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Wartime Instructor

Heroes Remember

Well my first and only posting in wartime as an instructor was to No. 2 Service Line Training School at Uplands, just outside of Ottawa, and I was there for 18 months during which time I learned as much as my students did, I guess. The first six months is... your learning curve was still going up rather sharply at that point, I figured. The people that went directly overseas they probably had their learning curve adjusted steeply with what they were doing in a different environment and different aircraft. Eighteen months I could fly the air plane, you know, blind folded. There is always a terror of ground looping, ground looping was the big bugaboo. As the tail came down and the rotation of the propellor and various forces working in the slip stream coming off, the old Harvard could take a dirty dart usually to the left but not always, and which ended up doing a rather quick circuit on the ground referred to as a ground loop. Sometimes bent an under carriage off, sometimes buckled a wing and almost, well a lot of people had them. If I had wood to touch.... I never had one. And I never had one in a year and a half instructing either or any of my students. Fortunately they weren't cut from the same bulk of cloth at all. Everyone was different. Everyone you had to consider handling perhaps a little different. The cocky ones you had to demand more of them without them knowing, being too much aware of it. You had to tighten up the reins and make sure that they could split the hair a little bit more than the chap who was less capable or less cocky about it. So you, maybe a bit of a, I won't say psychologists, but you're an analyst as well and that was part of the job. Every young lad I suppose as they are today, is a little bit different. It would be a strange world if we are all the same. They all passed and the last six months I was there was another interesting phase. They were just introducing gunnery, air gunnery and air to ground gunnery in the Harvard training syllabus. They had caught up pretty well, this was in ‘43 now, we're talking about. The production of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was such that the supply of pilots wasn`t short anymore. We were running into a surplus. Well, I don`t want to say a surplus, but the demand had caught up, or the supply had caught up to the demand and they were extending a period of training at the service training schools to include the little more head out of the cockpit and eyes on the target idea. So they introduced low level bobbing, shallow dive bombing and air to ground live firing, as well as, simulated. All this was lead into a simmy gun exercises and so that six months I was instructing those duties which I found quite useful later on when I got onto the operations.

Mr. Ireland discusses his role as a flight instructor, handling the recruits, and teaching newly adopted air to ground attack tactics.

Elgin Gerald Ireland

Elgin Gerald Ireland was born in Shelbourne, Ontario, on January 12, 1921. He was the eldest in a family of seven. Because his father was a farmer, his family survived the depression in relative comfort. Mr. Ireland lived close to an airfield, and was fascinated by the thought of flying. When the family farm was sold, Mr. Ireland felt no obligation to stay home, and in April, 1941, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was groomed as a pilot, and did his elementary training at St. Eugene, flying the Fleet Finch. He moved on to St. Hubert, learned to fly the Harvard aircraft, and then moved on to Trenton where he was a flight instructor for one and a half years. Mr. Ireland reached England as a member of a Hurricane squadron, but soon transferred to 411 Spitfire Squadron. He flew air to ground combat at Falaise Gap and Nijmegen, while at the same time engaging the Luftwaffe in air to air warfare. For his efforts, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Netherlands Flying Cross. After the liberation of Europe, Mr. Ireland volunteered for the Tiger Force, an air group which was to aid in the war against Japan. Mr. Ireland remained in the air force, returning to the Trenton Flying School. He was one Canada’s first pilots to fly the Vampire, F-86 Sabre, and CF-100 jet fighters. After spending four years as Canada’s CF-100 Squadron Commander in France, he returned to 409 Squadron at Comox, British Columbia, where he was promoted to Camp Commander. It was at that point that British Columbia became his family home.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Elgin Gerald Ireland
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Flight Lieutenant

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