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Forgotten Airfield – Farmers’ field once a BCATP airfield

May 2003

Although a small private airstrip sits just east of Alliston today, serving the needs of local pilots, there was once a more significant but sadly forgotten airfield in Tecumseth Township: Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment Alliston.

With the outbreak of WWII in 1939 the Canadian Government conceived a plan to train pilots, navigators, air gunners, air bombers and flight engineers for the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Air Force, and other Commonwealth air forces. What became of this plan, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, was nothing short of remarkable.

The BCATP saw more than 130,000 personnel from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand graduate from 107 training schools across Canada; a remarkable feat by any standards. Canada was an ideal location to train aircrew as it was far enough away from the fighting, with plenty of land away from towns and cities to build training schools. Many of today’s municipal airports were originally RCAF aerodromes.

No. 1 Service Flying Training School (1 SFTS) was established at RCAF Station Camp Borden. All flying training schools had one or two relief landing fields located nearby. The relief field usually consisted of either grass or asphalt runways, one hangar, maintenance facilities and barracks for overnight stays. The relief landing fields allowed pilot trainees to conduct circuit training, specifically on landing and taking-off skills. Some relief fields also served as sub-unit training schools, such as bombing training.

The No. 1 Relief Landing Field, known as RCAF Detachment Edenvale, was built in Sunnidale Township near the village of Edenvale, but the No. 2 Relief Landing Field, was built south of Alliston on Lots 6, 7 & 8 of Concession 11 in Tecumseth Township.

Opened in 1940, RCAF Detachment Alliston consisted of three runways in a standard triangular pattern consistent with most RCAF stations during WWII.

Unlike Edenvale, which had asphalt runways, RCAF Detachment Alliston had compressed grass runways, there were no lights for night landings and the aerodrome had minimal facilities.

The end of WWII saw a great downsizing of Canada’s military, including the RCAF. Personnel were released from the military, surplus equipment was either sold off or disposed as scrap. Surplus air force stations were also sold off. Some RCAF airfields throughout the country became, or reverted to municipal airports, like the Oshawa Airport, the Kingston Airport and even Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

Other airfields, like RCAF Detachment Alliston, were simply abandoned. The former aerodrome was sold and returned to its original function as farmland.

Today, not the slightest trace remains of RCAF Detachment Alliston and its contribution to the defence of Canada and the Commonwealth.

To learn more about the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, visit the Base Borden Museum Air Force Annex or the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in person or on-line at www.airmuseum.ca .


About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/forgotten-airfield/

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