAF-derived RCAF ranks and insignia were not re-adopted.



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Second World War Recruiting poster

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Photo of F.G."Jerry" Fellows signing document during his post war career with the R.C.A.F.

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F.G. Fellows mid 1960's.

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Photo of a R.C.A.F. gathering. F.G. Fellows is seated in the back with wife Aileen beside him, closest to the wall. Notice the different squadron crests in background.

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RCAF badge (version with St. Edward's or Queen's crown)

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Special thanks to:
 
 James Stewart     N.Ireland 
Joe O'Loughlin     N.Ireland
    Breege Mc Cusker  N.Ireland 
John Newall         Canada
                               Richard Lebek  Canada ( crew member U-672)
Norman Lebek   Canada
 Roland Berr      Germany
                                Harry Lorkin   U.K. (RAF 226 Squadron)          
     John Rogers          UK            
                                    N.Jack Logan       Canada   (RCAF 422 Squadron)
              Les and Maureen Ingram  Scotland
   Bill Barber            Canada    
  Robert Walsh        N.Ireland  
                         Capt. Jerry Mason USN (ret.)  Canada         
             Blake Wimperis      Canada              
                                   Robert Quirk     Canada                                          
                                    Norm Muffitt          Canada                                      
                         Lt/Col S. Beaton     Canada  (Camp Borden)
       Stephanie Pinder     USA            
    Alec (Johnny) Johnston    N.Z.
                 Stephen Kerr           N.Ireland             
                                   Reg Firby               Canada (RCAF 423 Squadron)
         Maurice Duffill         Australia     
                   John Hartshorn              UK                     
                                  Don Macfie      Canada ( RCAF 422/423 Squadron)
                               Frank Cauley   Canada  ( RCAF 422 Squadron)
                                Harold O'Brien  Canada  ( RCAF 423 Squadron)
                                   James Newall          UK        ( RAF 423 Squadron)
      Ian Meadows                    UK
                     Bill Baker                 Canada               
John Taylor      Canada
            Gordon Burke              Canada
          Carol Whittle                    U.K.

Last Update on Dec 07 , 2010