The Few That So Many Owed So

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The Few That So Many Owed So Much Essay, Research Paper Shortly after the Battle of Britain Sir Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Great Britain, is quoted as exclaiming, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” The few that Churchill was referring to were the brave aircrew that undertook the daunting task of repelling the massive offensive by the dreaded German air corps, the Luftwaffe. In the year 1940 Adolf Hitler ordered an offensive in coordination with an attempted invasion of the isle of Britain. The only way Hitler was going to accomplish this great feat was the assert the power of his Air Force. In November of 1940 after months of constant bombardment of the English coastal cities, the Royal Air Force of Britain was

ordered to begin attack on Germany. This rather inexperienced group of rookie pilots was successfully able to repel the German attacks and force Hitler into a direct attack upon London. It was this major flaw in the German invasion plan that caused the defeat of Germany just a few years later. The unknown story is that of the pilots that defeated the German squadrons. Of these pilots roughly sixty percent were Canadian born pilots and over seventy-five percent were Canadian trained. Without the contribution of the Canadian Royal Air Force contingent, the British would not have been able to affectively defend England from the attack of the German Luftwaffe. In order to completely understand the involvement by Canadian forces one must first discover what exactly the Canucks were

doing in the war. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) played three roles throughout World War II. The first of these roles was the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan; they would erect training school for aircrew. The second facet of the RCAF was involvement in overseas war theatres. Lastly, the least know function of the RCAF was the defense and institution of the Canadian Home War Establishment. These three roles of the RCAF were the basis for the Allied forces air corps. The British Commonwealth Training Plan (BLATP) was the program started in a joint effort by the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The agreement was signed in 1939 to form what Roosevelt would call, “the aerodrome of democracy.” In April of 1940 the first air school opened in Canada.

The task of opening this school fell to four thousand aircrew that needed to form dozens of schools to train airmen. The original school was able to produce 520 pilots with elementary education in air combat. Out of every hundred pilots that graduated from the school anywhere between sixty and sixty-five were Canadian.ii When the program ended at the conclusion of the war they had opened a total of ninety-seven schools and had successfully trained 82,000 airmen in three years. The Canadian trained pilots were the backbone of the Allied offensive battles and defensive support of World War II. The defense of Canada fell under the command of two division of the RCAF, the Eastern Air Command and the Western Air Command. The purpose of the Eastern Air Command was to defend the

Canadian and American coasts against German U-Boat. The first 18 months of the war were relatively quiet, but from the spring of 1941, the resources of EAC were taxed to their utmost limits in the grim Battle of the Atlantic. Enemy U-boats were sighted and attacked in Canadian coastal waters. The enemy even penetrated into the St. Lawrence River to sink vessels. The most critical period was in 1942 and the first six months of 1943 when submarine activity in the North Atlantic reached its peak. Then the tide turned, and although the introduction of the acoustic torpedo and later the “Schnorkel” breathing-tube presented new serious defense problems, the sea and air forces of Britain, US and Canada retained the upper hand until the last U-boats surrendered in May 1945. Aircraft