HR 980 (116th Congress): Supporting and Documenting the Text

(CONTENT LAST UPDATED ON 9 APRIL 2019)

“To award a Congressional Gold Medal to all United States nationals who voluntarily joined the Canadian and British armed forces and their supporting entities during World War II, in recognition of their dedicated service.”

Above: A memorial ceremony was held several years ago at the Virginia War Memorial to honor RCAF-Virginians. Sadly, the U.S. Government has yet (after 75 years) to acknowledge the service and sacrifices of the thousands of American volunteers. This video was prepared by the Virginia War Memorial, Nanton Aviation Station, Bomber Command Museum of Canada and Airplane Hunters.

Why should Congress pass this legislation now? Americans in Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF) uniforms fought during the Battle of Britain. Veterans express their views based upon personal experience and introspection. Thus, three Battle of Britain RAF fighter pilots, who are featured in the British Film Company & Elliptical Wing Limited 2018 documentary Spitfire: The Plane that Saved the World, provide timely insights on the subject of public remembrance. Ken Wilkinson says, “There’s not many of us left, you know. We’re not getting any younger. I doubt in 5 years there will be any of us.” Tony Pickering solemnly and succinctly states the following truth: “We must remember those who died. We must remember that.” In conclusion, Geoffrey Wellum adds the following paraphrased insight: “It’s nice [for the survivors] to be remembered because remembering covers everybody who served.”

Thousands of men and women enlisted at recruiting centers within the United States and Canada, and a lesser number in the United Kingdom. They saw the need to take action when the United States were still officially, if not always practically, neutral. Scores died while protecting America via service in Canadian and British uniforms, and the United States have never paid tribute to these valiant citizens.

Facts are facts. For more than seventy years these heroes have been largely overlooked and forgotten by the governments of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Thus, the dwindling number of surviving veterans would be grateful for formal remembrance. Additionally, family members have long awaited official recognition of their loved ones’ contributions to the Allied victory over Nazism and fascism.

Introduction

Research on this topic is continuing and thus the endeavor will always be a work in progress. Content updates will be frequent. One must remember that the quotes and citations provided may apply to more than one paragraph of the bill. Therefore, the sources referenced and cited represent only a general overview and are to not be deemed as a comprehensive listing. Below one will find a selection of photographs and videos, paragraphs from the bill, “Notes, Quotes & Citations” which support and document each paragraph, “Other Recommended Viewings,” and “Sources and Suggested Readings.”

This posting, which was requested by legislative sponsors, cosponsors, and others provides bibliographical content which supports the text of H.R. 980. The legislation will acknowledge the valor and contributions of the citizens of the United States of America who voluntarily joined, in support of the Mother country, the entire United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the British Commonwealth of Nations, the British or Canadian military or a supporting organization during the Second World War.

One of many reasons Americans migrated northward to Canada was that Hollywood promoted the concept of U.S. citizens serving with Canadian and British forces. The 1941 film A Yank in the R.A.F. starred two of Twentieth Century Fox’s talents: Tyrone Power and Betty Grable. Power portrayed an American pilot who ferries an U.S.-built Lockheed Hudson medium bomber to England and unexpectedly encounters a previous romantic interest (Grable), who is serving in London with the British Red Cross. The 1942 color motion picture Captains of the Clouds featured the RCAF, BCATP, and James Cagney. That same year Mrs. Miniver was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. William Wyler directed, and Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon took on the primary roles. This is an American romantic war film that showed the British Home Guard in a positive light. The BBC article titled Mrs Miniver: The film that Goebbels feared states, “After films like Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, anti-Nazi movies were on the rise – and Mrs Miniver was released six months after the US entered the war. It was seized on by the Allies. ‘We know what Roosevelt’s response was, almost straightaway – he urged MGM to get it out to cinemas all over America,’ says the Imperial War Museum’s Terry Charmin. ‘Churchill … is credited as saying that this is worth either five battleships or 50 destroyers.’”

The volunteers were risking their citizenship. Notably, many of the volunteers gave their lives. According to Bomber Command Museum of Canada records, in excess of 700 are known to have perished while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) alone. The survivors brought invaluable experience, obtained through the training received via Canadian and British service, with them upon transferring to the U.S. Military after Imperial Japan’s 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.

The television documentary War Stories with Oliver North: Yanks in the RAF provides viewers with an excellent  background relating to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Eagle squadrons American pilot volunteers, Hollywood’s proactive encouragement, and neutrality and loss of citizenship concerns. Biographies of RAF-American volunteers and personal interviews are included. 

Selected Photographs of American Volunteers

DAYTON, Ohio – “High Flight” exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. U.S. Air Force photo. Royal Canadian Air Force-American Pilot Officer & poet John Gillespie Magee, Jr. Magee died during his RCAF service, shortly after composing the immortal sonnet High Flight,  in late 1941.
Winston Churchill inspects the 1st American Squadron of the Home Guard on Horse Guards Parade, London, 9 January 1941. This is photograph H 6547 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.
ATA-American Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran in ATA uniform during WW2. Photo: British Air Transport Auxiliary website. Cochrane was later  instrumental in founding the Womens Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).
Pilot Officer W.M.L. (Billy) Fiske, 601 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 31 December 1939. Public Domain image via Wikipedia. Billy Fiske was an Olympian who won medals in bobsled and died of shock and severe burns during the Battle of Britain.
William R. Dunn joined The Canadian Army and as an infantry sergeant shot down two Luftwaffe (Nazi Germany’s air force) Stuka dive bombers with a Lewis machine gun. He transferred to the RAF and was the first RAF Eagle squadron pilot to shoot down a German plane. Dunn later became America’s first ace. He transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943. Dunn flew on D-Day  and afterwards. He and his mates subsequently supported General Patton’s sweep across France from the air. American Air Museum in Britain/IWM image UPL 17188.
Kermit Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1926. National Photo Company. U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division digital ID npcc.27526. Public Domain. Kermit served in the British during Army in WW1 and WW2.
Ohioan Sergeant Ed Tracey, RCAF, beside a Fleet Finch trainer in Canada. Ed later transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces and became an accomplished fighter pilot. Photo: Tim Tracey.
RCAF-Ohioans Don Gentile and Don Blakeslee being awarded DFCs by General Eisenhower. Photo: American Air Museum in Britain. Note the RAF pilot wings on the right breast of both tunics. Gentile became the U.S. Army Air Forces 4th Fighter Group’s highest scoring ace. Eisenhower referred to Gentile as, “A one man air force.” Blakeslee rose to a high command level within the U.S. Army Air Forces.
Greek-American Pilot Officer Spiros N. Pisanos in RAF uniform at RAF beside No. 71 Squadron Spitfire Mk V XR-G. Pisanos transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces and became a high scoring ace. Photo: American Air Museum in Britain image UPL 17182.
No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF-American Pilot Officers A. Mamedoff, V.C. ‘Shorty’ Keough (centre) & G. Tobin at Church Fenton, Yorkshire in October 1940. Photo by RAF photographer B.J. Daventry. Imperial War Museums image. All three men were killed.
RAF-Ohioan and Greek-American Pilot Officer Frank Zavakos, RAF Volunteer Reserve, from Dayton, Ohio, resting on the port horizontal stabilizer of a No. 71 Squadron Spitfire Mk.Vb. Photo: Greeks in Foreign Cockpits. Zavakos died while on operations.
Pilot Officer C. W. “Red” McColpin of No 71 (Eagle) Squadron, RAF standing by his Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb at RAF North Weald, Essex. Imperial War Museums image CH3923 via American Air Museum in Britain. McColpin was a member of all three RAF Eagle squadrons and later served  as a U.S. Air Force pilot in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. He eventually became a U.S. Air Force general.
No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron RAF-American Pilot Officers A. Mamedoff, “Shorty” Keough (center) & G. Tobin at RAF Church Fenton, Yorkshire in October 1940. Photo by RAF photographer B.J. Daventry Imperial War Museums image CH 1442.
RCAF-American Flight Lieutenant Joe McCarthy (left) with King Edward VI (center) and RAF Wing Commander Guy Gibson on 31 December 1941. Photo by RAF Flying Officer Hensser. Imperial War Museums photograph CH 9925. McCarthy piloted a Lancaster bomber during Operation Chastise — the famous Dams Raid and completed a career in the RCAF.

