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Royal Canadian Air Force Station Torbay:

Established by the RCAF on 15 December 1941 as the home of No. 11 Bomber Reconnaissance (BR) Squadron. No. 5 Coastal Artillery Co-operation Flight was established at the station in April 1942, disbanding in 1945. Other units occupying RCAF Station Torbay at various times during WW II were No. 125 Bomber Squadron, No. 145 (BR) Squadron, No. 128 (Fighter) Squadron and No. 5, No. 113 (BR) & No. 160 (BR) Squadrons The Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Corps also maintained detachments at the station until December 1946.

RCAF Station Torbay closed on 1 April 1946 and although the airport became a civilian airport, United States Air Force personnel remained on site.

The post-war expansion of the RCAF resulted in many former aerodromes being re-opened and RCAF Station Torbay was re-activated on 15 April 1953. No. 107 Rescue Unit, formerly a detached unit of 103 RU located at RCAF Station Greenwood, was established at Torbay in 1954. No. 107 operated three converted Lancasters as search and rescue aircraft.

The United States Air Force continued to maintain a presence at the station, that being the 6600th Operations Squadron, until 1958 when they finally departed.

RCAF Station Torbay closed again in 1963, this time for good. The former station is now the St. John’s Airport.

Only two buildings remain from the Air Force era and both are currently being used as storage. All other buildings were torn down long ago.

Although Torbay is now fully a civilian airport, the airport is an important departure and arrival point for the trans-Atlantic flight routes, including for military aircraft. As such, the RCAF maintains a presence at the airport with Air Reserve Flight Torbay (ARF Torbay).

Operating out of the General Aviation area of the airport, ARF Torbay is made up of two sections: Headquarters and Transient Servicing Section. ARF Torbay provides service and support to RCAF and Nato aircraft and crews transiting through St John’s.

ARF Torbay receives support from CFS St. Johns in nearby Pleasantville.

Source Material: “Sentinel ” Magazine from January 1984, Aviation in Newfoundland & Labrador, Torbay web site – www.home.thezone.net/~ainal/torbay, the St. John’s International Airport web site – http://www.stjohnsairport.com/sitemap/default.htm, information supplied by Walter Butt, Commercial Development Officer, St. John’s International Airport Authority Inc (2004), http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/squadron/flight-detachement-torbay.page & Wings For Victory by Spencer Dunmore.

Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Botwood:

Opened in 1941, Botwood served as an anti-submarine patrol station for Canso aircraft.  The aerodrome had previously been established in 1937 for use by commercial flying boats.

The RCAF constructed barracks, hangars, administration buildings, a recreation hall, a slipway, anti-aircraft batteries, ammunition bunkers and other facilities.  The recreation hall was also used by personnel at RCAF Station Gander.

In addition to the airmen, hundreds of soldiers arrived to man the AA batteries.

In 1943, some of the AA battery accommodation buildings were turned over to the Dominion of Newfoundland for accommodations and a restaurant for passengers and crews on the transatlantic service, operated by British Overseas Airways Corporation.

The upper camp eventually had 24 buildings and the lower camp had 16 buildings.

The base closed in 1945, with both military and civilian flying boat service came to an end.

All that remains are the former station headquarters building, now the Botwood Heritage Centre, and flying boat slipway, along with a historical plaque.

Source Material: “History of Canadian Airports” by T. M. McGrath.

Bull’s Bay Naval Base:

Opened in 1943 south of St. John’s as a naval repair depot. The base closed in September 1945. Only 2 wooden sheds remain.

Source material: “Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.

No. 31 Personnel Depot:

Opened in the summer on 1941 as a stop-over station for airmen awaiting assignment to training schools and active service squadrons. The Depot closed on 31 January 1945.

The depot then became No. 10 Release Centre shortly after War’s end. No. 10 RC closed in 1946. The former depot is now Victoria Industrial Park. A few buildings, including the drill hall, remain today.

Source material: “History of Aviation in the Greater Moncton Area” by Jim Kinne (1987) & “Abandoned Military Installations of Canada Volume III: Atlantic” by Paul Ozorak.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/abandoned-bases/newfoundland-labrador/


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  1. Jarret

    what about American Naval Station Argentia?

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Jarret,

      I’ve been concentrating more on Canadian occupied bases, but I do understand that there were Canadians posted to the base, so I will be adding it sometime in the future. Thanks for the reminder.


  2. Clyde King

    Another RCAf base was Allans Island Newfoundland

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Clyde,

      Thanks for the information.


  3. Rick Boas

    My uncle Armine Boas was stationed at R.C.A.F. Station, Tilting, Newfoundland as late as April 1945. He was a Sgt. serving as a medic and was awarded a B.E.M. for his service. He was retained by the Newfoundland Department of Public Heath and Welfare after the war. I cannot find any evidence that this base existed
    Rick Boas

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Rick,

      I managed to find this article about the base: https://www.pressreader.com/canada/the-pilot/20141203/281706908004110. I never knew it existed either, but there were a lot of WWII radar stations that closed after the war with little note for future historians. I’ll have to make an entry on the base myself.


      1. Rick Boas

        Thanks Bruce.

        This was my uncle Armine Boas 1907-1967. He received an M.E.B. For his service. I have dozens of hand written letters from his patients on Fogo. They called him doctor but he did not have a high school diploma let alone formal medical training. He saved my life when I was 12 years old
        That is a great article and I’ll pass it on to his family
        Rick Boas

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