Volume 15, Issue 1 - January 1998
CONTACT is the official publication of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of aircraft and artifacts related to the the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
Editors: Greg Sigurdson ~ Dirk Aberson
TABLE OF CONTENTS Circuits and Bumps - Letters to CONTACT
CATPM Ladies' Corner
A CONTACT Training Recollection
1996-1997 CATPM Annual President's Report
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Foundation Report - 1996-1997
Circuits and Bumps - Letters to CONTACT
Very many thanks for the April issue of CONTACT. A good read which I pass on to our local flyer fraternity. May I say how sad I was to hear of Frank's (Watt) passing -- he wrote to me on occasions.
From the artwork associated with Frank's obituary, I note that one of the early issues of CONTACT depicted a Lysander on its cover. Do you think it would be possible to send me a copy of this issue -- and indeed any articles you have on the Lysander. Our Lysander -- although now housed at Duxford -- is ready for its show season -- quite a busy schedule.
I sent a copy of the ``digest'' to Wes Agnew -- I trust he is still well.
27 Folly Fields
England BA21 4PH
It is distressing to be told of the deterioration of #1 Hangar, the home of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.
With regards to your survey, I unfortunately, have not been able to visit the museum so I cannot give informed suggestions.
However, I feel the structure should be retained, as it is an original BCATP hangar and any new steel structure would be just another museum. I feel it should retain its wartime heritage if possible.
The cost, though large, should not prove to be prohibitive and I am sure the committee has been set up to look into it will come up with a solution.
I want to compliment you on an excellent newsletter. I look forward to each copy. I also like having complete stories in each issue. Formerly, some stories were broken up and continued in later issues. I found this difficult to maintain continuity for I couldn't always find the last copy.
Keep up the good work. I enjoy CONTACT.
Thanks for the feedback. We apologize when we break up stories for multi-issue publication but it seems to be a matter of feast or famine for us -- for some issues we are scrambling for original content and then for others, stories are numerous and lengthy. We prefer not to break up stories, but sometimes we just cannot avoid it.
I'm pleased to get CONTACT and read so many accounts of service personnel and their life stories, along with other general information.
Hangar #1 brings back a lot of memories of the days I spent working in it and on the flight service to get the aircraft ready for the trainees etc. It was at #1 that I wrote the story, which you published a few years ago, of how the LACs showed a certain officer who was boss out on the line.
It was also where the airmen got their hair cut -- one lad who had to get his hair cut three times in a couple of days (on orders from the Station Sargeant Major).
One summer evening, while working on flights, we could hear the music of our trumpet player who was using one of the small rooms to practice -- he was from Mark Kenny's band.
Then there was the night of the fire, in the back, far corner of the hangar and how everyone helped to get the aircraft out safely. There are many more memories to recall.
In regards to the future of Hangar #1, I have a few comments. What about advertising in as many rural and city papers as possible for donations towards funding for a new building, as it is the only one in Canada?
What about placing ads in the Legionnaire and other publications? A comparison between projected costs on the existing building against a new building would be valuable -- I think, a new building would likely be the best in the long run.
As for the mandate, I hope the board of directors and all other volunteers can see their way clear to keep improving exhibits as it a museum which can help educate future generations so they can see and realize what all service men and women did to serve their country during WW II.
Hope this may be of some help for the future.
Winnipeg, Manitoba via E-Mail
Some good ideas which have been passed on to the Building Committee.
This letter is to Frank Bollman and Jim Greaves at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.
Thank you very much for the excellent tour. We learned very much and appreciated your time and knowledge.
Manitoba Rural Youth Organization
We wish to express our sincere appreciation for conducting the tour for our Women's Personal Development Program. Your kindness in opening the museum enabled us to offer a rich and interesting outing for these women. The ladies were thrilled with the vast collection of memorabilia and many expressed interest in bringing their families. Due to the unfortunate circumstances that these women
experience, it was the first opportunity they had had to visit the museum. We had a simply wonderful morning!
Once again, we thank you and hope that we may call upon you next year if your schedule permits.
The Salvation Army
Dear President Reg Forbes;
Upon reading your last edition of CONTACT, October 1997, I came across an article on page seven that raised my interest to say the least. This article refers to Sqdn. Leader Copeland, who gave his uniform with medal ribbons and Ops wing and bars attached. I believe that this is my brother's uniform, as I remember him telling me of the occasion. As you point out, the Ops wing and two bars represent three tours. A feat that very few accomplished. As a matter of fact I personally have heard of none. The first tour was done as an air gunner, the second as an observer - bomb aimer, and the third as a fighter pilot. He flew Typhoons and I flew Spitfires. Why am I writing to you? Well if all my facts are correct, the Copeland should be spelled Coupland.... John David Coupland.
