Training for Freedom: The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

In 1939, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan came to life to school air and ground crew personnel at bases during World War II in Manitoba. The “Plan” changed the future for all Canadians. To know more about this story, visit the exhibit Training For Freedom, produced by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum and virtualmuseum.ca. Leave us your comments below, and tell us why this History Matters to you.

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What was one of the greatest unifying events in Canadian history during the Second World War?

It’s 1939. A momentous agreement, known as the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, is signed between the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada to rapidly increase the Allies’ air combat resources.

Canada is chosen as “The Plan’s” primary site because of its ample supplies of fuel and industrial facilities, its wide-open spaces and the unlikelihood of an enemy attack.

During its five-year execution, the Plan exceeds all expectations with the training of more than 130,000 aircrew and some 44,000 ground crew including 17,000 women. Of all the newly trained pilots, half are Canadian.

It’s a life-altering event for 231 training sites, across Canada, which are invaded with the constant drone of aircraft, and men and women from all over the country and the commonwealth. They all come together, bound under one purpose…to defeat the Germans in the skies.

Sir Winston Churchill would later refer to the Plan as Canada's greatest contribution to the Allies’ victory.

To know more about the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan go to History Matters at virtualmusem.ca.

And tell us why this history matters to you?

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One Response to Training for Freedom: The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

  1. Larry Button says:

    Thank you. My father (Canadian) trained at #14 SFTS in Aylmer Ontario before being posted overseas for two years. In England he met my mother who was serving in the WAAF. My mother’s brother can the other direction – from England to Western Canada – where he did his pilot training under the BCATP.

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