RAF Personel Depot, Moncton, New Brubswick, Canada, – 6th October to 21st October 1943
No. 8 Service Flying Training School.
No.31 RAF Personnel Depot, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Stations were built to a standard plan. There was a triangular set of runways with associated taxi strips and Hangers, and a large 2-storey H block with double tier bunks in the arms of the H and showers and toilets in the crossbar. This would accommodate 8 flights Flying Avro Ansons. Became RN 31 RAF Depot (sic) 1st July 1942.
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan saw more than 130,000 personnel from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand graduate from 107 Training Schools across Canada – a remarkable feat by any standards; one that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the “Aerodrome of Democracy”. Canada was an ideal location to train Aircrew as it was far enough away from the fighting, with plenty of land away from Towns and Cities to build Training Schools. Dozens of airfields were constructed in specific locations across the country, seemingly random, but with an eye to the post-war years when the Airfields would be turned over to the local Communities. Many Municipal Airports were originally RCAF aerodromes.
Moncton, New Brunswick was home to the No. 8 Service Flying Training School, the No. 1 Wireless School, the No. 1 Y Depot, the No. 31 RAF Personnel Depot, the No. 18 Equipment Unit, the No. 15 Recruit Depot, In the summer of 1941, a large piece of land by the CN Shops (near the present location of the YMCA on Vaughan Harvey Boulevard) was turned into a “Town within a City” to accommodate the incoming Aircrews. Some of those buildings built in haste still stand today. Other New Brunswick communities affected by the Training Plan included Salisbury, Chatham and Pennfield Ridge near Saint John. Planes based in nearby Debert, Nova Scotia., also made regular runs over Moncton.
The diary of the No. 8 Service Flying Training School in Moncton records several fatal crashes between 1940 and 1944. There were also many non-fatal crashes that involved landing accidents, stalling, spinning, flying too low, smashing into trees or hillsides, getting lost, running out of fuel and losing control. While most of the Aircraft were recovered, Historians say there may still be some wrecked planes in the woods and water in the region surrounding the Moncton Airport:
We rolled into Moncton on time and made our way to the RAF Repatriation Depot. It being an RAF Station it was the point of departure for 1,000s of RAF men who had trained in Canada. I was only there 15 days and didn’t think much of the place. The food was very poor, both in quality and quantity and it almost seemed that we were being further conditioned for Wartime Rations in Britain. After all, we were still in Canada where food was quite plentiful. So we ate in Town a lot.
At the completion of RAF Training, with others, we went to Blackpool and Heaton Park; then, it was to Gourock, in Scotland, from where we sailed, on 6 December 1942, in the ‘Queen Elizabeth ‘, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, We arrived there on 9 December and then, after a short stay, by Train to No.31 RAF Personnel Depot, Moncton, New Brunswick (a 6 days train journey!)