Serving the War Effort

A welder from Manitoba learned airplane repair at St. Thomas, Ontario, as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
Posted March 19, 2024

This photograph shows my father, Thomas Hogue, at the No. 1 Technical Training School in St. Thomas, Ontario, around 1941. Dad was born in La Salle, Manitoba, in 1909 and was a welder by trade.

He worked for Canadian National Railways starting in 1928, and when the Second World War broke out he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. The RCAF trained groundcrews at the No. 1 Technical Training School as part of an initiative known as the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan — under which Canada provided facilities and training for crews and pilots from every part of the Commonwealth.

The St. Thomas training school was established in 1939 at the newly opened hospital for psychiatric patients. When war broke out, patients were transferred to other hospitals, and the complex was acquired for RCAF training.

My father, my mother, and two of my brothers lived temporarily in St. Thomas, where a third brother was born. When Dad’s training in airplane repair was completed, he was posted back to Winnipeg to work at the No. 8 Repair Depot at Stevenson Field, as the airport was then known. After the war ended, Dad returned tohis job with the CNR before retiring in 1970.

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Submitted by Jackie Corrigan of Winnipeg.

This article originally appeared in the April-May 2024 issue of Canada’s History.

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