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Bert Lee / WWII RCAF pilot instructor

Bert enlisted in the RCAF on March 10, 1942, and was honourably  discharged (transferred to reserve) on February 28, 1945 (so his term was almost exactly 3 years).

I have no record of what he did for the first 5 months, but wikipedia suggests that there was a 26 or 28 week basic training program, which makes sense. In late September 1942 he commenced pilot training at No 6 Elementary Flight Training School (EFST) in Prince Albert.

As required, he maintained a flight log throughout his service. His very first fight, with instructor, was on September 28.


Note his aircraft number was 278.

Here is a photo of Tiger Moths lined up on a field, the second nearest is that aircraft (click on to expand and scroll).


He solo’ed on , and flew a couple of hours a day until November 19. His formal graduation was on December 5, 1942 (Class 65).  I think this is his class photo. Not great quality as it is from a graduation pamphlet, but Bert is second from the left, on the back row.


He was assigned to No 4 Service Flight Training School, Saskatoon, which was meant for bomber and transport training.

On December 8 he took his first training flight, in a Cessna Crane, which would be the aircraft that he almost exclusively flew for the rest of this service. This is a photo of one that I found in his records:


He graduated April 2, 1942, and was made a Pilot Officer (Special Reserve) effective that date, and assigned to No. 2 Flight Instructors School, Vulcan, Alberta, commencing training on April 20. He completed that training in June and was assigned to No. 10 SFTS in Dauphin, Manitoba, where he instructed in Cranes until the end of his service.

From his logbook, he made an effort to fly the Harvard (fighter trainer) in the last month he was active (January, 1945) and flew solo January 10).

He never talked a lot about the time he spent in the RCAF, but when he did I remember only hearing of the Tiger Moth, and I thought he instructed in that aircraft. He actually spent almost all his time in a Crane, instructing bomber pilots. My mother said to me more than once that “your Dad hated the air force”, referencing the bureaucracy and rules. As far as I know he never flew anything again. Flight instructors were overlooked when the airlines started hiring after the war, but I’m pretty sure he never pursued that option.


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