Recommended Viewings

High Flight – NARA 1972 – ARC Identifier 4523565/Local Identifier 330-DVIC-26749 – Department of Defense. High Flight is the famous sonnet written by 19-year-old RCAF-American Pilot Officer (P/O) John Gillespie Magee, Jr. P/O Magee died in a late 1941 midair collision over Lincolnshire, England.

Americans honored on anniversary of Battle of Britain

Ferry Air Pilots & Mr Churchill At RAF Station (1941)

Ferry pilot – Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA)

News Reel of General Wade H. Hayes

RAF at War 1939 Eagle Squadron Newsreel

RAF Eagle Squadron

The Eagle Squadron (1941)

Eisenhower Decorates U.S. Airmen

Major Don S. Gentile War film

Text of the Legislation

(1) Americans from across the country served in defense of democracy and freedom during World War II (WWII) by volunteering for service with the Canadian and British militaries and other associated organizations that were fighting Nazi and Fascist aggression. Many United States citizens perceived the importance of this war and the severe impact Nazism and Fascism could have on the American way of life. Therefore, prior to the United States entry into the conflict and indeed throughout WWII these patriots independently crossed the border into Canada and entered Canadian and British armed forces recruiting offices or sought out representatives based in major United States municipalities and elsewhere.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

Within his 1948 memoir titled Crusade in Europe, future President of the United States Dwight David Eisenhower recorded (page 2-3) the state of affairs within America circa 1939 regarding involvement in the spreading conflict in Europe. He writes (page 2) that the “American people still believed that [geographic] distance provided adequate insulation between us and any conflict in Europe or Asia.” Eisenhower added, “[T]he only Americans who thought about preparations for war were a few professionals in the armed services and those far-seeing statesmen who understood that American isolation from any major conflict was now completely improbable.” However, Eisenhower overlooks a large intuitive group because there were in fact other thousands who saw the threats to democracy represented by National Socialist Germany, fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. They were American volunteers.

The American Battle Monuments Commission webpage titled The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force states the following: “The pilots of the Eagle Squadrons were highly motivated. Ira Eaker, famed Air Force Commander said of the Eagle Squadron pilots: “They realized…they should do their gallant best to see that Great Britain survived.”

A review on the back cover of Dave Birrell’s book Big Joe McCarthy: The RCAF’s American Dambuster states the following: “Joe McCarthy was the most outstanding of the thousands of Americans who flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. His remarkable story personifies the decisive wartime alliance between Canada, the United States, and Great Britain.”

Within his book The RAF Eagle Squadrons: American Pilots Who Flew for the Royal Air Force, Brigadier General (Retired) Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, states (page 1) the following: “And by the end of that year [1940] there would be American pilots flying and dying for the cause of freedom as members of the Royal Air Force.”

In (page 109) her 2012 book Into Dust and Fire, Rachael Cox writes: “One morning Rob found himself [inside the American Club in London] surrounded by a crowd of men wearing the uniforms not only of America, but also of Canada, Britain . . . all of them, of all ranks, Americans.”

Then-Colonel Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, in his 1991 book Eagles of the RAF, states (page 64) the following:”One of the oldest of the Eagles was Harold Strickland, who signed up at age 37. He summed up his reasons for volunteering this way: I think we were all motivated by the thought of high adventure, the excitement of combat flying, and a desire to help Britain. . . .” and “Adventure could have been found in any of the British armed services where thousands of other Americans had volunteered, but we could fly, and the Royal Air Force offered fulfillment of all three or four expectations.”

Within (page 2) his book The RAF Eagle Squadrons: American Pilots Who Flew for the Royal Air Force Brigadier General (Retired) Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, states the following: “As an increasing number of young fliers became convinced that the United States would soon enter the war, it became more and more important that they be able to fly when that time came. But most lacked the prerequisite for entering US military pilot training, primarily two years of college. Some had already washed out of the Army or Navy program, so they knew they would probably be drafted as ground troops. To a pilot this alternative was to be avoided in any reasonable way possible, so they were eager candidates. The obvious answer lay with the Royal Air Force ad Royal Canadian Air Force, since these services were also the mainstay for of the battle for freedom, and for most American pilots that was another prerequisite if they were going to go to war.”

In their book Kittyhawks over the Sands: The Canadians and RCAF Americans, Michel Lavigne and Wing Commander James F. Edwards, write (page 6) the following: “Of the 136 pilots concerned in this book” the “13 American volunteers who enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force came from different parts of the United States. . . .”

Chris Dickon writes (page 171) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: “In October 1941 the “Canadian army and air force noted a recent surge in American enlistments that seemed to be driven by the increasingly conflict, but yet declared war, between the United States and the Axis powers. The army said that nearly 10,000 Americans were now within its ranks, and the RCAF claimed that eight percent of its force had come from the United States. In addition, the BCATP included 600 American instructors, and American women were beginning to show up in Canada to enlist in the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.”

An International Churchill Society online article (My Dear Mr. Roosevelt) states: “In 1915, Kermit Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, was appointed an honorary captain in the British Army. Roosevelt served under General Allenby in Palestine, saw active service in Mesopotamia with the Royal Field Artillery, and was awarded the Military Cross. In 1916, Roosevelt transferred to the US Army’s First Division and commanded an artillery battery from 1917 to 1918. When the Second World War began, Roosevelt once again sought to serve in the British military” and “In October, Roosevelt saw Churchill at the Admiralty and asked for his assistance in obtaining a regular commission in the British Army. With Churchill’s help, Roosevelt was commissioned as a major in the Middlesex Regiment. . .”

Chris Dickon writes (pages 163-164) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: “On 24 June 1941 President Roosevelt stated “that the British were trying to recruit 15,000 to 30,000 technicians for service in the war, and there would be no problem with that. . . . And neutrality laws, he said, did not prevent Americans from going to Canada or elsewhere to sign up for British military service.”

Then-Colonel Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, in his 1991 book Eagles of the RAF, states (page 64) the following: “Ira Eaker, who would become the commander of most of the Eagles when they joined the American Eighth Air Force, wrote, ‘They realized the Second World War would eventually involve the United States and that, in the meantime, they should do their gallant best to see that Great Britain survived.”

Chris Dickon writes (page 163) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: In July 1941 General Lewis B. Hershey, Director of the U.S. Selective Service, was quoted in Ohio newspapers as stating that “an unknown number of the state’s young men had been classified by their draft boards as ‘lend-Lease’ material, and allowed to enlist in the military forces of Canada and Great Britain. All of the state’s [Ohio] 330 local draft boards . . . had received a directive from Hershey stating that it was national policy to ‘lend all aid to the Canadian and British governments.’ Therefore, those who enlisted in those forces — whether military, medical or technical — were to be given the deferment classification of 11 B for who were engaged in crucial national defense work.”

Within the Foreword to Brigadier General Philip Caine’s book The RAF Eagle Squadrons: American Pilots Who Flew for the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshall Sir Glenn Torpy states: “These young American volunteers were much more than pilots, they were a living example to the beleaguered British people that the United States did care and that one-day would enter the war and ensure the survival of freedom in the world.”

