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The Legacy of the #5 Elementary Flying Training School

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Post War Legacy

red deer airportThe British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was Canada’s greatest contribution to the Allied forces in World War II. Aerodromes were constructed all over the province and although many cannot be seen today, there are other structures in their place that commemorate the Plan.

The Field of Honour in High River, Alberta, 2000.A number of the Alberta airports were once part of the BCATP. Located in Calgary, Edmonton, Claresholm, Fort Macleod and Lethbridge, these airports still function. Once the war was over, many of BCATP bases were appropriated by the community in order to remain connected to the world of aviation. While some airports existed previous to the war, with the emergence of the BCATP, they were modernized and brought up to Royal Canadian Air Force standards.

There are other less obvious traces of the BCATP in Alberta. Some of the bases were closed and have naturally become overgrown. In recent years, monuments have been erected at many of the sites so that even though the bases themselves can no longer serve as visual reminders, a monument can.

The Memorial Gardens at Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Calgary, Alberta, home of No. 37 Service Flying Training School (SFTS). Perhaps the most somber reminder of the BCATP in Alberta are the hundreds of casualties of air training, buried in cemeteries across the province. Trainees from Canada were usually returned to their hometown, but men from outside of the country were buried in the cemetery of the community where they were. Their grave markers remind us that World War II claimed the lives of decent, vibrant people on the homefront, not only overseas in combat.

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