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Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division

In 1941, two years after the beginning of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division (RCAFWD) was formed. H.R.H. Princess Alice, wife to the Governor General of Canada, was invited to give her support and became the Honorary Air Commandant. Women across the country cheered and lined up to join the war effort.

Women were not allowed to be trained as fighters (like they are today) and their participation was best described by the slogan "We serve that men may fly". Although women could not be trained for combat, their work was very important. In the beginning, there were eight official jobs in the Women’s Division: cook, clerk, equipment assistant, fabric worker, hospital assistant, motor transport driver, telephone operator or general duties. As the war went on and on, women were later enlisted to do some of the work that men did, and so they became service police, motor mechanics, radio operators, meteorologists and photographers.

Many people did not think that women should be allowed to join the war effort. Some people challenged the presence of women in the Air Force and women who wanted to enlist were often not supported. Although women had officially been invited to enlist, that did not mean all felt they were welcome. Some people felt "nice women" did not join up. How frustrating this must have been, men were called heroes for putting on a uniform and women were scolded. Women did not let this negative attitude stop them from helping their country. Many found that in training, they would build up skills and confidence in being part of the RCAF. However, they were still met with resistance from the men on the bases.

Eventually, after women had been part of the RCAF for a while, and had shown their male counterparts that their role was of just as much value, they were accepted as an important part of the organization. However, in 1945 when the war ended, the Royal Canadian Air Force decided to close the Women’s Division. Women were not allowed back into the RCAF until 1951.

Women Working in the Repair Depot

Women Working in the Repair Depot

Magazine Cover

Magazine Cover