1- Claresholm Museum
2-3-4 Bomber Command Museum
No. 15 Service Flying Training School was located in Claresholm Alberta and was open for 1390 days between June 9 1941 and March 30 1945. No. 2 Flying Instructor School was located there between April and September 1942 before if was moved to Vulcan Alberta. Both schools were staffed and run by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
No. 15 SFTS utilized Avro Anson and Cessna Crane aircraft for training students to become pilots in multi-engine bomber, coastal patrol and transport aircraft. In early 1942, there were 47 Ansons and 70 Cranes on site. Students spent 16 weeks at this school where they would be attached to an intermediate training squadron of eight weeks and then on to advanced training for another six weeks. To complete their SFTS training, students would spend their final two weeks at a Bombing & Gunnery School. Classes at No. 15 SFTS graduated every four weeks. In January 1944, Claresholm was home to 126 Staff Officers, five Women’s Division Officers, 722 Airmen, 204 Airwomen, 296 students and 75 civilians. The first Women’s Division members (62) arrived at Claresholm in February 1942 to assume roles in administration and operations of the school.
In October 1941, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor toured No. 15 SFTS. The Duke presented wings to students graduating the third class. In May of 1943, the school was visited by another luminary - the Earl of Athlone (Governor General of Canada) and his wife Princess Alice. The Governor General presented wings to the graduates of Class 74.
Course numbers 121 and 122 were the final of 35 classes which graduated approximately 2000 students in the nearly four years that Claresholm was open for business.
Claresholm as No. 15 Service Flying Training School had five large hangars plus support buildings which were erected by the Bennett & White Construction Company. According to the Claresholm Museum web site, this company assembled the frame for each hangar in seven hours and 45 minutes. Claresholm was also home to the RCAF Reserve Equipment Maintenance Satellite which serviced Avro Anson aircraft in two large hangars attached to the school grounds. Two of the No. 15 hangars and the satellite hangars exist today and provide aviation services at the airport
The station magazine for No. 15 Service Flying Training School in Claresholm was ``Windy Wings’’ which was published regularly while the school was open.
The Claresholm RCAF base was put into mothballs in 1945 until 1951 when is reopened as a NATO training school under No. 3 Flying Training School. It closed again in 1958 when the flying training school was transferred to Gimli Manitoba. No. 15 SFTS is now the site of the Claresholm Industrial Airport.
A tribute to No. 15 Service Flying Training School and the people who served there has been erected in Centennial Park in Claresholm. It is a Harvard aircraft mounted on a pedestal. A memorial plaque honoring the commanding officers and those who were killed at the school has been located in Claresholm – more about this in a future vignette.
We offer special thanks to the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton Alberta and the Claresholm Museum for information and photos provided for this vignette.
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 046 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Schools
No. 15 Service Flying Training School - Claresholm Alberta