THE SECOND WORLD WAR (1939-1945)

FOCUS ON… WINGS ABROAD

Front page of "Wing Abroad" on the Dieppe raid on June 26, 1942.

Morale for Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) personnel was a huge issue during the war. Their Royal Air Force (RAF) colleagues were generally not far from home, and personal mail or news was pretty easy to come by.

But the Canadians were a long way from their hometowns. Moreover, especially during the early months of the war, Canadian airmen were of ten assigned to RAF squadrons rather than Canadian squadrons. So in 1942 Air Marshal Gus Edwards established Wings Abroad: The Official RCAF Newspaper.

It carried items of specifically Canadian interest, and was part of his efforts to improve the morale and welfare of RCAF personnel overseas.

The newspaper lasted for 167 issues, with the final edition hitting the streets on June 28, 1945, just after VE Day. It was published in London and sold for 1d (one penny).

When it closed up shop, The Maple Leaf — its younger, but better known, sister newspaper published by the Army — had this to say: “Wings Abroad, the official newspaper of the RCAF Overseas, culminated a splendid Airforce news reporting chore with its final edition yesterday.

"Originally edited by officer personnel, the first edition was printed in April, 1942, and eventually was edited and staffed entirely by [non-commissioned officers] and airmen.1

“The popular weekly provided all airmen serving overseas with solid pukka gen’ in its more than three years existence, and The Maple Leaf echoes the sentiments of Wings Abroad readers in saying ‘Well done!’”

Wings Abroad was succeeded by the Roundel magazine, which began publication in 1948.

DID YOU KNOW…

Sgt Lloyd Boulton, an air gunner with an RAF squadron in Malta, was one of the “Lost Legion”.

It’s estimated that 60 per cent of the RCAF personnel who served overseas during the Second World War spent some or all of their service in RAF squadrons. They are known as the “Lost Legion”.