If you would be kind enough to check these facts out, and if correct, perhaps the name could be altered. Thank you for your attention to this matter, it is rather important to the family. J.D. passed away in January 1995 in Perth, Ontario.
Rex T. Coupland
Dear Mr. Coupland:
Thank you for your letter of October 5, 1997. You are observant and absolutely correct. The display pictured in the last CONTACT is indeed your brother's uniform. We apologize for the mistake and have corrected the information in the display. We have also added the information you provided.
A photo of the display, which is more clear than the one in CONTACT is enclosed and a correction of the information will be carried in the next edition.
Thank you again for contacting us about the mistake. We are sorry for your brother, a hero indeed, passed away before gaining the recognition which we now accord him.
Reg Forbes, President
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Also From CATPM President Reg Forbes
Our museum has adopted a policy whereby any member of any air museum in Canada will be admitted to the CATPM by showing their current, valid membership card in their museum.
Bequest and gift reminder -- The CATP Museum has a foundation fund, the interest from which will go toward the operation of the museum.
Besides being the only museum dedicated solely to the commemoration of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and those who trained under it, the museum without any public funds published the book ``They Shall Grow Not Old'' which contains a short biography on each of the men and women who gave their lives in the RCAF between 1939 and 45.
We request that anyone who lost a friend or relative in the RCAF or who served in the RCAF between 1939 and 45 to consider making a contribution to the museum foundation in their memory. All such bequests or donations will be acknowledged in the annual report. Income tax receipts will also be provided.
In November 1991, five wartime aircrew including myself, got together for lunch at the Kelowna Yacht Club. We decided it would be a good idea to meet each month to have lunch and chat with other ex-aircrew from WW II in a very informal way. We invited other friends to join, the criteria being that the person had been awarded a flying badge in WW II. The result has been that our Wartime Aircrew Club has grown over the past six years to about 66 members, with some 30 showing up each month for our luncheon meetings. All aircrew trades are represented; pilots, observers, navigators, wireless air gunners, and flight engineer. Ranks of our members go all the way up to Brigadier General (Air Vice Marshall).
Many were on operations in Canada, Europe, Burma, and several in Training Command. Some very decorated airmen include eight DFC's, two with DFC and Bar, and one with a DSO and DFC. A number of our members completed two operational tours, and one, believe it or not, completed four tours in Europe and a fifth tour in Korea! Twice a year, we invite our ladies to a special lunch meeting.
Almost four years ago, it was decided that our project would be to produce a book of actual wartime experiences. This job had been coordinated by our member Les Perkins, WAG, two tours, and a member of the Goldfish Club. His address is noted below.
The book, which will have thirty-plus wartime stories, will be published in the summer of 1998. Anyone wishing to obtain a copy should send Les Perkins a cheque for $40.00 which includes postage and handling, at 1480 Teral Road, Kelowna, B.C., V1X 7H3. We expect it will be one of a kind and most welcome to readers interested in RCAF and RAF activities and personal stories from WW II.
If you can help our club in any way to promote this book, it will be much appreciated.
Drew Lauder, ex F/L, Pilot in Training Command.
In the summer of 1997, an energetic group from the Canadian Forces 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron donated time and energy to give the T33 jet trainer perched on the pedestal at the entrance to the Brandon Airport (see attached photo) a good cleaning and repair where needed.
Although, this aircraft does not fall within the domain of the CATP Museum, we believe Master Warrant Officer Jack Roberts, Sergeant Larry Martyniuk, Sergeant Richard Benoit, Master Corporal Vanessa Cutler, Master Corporal Paul Gallant and Corporals Dan MacDonald, Bob Patten, Dave Robb, John Gallant and Scott Hanna deserve a hearty thank-you from our membership for their efforts in sprucing up the neighbourhood and generating interest for the airport in general.
CATPM LADIES' CORNERHi Ladies!.. a Happy New Year to you all. Things were pretty quiet with the CATPM Ladies' Auxiliary this past summer and autumn, but we did participate in the Fall Bazaar at the Brandon Gallery Shopping Mall on October 23 and 24, 1997. On behalf of President Kathleen Dryden and the Auxiliary, our sincere thanks and appreciation to all CATPM members, wives of members, Senior Wing members and wives, as well as the Auxiliary members who contributed in any way to the success of the Bazaar, with baking, phoning and staffing of the tables at the Gallery.
