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British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

Winston Churchill once described the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) as one of the major factors, and possibly the decisive factors in World War II. It is difficult to gauge the impact of the BCATP on the events of World War II, however, and the eventual Allied victory. Almost half of all Commonwealth air crew spent part of their training in the BCATP; the Plan graduated a total of 131,553 aircrew over the course of the war. One third of the sorties conducted by the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command, which helped loosen Hitler’s grip on Europe, were conducted by those trained through the BCATP. Other graduates protected the lifeline over the Atlantic, which sustained Britain throughout the war. The Plan undoubtedly contributed in countless ways to the war effort. Many died for it; over 17,000 aircrew from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) alone were killed, and almost 900 recruits died during training.

While many of the training sites were quickly abandoned and forgotten, or put to other, non-military uses, the BCATP nevertheless had lasting influence in Canada. The Plan served to strengthen Canada’s status as a sovereign nation. It was a responsibility of an unprecedented level, requiring a great organizational and logistical capacity, and costing over $2.2 billion, with Canada’s share accounting for 72 percent of the cost. It allowed for the development of a stronger, permanent, national Royal Canadian Air Force.

Fort Macleod

Fort Macleod

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BCTAP Part One