The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) recently announced its plans to commemorate the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), a massive Canadian undertaking during the Second World War. The RCAF has chosen 2016 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of BCATP.
“The historian of the Second World War may, with some justification, record that the air battle of Europe was won on the fields of the BCATP,” said Wing Commander Fred H. Hitchens, RCAF historian, in 1949.
The BCATP ran from Dec. 17, 1939, to March 31, 1945. The program trained aircrew from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and personnel from other countries. At the end of the program in 1935, more than 131,000 pilots, navigators, wireless operators, air bombers, air gunners and flight engineers had graduated from the program.
The RCAF is celebrating the anniversary of this plan in 2016 because the RCAF’s 400-series squadron was established 75 years ago overseas as a result of Article XV of the BCATP Agreement. The celebrations, however, will focus on the entirety of the five-year program.
“This year, we mark a key period in our Royal Canadian Air Force history, and share our celebrations with the more than 140 Canadian communities that contributed to the massive five-year air training program that helped lead the Allies to victory in Europe.
“As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the formation of the first 400 series Squadrons, we note that they were the product of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan agreement and their names, legacy, and professionalism live on in our squadrons today,” said LGen. Michael Hood, Commander of the RCAF.