The latter fact is further supported by on page 46 of Cross-Border Warriors: Canadians in American Forces, Americans in Canadian Forces, where Fred Gaffen writes: “Not to be overlooked, and perhaps most important, was the resolve to defend democracy against fascism.” Furthermore, an article on The Star‘s website titled The Americans who died for Canada in WWII finally get their due: These men are my heroes echoes this sentiment: “Writing to his parents from Toronto in January 1941, Withers said he felt he had no choice but to join the Canadians, ‘since everything that I, as well as both of you, believe in is now in a very precarious position. And there is no question of serving Canada to the neglect of my mother country. He who serves Great Britain or any of its Dominions also serves the U.S. and vice-versa. Our differences are in arbitrary boundary lines only,’ and the piece also contains the following description: “He was also a gun-jumper: one of the more than 840 American volunteers who would not wait until their country joined the war against Hitler.”

Another reason for Americans seeking opportunities and adventure across borders is elucidated in the 1991 book Eagles of the RAF then- Colonel Philip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, states on page 56: “A significant number of those who joined the RCAF and RAF would have preferred to have been in the American forces but did not meet the education requirement.” On page 49 he writes, “Since most of those who joined the RAF did not have the necessary qualifications to join the US Army of US Navy, the only answer was that readily presented itself was the RAF.”

Wikipedia’s List of foreign volunteers entry states the following: “Before the US entered the war, many Americans joined the Canadian Forces, especially the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force], and served in ordinary Canadian units. Most of the intrepid sojourners may have volunteered for The Canadian Army, but others undoubtedly teamed with the Royal Canadian Navy. Furthermore, Americans were represented in the British Army.

A Wikipedia entry titled List of foreign volunteers cites Rachel Cox’s book Into the Dust and Fire and states the following: “Rachel records the history of “five Ivy Leaguers (Chuck Bolte, Jack Brister, Bill Durkee, Heyward Cutting, and Robert Cox) who enlisted in the British Army and became the first Americans to fight the Nazis.” Text on the back of the first NAL Caliber Trade Paperback Printing (April 2013) states the following: “Six months before Pearl Harbor, these courageous idealists left their promising futures behind to join the beleaguered British Army.” and “were shipped off to join the Desert Rats, the 7th Armoured Division of the British Eighth Army, who were battling Field Marshal Rommel’s panzer division. The Yanks would lead antitank and machine-gun platoons into combat at the Second Battle of El Alamein, the twelve-day epic of tank warfare that would ultimately turn the tide for the Allies.”

The Royal Navy additionally enlisted a few. Chris Dickon, in (page 156) his 2014 book titled Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History: 1914-1945, supplies the number 22 as the total number of Americans who “initially joined the Royal Navy, joining through the RNVR [Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve].”

Jon Meacham, in Destiny and Power, states the following on page 39: “George Herbert Walker Bush “even briefly considered enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in Canada, because, Bush recalled, you ‘could get through much faster.'”

RCAF Major-General Richard Rohmer, in Generally Speaking: The Memoirs of Major-General Richard Rohmer, recalls (pages 429-450) the following conversation with George Herbert Walker Bush: “General, nobody knows this but by the end of 1941, just before December seventh that year, I was planning to come to Canada to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and fly for the RCAF.”

The American Battle Monuments Commission webpage titled The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force states the following: “Among the first and the most experienced pilots in these squadrons were Vernon “Shorty” Keogh, Andrew Mamedoff, and Eugene “Red” Tobin. Each of them went to Europe in 1940 to fly with eight other Americans in British squadrons throughout the Battle of Britain that same year. All three Americans died before the United States officially entered World War II.”

Wikipedia (List of foreign volunteers): “Before the US entered the war, many Americans joined the Canadian Forces, especially the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force], and served in ordinary Canadian units.”

Chris Dickon, Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History: 1914-1945 writes (page 183) the following: “By December 7, 1941, most estimates put more than 6,000 Americans in the Canadian force.”

Wikipedia (List of foreign volunteers): “During both world wars, American volunteers served on the allied side before the USA joined the war.”

Chris Dickon writes (page 156) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History: 1914-1945 the following: The number 22 as the total number of Americans who “initially joined the Royal Navy, joining through the RNVR [Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve].”

Fred Gaffen (Cross Border Warriors, page 46) writes the following: “Not to be overlooked, and perhaps most important, was the resolve to defend democracy against fascism.”

Arch Whitehouse, in The Years of the Warbirds, writes (page 121) the following: “The Union Jack flew from staffs all over the United States; hundreds of British children were welcomed into American homes and given shelter from the Nazi blitz” and furthermore, “In spirit, America was as much a part of the British Empire as any member of the Commonwealth.”

The Toronto Star (The Americans who died for Canada in WWII finally get their due: These men are my heroes): “Writing to his parents from Toronto in January 1941, Withers said he felt he had no choice but to join the Canadians, ‘since everything that I, as well as both of you, believe in is now in a very precarious position. And there is no question of serving Canada to the neglect of my mother country. He who serves Great Britain or any of its Dominions also serves the U.S. and vice-versa. Our differences are in arbitrary boundary lines only. . . .” “He was also a gun-jumper: one of the more than 840 American volunteers who would not wait until their country joined the war against Hitler.”

Within (page 21) Dave Birrell’s 2012 book Big Joe McCarthy: The RCAF’s American Dambuster the following is stated: “Joe was not happy that the US was taking a neutral position in the war but regarding his father’s motivation, Joe McCarthy Jr. says, ‘I believe that was part of it but I don’t think there was just one specific thing — it was all combined: the money — jobs were still scarce at that time, the adventure of flying, trying to help right a wrong. I think that by this time they realized that the US was going to get in the war sooner or later anyway so why don’t we just go over now and get started.”

Chris Dickon writes (page 185) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: “America was now entering the war, but many Americans had been at war for previous months and years”

Chris Dickon writes (page 202) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: “In 1955 the Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs gave the number as 23,000 members of The Canadian Army “were American born, or from American addresses. . . .”

Air Chief Marshall Sir Glenn Torpy writes the following in the Foreword to Brigadier General Philip Caine’s book The RAF Eagle Squadrons: “These young American volunteers were much more than pilots, they were a living example to the beleaguered British people that the United States did care and that one-day would enter the war and ensure the survival of freedom in the world.”

Brigadier General (Ret.) Philip D. Caine, in Eagles of the RAF, states (page 56) the following: “A significant number of those who joined the RCAF and RAF would have preferred to have been in the American forces but did not meet the education requirement.” He additionally writes (page 49) the following: “Since most of those who joined the RAF did not have the necessary qualifications to join the U.S. Army or U.S. Navy, the only answer was that readily presented itself was the RAF.”

The Royal Air Force webpage (Americans in the British Flying Services, 1914 – 1945) states the following: “Americans who joined the RAF via Charles Sweeney or through the Clayton Knight Committee were the minority. Many more joined alone, usually by traveling to Canada and pretending to be Canadian.”

The Royal Observer Corps Association’s The American Eagle Squadrons Remembered webpage states the following: “At the start of World War Two, in November 1940, 244 American pilots crossed the Atlantic to volunteer as fighter pilots with the RAF and the RCAF.”

Tamar A. Mehuron (Airforce Magazine, The Eagle Squadrons, October 2007) writes the following: “Responding to Britain’s call for more pilots, however, was a small group of American volunteers. The three squadrons valiantly defended Britain in combat against the Nazis. . . .”

The Royal Air Force Museum Eagle Squadrons webpage states the following: “[H]undreds if not thousands of American citizens volunteered to fly with the Royal Air Force before America officially entered the war in December, 1941.”

Wikipedia’s (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan) states the following: The “Americans began crossing the border, appearing at the nearest recruiting centres.”

