Aviation of Word War II
Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Agreement, between Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand was laid out on October 10, 1939 and on December 17, 1939 the agreement was signed, converting Canada into what President Roosevelt of the United States later termed the "airdrome of democracy." The signing of the BCATP Agreement was a momentous event. Strategically it was important for three main reasons: it furnished air training fields that were reasonably close to the United Kingdom yet well beyond the reach of enemy aircraft, it provided a uniform system of training and laid the basis for the pooling of Commonwealth air power.
A total of twelve RCAF squadrons served within RAF Fighter Command during the war. Eight day fighter, three night-fighter and one intruder squadron.
No. 6 (RCAF) Group - The RCAF contributed 14 Bomber Squadrons to RAF Bomber Command.
In May 1943 three RCAF Bomber Squadrons, Nos. 420, 424, and 425, were removed from No. 6 Group equipped with Wellington Mk X aircraft and sent on loan to North Africa. There, as No. 331 (Medium Bomber) Wing, RCAF, they took part in the heavy bombardment in preparation for, and in support of Operation Torch, the allied landings in Sicily and Italy.
Coastal Command. Canada contributed large numbers of air and ground crews and, at one time or another, seven squadrons. Three of these squadrons, Nos. 404, 407 and 415 were shore based and Nos. 413, 422, 423 and 162 were equipped with flying boat aircraft.
In the summer of 1944 No. 437 Squadron was formed as part of RAF Transport Command and equipped with C-47 Dakota aircraft.
The summary of the work preformed by the squadrons at home and overseas is but one part of the story. The other part of the story concerns the 249,662 men and women who wore the uniform of the RCAF. Of this total, 93,844 personnel served overseas, the majority with the British rather than Canadian units. Nearly 60 percent of RCAF personnel were with RAF squadrons. The RCAF contribution to the Royal Air Force was significant . At least one in four fighter pilots in the Battle of Malta was from Canada as did one-fifth of Coastal Command's Aircrew. At the end of the war, almost a quarter of Bomber Command's aircrew were from the RCAF.
The RCAF's Roll of Honour contains the names of 17,100 personnel who gave their lives in the service of Canada. Of these fatalities 14,544 occurred overseas - among them 12,266 on operations and 1906 in training accidents. The majority of overseas casualties were with Bomber Command.
Canadian Military Personnel Killed
First World War: 66,665
Second World War: 46,998