On December 17, 1939, representatives from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand signed into being a joint air training agreement called the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). This plan was run by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and it quickly started a massive building and recruitment program.
At this stage in the war, the United States was firmly neutral. This, coupled with the US services’ higher requirements for entry, meant that many men who wanted to sign up to fight were unable to join up. Canada, however, was more than happy to accept them. By the end of the war, 8,864 US citizens had served in the RCAF in some part.
Looking at 75 of those men, this book provides the stories of those who wanted to fight, and who served in a foreign uniform to do so. Some remained with the RCAF throughout their careers, some served for several years before transferring over to the US Army Air Forces once America had entered the war, and some only trained with the Canadians before serving in the US military.
Regardless of their length of service, each man owed Canada a great debt of accepting and training them for what they truly wanted – to fly and to fight.
The Americans flocked to Canada in droves in 1940-41 to enlist and by the conclusion of the European war on May 8, 1945, no fewer than 8,864 US citizens had served part or all of their air force careers in the RCAF.
Am in awe of your research and attention to detail.
Absolutely brilliant stories of a portion of our history that is, at least on this side of the border, are almost completely forgotten.
Tom has done a terrific job assembling these histories in a very interesting style and format--well worth it for any aficionado's collection of RCAF and BCATP history!
If you are a fan of the 4th Fighter Group from WW II then this book is a must read. Though the author takes and gives credit to previous books, he expands on where those books had weaknesses, such as the history of the pilots upbringing and where they were raised. He does this through research and first person interviews with family members and aquaintances. The motivation of why some of these pilots joined the Royal Canadian Air Force is the main focus of this book. It's an easy read and gives a fresh perspective to what could be deemed an old subject of fighter pilot history from World War II. There are also many stories not related to the 4th and those are interesting as well.
Tom reminds us in a personal, most informative way that Canadians were supported early in the war effort by thousands of Americans who were under no obligation to do so. They were either rejected or not eligible to serve in the USAAF at the time, but were determined to help defeat the growing Nazi movement. Canadians and Americans alike will appreciate the tales of bravery and sacrifice of neighbours helping neighbours in their hour of need.
Tom Walsh has crafted a very fine account of several US citizens who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force prior to the US entry into the war. His research into the lives and motivations of these men has been meticulous. Walsh describes the background of these men and details their enlistment and training in the service of Canada. He provides details of their service in the RCAF and continues their stories after their separation from the Canadian air force. He makes good use of photographs to enhance his stories. I look forward to subsequent volumes and the stories of additional warriors who, for the most part, wore the uniforms of two countries during World War II.
About the author
Tom Walsh has been interested in World War II aviation history all his life. For over forty years, he worked as a producer and consultant in the North American air show industry.
Now retired, he spends his free time researching and writing the untold stories of some of the 8,864 Americans who served part or all of their Air Force careers in the RCAF in World War II.