SOME ASPECTS OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE TRANSPORT COMMAND
AN ADDRESS BY
AIR VICE-MARSHAL MARIX, C.B., D.S.O.
Chairman: The President, Mr. W. Eason Humphreys
Thursday, November 4, 1943
MR. HUMPHREYS: It is not long ago since we referred to the Atlantic Ocean as "The Pond". By so doing, we tried perhaps, to ease our minds about distance between friends or to persuade ourselves that the possibility of seasickness would be limited. Today there is an air bridge across the Atlantic Ocean by means of which it is possible, I believe, to eat one dinner in Britain and the next on this side.
The control of this air bridge over the Atlantic was, until recently, known as "Ferry Command". Now it is officially known as Transport Command.
We may not enquire too deeply into the working of this air bridge which has captured our imagination but The Empire Club has invited Air Vice-Marshal Marix to tell us as much as he can.
Air Vice-Marshal Marix joined the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps back in 1912. In a few months he acquired the Royal Aero Club pilot's certificate.
Just prior to World War I our guest was appointed Flight Lieutenant, R.N. In the newly formed Royal Naval Air Service and during that war he formed the first All-Canadian Squadron of the R.N.A.S. After World War I Air Vice-Marshal Marix became a member of the Aeronautical Commission of Control in Germany, later serving in the Air Ministry and also at Malta. When this war came, our guest found himself in command of No. 16 Group Coastal Command and later Deputy Chief of Staff at Coastal Command Headquarters, where he remained until proceeding to Canada last year to be Air Officer in Charge of Administration, Royal Air Force Ferry Command.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederic Bowhill, who honoured us with a visit some time ago, became Commander in Chief of Transport Command. It was then that our guest assumed command at Dorval in Quebec, now officially known as No. 45 Group of Transport Command.
Gentlemen, I have pleasure in introducing this distinguished officer of the Royal Air Force. Decorated in the last war with D.S.O., Order of the Crown of Bel gium, Belgian Croix de Guerre and twice mentioned in despatches. In this war he has been decorated with the C.B. and again mentioned in despatches. Gentlemen: Air Vice-Marshal R. L. G. Marix, C.B., D.S.O., who will now address you on "Some Aspects of the Royal Air Force Transport Command."
AIR VICE-MARSHAL MARIX: Although the R.A.F. Transport Command is new compared to the older Commands of the R.A.F., such as the Bomber, Fighter and Coastal, it and its predecessor, the R.A.F. Ferry Command, already have quite a history packed into a few years and they have undergone a great development since Transatlantic ferrying was initiated in 1940, and so a brief historical resume of how it all began may be of interest to you.
As you know, in the early days of the -war, whilst the United States was neutral, American built aircraft could not be flown into Canada and had to be hauled across the border on their wheels. It is possible that many of you saw the newsreel in the movies showing the aircraft being brought into Canada this way.
On the arrival of these aircraft on Canadian territory it was necessary to have an organization capable of handling them, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Air Ser vices offered to undertake this duty. This offer was gratefully accepted by the United Kingdom Government and the Canadian Government promised full assistance in every possible way. An agreement between His Majesty the King for the United Kingdom on one part, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company on the other part, was signed on August 16th, 1940-truly an historic document even for that great company. At the time Sir Edward Beatty was Chairman and President of the C.P.R.
A flow of pilots came from Canada and the United States and in addition, pilots came from Australia and New Zealand and from the Free French and Dutch, with one or two from other Allied Nations. Also, the Coast Command of the R.A.F. loaned some Hudson and Catalina crews.
One great difficulty was that of recruiting radio operators owing to the fact that wireless telegraphy is very little used in the commercial air services over here, which operate by means of the radio ranges, and radio telephony when within range of the control towers of the airfields. This difficulty was overcome by the help of the Canadian Marconi Company, and especially the Radio Division of the Department of Transport who made available, experienced radio operators of Canadian nationality who came in ever-increasing numbers from radio posts scattered throughout Canada. At that time, of course, we could not employ American radio operators as many of the messages had to be transmitted in cypher which only British personnel were allowed to handle since the Americans belonged to a neutral country.
