L. Diller arrived in Calgary in September 1944, posted to
No. 2 Wireless School (WS). By the time he received his Wings
in March 1945, the war, along with the British Commonwealth
Air Training Plan (BCATP), was winding down. Germany surrendered
before Diller had a chance to serve, and as he notes in his memoirs,
"the Germans heard that we were coming to get them, so
they gave up instead." Diller retired from service having
attained the rank of Major. In the following excerpt, Diller explains some of the
ins and outs of wireless training in the BCATP.
Our instructors were all Sergeants, well seasoned in dealing
with raw material, and very competent and efficient. The same
instructors were with us for the duration of the course and,
generally, I look back on them with fondness. Naturally,
most of them quickly had been nicknamed with endearing terms
like "Eager-Beaver Percy-Procedure." The Commanding
Officer, Group Captain Foss,
being an older gentleman, was fondly known as "Father
I recall that our Morse code instructor would talk
back and forth at great speed, in Morse, with instructors
in other class rooms, while we were supposed to be practicing
on our own. As we became more proficient, we were able to
understand more and more, so they would switch from Morse
to railway code, which none of us could understand. We were
required to be able to send and receive at a speed of 20 words a minute, by the time of graduation, and could try a
test at 25, which most tried and passed, receiving
an appropriate certificate.
A good indication of the state
of your Morse proficiency was when you were able to send
and receive a message without having to consciously think about the
process. I remember one Sergeant, in particular, although
not for his instructing, as he was not one of ours, used
to spend a lot of time in a small room at the back of our
Morse practice room, from which various noise would emit.
For a while we were quite puzzled as to what he was doing.
It turned out that he was busily making heart-shaped, clear-plastic pendants with a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) crest imbedded inside, which
he sold to the trainees eager to impress the girls. He had
a pretty good business going, whether surreptitiously or
with the tacit consent of the authorities!
we progressed through the training program, gradually increasing
our Morse speed and accuracy, learning the intricacies of procedure,
and being able to recognize aircraft silhouettes at 1/50th
of a second, the time finally came to introduce us to the
actual equipment currently used on operations, how it was
interconnected with its various peripherals and how to
Once we had mastered this operation, it was
time to progress to the "next-to-the-real-thing,"
the dreaded outstations. This involved a room filled with
small, completely enclosed cubicles, into which the trainee
(victim) crawled, and the door closed behind. Inside this
dimly lit enclosure was crammed all the equipment that would
normally be encountered in a typical wireless operator's
position in an aircraft—transmitter, receiver, bathtub-type
Morse key, direction-finding equipment, intercom, trailing
antenna reel and J switch (used for antenna switching).
Once inside, we carried out exercises simulating an actual
mission, sending and receiving messages, taking bearings,
logging each action and, responding to demands for the "colour of the day"
(supposedly from allied ground
forces), which we responded to in great haste. Being tardy
to this demand or responding with the incorrect colour
resulted in a blast of simulated, friendly (?)
fire, which took the form of a loud explosion up behind
the student's head, emitted from a large firecracker-type device
cunningly installed by the instruction staff, and
detonated with great glee, filling the cubicle with smoke
and the smell of gunpowder.
Be assured that this was seldom
done more than once to a student—we were quick learners. The noise from the detonation was certainly audible
throughout the room and the other cubicles, and served to
alert and motivate the other students to be speedy and accurate.
This was probably one of the minor reasons for the dreaded
label for outstations. But, the main reason was that if you
didn't do well here, your further progress, or even continuance,
was in some doubt. In spite of all these trials,
was a very valuable training lesson and prepared us very
well for the flying portion of the program to come later.
In November 1944, we were taken out to the flying squadron at
Shepard, and treated to a familiarization ride in a Norseman
aircraft. Most fared well but, there were a few who made
good use of the so-called "barf bag," and some experiencing
a repeat of these problems later, during the flying portion
of the course. While there was some attrition throughout
the course, with individuals being CT'd (ceased training)
for various reasons, such as conduct, lack of application,
low grades, air sickness etc., the majority persevered through
to the end.