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Douglas, W.A.B.

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, c1986. 797pp, cloth, $39.95, ISBN 0-8020-2584-6. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Alfred F. Greenwood

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Volume II of a projected four-volume history of the Royal Canadian Air Force takes up where volume I,* published in 1980, left off, at the end of World War I. The book is divided into four parts. Part I, "Between the Wars," depicts the air arm of our forces in a semi-civilian capacity. Part II, "The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan," describes the outstanding success of this scheme, with Canada's RCAF playing a major role in the training of aircrew for service in every theatre of war. At its ending in March 1945, it had graduated 131, 553 aircrew. This total included 42,110 RAF, 9,606 Australians, 7,002 New Zealanders, as well as some Frenchmen, Norwegians, and other Europeans.

Part III, "The Air Defence of Canada," is concerned mainly with the east and west coasts, but rumours and speculation were rampant and there was some thought given to raids launched from Hudson Bay to the Sault Ste Marie locks. With the advent of Pearl Harbour, interest moved to the west coast and the RCAF became involved in the Aleutian campaign. It is here over Kiska that squadron leader Kenneth Boomer shot down a Japanese Rufe, thus becoming the only member of the Home War Establishment to win an air victory and also the only member of an RCAF squadron to be credited with air victories against both Germans and the Japanese. He was killed in action over Germany in 1944. Ken was a classmate of this reviewer in flying training.

"The North Atlantic Lifeline," Part IV, is the story of the RCAF's participation in what has been called the Battle of the Atlantic. This was a most involved operation fought by both the air forces and navies of Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. This phase is covered in great detail; political, national, military, and technical. Ferry Command, the operation by which aircraft were flown from Canada and the United States across the Atlantic, is covered in an appendix.

The Creation of a National Air Force was published with the co-operation of the department of national defence and the Canadian Government Publishing Centre, Supply and Services Canada. The author, director of history, department of national defence, has been given full access to relevant official documents in the possession of the department of national defence. W.A.B. Douglas, in a preface, makes it abundantly clear that this volume is a co-operative enterprise and gives full credit to numerous collaborators.

The book contains 158 pages of excellent photographs, grouped at the beginning of each section. It is well served with maps and charts, some of which fold out. All are compiled and drawn by the directorate of history. The front and back end plates are two-page maps of the Pacific and Atlantic coast operations respectively. There is a good index and, though there is no bibliography per se, ninety-five pages of notes, arranged by chapter and page, cover reference materials.

Volume II, printed on acid-free paper, is a worthy companion to an excellent volume I. We will do our best to stick around for volumes III and IV.

Alfred F. Greenwood, Victoria, B.C.

*Reviewed vol. XIV/3 1981 p.190.

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