General of the Army, Army of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Speech at the Canadian Club, in Ottawa, Canada, on 10 January 1946) said the following: “During the two years when you were at war and we were not, some twelve thousand American citizens crossed your border to enter the armed forces of your country.”

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force’s Eagle Squadrons webpage states the following: “On the other side of the world, Americans flocked in droves to British and Canadian recruiting stations. Approximately 15,000 joined the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force where, as a rule, they were assimilated into various flying units.”

Fred Gaffen, in Cross-Border Warriors: Canadians in American Forces, Americans in Canadian Forces, states (page 50) the following: “18,848 American citizens served in the Canadian Army in the Second World War” and about “9,000 joined the RCAF.” Gaffen also states (pages 50-51) that, “30,000 Americans likely joined the Canadian air force, army and navy during the Second World War. Of the Canadian battalions overseas, the Essex Scottish had the highest proportion of Americans, at least several hundred.”

A Warfare History Network webpage (Winston Churchill’s Two Battles) states records the following: “Nobody knows how many ‘secret Americans’ served in the Royal Air Force during the summer of 1940, or how many of the ‘Canadians’ who joined the RAF were actually Americans.”

Battle of Britain Then and Now webpage states the following: “[The] number of U.S. citizens who took part in the battle as 11. The official number is 7. But the real figure is probably many times higher. The only trace of their true nationality is buried in squadron rosters — ‘Tex’ or ‘America’ or ‘Uncle Sam’. Between June 1940 and December 1941, several hundred Americans volunteered to join the RAF. The best known are the fighter pilots, but others served in Bomber Command as pilots, navigators, and air gunners. Some U.S. citizens who volunteered for the RAF as Canadians may have lost their lives even earlier, but because they kept their nationality a secret, no one will ever know for certain.”

Then-Colonel Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, in his 1991 book Eagles of the RAF, states (page 5) the following: “The United States was not at war, and its law prohibited US citizens from getting involved. The Americans could have stayed at home and led normal lives. But instead, when most of their countrymen simply wished the British luck, these men were drawn, by both airplanes and principles, to England, to volunteer for the RAF.”

The resolute determination of the overwhelming majority of American volunteers can best be understood when one realizes that each individual risked the loss of citizenship when they joined the military of another nation. Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s webpage The Clayton Knight Committee entry on the Bomber Command Museum of Canada site explains that this fear was finally alleviated. It states the following: “In June 1941, President Roosevelt spoke to Americans and advised that the Neutrality Act did not prevent U.S. nationals from going to Canada to enlist in the RCAF” and the “new committee now began to recruit not only American pilots but also all other aircrew for the RCAF.” Nevertheless, citizenship concerns continued to be a consideration.

Two Americans, mentioned in the Fox News War Stories with Oliver North episode titled Yanks in the RAF, who volunteered continued to experience citizenship repercussions even as production ended in 2007.

(2) When the ‘‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’’ and the ‘‘British Commonwealth of Nations’’ were drawn into WWII after Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the Canadian and British air forces made a concerted effort to recruit Americans.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

Within (page 20) Dave Birrell’s 2012 book Big Joe McCarthy: The RCAF’s American Dambuster the following is stated: “The Canadian Air Staff was thrilled and the so called ‘Clayton Knight Committee’ was instructed to immediately direct qualified American pilots to Canada, although in a way that would not upset the American government. Office space for the venture was secured in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City and soon Clayton Knight was on a tour of American flying schools” and therefore, “during 1940 anyone involved with flying schools in the United States would have been exposed to the Committee’s influence. . . .”

In (page 26) her 2012 book Into Dust and Fire, Rachael Cox writes: “[T]he British military had reasserted the connection in order to bring in at least a few Americans to fight the Avis. Since the Battle of Britain, a growing number of American fliers had joined the Royal Air Force. But the KRRC [Kings Royal Rifle Corps] volunteers would be the first American men to fight with the British on the ground.”

The requirement for personnel under arms spurred the recruitment of applicants residing in England’s former American colonies, particularly from bordering states including Ohio, New York, and Maine and indeed elsewhere throughout the United States. Numerically, California, New York, and Texas provided the largest numbers of volunteers but at least one individual, according to a database created and maintained by Bomber Command Museum of Canada, hailed from or resided within each U.S. state, and some territories, during the war years.

Then-Colonel Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, in his 1991 book Eagles of the RAF, states (page 80) the following: “The intensity of the Battle of Britain and its attrition of Britain’s pilots led the British to reopen the discussion of direct training in the United States in August 1940. The American public was certainly pro-British and seemed to agree that some sort of aid . . . might be appropriate.”

The National Churchill Museum webpage titled Royal Air Force in World War II reports the following: “Americans also joined the fight even before their country was at war. Although the FBI tried strictly to enforce the United States Neutrality Act, these pilots found their own way to Britain, typically through the Royal Canadian Air Force. About ten American pilots fought with the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain, but were usually listed as Canadian or South African. More Americans soon followed. Winston Churchill personally intervened, paving the way for the Air Ministry to officially organize the American – or Eagle – Squadrons in September of 1940.”

Likewise, “The Canadians looked to the United States as a source of additional instructors” (Caine, Eagles of the RAF, page 50). The online article Allies in Complicity: The United States, Canada, and the Clayton Knight Committee’s Clandestine Recruiting of Americans for the Royal Canadian Air Force expands this aspect and explains that, “In  an  effort  to  get  the  schools  running  and  graduating recruits as quickly as possible, Canada gladly accepted foreign instructors and trainees  interested  in  helping  fight  the  Axis  powers  before  their  home  states officially  became  belligerents  in  the  war. Between  June  1940  and  January 1942,  over  49,000  thousand  American  pilots  and  would-be  air  recruits answered  the  Royal  Canadian  Air  Force’s  surreptitious  call  for  American nationals to help with Canada’s Second World War air effort.”

The Wikipedia page British Commonwealth Air Training Plan states the following: “By mid-1940, Canadian flying instructors were primarily employed in the BCATP and to increase the numbers of flying instructors, the RCAF began a campaign to recruit American pilots.”

As a result of the referenced dire need for aircrew and the substantial influx of American volunteers, proactive recruiting began within the U.S. In the 1991 book Eagles of the RAF, Brigadier General Philip D. Caine writes (page 45) the following: “The large numbers of volunteers led Knight to open offices in several major US cities.” Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s website records the following: “Knight rented a suite in the Waldorf Hotel in New York City and opened branch offices in fine hotels in various cities across the US, each with a manager and staff.” On page 19 of U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Philip Caine’s book The RAF Eagle Squadrons he states the following: “The large number of volunteers led Knight and Smith to open offices in several major US cities” and “By the end of 1940 . . . had major offices in New York, Memphis, Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, Saint Louis, Dallas, San Antonio, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Apparently there were smaller offices or simply representatives . . . in a number of other cities, such as Washington, D.C. . . .” The Royal Air Force Museum states on its Eagle Squadrons webpage that, “The Clayton Knight Committee, working largely in secret, recruited nearly 7,000 American citizens for the RAF or Royal Canadian Air Force, and then arranged for their transportation to Canada. Nearly 250 went on to serve with the Eagle Squadrons.” However, as effective as the Clayton Knight Committee was, it must be recognized, as reported in the article Americans in the British Flying Services, 1914 – 1945, that, “The Americans who joined the RAF via Charles Sweeney or through the Clayton Knight Committee were the minority. Many more joined alone, usually by travelling to Canada and pretending to be Canadian.”

Then-Colonel Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, in his 1991 book Eagles of the RAF, states (page 42) the following: “On 25 July 1940 the FBI investigated the entire Knight system, but found no basis for any legal charges and so did nothing to curtail the committee’s operation” and, in fact, “[N]either the Department of State nor Justice Department ever took any action to curtail its [the Clayton Knight Committee’s] activities.”