A headquarters was established in the C.P.R. Windsor Station and Railways Exchange Building in Montreal, and St. Hubert was the airfield used by courtesy of the R.C.A.F.
The first Trans-atlantic bomber deliveries took place on November 11th, 1940, when seven Hudsons took off from Newfoundland under the direction of Captain Bennett and successfully completed the flight to Scotland in less than ten hours. This at the time was a remarkable achievement because the flying of the North Atlantic, especially in winter, was hardly considered a practical proposition, except in very favourable circumstances; but from that day Atlantic crossings have become a matter of routine.
In February of 1941, Captain "Punch" Dickins of the Canadian Pacific Air Services came into the picture and plans were made for new airports, additional living quarters, stores and hangars, etc. In this the Minister for Air -Major Powers-offered complete co-operation.
By March 1941 the international political and military situation made it important that this organization should become a department of the British Government and that same month it came under the Ministry of Aircraft Production with the name of ATFERO and Mr. Morris Wilson, President of the Royal Bank of Canada, became the head and Mr. Harold Long assumed executive control. The Transatlantic ferrying was handled by this organization until July 1941.
At this point I should like to say what a great debt of gratitude we owe to the Canadian Pacific Air Services and ATFERO, the executive personnel of which was almost entirely Canadian. They built wisely and well and one has only to look at the buildings at Dorval and in Newfoundland to realize the forethought, energy and determination of these men. Their work is something Canada may justly be proud of.
In June 1941 the President of the United States informed the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, that he was prepared to help us by flying all the aircraft des tined for Great Britain from the factories on the west coast of the United States, to Montreal or to any other airport in Canada, by Army pilots, and so release the American civilian pilots to help us fly the Atlantic, which again would release many of our Service pilots who were doing this work, for operational duties in other R.A.F. Commands. The President would only do this however, on the distinct understanding that the aircraft were handed over to a Service Command and not to a civil organization. It was, therefore, on July 20th, 1941, that ATFERO ceased to exist and the R.A.F. Ferry Command was formed in Montreal under the command of Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Bowhill.
This Command underwent continual expansion to meet increased deliveries from the United States and continued as such until April, 1943. By that time the war situation had become such that not only had aircraft to be ferried across the North and South Atlantics, but also from the United Kingdom and elsewhere to other parts of the world. Consequently it was decided to create a R.A.F. Transport Command, to abolish the R.A.F. Ferry Command and rename it No. 45 (Atlantic Transport) Group, which would form part of the newly created Transport Command. As the formation of this Transport Command was a big step forward, I do not think I can do better than read out a simple memorandum of explanation which was issued by a spokesman of the Air Ministry. This reads as follows
"1. The Government of the day has always realized that that most important subject, namely, Air Transport, was not only a problem of peace but an urgent requirement in war.
"2. The enemy has proved in a no uncertain manner, the great value of air transport in this war, lessons of Norway, Greece, etc., are before our eyes and it has been asked by some people, why we have not done the same.
"3. The reason was this, we started the war with a numerical inferiority of four to one, viz-a-viz Germany. We had, therefore, to concentrate all resources of our aircraft industry on producing combat aircraft and though we should have liked to, we could not afford to give any production to transport aircraft. We are now, however, owing to the great output of aircraft in the United Kingdom, able to produce some transport aircraft, and all those which we produce and all the transport aircraft which we obtain from our great Ally, the United States, will be used to meet urgent war requirements. With these new aircraft we shall be able to form new transport squadrons.
"4. As these new transport squadrons increase it will be apparent to everyone that an organization will be required to continue their operations throughout the world, otherwise there might be a waste of effort, a thing which must be avoided at all costs. The Government, therefore, decided to form an R.A.F. Transport Command.
