Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, next year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the completion of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, a plan that was essential to the Allied victory in the Second World War.
Honourable senators will be aware of the important role of the air force in the Battle of Britain to protect Britain from the Nazi invasion that never happened because of the strong air force. They will also be aware of the protection of the soldiers landing on D-Day, the air protection that was provided, and how bomber command helped bring about the end of the Second World War as quickly as we were able.
At the beginning of the war, the Allies recognized the necessity of closing the air power gap between the allies and the Axis powers. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan sought to close that gap, and Canada became the home of that plan. Our country played an integral role, so much so that then President Franklin Roosevelt called Canada the “aerodrome of democracy.”
Over the course of the war, the plan trained more than 130,000 pilots, observers, flight engineers and other air crew for the air forces of Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. One hundred airfields and 107 flight schools were built.
The Royal Canadian Air Force itself grew from 4,000 at the beginning of the war to more than 230,000 officers and non-commissioned officers, including more than 17,000 women.
In fact, every province hosted training and support facilities in almost 150 communities across Canada. My home province of New Brunswick hosted six training schools, two depots and one operational training unit. The airports of many modern-day cities and towns, like Brandon, Manitoba, and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, were part of that original aerodrome infrastructure. Numerous military bases, like CFB Moose Jaw and CFB Portage La Prairie, were also once part of that plan.
The Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association represents 25 museums and two historical societies. In honour of the anniversary of the training plan, it’s partnered with Next Frame Digital Productions to create a one-hour documentary and web-based interactive educational experience called Yellow Wings to Victory. I would encourage honourable senators to go to yellowwingstovictory.ca to learn more about this interactive program narrated by Mr. Tom Cochrane, who is also an honorary colonel of one of our air force bases. Thank you.