The money we made goes to further help the museum. Our project this fall was providing monetary assistance to the CATP Museum for five pouch type fabricated covers for a mobile picture display.
President Kathleen Dryden represented the Auxiliary at Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium in Brandon and placed a wreath to commemorate fallen comrades.
May I take this opportunity to sincerely thank all CATPM members for all their love and support shown to me this past year and for all the lovely letters and cards I received... I will treasure them all. Frank was a special person and I miss him so much.
Respectfully submitted by:
Marjorie Watt, Secretary CATPM AUXILIARY
The CATPM is grateful for the Auxiliary -- always there with a helping hand when needed. The display cover pouches were custom made locally. They are intended to protect a new, permanent, mobile display from the elements and damage while in transit and storage. These displays are allow for a greater quality and consistency in exhibits from event to event and have made the job of setting up a display, much easier for museum volunteers.
CONTACT is also grateful to the Auxiliary for the assistance their members provide in collating and distributing our newsletter.... three cheers for the Auxiliary!
A CONTACT Training Recollection
Our featured contributor this month is friend of the CATP Museum, Bob Kirkpatrick who recalls some happy experiences from his time in World War II England.
In regards to talking about the 24 ops I completed, there are some things I enjoy talking about or at least, think are interesting or funny.
On my way from Greenock, Scotland to Baurnemunth, England in August 1943, the train stopped at a platform somewhere in western England. There was an old lady with a cart full of what looked like those five cent apple, peach or whatever little pies we used to have in America. I just had to have one and got off the train and bought a half dozen or so pies that the English coins would pay for.
Back on the train, I shared the pies with my buddies. What a disappointment -- the crust was a greasy gummy mess and the filling was supposed to be meat (I was told later) but seemed to be, and tasted like, sawdust.
Latter in Tallachy in Scotland, at an abandoned training unit flying the Airspeed Oxford, I became the 200 hour wonder you've read about. I had traded some RAF equipment for a pair of U.S. Air Force sheepskins to be worn over shoes or boots. Hot shot training pilots didn't stop on the runway when preparing for take off, they just tore out with the outside engine wide open and then supposedly, with full rudder and bringing up the inside engine, you were straight down the runway and off in a spectacular fashion. The clearance between the rudder pedals and the control quadrant on an Oxford wouldn't accept these over-the-shoe sheepskins unless your feet were squarely on the middle of the rudder. All of a sudden, I/m airborne and my sheepskin boot was wedged so that in trying to take off the rudder, my foot come out of the boot. This created a gentle, but very directional turn right towards the central tower. Of course, I missed the tower, but I can still see three bodies tumbling down the almost vertical stairs with one of them flashing a red aldis at me. After gaining some altitude, I managed to remove the boot and proceeded on my flight. I conveniently can't remember what occured on my return.
Another red light flashing. Beaufighter conversion was in flight for 40 minutes with two of us -- P/O Butler and myelf -- standing behing F/Lt. Holland while he showed us starting procedures, taxiing, take-off and landing. After landing, Holland sends Butler offo and puts me in another Beau. The aircraft had no nose and there was no reference for the horizon on taxiing. Fortunately, I had to taxi far enough to the take-off point and learn a little bit about keeping it straight. A very careful take-off kept me fairly straight, but upon becoming airborne, it was a roller coaster affair trying to get the proper angle of climb. Wheels up, flaps up, throttle pitch. By now I was far enough from the airport that I'd just as well turn downwind and land this thing. I got the airport in sight, wheels down, pitch up, flaps a little and turned on final and the descent angle became a bigger problem than the climb angle. the guy in the checkered wagon at the end of the runway gave me the green light and I bored right on down. With no nose for a reference, I hammered that Beau, wheels first, right at the end of the runway. the bounce had to be 300 feet high and I was almost vertical with the left wing down, the green light was now a rapidly flashing red light. I can still see the white face behind it looking straight up at me.
Fortunately, a radial powered Beau, when the throttles were rapidly advanced would roll to the right. All of a sudden, I was straight and level about 300 feet up and so I started my go around. I left the area a way, checked my pants, thought over the situation, got it figured out and believe it or not, never, ever made another bad landing in a Beaufighter.