"5. To have formed such a Command sooner would have been to put the cart before the horse. We were not short of commanders and staff but of transport aircraft. The Command will have many important duties to perform, such as
(a) Bringing supply and organization into focus.
(b) Controlling the various transport squadrons at Home.
(d) All overseas ferrying and the re-inforcement and movement of squadrons to and between overseas theatres. The term air re-inforcement means the movement of operational aircraft and their crews to wherever required. Ferrying, the delivery of aircraft by ferry crews who return to the pool after delivery of aircraft.
"6. Now we come to the relations of the R.A.F. Transport Command and the British Overseas Airways Corporation. These have been laid down carefully by the Government of the day. The B.O.A.C. for many reasons of higher policy and again because their aircraft pass through neutral countries, will continue as a civil organization; also another important point which is sometimes overlooked-it must meet the essential communication needs of various civil administrations. As you are all well aware, we in the Service have had the closest relations with the B.O.A.C. and the requirements of this Corporation will be integrated with the Transport Command. The guiding principle will be that the Command and the Corporation will work in the closest collaboration, freely exchanging information and experience, helping each other to the best of their ability to carry out the respective tasks allotted to them.
"7. It is sometimes asked, what is the reason for not making the British Overseas Airways Corporation into a military machine for the duration of the war, surely that would be the best and simplest solution? At first sight it might appear to be so, but when we examine the facts closely, we find that such is not the case. You will remember that this Corporation was flying all over the British Empire and other countries before the war, many contracts, many commitments were entered into, both with our Dominions and with foreign countries, which do not lend themselves easily to the military machine, nor is it necessary that they should. All that is necessary and what we must ensure is, that all our efforts, both military and civilian as regards the air, are bent as all other efforts are, to the successful conclusion of the war. In the same way, for example, as the work of the Navy and the Merchant Service.
"8. May I conclude with again reminding everybody that it was only because we had to build combat aircraft so as to save the world, for the British Empire stood alone for many months, that we could not get ahead with transport aircraft. Nevertheless, we fully realized how important that class was."
Thus in April 1943 Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Bowhill became the Commander-in-Chief of this new Command and I took over the existing organization in Canada as Air Officer Commanding No. 45 Group.
In September last I flew over to Great Britain and visited the Transport Command headquarters. Their plans for future expansion and the opening of new routes are in active progress. The Command already handles all ferrying and re-inforcements for the R.A.F., except in India where these activities are controlled by the Indian Government.
However, you will be more interested in the work being done from Canada and I will therefore explain to you how this operates.
We have our Group Headquarters at the Montreal Airport, Dorval, where our hangars and buildings, etc., cover a large area. We have, for instance, 3 large 4-bay hangars and a 2-bay hangar and even then we often have to park our aircraft in the open. We also have a large administration block and various other buildings, which are necessary for the numerous ground and training duties which have to be carried out. The Group consists of two ferrying Wings-No. 112 North Atlantic Wing and No. 113 South Atlantic Wing. In addition there is a Training Wing which trains not only for ourselves but for the Command generally and there is a Squadron of Communication aircraft. No. 112 Wing is incorporated in our Headquarters at Montreal and handles all the aircraft which fly the North Atlantic, including those which go through Bermuda; whereas No. 113 Wing has its base headquarters in Nassau in the Bahamas Island and handles all aircraft which fly via the South Atlantic route into Africa.
Let us now look at what the Group Headquarters and the two Wing Headquarters are responsible for and how they do their work. The Group Headquarters consists of the following departments
Those under the Senior Air Staff Officer, Air Commodore Powell, whom many of you probably know. He controls: All flying personnel, operations, Service flying training, Civilian flying training, Signals Department, Engineering Department, Traffic Department, and Meteorological Department.
Then there is the Staff Officer in charge of Administration, who has under him: Administration (both Service and civilian), Establishments, Civilian non-flying personnel, Claims and Insurance, Accounts Department, Construction Department, Equipment Department, Medical Department, Chaplaincy Service, Security Police Department, Fire-fighting Section, and Central Registry.
