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Aircraft Shortages at Flying School

Heroes Remember

Aircraft Shortages at Flying School

We were first sent to Calgary where they had Anson aircraft which is a large twin engine aircraft. And they said, “Okay, the course that's here now hasn't been able to finish their flying because we're short of airplanes.” Particularly of the wheels and undercarriage they were short of. It was rather funny because if an airplane crashed or went... the first thing everybody asked was “Are the wheels okay?” And if they were, they would take the wheels and put them on an airplane that had been up on jacks in the hanger and then use it. But that was the critical bit of a crash. I don't think they ever asked if the pilot was okay, they just said, “Are the wheels okay?” You know you could make all kinds of jokes about it. So we were sent to Medicine Hat, which was an RAF school. And again the same thing happened, it was Oxford aircraft. And they said, “You'll have to take the ground school first and then you can fly.” But then half way through they said, “No, this isn't gonna work. We'll bring in Harvards. You have to start ground school again for Harvards. ”But this might have saved my life because we went on Harvards, which generally led to single engine fighters, Spitfires and Hurricanes, where had we continued in Oxfords and Ansons, we might have ended up on Lancasters and Halifaxes and Wellingtons, that type of thing. So we were very pleased.

Mr. Warren describes a shortage of Anson aircraft at Elementary Flying School in High River Alberta. His tongue-in-cheek sense is that more value was placed on recovering the wheels from a downed aircraft than on its pilot. Later, at RAF flying school in Medicine Hat, he retrains in a single engine Harvard which eventually leads him to becoming a fighter pilot.

Douglas Warren

Douglas Warren was born on May 28, 1922 in Nanton, Alberta. His father, a farmer, was an isolationist emigrant from the United States. One of four children, Mr. Warren had an identical twin brother with whom he was very close. They had always wanted to fly, and enlisted in the Air Force in 1940. Mr. Warren completed his pilot training in High River, Alberta. Once overseas, he joined #165 Spitfire Squadron in Ayr, Scotland, and was involved in the air battle during the Dieppe Raid, as well as later flying cover on bombing raids. He then joined #66 Squadron at Falaise, France, flying the new SpitfireMK9B in ground attack operations. Mr. Warren was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, Mr. Warren's exemplary career continued after permanently joining the RCAF. He became Fighter Leader for Canada's Meteor Jet Squadron, served in the Korean War, was a NATO pilot instructor in Germany, and served time with NORAD. Mr. Warren eventually became Assistant Base Commander at Comox from where he retired with the rank of Wing Commander.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
May 7, 1999
Person Interviewed:
Douglas Warren
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
166 Squadron
Wing Commander

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