Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 108 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
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No. 2 Wireless School - Calgary Alberta​​
No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary, Alberta, was one of four set up by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada. The others were No. 1 in Montreal Quebec/Mount Hope, Ontario, No. 3 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and No. 4 in Guelph, Ontario. No. 2 Wireless School was open from September 16 1940 to March 30 1945 for a total of  1656 days. It was located on the grounds of the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA) in Calgary which is now known as the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). PITA school acitivities were relocated to various sites in Calgary during World War II. The grandstand at Calgary’s exhibition grounds became home for technical classes, arts and women’s programs moved to Mount Royal’s Coste House and the Normal School was relocated to the King Edward School in Calgary.

When No. 3 Wireless School in Winnipeg was closed on December 31 1944. its operations were transferred to the No. 2 Wireless School.

No. 2 Wireless School utilized the North American Harvard and Fleet Fort aircraft for on-the-job training for Wireless Air Gunners (WAGs). The wireless schools were first given the de Havilland Tiger Moth for practical training. Finding the Tiger Moth inadequate, the RCAF chose to replace it with the Fleet Fort for which modifications were completed in early 1942 when it went into action at the schools in Calgary and Winnipeg. It was not ideal, with its rear cockpit jammed with radio equipment, but continued to provide training to hundreds of WAGs until 1944 when it was replaced by the Harvard. The last Fleet Fort flew in this role at Calgary in July 1944. At that time, the RCAF determined it had no further use for this aircraft and all were cashiered out of service before the end of World War II.

A Wireless Air Gunner trainee could expect to be at various schools in the Plan, including Manning Depot and Initial Training School, for between 31 and 44 weeks. As a result of advancements in radio and radar technology, time at wireless school was increased from 20 to 28 weeks during the course of the war. Students would receive instruction in wireless (radio) communications together with rudimentary courses in signaling with lights and flags. A major component of the wireless training was developing a good working understanding and feel for the Morse Code, more difficult that one might expect. Most of the Wireless Air Gunner’s training occurred on the ground in classrooms with other students and small rooms built to simulate radio and radar operations from an aircraft.

Upon completetion of wireless school, a WAG would complete another four weeks at a bombing & gunnery school. Not relevant to the Wireless Air Gunner, the BGS offered training in bomb aiming which was not included in their curriculum. Air gunnery,  obviously, was relevant and the WAGs, as well as Air Observers, Air Gunners and Bomb Aimers received this training. There were 10 Royal Canadian Air Force and one  Royal Air Force bombing & gunnery Schools in the BCATP.

Upon completion of training, Wireless Air Gunner graduates would receive a single-wing badge with the letters ``WAG’‘ in the centre at their Wings Parade. From there, they would proceed to Operational Training Units where they would receive additional training and be integrated into the unit as aircrew.

Flying operations for students at No. 2 WGS at Calgary were undertaken at RCAF Detachment Shepard, nine miles southeast of Calgary.


  
References:
CATPM CONTACT Magazine, Volume 34 Number 2, Spring 2016.

Wikipedia – Calgary air force stations - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calgary_air_force_stations​
Provincial Institute of Techonolgy and Arts, aka No. 2 Wireless School, Calgary Alberta
Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum photo. This Fleet Fort first flew in 1940. It was assigned to No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary, where it was flown until mid 1944. The museum returned this aircraft back to flight status after 13 years of volunteer restorations. It is the only airworthy example of this type in existence.  
Taken on November 24 1942, the photograph shows Aero Engine Mechanic instructors and students at No. 2 Wireless School. The photo is part of the SAIT Historical Photograph Collection. 
Interior of the Airmen's Lounge at No. 2 Wireless School, Some airmen are writing letters. Photo obtained from the Australian War Memorial at:

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C275318at