All these Departments, of course, have their own heads and we have five Group Captains on our establishment. The Staff Officer in charge of Administration is himself a Group Captain, also the Engineering, Accounts, Signals and Equipment Departments are commanded by one. There are also many senior civilian posts such as the Director of Construction, the Chief Traffic Manager and the Manager of Civilian Personnel.
The North Atlantic Wing, for which a Wing Commander is responsible as the Air Staff Officer in charge of Operations, is really incorporated in the Group Headquarters but there is a separate organization at Nassau for the South Atlantic Wing, which is also commanded by a Wing Commander.
I cannot give you the exact strength of No. 45 Group because all establishments in wartime are secret, but you will appreciate its size when I mention that we employ about 2,000 Service and about 3,000 civilian personnel.
You will not want to be bothered with too much detail so I will tell you briefly what happens as far as the aircraft and flying are concerned, and what happens on the ground.
Now with regard to the aircraft, we today not only have the allocations from the American factories but also those being built in Canadian factories and which are destined for overseas, and the flow of Canadian-built. Lancasters and Mosquitos is steadily increasing--a most welcome addition of these excellent aircraft to those being built in the United Kingdom.
Firstly, take the American aircraft, which of course form the great majority we have to handle. These are delivered to us by either the U.S. Air Transport Command or by the U.S. Navy, according to the type of aircraft. The Army aircraft are by far the most numerous. These types are delivered to Montreal if destined for the North Atlantic route, or to Nassau if destined for the Middle East or Far East. On arrival they are handed over to us by the U.S. Air Transport Command who have liaison officers with a staff appointed to us, and a complete check of the equipment of the aircraft is carried out-which is quite a big job in itself when one considers the number we handle. All aircraft then have to be checked by the Engineering Department where each one is flight-tested, has its compasses swung and the radio tested. It is then handed over to Operations and a crew is detailed and briefed. The aircraft is then ready for its Transatlantic flight.
The Flying Boats are handed over to us by the U.S. Navy at Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and they go through the same procedure except that we sometimes have to fit our own special equipment into them and they are then flown to either Bermuda or our seaplane base at Boucherville on the St. Lawrence River near Montreal. The aircraft which go to Bermuda are flown direct to Scotland and this sometimes involves a flight of about 25 hours. Those which come to Boucherville go to Newfoundland and then on to the United Kingdom. However, we can only operate the Boucherville base during the summer months because the St. Lawrence freezes over. There is one lake in Newfoundland which never freezes all over but even if we were to get our Flying Boats on to this lake for the northern passage, it would not be practicable because when a Flying Boat takes off it throws up a great deal of spray and this would freeze solid on the aircraft and load it down with ice, therefore in the winter all flying boats are ferried through Bermuda.
Canadian-built aircraft are collected by us direct from the factories and brought to Montreal where they go through the same procedure as the American aircraft.
The routes followed depend upon the type of aircraft, in other words, its range, and special tanks have to fitted to certain types in order that they can cross the Atlantic. These tanks, of course, are removed on arrival at the destination. The usual route, of course, is either to Newfoundland or Labrador and then straight over to the United Kingdom. Sometimes the aircraft are routed through Greenland and Iceland or direct from Labrador to Iceland. This depends upon the Meteorological conditions. By taking the northern route through Greenland it is often possible to avoid bad weather further south. When there are strong westerly winds we are able to route certain aircraft direct from Montreal to the United Kingdom, a distance of over 3,000 statute miles.
The route followed by the aircraft that leave Nassau is to Trinidad and then to certain places in South America and finally on to the Gold Coast in West Africa, where they are taken over by another Group in the Transport Command and delivered to their various destinations in North Africa, or through to India.