1996-1997 CATPM Annual President's Report
The past year was, again, an interesting year for the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. However, as reported before, the overriding occurrence was the sad passing of Frank Watt. Frank was a founding member of the museum and remained an extremely dedicated member of the executive from day one. He, and his wife Marg, were the editors of CONTACT from the beginning of the museum until poor health forced him out of that undertaking. Besides doing an excellent job in that category, he was always present to visualize and construct displays, develop exhibits, use his notorious old truck to pick up and deliver anything that had to be delivered. He always had a good story, a good idea, a great sense of humour and right to the end, he insisted he was ``in great shape for the condition I am in." The museum misses him greatly and our condolences go out to Frank's children and Marg who continues as an active member of the CATPM Ladies Auxiliary.
Editing for CONTACT has been assumed by Dirk Aberson and Greg Sigurdson with Marg Watt continuing to provide advice as Editor Emeritus. Four issues were printed in 1996-97 and the comments on them have been positive.
Several tours were hosted during the year including a tour of 62 people from Texas (who have already booked for next year), 40 from North Dakota, members of the Western Canada Aviation Museum, the 500 Wing of the CAFA, school tours from all over Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan along with tours of Air Cadet squadrons and 4-H clubs. Most of these groups had their tours conducted by ex-air force personnel.
Several displays were upgraded by Lyle Gawletz, our photo reproduction volunteer. He also copied dozens of photos which were provided to us and the originals returned to the contributors. In keeping with the photographic and display theme, two shows and sales of WWII prints and paintings were presented by the Fish Creek Art Gallery. These were well attended and sales were good.
CATPM displays were provided at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, the Antique Farm Equipment Show, the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, the Keystone Fall Fair and the Manitoba Rural Forum on Economic Development. Our museum video was one of the few available for viewing at The Forks in Winnipeg promoting provincial points of interest.
Our airworthy aircraft flew in the air show at Virden, the antique farm show and performed several other "flybys."
Other outreach opportunities which the museum took advantage of were a televised museum tour and interview with Rex Murphy for his series on "What does it mean to be a Canadian." Robert Scully chose the museum for one of his school series on Canadian Heritage. Several other television, radio and press interviews were carried out and media items publicized by CKX, CKLQ, CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, the Brandon Sun and many weekly newspapers.
In the past year, the museum developed a self-directed tour for mini-tape cassette players. Written tours are available in both English and French. Because of our vicinity to the German troops, who train at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, we are in the process of providing these items in German as well -- we have learned that their interest is great and the visits very friendly.
The City of Brandon from whom we rent our present home has said that because of the maintenance costs on the hangar are getting so high, they will not maintain the place beyond 1999. Therefore, a great deal' of time has been spent during the past year in developing the thrust toward a new home. The consensus is that the complete restoration of the current hangar is the preferred option. These efforts wert encouraged with visits by such notables as the Honourable Gary Filmon, Premier of Manitoba and his wife, Janice, the Hon. Jim McCrae, the Hon. Rosemary Vodrey, Rick Borotsik Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris, Brandon Mayor Reg Atkinson and others. We also appreciated the support of Fred McGuinness and his group of "friends of the museum." We are looking forward to the day when all of these indications of praise for our efforts translate into material support. As the year ends, we have assurances from two local businesses that they will each sponsor one of our flying aircraft.
In the works category, after a four year search for a replacement for the engine for our 1941 Ford six-wheel drive crash truck, we have it back in operation. The 1940 RCAF fuel tender is also nearing restoration completion. The Hurricane will soon be complete to display status. The Bolingbroke, being prepared for display on a pedestal to draw public attention to the museum and to prominently display an
artifact indicative of 1940s aircraft technology, is also nearly complete.
As we embark on our 1997-98 fiscal year, the Cessna Crane, which is being restored to airworthy status, has been moved into the museum workshop. The wings are completed and the fuselage is well under way to restoration.
The museum has always been fortunate to have a supportive Ladies Auxiliary. They came through again this year, and along with some help from the Manitoba Department of Heritage, Culture and Citizenship, a new computer was purchased to better accommodate programs for archiving.
The Senior's crew also continues to provide several services to the museum.
We were also fortunate to obtain the services of two excellent summer students, this year Susan Addison and Leanne Randall. They were innovative, pleasant and all around credit to their generation.
Souvenir sales generated a tidy profit under the capable management of Elaine Chisholm. Sales of the museum's memorial book, ``They Shall Grow Not Old,'' continue at a steady pace.
