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«LONDON PRINTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY, OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA. REPORT of the MINISTRY Overseas Military Forces of Canada LONDON ...»

-- [ Page 47 ] --

This narrative gives but a brief outline of the outstanding achievements of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in the war, but it is sufficient to show that the Canadian Cavalry has fought with much distinction and success.

The total strength of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in France on November 11, 1918, was—

–  –  –

As the Canadian Corps has made history on land, so have Canadians gained renown in the air. While, until recently, there has been no distinct Canadian Air Force, yet from the very commencement of the war Canada has contributed in large measure to the personnel of the British Flying Forces. More particularly has this applied to the supply of officers, both pilots and observers, and it will, no doubt, be a matter of surprise to many to hear that over 8,000 Canadians have held commissions in the Air Forces. When it is remembered that the Air Forces are peculiar, in that the burden of the fighting and the danger falls almost entirely on the officers, it will be realised that this is a record of which Canada can well be proud. By nature Canadians seemed to be especially endowed with the faculties and temperament necessary to success in the air, because in it they undoubtedly found themselves in a congenial element, and went forward from success to success, till the names of our foremost fighters have become household words. This success has been attributed to the conditions under which the average Canadian has been brought up. His life, or at least a part of it, has been spent in the open, on the lakes and rivers of the east, in the mountains of British Columbia, or on the prairies of the west. He has lived under conditions which trained mind and muscle to act quickly and decisively, and this training stood him in good stead in the air. Perhaps it was that, during -his earlier boyhood, he had been accustomed to wide spaces and had thus unconsciously been prepared for the vastness of the sky. Whatever the cause, the Flying Service appealed strongly to the individualistic character of the Canadian, and in that Service he was an outstanding success.

It is difficult to ascertain the number of Canadians who have been in the Royal Flying Corps, the Royal Naval Air Service, and later the Royal Air Force, at any given date, for the reason they have entered these Services through so many different channels.

They have, however, entered through three main channels. First, officers were seconded to the Air Forces from the Overseas Military Forces of Canada. These officers still remained Canadian officers, although so seconded, and were liable to recall, if necessary. Second, non-commissioned officers and men were discharged 346 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

from the Overseas Military Forces of Canada for the purpose of entering the Royal Air Force. This they did in large numbers, receiving commissioned rank in it as soon as they qualified. Third, a very large number of cadets were enlisted by the Imperial Authorities in Canada. At no period were these latter under the direction of the Overseas administration, but were in the same position as if they had enlisted in England.

The following statement shows the numbers of Canadians who have entered the Royal Flying Corps, the Royal Naval Air Service, or the

Royal Air Force in the manner indicated:

–  –  –

In addition to the above a number of other ranks, who subsequently received commissioned rank, were transferred to the Royal Air Force prior to June 1, 1916, but the exact figures are not known. Also a certain number of Canadians came over at their own expense to England and joined the Flying Services, while a certain number who came over to join British Regiments have also subsequently transferred to the Royal Air Force.

At the date of the Armistice there was a large number of cadets in course of training in Canada who, as a consequence of the Armistice, did not come Overseas. There were also a very considerable number of other ranks employed in Canada by the Royal Air Force, and although it is impossible to give exact figures, there have been in the Air Force probably well over 13,000 Canadians of all ranks.

Those mentioned in the first category of the above statement have been issued with pay from Canadian funds ; those mentioned in categories two and three are paid by the Imperial Authorities. There have also been a number of Canadians who have served in the ranks in the Air Forces in England and France, amounting to approximately 350.

Canadians in the Royal Air Force. 347 Although the Royal Air Force was entirely under the direction of the Imperial Authorities, yet, in view of the large percentage of Canadians included in its personnel, it was felt by the Minister that it was proper that some action should be taken to recognise their Canadian identity, and to ensure that a record of Canadians in the Royal Air Force and of their exploits should be kept.

Accordingly negotiations were entered into with the Secretary of.

State for the Air as a result of which the following arrangement was come to:—

1. The Royal Air Force agreed to furnish the Minister with a Nominal Roll of Canadians in the Royal Air Force, and to advise him from time to time of all accretions to and deductions from it.

2. All Canadians in the Royal Air Force were to be permitted to wear a Canadian badge either on their shoulder straps or on their sleeve.





3. It was agreed to give Canadians representation on the Royal Air Force Headquarters and Staff.

4. A monthly statement of the exploits of Canadian Airmen was to be furnished to the Minister, with a view to its dissemination to the Canadian public.

5. It was agreed in principle that Canada should have a Flying Corps of her own, which, while distinct in its organisation and administration, would form part of the Royal Air Force for the purpose of operations in the Field.

As a result of the above the position of Canadians in the Royal Air Force was put on a basis more satisfactory to the Canadian public, as well as to the officers themselves. It will be observed that the question of forming a separate Canadian Air Force was taken up at this time, and certain proposals agreed to. The Section succeeding this deals with that subject.

Canadian Air Force.

In 1918 the question of forming a Canadian Air Force, distinct from the Royal Air Force, occupied the attention and received the careful consideration of the Minister. Previous to this year, for various reasons, it had not been considered in the best interests of Canada or the Empire as a whole to enter on a separate programme in this connection. As the war proceeded, and as it became apparent that a Flying Corps would be an essential and important part of any Canadian post-bellum military organisation, as well as likely to have a considerable influence on the development of commercial aeronautics in Canada after the war, it was resolved to take such steps as were :necessary to provide Canada with, at least, a nucleus of such an organisation. It was fully realised that any such Force must of necessity be confined within small dimensions, because any attempt to withdraw Canadian personnel from the Royal Air Force in large numbers would have had a most prejudicial effect on the efficiency of that Force. Further, the expenditure involved in the maintenance of a large Air Force would have been very great.

