Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette –  068 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
A World War II Mermory - Les Jones
​Halifax Bomber at Linton-on-ouse with ground crew.
  LA C Jones L.G. R15****
I joined up for the Royal Canadian Air Force in October of 1941 and started on a training course of 4 months in an old warehouse on Henry Avenue in Winnipeg. We were taught machine shop, woodworking, fabric work, metal alloys, theory of flight, etc. Aircrew required grade XII and I had a grade IX, so this was why I was taking a mechanic's course.

We graduated the end of February in '42 (80 of us) and were posted to Manning Depot at Brandon. This was the old winter fair buildings which covered the whole block at 1Oth and Victoria across from the Armories. We slept in the horse barn, on double bunks (400 rookies). We received our needles, were taught marching and rifle drill and P.T. I had pneumonia there (a follow up to measles in Winnipeg) so was two weeks late leaving Manning. The hospital was the old fire hall with the big doors and plank flooring (south-west across the street). The hockey rink had a wooden floor installed and was used for P. T. and parades.

St Thomas, Ontario, was the next posting for further training. The train travel was great, first class in a sleeping car, and meal tickets for the diner. We did have leaves from  St.Thomas (our first) and I was able to visit an aunt's family at Wallaceburg and an uncle’s at Kingston. I did not care for St Thomas and was glad to get out of there. We were given a preference for posting in late October. I asked for #12 Service Flying Training School in Brandon and was pleased to go there.

I arrived at # 12 Brandon around November 1, 1942 and was told early the next morning we were all to be on parade. It was still summer weather at St Thomas so my great coat had been stuffed in the bottom of my kit bag for six months. There was no time to polish buttons, so I was nabbed for a week's garbage run. I still remember the rats on the city dump running all over the place That "hill" is still there, east of First Street by Hoffman's soccer fields.

I was introduced right away to what my duties would be in the hangar, which was inspection of Cessna Cranes. The first week the Sergeant asked if I would like to go for a flight, I said sure. I went up with a student and shortly after takeoff the motor coughed and quit, and he didn't know how to turn on the other gas tank and neither did I! There was no snow and he picked a good firm stubble field to land, no problem. We like to fly at every chance as it paid .75 flying time each trip.

# 12 was a good station, well run, reasonably good food and regular hours. We had a 48 every two weeks (12 days work then 2 days off). I always went out to the farm. I had New Year's leave either '42 or '43, and happened to have my Dad's car at #12. Going home after dark, I started down the Riverside hill too fast and gaining speed (couldn't keep brakes on a '35 Ford). Around the bend I came across a blaze of lights, and airmen with flashlights directing traffic around an Anson on a flatbed coming up the hill. I went under the wing at 60 mph and flashlights diving into he ditch. No snow that New Years.
I was on "flights" for a short while and drove the fuel truck while there. The RCAF had introduced an upgrading course to enable those with less than Grade XII to remuster to aircrew. I applied, was accepted and was doing fine on the course until I had chicken pox, only two of us on the station but we were kept in isolation for ten days and when I came back, my papers had been lost; so ended my aircrew aspirations.

In the spring of '44, I had 30 days leave to help with seeding, the tractor ran from sunup to sundown. I had just returned to # 12 and was asked if I would like to go overseas, I jumped at it. Three of us air frame were to go, stopping at Lachine Quebec for a week, then on to Halifax and the New Amsterdam boat. This new ship had escaped the Germans and was used for troop transport all during the war with no escort as she was fast and could outrun u-boats. The ship docked in the River Clyde and we boarded a train to go to Gloucester. Bournemouth, the usual RCAF reception depot, had been bombed so Gloucester was being used at that time. The British jet test station was there and we saw and heard our first jet fly over. After a short stay, we were posted to Linton.

Linton-on-Ouse was a heavy bomber station with two squadrons, 408 and 426 flying Mark VII Halifax. Each aircraft, on a concrete pad away out around the perimeter had its own groundcrew.

A bike was a necessity. Every day we did a thorough inspection and repairs and with 105 foot wingspan a Halifax had a lot of area to cover! At the same time, the engine boys would be reving up and testing the four motors. By evening, they were ready for another sortie, each squadron sending 12 to 15 aircraft.

We had a lot of freedom at Linton, and the only parade I was on was when the King and Queen and Princesses came to visit; and when we buried one of our guys that drowned in the river Ouse. The river was just back of our tin hut. Those huts were cold, and we had 3 straw biscuits and one grey blanket for sleeping. We couldn' t eat the rolled mutton at airmen's mess, so made up our own evening meal.

We had a 48 every two weeks, and I met my brother frequently, in or near London  Once we had a week's leave in Cornwall, where he had been stationed. V.E. day was a great celebration. Ground crew had been asked to sign up for the Far East war but I did not wish to. The squadron was equipped with brand new Canadian Lancs and flew back to Dartmouth and the Japanese war was over before they finished training in Canada.

I was posted to Themsford to install seats in Liberators to bring back British army from the Far East. V -J day was another great celebration, such a relief to have the war over. Shortly after I was on my way home, leaving from Bournemouth which had been reopened . The old ship was the Ile-de-France which creaked and groaned safely to Halifax, and we boarded right onto the train from the dock.

Mary met the train in Winnipeg on October 25 and we were married after I was discharged .

Les Jones passed away on January 2 2015 in Brandon Manitoba at the age of 95 years. After discharge from the RCAF, Leslie and wife Mary farmed south of Brandon for 30 years and then lived in Calgary and Brandon. His wife Mary predeceased him after 65 years of marriage.