The Canadian Encyclopedia entry Clayton Knight Committee states the following: “The Clayton Knight Committee (Canadian Aviation Bureau) was a committee formed in 1940 to recruit American aviators to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Shortly after the Allies declared war on 3 September 1939, the Clayton Knight Committee was able to reveal its early success; a list of 300 American instructors. They were experienced pilots with Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) qualifications; many had multi-engine time. They were eager to come to Canada under contract as civilian pilots to the Canadian Aviation Bureau.”

On Wikipedia’s Billy Bishop page it is explained that, “Shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939, he was promoted to the rank of Air Marshal of the Royal Canadian Air Force. He served during the war as Director of the Royal Canadian Air Force and was placed in charge of recruitment. Billy Bishop was so successful in this role that many applicants had to be turned away. The article Clayton Knight reveals Bishop’s critical contribution: “Bishop’s solution was to tap the rapidly maturing U.S. aviation industry for BCATP flying instructors and pilots.”

A Wikipedia webpage titled British Commonwealth Air Training Plan states the following: “By mid-1940, Canadian flying instructors were primarily employed in the BCATP [British Commonwealth Air Training Plan] and to increase the numbers of flying instructors, the RCAF began a campaign to recruit American pilots. Air Marshal W.A. (‘Billy’) Bishop [RCAF] was instrumental in setting up a clandestine recruiting organisation in the then still-neutral United States. . . .”

In the online article Winston Churchill’s Two Battles one learns that “as desperate as the pilot shortage was at the end of August, it looked to become even worse in the near future. RAF Fighter Command decided to look for pilots outside of its own training units. The following notice began to appear in American newspapers during July and August. (This particular advertisement appeared in the New York Herald Tribune): ‘LONDON July 15: The Royal Air Force is in the market for American flyers as well as American airplanes. Experienced airmen, preferably those with at least 250 flying hours, would be welcomed by the RAF.’”

Fred Gaffen records (page 44) that, “Americans were seen as being good recruit material. They were viewed as adventurous, brash, brave and with initiative.” He notes (page 49) that by Imperial Japan’s attacks on military installations at and in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 December 1941 “over 6,000 American citizens were serving in the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] and several thousand in the RAF [Royal Air Force].” On page 52 Gaffen reports that when the “United States declared war on Japan on 8 December 1941, more than 3,000 Americans were under training in Canada or waiting their turn to begin” and the “most significant contribution made by Americans who joined the RCAF was that of the American flying instructors and staff pilots who helped put the BCATP [British Commonwealth Air Training Plan] into full operation so quickly.” Importantly, he shares the opinion of many that the “American contribution was an important step in the growth of the BCATP and the RCAF and in the development of Allied air power.”

In the 1991 book Eagles of the RAF Brigadier General Philip D. Caine writes the following on page 49: “Another method of getting into the RAF . . . was simply to join the British or Canadian armed forces and try to get into a flying assignment.” Furthermore, Caine states (page 50) the following: “Another direct route into flying . . . was to join the Royal Canadian Air Force with the hope of escaping instructor duty in Canada and eventually transferring into the RAF.” And therefore, “The basic ground rules were that the Americans would come to Canada as civilians, but some who went saw that doing so might give them a chance to fly with the RCAF.”

Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s The Americans in the RCAF webpage states that “young Americans had made their way to Canada on their own and by the time the United States declared war against the Nazis in December 1941, approximately 9,000 American citizens had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, having made their own personal decision to enter the war.” Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s webpage The Americans in the RCAF states the following: “The Clayton Knight Committee’s work was done, having been responsible for sending 900 trained aircrew and 1450 trainees to the RCAF, as well as 300 pilots to the RAF.”

The online posting Allies in Complicity: The United States, Canada, and the Clayton Knight Committee’s Clandestine Recruiting of Americans for the Royal Canadian Air Force summarizes the situation by stating the following: “In  an  effort  to  get  the  schools  running  and  graduating recruits as quickly as possible, Canada gladly accepted foreign instructors and trainees  interested  in  helping  fight  the  Axis  powers. . . .  over 2,600  volunteers  were  sent  north  to  Canada. Of  the  950  pilots  directed  to Canada  by  the  CKC,  763  were  accepted  to  help  with  the  BCATP. The  CAB sent  1,805  individuals  for  consideration  as  possible  air  crew  trainees;  1,455 were  permitted  to  enlist  and  train  in  the  RCAF. The CKC, the DAA, and the CAB were created so that non-governmental agencies were directly helping Americans make their way to Canada. Committee  officials stressed  the  focus  on  providing  information  for  civilian  jobs  so  that  attention was drawn away from the reality of how easy it was for American fliers to be directed  toward  the  RCAF  once  they  were  in  Canada.”

(3) It is documented that thousands of Americans joined the Canadian and British armed forces, a large percentage joining the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) alone. In a 1942 film (Captains of the Clouds) Air Marshal William Avery ‘‘Billy’’ Bishop, an organizer and promoter of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and Director of the Royal Canadian Air Force, recognized the ‘‘gallant lads from the United States who have come up here to help and serve with us.’’ Notably, many Americans were also recruited and processed through Canada before being assigned to or detached for the purpose of Royal Air Force (RAF) service.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

Chris Dickon writes (page 156) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: “22 Americans . . . initially joined the Royal Navy through the RNVR. . . .”

Chris Dickon writes (page 153) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: “Of the American dead in Commonwealth forces for World War I, approximately 30 were associated with a naval force. Nearly twice that number was listed as naval deaths among the American fatalities in World War II. Many of those were in the Canadian Merchant Navy, but most were in the Canadian Naval Reserve.”

Chris Dickon writes (page 160) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following:”It would not be until 1955 that Canada’s Department of Veteran Affairs would officially note for the record that 18,848 members of the Canadian army in World War II had given the United States as their place of birth. It also noted that 4,725 men had given their home address as American, though they were not necessarily included in the larger number.”

Chris Dickon writes (page 160) in Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 the following: “Not as much can be known about these Americans in the second war as is knowable about those in the first. Canadian law only allows access to their records individually and by request, perhaps the largest grouping of them can be found in the listings of those with American next of kin buried in the cemeteries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. That list of just less than 800 people does not reflect death in proportion to the numbers of Americans in each of the Canadian services. Estimates of Americans in flying services like the RCAF, RAF, ferrying squadrons and others seem to rest near 9,000 or one-third of all Americans. But the cemeteries hold twice that percentage — more than 500 men — of air force dead. Of the remainder . . . less than 60 men — were sailors, and the rest were members of land-bound forces.”

The Meadowlark Art Gallery maintains records on the Clayton Knight Committee. The Gallery’s Clayton Knight webpage states the following: “Billy Bishop arranged for key meetings with President Roosevelt who secretly assisted the committee’s needs and ensured the authorities turned a blind eye. . . .” Bishop contacted an old American friend about his concerns. His name was Clayton Knight. These two World War I pilots formed a bond that would forever echo through the personnel records of RAF Commands and culminate in the enlistment of more than 10,000 American “Volunteers” in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the period prior to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941″ The page adds the following: “Billy Bishop brought Clayton Knight before the Air Council in Ottawa where they were revealed they had only 36 pilot instructors for the entire BCATP. Clayton and Bishop revealed they had begun recruitment in Manhattan, despite the potential obstacle of recruits having to pledge allegiance to the British monarch upon joining the RCAF, something that could result in forfeiture of citizenship for the young Americans. This issue was later removed when the Canadian government passed an Order in Council replacing this “oath” with a temporary agreement to obey RCAF rules and discipline for the duration of their service.” Also noteworthy are the following stastements: “Headquarters were set up in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Later, other branch offices were created in other cities across America, such as Spokane, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Kansas City, Cleveland, Atlanta, Memphis, and San Antonio.” It is additionally stated that, “Billy Bishop arranged for key meetings with President Roosevelt who secretly assisted the committee’s needs and ensured the authorities turned a blind eye. . . .”

