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Stan Reynolds

The following excerpt comes from a larger piece, "From Air Training to the Defence of Britain: One Pilot’s View From Tiger Moths to Mosquitos." It was originally published in a compilation of memoirs entitled "For King and Country: Alberta in the Second World War," edited by Ken Tingley.


Pilot student Stan Reynolds at No. 6 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, December 1942.The Reynolds family of Wetaskiwin has always been interested in aviation. My father, Edward A. (Ted) Reynolds, was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. My older brother, Byron E. (Bud) Reynolds, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940, and completed a Tour of Operations as a flight engineer on Catalina Flying boats. My younger brother, Allan B. (Bert) Reynolds, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1943, and served overseas as an air-frame mechanic on Dakotas (C-47s) with 437 Squadron.

When I was 16 years old, I joined the Edmonton Fusiliers and trained with E Company at Wetaskiwin during periods that did not conflict with school hours. The two weeks' training at Sarcee Camp in Calgary during the summer months was a great experience, with sleeping in tents and target practice with Ross rifles.

In 1941 I was hired as a truck driver for MacGregor Telephone & Power Construction Co. of Edmonton, during the time they were installing power lines at the RCAF stations at High River, Claresholm, De Winton, and other locations. The crews slept in tents and my job was driving and looking after MacGregor's 1928 Ford one-ton truck.

At this time, a local fellow, Dallas Schmidt, home on leave from the RCAF, stopped at my father's garage. I was impressed to see him in his officer's uniform. That dapper uniform and his enviable war record probably increased my desire to join up. Dallas Schmidt received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant while flying Beaufighters during the Defence of Malta.

I was in the process of finishing my grade 12 education when, early in 1942, an RCAF recruiting group came to Wetaskiwin and set up a desk in the Driard Hotel. Curiosity and my desire to learn how to fly prompted me to visit the recruiting officer. I was told that I could enlist in the "Pilots and Observers" category, and if I passed the required tests I would be selected for training as a Pilot or Observer. The recruiting officer was quite persuasive and before I left the hotel I had enlisted.

On 15 April 1942, I was called to Edmonton to start training at RCAF No. 3 Manning Depot. I was assigned living quarters in a barracks which housed about 50 airmen, and we slept in two-tier bunks. Except for a few technicians, we all started with the rank of AC2 (Aircraftsman Second Class). We were issued uniforms, mess kits, sewing kits called "housewives," brass button polishers, shoe shiners and other gear. We received medical and dental checkups, inoculations, physical training, marching drill and lessons in airmanship. Each airman made his own bed, polished his buttons, badges and shoes and the entire group received periodic inspections. Everything had to be kept neat and clean, strict discipline was enforced and every man did his stint on guard duty.

Leading Aircraftman Stan Reynolds prepares for a solo flight in a Cessna Crane at No. 4 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), Saskatoon, during April 1943. When a group of about 40 Australian airmen arrived at the Manning Depot they decided to take in some Edmonton city night life, even though they did not have permission to leave the base. They elected to leave the base when I was on guard duty, and when I was near the farthest end of my beat they made a hole in the fence big enough for a man to crawl through. When I turned around at the end of my beat, I saw a long lineup of men in their dark-blue Australian uniforms, in single file, crawling hurriedly through the hole in the fence. I was carrying a .303 Enfield rifle with fixed bayonet, but no ammunition was allowed for anyone on guard duty. Being quite confident that I would not be able to stop these Australians, I began running towards them, mostly running on the spot, waving my rifle and shouting "Halt in the name of the King." They did not pay any attention to me and, when I arrived at the hole in the fence, the last Australian was a few feet too far away for me to reach him with the bayonet. Someone else was on guard duty when the Australians returned (probably during the early hours the next morning). I heard no more about it so I presumed they got back without incident.

Stan Reynolds went on to train in Saskatoon and St. Albert, Saskatchewan, and was then posted overseas. He served with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 410 Squadron, the flying Mosquitos.

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