Women's Division, 1942, No. 1 Technical Training School

Women's Division, 1942, No. 1 Technical Training School, St. Thomas Scott Studio Fonds, TSS-2/172

When war was declared in 1939 Canada became, in the words of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the “Aerodrome of Democracy”.  An agreement on 17th December of that year between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK made Canada the location of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In the agreement Canada became the central location for the British Empire-wide scheme to instruct aircrew whose aviators went on to serve in the Second World War.

The Canadian government bore more than three-quarters of the total cost of more than 1.6 billion dollars. Over 130,000 pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, flight engineers, air gunners and wireless operators were trained, more than half of whom were Canadian.

It is also important to note that the ground organization consisted of both men and women, and the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division made a significant contribution to the war efforts. The training programs were also not immune to the casualties of war, and schools would face the loss of both instructors and students over the years until the war ended in 1945.

In Elgin County three training schools were established in accordance with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan: No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School located in Fingal, No. 1 Technical Training School at St. Thomas and No. 14 Service Flying Training School in Aylmer. Follow the links on the side to learn more about the individual schools.