It wouldn't be possible to operate the museum without the co-operation of our neighbors and landlord. Maple Leaf Aviation, which shares Hangar #1 with us, are great neighbors and we appreciate their tolerance of many of our activities. Similarly, the Brandon Flying Club, the City of Brandon, Brandon Airport Manager John Christianson and staff have also been very helpful.
We also appreciate the cooperation of other aviation museums, in particular the Nanton Lancaster Museum, the British Columbia Air Museum, Western Canada Aviation Museum and the Gander Aviation Museum.
The Annual CATPM raffle was a success and contributed over $12,000 toward operation of the museum. The Annual CATPM Dinner and Dance was well attended and for the first time in several years, we were above the break-even level.
The most outstanding example of good work by volunteers continues to be production of the memorial book ``They Shall Grow Not Old.'' This book contains a short biography on each of the 18,039 young men and women who gave their lives while in the RCAF between 1939 and 1945. It is used as a reference by individuals and organizations throughout the western world including our National War Museum. We would like to obtain help from public agencies, but to date, have been unable to generate anything except accolades on a job well done. No help is available because the Canada Council tells us that the CATP Museum is not a recognized publisher and that those who researched and compiled it are not recognized writers. There is no recognition of the fact that if it wasn't for those who gave their lives for our freedom, there wouldn't be a Canada Council.
Similarly, we are unable to obtain federal government grants because we don't have a full time manager but we don't have a manager because we can't get grants.
The Province of Manitoba is more supportive through the provision of an annual operating grant of $3,150 plus some grants for specific projects. Locally, the City of Brandon provides our hangar for one dollar per year and they cooperate in other ways.
We have engaged a consulting firm to assess the physical condition of our current home to determine whether a quality restoration of the hangar is feasible. It is proves to be restorable in a practical manner and at a reasonable cost, then a financial campaign will be launched and a business plan developed.
Hopes are that by the end of the new fiscal year, all will be in place for a restored home to perpetuate, in a comprehensive and dignified manner, the commemoration of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and those who died in the RCAF in World War II.
All suggestions for helping the museum fulfill its mandate and for funding our restoration and operation are welcome.
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Foundation Report -- 1996-1997
The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Foundation began the 1996-1997 fiscal year with $89,230.00 invested in a Guaranteed Investment Certificate plus a small sum was retained in the Foundation savings account. The GIC was redeemed in May, 1997 having earned $1,667.06 in interest. The principle plus interest, plus donations were then placed in a three year term investment totaling $93,000.00. Donations received during the 1997-98 fiscal year totaled $10,211.00 of which $9,000.00 has been invested in a GIC.
W. Ronald Begg, Charles A. Appleton, Gordon Scott, David Colwell, Beryl Dennis, Elward Burnside, Henry N. Aitken, H.A. Johnston, H. Burns, Leverne Haley, F. Welsh, E.M. Bredin QC, I.L. McEwen, E.J. Rogers, Mary E.M. Proctor, R.B. Woodland, Wm. Fogarty, J. Guy McClelland, Colin Campbell, William Rowbotham, Orma Wines, Ex-Air Gunner's Association of Canada, Mrs. Joyce Bell, Paul Pankow, A.T. Hansen, Dora Sigurdson, Harry Dolhan, T.R. Yaeger, Ernie Brown, Nick M. Rudrick, E. Anderson, Joe Armishaw, Alastair Fowler, G. Loving, Glen Heisler, Dorothy Knight, Michael Perry, Mary Heaton, Doreen Buchanan, Keith MacIntosh, Stuart Leslie, G.E. Hexter DFM, Herbert Hollingsworth G/C (ret.), Wilkie Wanless, Dr. A.C. Irwin, J.T. Patterson, F/O. Ross H. Hamilton (R.C.A.F. ret.), S/L. W.H. "Butch" Cleaver CD (R.C.A.F. ret.), Kenneth Arnott, Ronald G. Campbell, Mrs. Nellie Johnston, David Acaster, J.R.W. Wynne, Ross Currie, Kathleen Swift, Wm. B. Fee DFC CD (R.C.A.F. ret.), Carl Colley, Mrs. Nan McGruther, W.J. White, G.M. Rice, Gordon Clubb, E.Y. Walker, Ronald W. Chadwick, Jack F. Langridge, George A. Stevens, W. Donald Miller, Wilfred Riddle, Marjorie E. Quarrie, Olive B. Anderson, N.E. Goodhand, George Tees, Gordon A. Wilson, A.A. Anderson, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 30 - Melfort, Saskatchewan, George Laing, J.N. Lillico, Sam Side, W.A. Allan, Francis R. Stewart, Gordon A. Wilson, W.A. Allan, K.C. Campbell, Vic Rushton, Douglas P. Doern.
