420 Squadron "Snowy Owl" a Canadian Bomber Squadron that flew from the Midlands in Britain to attack Nazi held positions in Europe
The RAF (Royal Air Force - Britain) and the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force - Canada) were divided into different Commands:
Fighter Command - RAF Fighter Command was one of the commands of the Royal Air Force. It was formed in 1936 to allow more specialized control of fighter aircraft. It served throughout the Second World War. It earned near-immortal fame during the Battle of Britain in 1940, when the Few held off the Luftwaffe attack on Britain. Wikipedia Examples of Fighter Command Airmen are Claude Weaver III, an American Airman who joined the RCAF. Claude Weaver represents one of over 8000
Americans who joined the RCAF, because the USA was remaining neutral. Many Americans thought that the Nazi regime needed to be stopped and enlisted in foreign military service. The RCAF was open and accepting of Americans.
Bomber Command - RAF Bomber Command controlled the Royal Air Force's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. Along with the United States Army Air Forces, it played the central role in the strategic bombing of Germany in World War II. From 1942 onward, the British bombing campaign against Germany became less restrictive and increasingly targeted industrial sites and the civilian manpower base essential for German war production. In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown, 1,030,500 tons of bombs were dropped and 8,325 aircraft lost in action. Bomber Command crews also suffered a high casualty rate: 55,573 were killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew, a 44.4% death rate. A further 8,403 men were wounded in action, and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Wikipedia
Robert Allan Anderson is an excellent example of an ordinary young man from Brandon Manitoba, whose war history is told here. Study his career and answer the questions below. Anderson represents almost all aspects of the war: recruitment, training, operational deployment, prisoner of war then return home.
Coastal Command - RAF Coastal Command was a formation within the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was founded in 1936, when the RAF was restructured into Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands and played an important role during the Second World War. Maritime Aviation had been neglected in the inter-war period, due to disagreements between the Royal Navy (RN) and RAF over the ownership, roles and investment in maritime air power.Wikipedia
Transport Command - RAF Transport Command was a Royal Air Force command that controlled all transport aircraft of the RAF. It was established on 25 March 1943 by the renaming of the RAF Ferry Command, and was subsequently renamed RAF Air Support Command in 1967. Wikipedia Transport Command was responsible for moving men and materials to operational locations throughout the world.
Ferry Command - RAF Ferry Command was the secretive Royal Air Force command formed on 20 July 1941 to ferry urgently needed aircraft from their place of manufacture in the United States and Canada, to the front line operational units in Britain, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War. It was later subsumed into the new Transport Command on 25 March 1943 by being reduced to Group status. Wikipedia Ferry Command was operated from Dorval Airport in Montreal by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan - (1939-1945) The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), or Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) often referred to as simply "The Plan", was a massive, joint military aircrew training program created by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, during the Second World War. BCATP remains as one of the single largest aviation training programs in history and was responsible for training nearly half the pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, air gunners, wireless operators and flight engineers who served with the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) during the war. Canada trained over 131,000 airmen and over 80,00 ground crew. Wikipedia
Robert Allan Anderson - Review the entire story of a Canadian Airman from Brandon Manitoba. The story encompasses enlistment to his return home.
Frederick Manual Mifflin - A Newfoundlander (not in Canada until 1949) was a pilot on a Lancaster Bomber. An engine caught fire and the Navigator, Norman Cyril Jackson, VC actually went out on the wing during flight to extinguish the blaze.
Answer the 7 sets of Anderson questions below. You can click and link directly to the Anderson file.
Claude Weaver III is an excellent true story about an exceptional American Fighter Pilot who joined the RCAF before the USA joined the war (USA joined after the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941).
There were two air gunners in a bomber. Where were they located in the plane?
What was the prime job of the rear air gunner?
Why was the job of the rear air gunner one of the most important of the entire crew?
Why was the job of an air gunner particularly stressful?
In the early years of the War most of the bombing runs by Canadian crews were at night. Why do you think they ran them at night?
Why did some of the rear air gunners remove part of the plexiglass that surrounded them?
If the rear gunner removed some of the plexiglass around them, what problems did this create?
Briefly describe what training took place for an air gunner at each one of these facilities:
Topcliffe, United Kingdom
What airplane was used for training purposes at the Macdonald, Manitoba facility?
Why was this airplane chosen for training?
The Macdonald Bomb and Gunnery School (3 B&GS) was near Lake Manitoba. Why was that lake valuable for training?
Bob Anderson drew sketches of enemy aircraft such as the one under "Air Gunners Course". Why would he need to know the details about enemy aircraft?
Canada was one of the most important countries for training pilots and aircrew for the Allies in the War. Why do you think Canada would have been chosen as a center of training as opposed to other countries such as India?
Look at all the training aircrews went through at each training center. Which training do you think would have been the most difficult for the people enrolled? Explain your reasoning.
Why do you think Bob Anderson’s completion of training was so significant for him?
The first Prisoner Of War (POW) camp Bob Anderson was sent to was Stalag Luft III.
Near what city and in what country was this POW camp located?
Describe the camp using these headings:
The number of buildings housing prisoners
How many guard towers were there?
What do you think the guard Towers were used for?
What ran around the outside of the camp?
What do you think the fire pool was?
Why do you think the Nazis built this POW camp in the middle of a forest?
Why do you think there was only one entrance to the camp?
The dotted lines represent tunnels dug underground. How many tunnels were there at this camp?
What were the names given to the tunnels? What is amusing about the names?
The tunnel from Building 104 was used for the “Great Escape”. Most of the men who left the camp by that tunnel never made it to freedom. Why do you think they dug the tunnel right under a guard tower and Cooler?
Why do you think so few prisoners of camps like this one ever escaped?
Who “ran” this camp under the supervision of the Germans?
On April 21, 1944 Bob Anderson’s airplane failed to return to its base from the mission.
What did the commanders of 420 Squadron know? (see Official Correspondence item a.)
Why do you think there was so little information about the plane?
What modern technology would have been useful in 1944 that would have helped the commanders of the Squadron know what happened to the airplane?
On April 23, 1944 the family received a telegraph (see Official Correspondence About Dad)
What information did the telegram include?
What do you think Bob Anderson’s family would feel/react to this telegram?
Considering your answer to 2a and 2 b, what conclusions can you draw about communications during the War?
When did they finally know? (see Official Correspondence about Dad item g.)
There is an expression "The fog of war". Based on what you have read in this study of Bob Anderson, what do you think the term means? Explain your answer fully.
When Anderson & Bourcier were released from PoW Camp there was a team of men that questioned them.
What purpose do you think they had in questioning these two men? (see Official Correspondence item i.)
Give three specific examples of questions they might ask Bourcier and Anderson.
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