What provided the impetus for Americans to volunteer? One influence was that major film studios in California produced other pro-British films, which encouraged young American adults to enlist with Canadian and British entities. An early offering was 1941’s International Squadron, which starred future Governor of California and President of the United States Ronald Reagan. In 1942 Columbia Pictures’ Commandos Strike at Dawn starred Paul Muni, Anna Lee, Lillian Gish, and Cedric Hardwicke. A Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum webpage titled Hollywood and Canada’s Navy adds an interesting anecdote associated with the picture: John Farrow, the father of actress Mia Farrow and director of the movie, was “an Honorary Commander in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR)” and John was “later made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).” Universal Pictures’ Corvette K225, produced by Howard Hawks, was filmed in 1943 and stars Randolph Scott as a captain of a Royal Canadian Navy corvette, Ella Raines, Barry Fitzgerald, and Robert Mitchum. Ms. Raines would marry U.S. Army Air Forces ace Robin Olds.

Canada served as a portal to the conflict. An article that appears in The Star newspaper titled The Americans who died for Canada in WWII finally get their due: ‘These men are my heroes’ points out that, “Most of these young American rookies made their way first to Toronto for processing at a war-era RCAF induction centre at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The next stop . . . was Union Station, where the men fanned out by train for bomber and gunnery training. Some went to Alberta, others remained in Ontario. They were then shipped to England, first to a manning depot and finally to squadrons throughout the U.K. to replace men already killed in action.”

The National Museum of the United States Air Force’s Eagle Squadrons website page states the following: “On the other side of the world, Americans flocked in droves to British and Canadian recruiting stations” and the Royal Air Forces Web page titled Americans in the British Flying Services, 1914 – 1945 explains that “Americans who joined the RAF via Charles Sweeney or through the Clayton Knight Committee were the minority. Many more joined alone, usually by travelling to Canada and pretending to be Canadian.” Furthermore, the Royal Observer Corps Association’s The American Eagle Squadrons Remembered Web page states the following: “At the start of World War Two, in November 1940, 244 American pilots crossed the Atlantic to volunteer as fighter pilots with the RAF and the RCAF.”

Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s webpage The Clayton Knight Committee entry on the Bomber Command Museum of Canada site explains that this fear was finally alleviated. The following text expounds on the issue: “In June 1941, President Roosevelt spoke to Americans and advised that the Neutrality Act did not prevent U.S. nationals from going to Canada to enlist in the RCAF” and the “new committee now began to recruit not only American pilots but also all other aircrew for the RCAF.”

Then-Colonel Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, in his 1991 book Eagles of the RAF, states (page 64) the following: “The State Department’s second concern was . . . the issue of citizenship, which would plaque some volunteers well into the 1970s.”

(4) General of the Army, Army of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the former Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, referenced, in a speech on January 10, 1946, the “some twelve thousand American citizens” who crossed into Canada with the goal of entering the Canadian armed forces. Although the precise numbers of Americans who were in Canadian and British service are unknown, media accounts published by Allied journalists during the conflict nonetheless detail their legacies of volunteerism, personal sacrifice, and bravery.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

General of the Army, Army of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Speech at the Canadian Club, in Ottawa, Canada, on 10 January 1946) stated the following: “During the two years when you were at war and we were not, some twelve thousand American citizens crossed your border to enter the armed forces of your country.”

War correspondent Arch Whitehouse writes in The Years of the war Birds on page 123 the following: “The U.S. newsmen in London naturally made the most of this small volunteer group. . . .” 

Within (page 1) his book The RAF Eagle Squadrons, Brigadier General (Retired) Phillip D. Caine, U.S. Air Force, states the following: “The newspapers were full of the heroic efforts of those who were called ‘the few’ of RAF Fighter Command by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.”

(5) Americans also joined the Canadian Aviation Bureau, and the Home Guard, Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), and Royal Air Force Ferry Command/Transport Command in Britain. The existence of these ancillaries enabled patriotic citizens, who were, at least initially, unable to join a branch of the U.S. military due to gender, age, race, health, the lack of sufficient college education, or other reasons, to support the war effort. Those who contributed via these alternative concerns were no less essential to attaining victory.

What is indisputable is that beginning soon after war began on 3 September 1939 and continuing through 1941, significant numbers of American citizens took initiative and volunteered for military and paramilitary service in Canada and the United Kingdom but others were actively recruited.

Chris Dickon, in (page 181) Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945, states the following: “Another defensive unit not widely known . . . was the Civilian Technical Corps (CTC). The corps was created by President Roosevelt to provide technical American support to the development of British weaponry, especially in electronics. Its recruitment effort was begun in the summer of 1941, based in the British consulate in New York City and administered in Canada. Among its American supporters were Mayor Fiorello LaGuarda, who was then the director of the Office of Civilian Defense, and [politician] Wendell Willkie. . . .”

Chris Dickon, in (page 181) Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945, states the following: “Roosevelt intended that the CTC be a way for qualified Americans to volunteer in the British war effort with clear legality.” “American selective Service had been instructed to defer a CTC volunteer from call-up, and all of his travel expenses to and from England would be fully supported.” “By August 1941 8,000 men had applied for the corps.”

In the British Film Company & Elliptical Wing Limited 2018 documentary titled Spitfire: The Plane that Saved the World the British Air Transport Auxiliary, and ATA’s foreign volunteer personnel, are two of the featured topics.

The Fleet Air Arm Auxiliary website (Air Transport Auxiliary ) contains the following summation: “Civilian pilots played an active part in the fight against the Axis forces, not more so than the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) men and women aircraft ferry pilots. Many American pilots, men and women, came over the ‘Pond’ to join the ATA, and did an invaluable job.”

The Wikipedia Air Transport Auxiliary entry states the following: “The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was a British civilian organisation set up during the Second World War and headquartered at White Waltham Airfield that ferried new, repaired and damaged military aircraft between factories, assembly plants, transatlantic delivery points, Maintenance Units (MUs), scrap yards, and active service squadrons and airfields, but not to naval aircraft carriers. It also flew service personnel on urgent duty from one place to another and performed some air ambulance work. Notably, many of its pilots were women, and from 1943 they received equal pay to their male co-workers, a first for the British government. The initial plan was that the ATA would carry personnel, mail and medical supplies, but the pilots were immediately needed to work with the Royal Air Force (RAF) ferry pools transporting aircraft. By 1 May 1940 the ATA had taken over transporting all military aircraft from factories to Maintenance Units to have guns and accessories installed. On 1 August 1941 the ATA took over all ferrying jobs. This freed the much-needed combat pilots for combat duty. The ATA recruited pilots who were considered to be unsuitable for either the Royal Air Force or the Fleet Air Arm by reason of age or fitness. A unique feature of the ATA was that physical handicaps were ignored if the pilot could do the job, thus there were one-armed, one-legged, short-sighted and one-eyed pilots, humorously referred to as “Ancient and Tattered Airmen”. The ATA also took pilots from neutral countries. The female pilots had a high profile in the press. Overall during World War II there were 166 women pilots, one in eight of all ATA pilots, and they volunteered from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, the Netherlands and Poland.”

The British Air Transport Auxiliary site states:  “These American women, together with American men flyers, joined with their British counterparts, and with flyers from many other nations to form the ATA. This “Legion of the Air,” as it came to be known, performed a vital function in delivering planes from factories to squadrons, shuttling planes back for repairs, and providing transportation and communications in wartime Britain. Equally as important, the work of the ATA freed up pilots for combat duties.”