Now let us turn to the men who fly the aircraft and to those on the ground who make the flying possible. First let us take the aircrews. The pilots are both Service and civilian. The Service pilots are drawn from the following four main sources:
First, the product of the Training Units which operate under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. These pilots who may be Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, or Royal New Zealand Air Force, have a total of 250 flying hours of which 100 hours have been spent in Service types. They are then given further training by its for about three or four weeks, both to convert them to the type of aircraft they are going to take across the Atlantic and to teach them the technique of the Atlantic flying.
Second, we get a certain number of experienced pilots who have been on this side of the Atlantic for some duty or another and are posted back to the United Kingdom. These are also given special training by us, according to their experience.
Third, we get qualified R.A.F. instructors who have been teaching in the Service Training Schools in Canada and are returning to the United Kingdom. They also are made familiar with the technique of the Atlantic flight, and lastly, we have a number of Allied air force pilots-Poles, Norwegians and Czechs. The Poles and Norwegians are the more numerous and have their own units with us, commanded by their own officers. These pilots sometimes require a longer period of special training owing to the language difficulty but they have been of the greatest value to us.
The pilots turned out by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan have acquired a very high standard. At one time there were people who said it would be far too much to expect a pilot who had just left his Training Unit to fly the Atlantic. But they have been proven wrong and to me it continues to be a source of wonder that these young pilots successfully cross the Atlantic which involves an intricate system of control, when they have probably never been in an aeroplane until a year previously.
Then we have the civilian pilots, each of whom must have had a minimum of 750 hours solo flying and who must hold a commercial license and instrument rating. They also go through out training programme and very often go across as co-pilots before being allowed to go as captains. We have had and still have, a considerable number of these experienced pilots and they come from all parts of Canada and the United States. A few of them are from United Nations and, of course, a certain number come from the United Kingdom.
As regards Navigators, nearly all of these are service trainees from the various navigation schools in Canada and the United States. They also are given a special course of training by us for the transoceanic crossing.
The radio operators are in three categories. The majority are Service trainees from the Commonwealth Air Training Plan who are given extra training by us for from two to four weeks; then there are the United Nations trainees who need a slightly longer course; and lastly, civilians, but before we accept these they must already be qualified radio operators and we give them a special course.
Finally, we have the flight engineer to make up the crew. These are only carried in our four-engine deliveries and they have to be trained up to the required standard. We insist that these mechanics work on the maintenance of the aircraft in which they will be crossing the Atlantic and they have to work on the hangar floor and prove their ability before they are allowed to form part of a crew. This has proved to be a very successful plan.
Members of our civilian aircrews can always be recognized by the special R.A.F. Transport Command uniform they wear. This consists of a dark blue double-breasted suit, the jacket of which has silver buttons and wings; and they wear a silver badge on their caps. Their equivalent rank with the Service is shown by blue and black braid on their sleeves, rather similar to that of the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F.
Now comes the jig-saw puzzle of fitting in the crews with the flow of aircraft so as to make certain, as far as possible, that no time is lost either by the aircraft being detained on this side of the Atlantic because of lack of crews, or by crews kicking their heels waiting for aircraft to ferry. Then we must also remember that certain crews have only been trained to fly certain aircraft and therefore a very careful correlation between available aircraft and crews is necessary to ensure a steady flow. The weather also plays its part and can often upset the programme. Thus the return of crews from their destinations, about which I shall saw a few words later on, is in itself quite a problem.
Now as regards the ground personnel who make flying possible. First let us look at the Meteorological Service which is, as you know, a department of the Canadian Government. For the North Atlantic we have a central administration and forecast office at Dorval and primary forecast offices in Newfoundland, Labrador and Bermuda, also in Iceland and Scotland, and it is on the information provided by them that the route to be followed is decided. You will, therefore, realize what a responsible work the Meterological Service has and how the lives of the crews may depend on their forecasts. All should take off their hats to the Meteorological Department of Canada because the flight plans which are always prepared before an aircraft takes off are usually adhered to with almost uncanny exactitude. This means that the forecasts of the Meteorological data in the various zones into which the Atlantic is divided, have been accurate.
