Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
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East Camp RCAF Station Yarmouth Nova Scotia, 1942-1945 Telegraphist Air Gunner Training and Wartime Operations   The   training   of   Telegraphist   Air   Gunners   at   East   Camp, RCAF   Station   Yarmouth,   Nova   Scotia,   began   in   January   1943 with   Course   45A.     The TAG   School   in   Canada   was   ‘fathered’   by the   training   establishment   at   Royal   Naval   Air   Station,   Worthy Down,    Hampshire,    England,    where    TAGs    had    been    trained since   1939.      Commander   Mudie   and   many   of   the   instructors moved   to   Yarmouth   from   Worthy   Down.      Other   TAG   courses continued   at   Worthy   Down   until   early   1944   after   which   East Camp in Yarmouth became the main course. New   courses   began   at   one   month   intervals,   and   with courses   lasting   about   nine   months,   some   seven   or   eight   would run   concurrently.      Courses   45   to   71   began   at   Yarmouth   but early   in   1945   when   it   began   clear   that   the   end   of   the   war   was in   sight,   courses   were   discontinued   and   Course   64   was   the   last to   graduate.      The   disappointed   trainees   in   subsequent   groups were   returned   to   general   service.      Some   570   TAGs   graduated from   East   Camp, Yarmouth.      Of   these   53   appear   in   the TAG   ‘In Memoriam’ List. It   was   late   1943   before   the   first   Canadian   trained   TAGs appeared   in   operational   squadrons.      After   passing   through   a Naval   Operational   Training   Unit,   the   majority   of   TAGs   were destined   for   Grumman   Avenger   aircraft,   and   the   Pacific   war theatre.      Others   went   to   Fairey   Barracuda   aircraft,   the   Navy’s other   torpedo   bomber.      Several   went   to   Fleet   Requirement Units   carrying   out   numerous   roles   including   target   towing   for   ship   and   anti-aircraft   gunnery   trials,   radar   test   flights   and   air-sea rescue duties. Large pools of reserve aircrew were built up at Trincomalee in Ceylon and in Australia, awaiting the final assault on Japan. Many   Canadians   trained   TAGs   were   in   Barracuda   squadrons   engaged   in   various   attacks   upon   the   Tirpitz   and   other   targets   in Norway.   Yet   others   joined   836   Squadron   and   flew   in   the   venerated   Swordfish.      This   squadron,   large   in   numbers   of   aircraft   but never   acting   in   one   unit,   provided   the   planes   which   operated   from   MAC   ships   in   the   North   Atlantic   and   Russian   convoy operations.      Finally,   there   were   many   Yarmouth   trained   TAGs   in   various   Avenger   squadrons   which   attacked   Sumatra   and   the Japanese Islands over a prolonged period. The   Instructors   in   Yarmouth   included   at   least   three   survivors   from   the   sinking   of   the   carrier   HMS   Courageous;   others   were pre-war TAGs who were brought back from the Reserve to pass on their skills and knowledge. Course   68   and   later   courses   had   a   large   Canadian   intake   in   preparation   for   the   Royal   Canadian   Navy   to   man   aircraft   in HMCS Warrior. East   Camp   Yarmouth   produced   people   with   world   wide   connections   and   experience,   a   contribution   to   the   war   effort   which should not be forgotten.
Photo: Yarmouth County Museum & Archives The first Certificate presentation to Air Gunners passing out from their course on September 19, 1944. A/LA Hawkins, the top of Course 58, and the first pupil ever to receive certificate recognition of the successful completion of his course in Telegraphist-Air-Gunnery.