The RAF Ferry Command website provides information about the “the Royal Air Force Ferry Command / Transport Command operation of World War II. It is dedicated to every man and woman from any allied nation who served this unit in any capacity, either as a recruit, a volunteer, or as one seconded to the RAF FC/TC from an allied military air force, or as one attached from an allied commercial airline operation. It is also dedicated to the men and women of the Air Transport Auxiliary squadrons set up in allied nations to ferry aircraft in their respective countries and forward to theatres of war when and where they were needed.”

The Women’s Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary webpage states the following: “Twenty six American women signed up for the ATA, and other women pilots came from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Poland, Holland, Chile, and South Africa.”

The DVD Flying the Secret Sky: The Story of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command Flying “tells the story of passionate, risk-taking young men braving treacherous winter skies over the North Atlantic in primitive, unarmed aircraft. Told by the flyers themselves, including an American civilian pilot who ferried Winston Churchill, the film uses never-before-seen home movies and rare footage of Ferry Command aircraft and crews to reveal one of the great unknown stories of WWII and of aviation history.”

A Fleet Air Arm Archive.net webpage titled Air Transport Auxiliary testifies that, “Civilian pilots played an active part in the fight against the Axis forces, not more so than the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) men and women aircraft ferry pilots. Many American pilots, men and women, came over the ‘Pond’ to join the ATA, and did an invaluable job.”

The PBS webpage for the documentary film American Experience: Fly Girls  states the following: “1942 March — Jackie Cochran takes 25 American women pilots to Britain to fly with the British Air Transport Auxiliary.”

A British Air Transport Auxiliary webpage states the following: “These American women, together with American men flyers, joined with their British counterparts, and with flyers from many other nations to form the ATA. This ‘Legion of the Air,’ as it came to be known, performed a vital function in delivering planes from factories to squadrons, shuttling planes back for repairs, and providing transportation and communications in wartime Britain. Equally as important, the work of the ATA freed up pilots for combat duties.”

An Eisenhower Archives webpage titled  British Air Transport Auxiliary contains the following statement: “The Air Transport Auxiliary carries out in Great Britain, ferrying duties of all types of military airplanes for the Royal Air Force.”

The Wikipedia webpage Air Transport Auxiliary states that, “The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was a British civilian organisation set up during the Second World War and headquartered at White Waltham Airfield that ferried new, repaired and damaged military aircraft between factories, assembly plants, transatlantic delivery points, Maintenance Units (MUs), scrap yards, and active service squadrons and airfields, but not to naval aircraft carriers. It also flew service personnel on urgent duty from one place to another and performed some air ambulance work. Notably, many of its pilots were women, and from 1943 they received equal pay to their male co-workers, a first for the British government. The ATA recruited pilots who were considered to be unsuitable for either the Royal Air Force or the Fleet Air Arm by reason of age or fitness. A unique feature of the ATA was that physical handicaps were ignored if the pilot could do the job, thus there were one-armed, one-legged, short-sighted and one-eyed pilots, humorously referred to as ‘Ancient and Tattered Airmen’. The ATA also took pilots from neutral countries. The female pilots had a high profile in the press. Overall during World War II there were 166 women pilots, one in eight of all ATA pilots, and they volunteered from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, the Netherlands and Poland.”

On the topic of Americans joining the British Home Guard, in (page 161) Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 Chris Dickon writes the following: “One of the results of the civilian participation in the evacuation of Dunkirk had been the formation of a British Home Guard to be composed of those who would not see regular service because of age or infirmity.” Author David Carroll states (The Home Guard, page 125) was a defensive force “raised when an invasion of Britain seemed imminent.”

Furthermore, in (page 161) Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945 Chris Dickon notes the following: “It seemed only natural to Charles Sweeny that an American Home Guard of U.S. citizens living in London should be formed. . . . It became the First American Motorized Squadron, 100 men strong.” He adds, “The unit was placed under the command of Brigadier General Wade Hampton Hayes, who had been in the Spanish American War and served with General Pershing in World War I.” It became active on 1 June 1940, and the unit had an average strength of between 60–70 men. In response to this development, during November 1940 an organization (the Committee for American Aid for the Defense of British Homes) was formed to collect donations of firearms and binoculars. The donations were then provided to Home Guard Auxiliary units. Many of the handguns were obtained from the reserve stocks of metropolitan police departments.

The Wikipedia webpage titled Home Guard (United Kingdom) states the following: Although there were also strong practical advantages in directing weapons sourced in the United States towards the Home Guard, rather than the regular army; nevertheless the prompt issuing of very large numbers of modern American rifles and machine guns to the Home Guard offered a golden opportunity for British propaganda which was widely exploited.”

(6) The infusion of Americans into Canada helped to reduce shortages of civilian and military pilots in the BCATP, and President Franklin Roosevelt paid tribute to both Canada and the program in a wartime letter to Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. Within the correspondence President Roosevelt used the phrase ‘‘the Aerodrome of Democracy.”

Notes, Quotes & Citations

The Royal Canadian Air Force webpage titled The Aerodrome of Democracy (1940-1945) states the following: “The aerodrome of democracy quotation came from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in a 1943 congratulatory letter to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. But the phrase was actually coined by Lester Pearson, the future Prime Minister of Canada, who ghost wrote the letter. Pearson was serving at the Canadian Embassy in Washington at the time.”

On page 46 in Cross Border Warriors Fred Gaffen states: “The most significant contribution made by Americans who joined the RCAF was that of the American flying instructors and staff pilots who helped put the BCATP into full operation so quickly.”

In the 1991 book Eagles of the RAF Brigadier General Philip D. Caine writes on page 47: “[T]he British Air ministry determined that the RAF could use all the flyers it could get to help fill the dwindling pool. This decision significantly increased demands on the Empire Training Scheme and prompted the British to look to the United States for training facilities as well as more pilots.” Additionally, on page 50 the following:”The Empire Training Scheme created great demand for pilots to be instructors in the various countries of the British Commonwealth.” And, “The Canadians looked to the United States as a source of additional instructors. Jim Griffin reports, ‘everywhere you went in Canada in 1940 there were Americans in Canadian uniforms. . . .'”

(7) As members of the Canadian and British militaries, the American volunteers served in many capacities. Extant military rolls and individual service records document, and thereby testify to, their contributions.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

With British and Commonwealth sources of personnel strained other sources of potential enlistees were desperately needed. The organization Aircrew Remembered, which is based in Norfolk, England, states the following on its Allied Air Forces Losses and Incidents webpage: “The Royal Air Force in WWII was materially enhanced by the participation of non-British units.”

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial states the following: “The Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM) is a registry to honour and remember the sacrifices of the more than 118,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who, since Confederation, have given their lives serving in uniform. The names found in the CVWM are also inscribed in the seven Books of Remembrance.” Each record in the CVWM includes information on the individual’s military service, personal data (e.g. birthdate) as well as the location of where they are buried or commemorated, and in many cases, digital images.”

The exhaustive reference work titled They Shall Grow Old Not (copyright 1992), which was published by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Inc., was “produced as a Memorial to all those Canadians who took part in the air war 1939-1945. It contains a short biography of the over 18,000 Canadian airmen, airwomen, and other nationals wearing the uniform of the RCAF, who lost their lives between September 3, 1939 and August 12, 1945.” The individual biographies include the servicemembers’ occupational specialties.

(8) A sizable number of Americans lost their lives or were wounded while serving in the RCAF and RAF. The Canadian Army, British Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Navy also incurred American personnel casualties. Those who perished and the survivors demonstrated the exceptional courage that has been repeatedly displayed in the defense of freedom throughout American history.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

Wikipedia’s List of foreign volunteers webpage states the following: “During both world wars, American volunteers served on the allied side before the USA joined the war.”

