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Flying was in my Heart

Heroes Remember

Flying was in my Heart

I was selected to go on single engines and was sent up to No. 1 FOT, Fighter Operational Training unit at Bagotville on Hurricanes. They had a home base squadron there at the time and an operational training unit. So I was more or less cast onto the single engine fighter bomber racket one way or another. That was the next step and we had, I think, two months or three months at Bagotville on the Hurricane which was which was easy to fly, less demanding that the Harvard incidentally. Little more power, a little more manoeuvrable, but not much. But considerably less demanding especially on the landing and take off. We finished at Bagotville just before Christmas 1943 and they sent us home on leave for two weeks, they called it embarkation leave. Report down to Halifax and as we did dutifully about a week before Christmas or something and over in England the reception depots would shock a block They said no way can they take anymore and nobody wanted to have about 3000 air crew sitting around on their hands with the Y Depot in Halifax. So they said everybody go home, take a month's leave over Christmas and New Years and report back to a new wide up with Lachine in January and toward the end of January 1944. Well, what a Christmas gift! No one turned it down. So that was the next step on our way overseas. They said E. G. if you want to go that's it and they knew what I wanted to do. They knew before I knew it in my heart.

Mr. Ireland describes training on the Hurricane at the Operational training Unit in Bagotville, Quebec, and reveals his love for flying.

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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