Our research also turned up interesting information not part of the official RCAF story of No. 1 Wireless School. The Canadian War Museum yielded a photograph of a medal for proficiency awarded to the best of the best students. We have yet to see any other BCATP school offer such a tangible, yet unofficial award to students. A November 4 1943 Winnipeg Tribune newspaper article sheds some light on the award. It offers the following information: ``Muriel Cove Heads Graduating Class - Heading the graduating class at No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal, Muriel Cove, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Cove, 969 Banning Street was winner of a medal for proficiency. Second place was won by Hazel Harris, also of Winnipeg. She was formerly an employee of the
Winnipeg Public Library. ‘’
Obviously, it was not a medal sanctioned by the crown authority managing military honours but something created locally at the school to encourage students to work harder. The medal was ``minted by Birks’’ and in this case, the recipient was a D.W.G. Hassell. The attached ribbon shows a bar with the word ``Second’’ on it. He, or should I say this person, like Hazel Harris, took runner-up honours. The other side of the medal has on it the RCAF crest and the RCAF wireless insignia. This medal is a reminder that members of the RCAF Women’s Division were also required to obtain
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 014 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Stations
No. 1 Wireless School – Montreal Quebec
in Guelph. On September 14 1944, No.1 Wireless School moved to Mount Hope Ontario which was open until October 31 1945 after operating for 412 days.
When the schools opened, in order to qualify as a wireless operator/air gunner, the airman was required to complete 24 weeks of training at a wireless school followed by four weeks of bombing and gunnery training. On transfer to operational
The schools utilized Fairey Battle and Bolingbroke aircraft for gunnery practice, Westland Lysanders for target towing and Avro Ansons for bombing practice.
As the war progressed, training changed to meet the needs of aircrew flying bombing missions. The overworked Air Observer found relief with the addition of the Air Bomber to the crew. The Observer was responsible for navigation and the Air Bomber concentrated on finding and hitting bomb objectives. In June 1942, Air Observer training was phased out in favour of the training of specialized Navigators, In November, Navigators began to be classified as Navigator Bombers with a ``B’’ on their wings badge and Navigator/Wireless with a `W`’ on their wings. Navigator Ws were required to complete 28 weeks at wireless school and 22 weeks at an air observer school. Upon completion of training, these navigators were assigned to fast two-engine, two aircrew aircraft like the de Havilland Mosquito. Navigator Bs spent eight weeks at Bombing and Gunnery school and 12 weeks training as a Navigator at an Air Observer School and were generally assigned to heavy bombers such as the Avro Lancaster.
Our research turned up the attached Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper article, dated January 28 1940, in the Canadian War Museum Archives. It discusses the creation of No. 1 Wireless School in Montreal. The school was to be located on land and in buildings owned by the Grey Nuns and Nazareth School for the Blind on Queen Mary Road. The purpose of the school was to train wireless radio operators, signal operators and radio mechanics. The existing buildings which housed 900 students were modified to suit the needs of No. 1 Wireless School and additional living quarters were constructed. An air photograph of the school (above) appears to show two-story H-Hut buildings behind the school. Other renovations included changes to teaching spaces and mess and recreation areas within the building.
specialized training at various schools. During World War II, a great number of women became Wireless Operators. Upon completion of training the WD Wireless Operations become ground based radio operators for aircrew flying both non-combat and combat missions. These WDs also were trainers in the BCATP passing on their knowledge to fledgling wireless operators. Author Elinor Florence offers a wonderful recollection of another woman who went to No. 1 Wireless School. She is Merle Taylor and her story can be seen at:
Five photographs and a hilarious story on a short audio clip from RCAF student Alonzo Blackmore are available at the Memory Project web site at:
No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal Quebec opened on February 16 1940 for 1672 days, closing on September 14 1944. In the initial negotiations for the creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, only one wireless training school was called for with an objective of training 870 wireless operator/air gunners every four weeks or near 29,000 per year. This eventually changed and four schools were created – No. 1 in Montreal, No. 2 in Calgary, No. 3 in Winnipeg and No. 4
training, pilots and wireless air gunners received an additional 12 weeks of training. Here, a pilot, an observer and two wireless operator/air gunners were put together as a crew to complete the operational training. If the crew demonstrated they were capable of making a trans-Atlantic crossing, they were given another eight weeks of training and were then transferred to Ferry Command.