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Herbert Padwick

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Flight Officer Herb Padwick of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)From Manitoba, Herbert Padwick joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) prior to the onset of World War II. Shortly after the War broke out, he was posted overseas to England and, less than one year later, was transferred back to Canada. Accompanied by a fox terrier (a squadron mascot overseas), Padwick boarded a ship for home. 

Upon arrival, he was posted to Dauphin, Manitoba, where he created and instituted what he called the Central Maintenance System. It was a system that dramatically improved efficiency in station maintenance. Padwick was posted to Dafoe, Saskatchewan, Vulcan, Lethbridge and finally Greenwood, Nova Scotia. In reorganizing maintenance on bases across the country, Padwick earned the rank of Wing Commander. The following is an excerpt about the development of the Central Maintenance System and Herbert Padwick's recollections of his time in Alberta.


I reported to Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) headquarters in Ottawa, and they advised me that I was to be posted there. I pointed out that I believed I could be more useful at one of the training stations and requested a posting near Winnipeg. I was sent to Dauphin, Manitoba as Chief Engineering Officer. This was a brand new station, with work still going on to complete it. As Chief Engineering Officer, I was in charge of the maintenance and mechanical condition of all aircraft on the station.

In addition, I was also responsible for the 600 maintenance personnel attached to my command... Serviceability of the aircraft was poor and the flight commanders were complaining regularly about the shortage of aircraft. This was a very demanding time for me. Not having any experienced technical help, and with my adjutant being away for most of the time, I had to cope with many personnel problems as well as all of the technical matters.

At this time aircraft were allotted to the various flight commanders and they were responsible for repairs carried out in their individual hangars. Most of the flight commanders considered or believed that it was their right to have control of everything, instead of referring these matters to others who were supposed to be responsible. To compound this problem, I found out that it was a common practice for many instructors, especially those who were members of the permanent force, to develop a sentimental attachment to their aircraft, and considered them to be their personal possession, which no one else could fly. The result was total chaos.

A 14 AMS Card with Herb Padwick, of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).This is where I developed what I called the Central Maintenance System. By central maintenance, I removed all aircraft from the control of the flight commanders. All unserviceable aircraft were in the main repair hangar, where all of the skilled repair personnel were stationed. Previously, pilots could create problems with service personnel and confusion by interfering, or countermanding orders, resulting in poor availability of machines. The flight commanders could no longer interfere or have any say in the maintenance or repair of aircraft and were able to devote their full-time to the training of pupils. All of the log books were kept in the maintenance hangar. There was a lot of resistance against this plan and as I was the most junior officer on the station at that time, I had a tough time convincing them that this was going to be better than what they had. It certainly couldn't be any worse.

Serviceability jumped up immediately and before long we were able to have spare aircraft allotted as stand by for use if necessary. You can see that I had my hands full. I worked 16 to 18 hours every day and only visited the officers' mess for the odd special occasion. 

This was a new station and, consequently, we were involved in having an opening ceremony. Just before the planned ceremonies, however, I collapsed at home at about midnight. My wife Isobel had to call the station for help. I was away for almost two weeks, diagnosed with complete exhaustion and, consequently, missed all of the celebrations...

While I was getting ready to be posted to flying training school, we received a directive advising that Engineering Officers could not apply and that I was to remain in my capacity as Chief Technical Officer. As I enjoyed my work, I was happy to stay in my profession and felt I could make as good or better contribution to the war effort in that capacity.


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