Editor's Message(RCAF Journal - SPRING 2016 - Volume 5, Issue 2)

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In the late 1930s, then Prime Minister of Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie King had serious concerns. War with Germany was fast approaching; war with Japan loomed on the horizon, and he knew that many men were going to be needed to fight in the upcoming campaigns. With the horrible casualties suffered by Canada during the Great War, Prime Minister King was determined to find a way for Canada to assist in the war effort while minimizing Canadian casualties.

When the British sought to re-establish an aircrew training system in Canada, as had been done during the Great War, a convenient way for Canada to assist appeared at hand. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was an opportunity to contribute to the war effort, with the majority of the personnel working in the relative safety of Canada. Indeed, the BCATP went on to become an organization of 104,113 men and women working in 151 schools across Canada that trained 131,553 aircrew (of which 72,835 were Canadian).[1] This incredible contribution is celebrated in this edition of the Royal Canadian Air Force Journal (RCAFJ) to honour the men and women who trained those who turned the tide of the air battle over Europe, in the Pacific and everywhere else the conflict raged.

One of the reasons the plan became so successful was the incorporation of aircrew who had conducted operational tours of duty overseas. These combat veterans were able to better prepare trainees for the rigours of war with hard-earned experience. The number of aircrew produced had barely met the needs early in the war, but with determination and hard work from new instructors and veterans alike, Canadians built a massively successful plan that helped win the war. Without question, the success of the BCATP is worthy of commemoration with a special edition of the RCAFJ. The articles within will expand our knowledge of the contributions that were made and give us an opportunity to reflect upon the differences and similarities of the challenges our predecessors faced in comparison to today’s continued requirement to provide trained and effective aircrew with operational experience. There is much to be learned from the BCATP.

Enjoy the read.

Sic Itur Ad Astra

Lieutenant-Colonel Doug Moulton, CD, MBA

Abbreviations

BCATP―British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
RCAFJ―Royal Canadian Air Force Journal

Note

1. “The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan,” Veterans Affairs Canada, accessed June 28, 2016, http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/british-commonwealth-air-training-plan. (return)

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