Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
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Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Swordfish Crash at Camp 60 (CIBTC) Yarmouth, Nova Scotia November 9, 1944 East Camp was a part of the World War II RCAF Station, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, located on a twenty acre area of the airport with a main entrance from the Chebogue Road in the Arcadia area of Yarmouth County. The Camp included forty buildings,including aircraft hangars, messes, and quarters for the men. The building were arranged on a sloping hill upward to the hangars and main runways. # 1 Naval Air Gunnery School was used for training Telegraphist Air Gunners, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. It was a unique multi-service school with both ground and air training by the Royal Navy and administration by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Ground school and in-flight training took about ten months. Ground training was supervised by Royal Navy Petty Officers in the School Training Centre. In-flight air experience included proper sending and receiving communication techniques and air gunnery training while flying as crew in Fairey Swordfish and Avro Anson aircraft. The pilots were from the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, RCAF, RNZNVR and the RNZAF. Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre was located on Parade St. in the town of Yarmouth and trained army personnel for service at home and abroad. By 1942 the camp had a permanent staff of 357 officers and men. Between 1940 and 1945 the numbers of officers and men trained is estimated in excess of 20,000. At various times throughout the war years the relationship between the soldiers and the telegraphist air gunners at East Camp was strained in part due to competition over the local girls who found the young TAGs with their British accents perhaps more charming than the Canadian boys. On one occasion a TAG attempted to ‘bomb’ Camp 60 with a bag of flour to be dropped from his swordfish. That was prevented when his pilot noticed the bag of flour in the plane and made the TAG take it out. They did not fly over the camp and the pilot avoided it like the plague! On another occasion, a plane from East Camp circled over the camp in dense fog, unable to find the landing field, and Camp 60 personnel were prepared to shoot it down, believing it may be an enemy aircraft. Thus on November 9, 1944, one can only imagine the reaction at Camp 60 as they watched the pilot of Swordfish HS220, experiencing engine failure on take off and unable to make a return to the east Camp airstrip, descend and crash his plane on the grounds of Camp 60.