A few words about the Signals Branch which is responsible for both a complicated ground network of communications and for all radio communications between the many ground stations and the aircraft in the air. It is also responsible for the technical maintenance and efficiency of the ground installations themselves and the various types of radio equipment installed in the aircraft. Another duty is the final training of the personnel, both Service and civilian, to ensure that they are 100% proficient for their special duties, both in the air and on the ground. Finally, within the Signals Branch is the code and cypher division. Now a few details about each of these duties.
As regards the ground communications network, we have to be able to maintain constant communication with the United Kingdom, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland, many place in Canada and the United States, and also with Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad, British Guiana and places in Brazil and West Africa. This communication is normally through what we call "point to point" radio channels, backed, wherever possible, by priority arrangements with the cable and telegraph companies. At times the use of cable is compulsory as the Northern Lights play strange tricks with radio, communication in the higher latitudes. As you know, the British Broadcasting Corporation is sometimes unable to broadcast their news bulletins from England to Canada. Not so very long ago we used to be out of radio communication with one of our northern stations for as long as a week at a time and as there was no cable or telegraph, we had to use communication aircraft. But the search for technical improvements always continues and quite recently we have overcome what at one time appeared to be an insuperable difficulty.
The ground to air communications fall into several categories. There is the short range voice control by radio in the vicinity of airfields for the control of takeoffs and landings, and the long range wireless telegraphy for which the Morse Code is used. This is of great value " over the middle of the Atlantic when urgent meteorological or other information has to be passed. As the enemy are able to intercept all such messages they have to be put into cypher.
Then there are many radio aids to navigation. These are rather technical and it will suffice to say that an aircraft can be navigated for hundreds of miles whilst flying blind through clouds, by a combination of radio instruments in the aircraft and on the ground. Needless to say, all this equipment needs very expert maintenance and we have a large radio maintenance organization with parties at every station which our aircraft use, to do this work.
I have already mentioned the training of the radio operators. For these we have a complete school at Dorval, staffed by experts who have done many Atlantic crossings.
As regards the Cypher Division, not only have the ground to air messages to be encyphered, but also practically all those passed by "point to point" or by cable. This cypher work on the ground is done almost entirely by W.A.A.F. Officers of the R.A.F. and they are to be found at stations from the Far North to the tropics, except at one or two places where there is literally no accommodation for women. At the Headquarters at Dorval we also have on loan from the R.C.A.F. a number of W.D.'s who handle the distribution of hundreds of messages a day.
The Engineering Department is a large one employing at Dorval alone more than 700 civilians under the supervision of their own foremen, but controlled by R.A.F. Engineer Officers. Their principal work is to examine every aircraft that comes in for delivery across the Atlantic, to ensure that everything is in perfect trim. An enormous amount of inspection work is involved and sometimes recent modifications have to be incorporated.
Then there is the maintenance of the aircraft which belong to the Communication Squadron and to the Training Wing, and if one of these is involved in a crash it has to be repaired if this is possible. The fact that our losses in aircraft during the actual flight over the Atlantic is less than Y2% testifies to the efficiency of this department.
Then we have the Traffic Department. Now the medium and heavy bomber is about the only war material that does not require valuable shipping space to take it across the ocean. Furthermore, it not only takes itself, but certain types also carry urgently required freight and diplomatic mail.
Earlier I mentioned that one of our problems was to get the aircrews back after they had delivered their aircraft. As far as the North Atlantic is concerned, this is done by the British Overseas Airways Corporation who operate under our control a number of Liberators for the purpose. Although the primary object of working these aircraft is to bring back crews from the United Kingdom to Canada, we take full advantage of their passage from Canada to the United Kingdom to transport passengers, urgent freight and diplomatic mail for Great Britain, and an aircraft never leaves except at full permissible weight. In fact the volume of freight and number of passengers carried by us is such as to make the Command a large airline organization and it is the function of the Traffic Department to control the despatch and arrival of all urgent war materials, government mail and official passengers.
