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Royal New Zealand Air Force

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) was formed in 1934. Under the terms of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) agreement, New Zealand contributed $48 million to the Plan, or a little over eight percent of its total cost. In total, 6,992 RNZAF aircrew trained in Canada.

New Zealanders trained as pilots, navigators, navigator/bombers, navigator/wireless operators, wireless operators, wireless/operator air gunners, air bombers and air gunners. For the most part, as with Australian trainees, elementary flying was completed at home. New Zealanders came to Canada to complete advanced training.

For those who ended up going to Canada to train, they had to take a long journey by sea. For security, the recruits were not told where they would be landing. They tended to arrive in California, after which they would take a train up the coast to Canada; then, for those going to Alberta (or beyond), another train heading east.

In Alberta, if it was winter, the New Zealanders found themselves in a climate far more cold than the one they left in the southern hemisphere (where it would have been summer when they left). Fortunately, they were given snow boots and RCAF winter caps and gloves upon arrival. For some, the cold was difficult to get used to, and they chose simply to stay inside. RNZAF recruit John K. Aitken did get out to see the sights in Calgary, although he did feel like something was missing:

"There was quite a good zoo where we saw coyotes and squirrels and I suppose many other North American animals too. There were also concrete replicas of Dinosaurs, of which there were a lot of their bones discovered in the area. Some were so large that you could walk upright right underneath them. Also there were lots of waterways we could explore by canoe. In general though, we did not have much contact with the local population, as far as I know, none of us ever got to see the inside of a Canadian home."

Martin Lord

Martin Lord

Frozen Kiwi

Frozen Kiwi