No. 5 Bombing and Gunnery School was one of 21 Royal Canadian Air Force stations established in Saskatchewan. No. 5 was located approximately 20 km. west of the town of Dafoe, an uncharact-eristically long distance, in rural Canada, between a BCATP station and the nearest town. It was one of two B&G schools in Saskatchewan (11 in Canada), the other being No. 2 B&GS in Mossbank. Opening on June 23 1941, it remained open for 1,335 days until the RCAF closed it on February 17 1945.
The initial personnel roster included 45 officers, 486 airmen and 69 trainees. The number of trainees grew to 366 in the school at any given time. Having completed Wireless Training prior to coming to No. 5 BGS, air gunners graduated as Wireless/Air Gunners or WAGs. Flying exercises were conducted day and night. Training included bombing runs over the nearby Quill Lakes. The school’s motto was ``We Aim to Teach and We Teach to Aim.’’ Aircraft used at No. 5 BGS included the Westland Lysander, Bristol Bolingbroke, Avro Anson and Fairey Battle. No. 5 BGS reported 123
accidents with 41 fatalities to the RCAF. Over the course of the RCAF’s stay at Dafoe, the school had three concurrent station magazines - ``Dafoe Doings,’’ ``Dafoe Days’’ and ``Dafoe Digest.’’
No. 5 BGS was built with six hangars and a number of supporting buildings for ground training, police, post office, armament, messes, barracks and parachute training and so on. Streets were named after Canada’s Dionne Quintuplets - Yvonne, Annette, Emilie, Marie and Cecile. Of all the British
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 031 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan School
No. 5 Bombing & Gunnery School - Dafoe SK
Commonwealth Air Training Plan stations across Canada, only two, Dafoe and No. 2 BGS in Mossbank Saskatchewan had indoor swimming pools with swimming a secondary purpose to the primary which was to provide water in case of fire emergencies at the station.
As the school itself did not offer married quarters and the Village of Dafoe was a very small village with limited rental accommodation available, many couples chose to live in a `Boomtown’ adjacent to the station. By 1942, the number of `homes' went from zero to 142 in Boomtown, some owned by airmen, and the others owned by locals who rented to air force families. Most of the homes were shacks and converted grain bins with Spartan amenities – outhouses, no water or electricity etc. Enterprising locals set up a few shops. Rent became so excessive that The War Time Prices and Trade Board was brought in to arbitrate appropriate rent for the buildings. The board decreased rents by one third to one half.
When closed, a number of the support buildings were moved to various communities nearby the school. One of the buildings became the LeRoy Hospital which is now the Evergreen Country Home and another was the LeRoy Legion Hall which is now the School of Dance. The Canadian Government maintained a weather station at Dafoe for a time after the school left.
All that remains today is one hangar used by a local farmer for machinery storage.