In memory of Ed. McGill, Brandon, Manitoba:
David Blake, Alex Matheson, Klondike Farms Ltd., R.G. McDonald, Gladys Moffatt, Donald H. Penny, Mary E. Frederickson, Reg Forbes, Archie & Winona Londry, Don Leech, Ron Kille, Lorne Radcliffe, John G. Allen, Joan Myers, Merv Dillabough, L. Ross Mitchell, Fred McGuinness, James C. McCrae - M.L.A., J.W. McKenzie, Jack Stacy, George L.Wilkinson, Frank McManes, Sterling Lyon, Robert Purves, Wayne Jasper, Effie O'Brien, F. Cameron Shortts, William T. Gibson, Elaine Turpin, the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, Brian Ransom, David Shuttleworth, Supt. Sterling McNeil, Phyllis Elliott, Cicely Valens, Doug Dodds, F.J.E. Purdie, Joan Burchill, Glen P. Sutherland.
In memory of Frank Watt, Brandon, Manitoba:
William N. Gould, Jack & Marlene Leonard, Ruth Stuart, Alex Matheson, Norris Williamson, Phil Fraser, S.T. Johnson, D. Johnson
In memory of John H. Pritchard of Burnley, Lancashire, England:
Jean Shapter & family
In memory of Ed Baker , Brandon, Manitoba:
In memory of R.B. McCullough, #299 Squadron:
In memory of Al Johnson, Brandon Manitoba:
In memory of brother Thomas Harold Nolan (RCAF Lancaster Bomber Rear Air Gunner killed over Europe in 1945):
Victor R. Nolan
In memory of Sgt. F.L. Brisco:
In memory of brothers S/L. Thomas Campbell DFC & Bar (97 Squadron) and
F/O. John Campbell (435 Squadron):
Agnes M. Laing
In memory of Andrew Fisher:
In memory of A. V. M. Kenneth G. Nairn:
In memory of H. Norman McMillan:
In memory of Herb Stevenson:
In memory of all Air Gunners who lost their lives during World War II:
In memory of Cecil Charles David Hinks, RCAF, shot down over Germany in 1942:
E. A. McNish
In memory of husband W. Neil Elliott:
In memory of F/L. Robert J. McBey, RAF:
In memory of S/L. Bob Wolff:
Robert R. Barber
In memory of Flying Instructor Sgt. Norman Leo Lauzon (R154041) RCAF:
In memory of Course 101:
From Issue #3 of The Sentinel, 1974 -- submitted by Harry Hayward
Remember when officers and WO1s strutted around in their tailormade baratheas and airmen were cursed with the heavy, fuzzy, melton uniform?
And you couldn't do much with the indestructible, canvas-lined ``iron suit.'' Unlike comfortable army battle dress, or natty navy tiddlys, the RCAF uniform of wartime and immediate post war years defied improvement. It just ``was.'' By the time you got the fuzzy nap worn off, the seams were splitting and you were issued with a new one.
But we tried -- We put a bash in our hat and sewed on Canada flashes every time we were off the base. The hat badge was rounded by poking it into a drain hole with a broom-handle. We soaped the inside of our trouser creases to sharpen them up.
Our Steve Canyon hero shows the slightly stooped posture caused from wearing the wide, no elastic "Police" braces under his skin tight tunic. Elastic must have been in short supply... the issue undershorts featured dainty string bows on each side to hold them temporarily in place.
Our hero has left behind his issue oil cloth raincoat which, treated with some strange preservative, literally stunk to high heaven, especially when wet, especially when there were 50 men to a barrack-room.
But our dapper young airman is prepared for a happy weekend. He's wearing his ``spiffy'' collar-stay to keep his soft collar in shape. No doubt it will spring loose just when he's making a pitch for some sweet young thing.
And he hasn't forgotten his button-stick. Not that he's terribly keen about polishing, but a high gloss on buttons and belt buckle reflected enough glare from on-coming headlights to prevent being run over on the highway.
Once in town, he'll sew up his illegal ``Canada'' flashes and be ready for action, and proceed to blow his fortnightly LAC's pay...about $35 bucks in 1949-50.
In the early 50's he'll get the good news...smooth fabric Eisenhower jackets and pants will be issued. Then he'll get the bad news...you must wear out both old uniforms first.
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