As mentioned in the last Section, this matter had been the -subject of discussion between the Minister and the Secretary of State for the Royal Air Force in the early part of 1918, and it had been agreed in principle between them that Canada should have a Flying Corps of her own. This was immediately followed up by further negotiations, and a memorandum setting out entative arrangements for the organisation of a Canadian Air Force was drawn up between the Minister and the Secretary of State for the Royal Air Force, and definitely settled July 8,

1918. This memorandum was later embodied as part of the Order in Council which, subsequently, confirmed the agreement.

The provisions of the Order in Council were substantially as follows:— (a) That authority be granted for the formation of a Canadian Air Force and of Service Units of such Air Force in accordance with the terms of the memorandum marked "A," which memorandum had been approved by the Secretary of State of the Royal Air Force.

350 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

(b) That further Service Units of said Canadian Air Force be formed from time to time as and when the same might be approved by the Minister of Overseas Military Forces of Canada and the Secretary of State for the Royal Air Force.

(c) That the Canadian Air Force form a part of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada and be subject to the provisions of the Militia Act of Canada.

(d) That the Canadian Air Force be under the same establishment as may from time to time obtain in the Royal Air Force.

(e) That the Minister of Overseas Military Forces of Canada be empowered from time to time to take any and all action that he might deem necessary for the formation, extension, organisation, and administration of the Canadian Air Force.

Provisions of Memorandum.—The memorandum referred to provided inter alia—

1. That. the formation of two Canadian Air Squadrons should be proceeded with forthwith.

2. That these Squadrons should be organised in England by the Overseas Military Forces of Canada in conjunction with the Royal Air Force.

3. That the type of Unit and equipment should be decided by the Air Council.

4. That the personnel of the Squadrons should be drawn as follows:—

–  –  –

5. That the Canadian Government should assume responsibility for assisting in the formation of the Squadrons by the provision of necessary personnel and for the pay and allowances of such personnel, as well as for the supply and reinforcements for Service Squadrons.

6. That the Air Council (Imperial) should assume the responsibility for the command and administration of the Canadian personnel when in a theatre of war or under training in Great Britain, and for the provision, maintenance, and replacing in all cases of machines, tools, technical equipment and supplies necessary to maintain the said Forces ; further, it was to be responsible for the necessary training facilities.

Organisation.—In accordance with the above a Canadian Air Force Section of the Canadian General Staff was created for the purpose of carrying out the organisation of the Squadrons. Steps were taken to procure the necessary personnel in accordance with the provisions of the memorandum, and a selection of officers was made, representative of the best traditions of Canadian aerial fighting. The other ranks were selected from Units of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, special attention in the selection being paid to their civil occupation, so that the men most suited to mechanical work might be' obtained. The types of Squadrons decided upon were a single-seater Scout Squadron and a day Bombing Squadron. These were organised in England, and when organised went into quarters at Upper Heyford, near Oxford. It was, of course, intended that these Squadrons should be trained and sent to France to take their place in the field as fighting Units.

Training.—Their training proceeded along the lines necessary to prepare them for that purpose, but as a result of the signing of the Armistice they were not required in France and their training was then specially directed to fit them for post-war flying, and to giving them instruction in other branches of aeronautics likely to prove beneficial to Canada in the future. Special attention was paid to wireless training, photographic training, aerial geographical training and cross-country flying. In addition, steps were taken to complete the organisation of the Canadian Air Force so that, though small, it might provide a fullydeveloped organisation on which might be based any future organisation in Canada.

352 Overseas. Military Forces of Canada..

–  –  –

Present Equipment.—The following equipment has been secured without charge for the Canadian Air Force in the manner indicated.

Aeroplanes.— Presented by the Imperial Air Fleet Committee

Presented by the Overseas Club and Patriotic League

German aeroplanes in serviceable condition allotted by the Air Ministry

–  –  –

Bureau of Aeronautical Information (now absorbed in Technical and Supply Branch of Canadian Air Force).

In the summer of 1918 a small section was formed known as the Canadian Bureau of Aeronautical Information. It is now absorbed in the Technical and Supply Branch of the Canadian Air Force. Its object was and is to collect all available technical information regarding the development of aeronautics during the war, both from Allied sources, and where possible from enemy sources.

It was seen that there was a large amount of valuable information on this subject, which could be collected during the progress of the war, but which would not be so easily obtained once peace had been signed and the aerial forces of the allies completely demobilised. The work done consists of the collection and filing for future reference of drawings, plans, specifications, and all other technical information and data regarding aeroplanes, engines, accessories, and aircraft equipment in general. This information should be invaluable to Canada after the war, not merely from a military point of view, but for the purpose of the aeronautical development generally, which will, without doubt, become a matter of great importance in the future.

To achieve the objects of the Bureau, it entered into arrangements with the Air Ministry whereby its representatives are allowed free access to the Technical Departments concerned, in order to make known its requirements, and to obtain any documents, publications, drawings, etc., which may be considered of value. In addition, a few officers have been sent on missions to France and Italy, to gather as complete information as possible regarding aeronautics in these countries. Plans are on foot for the purpose of coming to an arrangement with the Air Ministry under which future aeronautical students from Canada may receive their final training as aeronautical engineers at the leading aeronautical establishments in the United Kingdom.

(642) AA Canadian Railway Troops.



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