It also handles the large fleet of busses, station wagons and cars we require. At Dorval alone, during every 24 hours we have to transport about 2,500 people to and from the Airport as there is no other means of transportation available.
On the South Atlantic Route we operate our own Liberator Return Ferry Service and a considerable amount of cargo is carried in these aircraft when they fly to Africa to fetch crews.
The Traffic Department also has to keep in very close touch with the British Air Commission in Washington and with the authorities at Ottawa so that the necessary priorities can be given to the passengers and freight to be carried.
At this point I will say a few words about the official passengers who travel in our B.O.A.C. Return Ferry Service aircraft. I am sometimes asked if I can provide a passage by bomber but this I can never do under the agreement reached by the various governments concerned. The system is as follows
If passengers are from the United States their applications must be made to the British Embassy in Washington.
If they are Canadian subjects, their applications must be made to the Department of Transport, Ottawa.
If they are United Kingdom subjects in Canada, then they must apply to the Office of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom at Ottawa.
The Traffic Department keep these three authorities informed of the number of seats which are going to be available according to the frequency of our schedule and they collaborate and allot these seats according to the importance of the mission on which the passenger is travelling. I obviously have no say in this matter and the only passengers I can put on, on my own authority, are my own staff officers should they have to travel, to England for work or conferences at the Air Ministry or the Headquarters of the Transport Command.
The Equipment Branch is probably one of the most complicated in the R.A.F. as it has to deal with such a large variety of both technical and non-technical stores of British, Canadian and American origin. At Headquarters we employ some 150 civilians, again under the control of R.A.F. Equipment Officers.
Let me give you a short resume of their various duties The Department is primarily responsible for the provision of all equipment and spares required by the Engineer and Radio Departments and by the Out-stations, and the number of individual items involved is legion. It also has a Barracks stores section for the custody and issue of clothing, bedding and similar non-technical stores. Then we have our stationery and purchasing departments. Finally, there is catering. At Dorval we have our own cafeteria which is open day and night to provide for the day and night shifts. Up to 2,000 luncheons are served daily. The Equipment Branch is also responsible for supervising similar activities, although on a smaller scale, at the Out-stations.
Then there is the Accounting Department which has to handle the Pay and Allowances of the R.A.F. and Dominion Service personnel, and the payroll of all the civilians. The fact, as I have mentioned before, that these personnel are located over such a large geographical area means that the department has to make arrangements to obtain funds from various sources in different parts of the world, and deal in a large range of currencies, such as Canadian and United States dollars, Bahamian and Bermudian sterling and South American and African currencies. Then sometimes our crews go as far as India and travelling expenses have to be arranged enroute through many other countries. The constant movement of individuals over vast distances involving absences of from days to weeks, entails a very considerable amount of work in settling individual claims for travelling expenses and adjustments of cash advances.
I should not like to forget the Manager of the Civilian Personnel Department, who is responsible for engaging all civilian employees and maintaining their records. He combines with these duties a variety of others, such as welfare, and in conjunction with the Accounting Department, the local organization for the successive Victory Loans. This time our object was $110,000 which has already been exceeded by about $43,000, and we hope to go further.
When you consider that all this organization about which I have been talking is mainly to do with ferrying from this side of the Atlantic, you will appreciate what a great task the Transport Command has when it is also responsible for the reinforcements of front line squadrons and the carriage of large quantities of supplies to the battlefronts, as well as the evacuation of the wounded. In the Sicilian campaign Transport Command aircraft were the first to land in Sicily for the purpose of carrying in special supplies and evacuating wounded troops. I am sure that you will, therefore, agree with me that Air Transport is playing a substantial role in the winning of this war.
Before I sit down I should like to thank the President and Executive of the Empire Club of Canada for having invited me to come here and speak to you. It has been a great privilege to address this Club and I hope I have been able to give you some idea of the work of the Transport Command in this great country of yours.