On (page xv) her 2012 book Into Dust and Fire, Rachael Cox reprints an obituary. It reads as follows: “Robert Hill Cox III: Lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, killed in the Battle of Tunisia April 19, 1943, who, at the age of twenty-two, convinced that his own country should share in the great war for human freedom, joined the British Army in July 1941 and so gave to that cause all America he could command.”

In their book Kittyhawks over the Sands: The Canadians and RCAF Americans, Michel Lavigne and Wing Commander James F. Edwards, write (page 5) the following: “A total of 40 Canadians and RCAF Americans were killed during the period [June 1940 and May 1943] concerned in this book.”

Chris Dickon also records (page 153) that there were about 60 American dead in Commonwealth forces for World War I, approximately 30 were associated with a naval force. Nearly twice that number was listed as naval deaths among the American fatalities in World War II. Many of those were in the Canadian Merchant Navy, but most were in the Canadian Naval Reserve.”

Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s The Americans in the RCAF webpage states that “young Americans had made their way to Canada on their own and by the time the United States declared war against the Nazis in December 1941, approximately 9,000 American citizens had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, having made their own personal decision to enter the war.” Of the 9,000 in RCAF service at the time of Pearl Harbor, about 800 [764 as stated elsewhere within the essay] were killed in RCAF service.

In memory of those “Yanks” who perished while in Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command service, Bomber Command Museum of Canada constructed and displays a memorial wall which is dedicated to the memory of the Canadian aircrew that died while in RAF Bomber Command. More than 700 of the names belong to Americans members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Their names are inscribed on Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial Wall on the front lawn of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada because they “made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom.”

In Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945, Chris Dickon informs (page 160) readers that, “Estimates of Americans in flying services like the RCAF, RAF, ferrying squadrons and others seem to rest near 9,000 or one-third of all Americans. But the cemeteries hold twice that percentage — more than 500 men — of air force dead. Of the remainder, seven percent — less than 60 men — were sailors, and the rest were members of land-based forces.”

Casualties were significant. Within (page 51) Cross-Border Warriors: Canadians in American Forces, Americans in Canadian Forces From the Civil War to the Gulf Fred Gaffen reports that of “the 8,864 Americans who had come to Canada to enlist in the RCAF some 800 were killed. Several hundred of the 2,000 who transferred to the USAAF also were killed.” Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s “Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial” contains the names of 379 RCAF-Americans who perished during their service in RAF Bomber Command. The entity’s online article The Clayton Knight Committee states, “By the fall of 1941, 3009 American volunteers had been recruited for the RCAF. . . .  From 1939-45 a total of 8,864 Americans served in the RCAF, and 704 were killed in training or combat.”

The exhaustive reference work titled They Shall Grow Old Not (copyright 1992), which was published by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Inc., was “produced as a Memorial to all those Canadians who took part in the air war 1939-1945. It contains a short biography of the over 18,000 Canadian airmen, airwomen, and other nationals wearing the uniform of the RCAF, who lost their lives between September 3, 1939 and August 12, 1945.” The individual biographies include the servicemembers’ occupational specialties.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

http://www.cwgc.org/

Get a copy of military service records

https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/overview

Library and Archives Canada, under the topic of Military Heritage, states the following: “Library and Archives Canada holds an extensive collection of records of the Canadian men and women who have served their country in the military and in the early years of the North West Mounted Police. There are records relating to Loyalists, the War of 1812, the Rebellions, the South African War, the First World War and the Second World War, many of which are featured in databases, research guides and virtual exhibitions. The records include muster rolls, military service files, unit war diaries, medal registers, photographic collections, documentary art and posters, as well as published sources.”

An online Armed Forces Memorial roll of honourposts information about those who died in United Kingdom service:

Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s The Clayton Knight Committee webpage states the following: “On the RCAF honour roll, all 48 states are covered with Americans killed in action while serving in the RCAF. New York State leads with 128 killed, Michigan – 59, California – 54, then Texas – 37, and so on. Most of the Clayton Knight recruited Americans served in RCAF in RAF Bomber Command, and 445 were killed in British bombers. While American history and movies continue to show only the Flying Tigers and Eagle Squadrons as American heroes, the 5,263 Americans in the RCAF are forgotten.”

The following website contains useful information about dead American volunteers: Are you looking for Canadian Forces Member Military Service Records?

The Canadian Genealogy Centre has service records for many but not all former members and links to other sources of information. The records extend back into the colonial era. Much of it is on-line accessible.

Veterans Affairs Canada has certain kinds of information, particularly if a member has been receiving veteran’s benefits. While they cannot release medical records, they may be able to find Unit and Service Number information.

British Military Records Online

https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/British_Military_Records_Online

Canada Military Records

https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Canada_Military_Records

“The Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM) is a registry to honour and remember the sacrifices of the more than 118,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who, since Confederation, have given their lives serving in uniform. The names found in the CVWM are also inscribed in the seven Books of Remembrance.” Each record in the CVWM includes information on the individual’s military service, personal data (e.g. birth date) as well as the location of where they are buried or commemorated, and in many cases, digital images.”

(9) A unique and highly publicized group of Americans, who were members of the RCAF and RAF, were posted to the famous RAF Eagle Squadrons and thereby showcased the important roles American volunteers were undertaking. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, whose mother was American, played an important role in originally promoting the concept of the Eagle Squadrons to the Air Ministry.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

Brigadier General Philip Caine, in The RAF Eagle Squadrons, states (page 12) the following: “The idea intrigued the prime minister, and Sweeny was asked to put his thoughts on paper for use by the Air Ministry. A short time later he was summoned to the offices of the Air Ministry” and “brought before the entire Air Council to explain his proposal.”

The American Battle Monuments Commission webpage titled The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force states the following: “Among the first and the most experienced pilots in these squadrons were Vernon “Shorty” Keogh, Andrew Mamedoff, and Eugene “Red” Tobin. Each of them went to Europe in 1940 to fly with eight other Americans in British squadrons throughout the Battle of Britain that same year. All three Americans died before the United States officially entered World War II.”

Wikipedia states the following about Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolf Churchill: Jennie Spencer-Churchill CI RRC DStJ (née Jerome; 9 January 1854 – 29 June 1921), known as Lady Randolph Churchill, was an American-born British socialite, the wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and the mother of British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.” The entry continues: “Jennie Jerome was born in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn in 1854 . . . .  She was raised in Brooklyn, Paris, and New York City.

In the 1991 book Eagles of the RAF Brigadier General Philip D. Caine writes the following on page 78: “The New York Herald Tribune told its readers, ‘Much more training will be necessary before they are ready for combat.” On page 138, Caine notes, “The New York Herald carried a summary of this luncheon under the headline ‘U.S. volunteer Flyers Saluted by Lady Aster.” On page 139, Caine writes: “The British publication Everybody’s Weekly put the publicity issue in perspective when it noted, ‘When the squadron was first formed the American newspapers were full of distorted stories of their powers. . . .”

On the Royal Air Force Museum webpage titled Eagle Squadrons the following is stated: “Perhaps the most famous result of this were the Eagle Squadrons. In Britain Sweeney’s nephew, also called Charles, had already been busy. He had formed a Home Guard unit from Americans living in London, and was keen on the idea of American squadrons in the Royal Air Force. He took the idea to the Air Ministry, and in July, 1940, they agreed that the handful of Americans already serving in the RAF, plus any new recruits, would be formed into their own national units, to be known as Eagle Squadrons. The first, No.71 Squadron, was formed in September, followed by Nos. 121 and 133 Squadrons over the next twelve months. The Clayton Knight Committee, working largely in secret, recruited nearly 7,000 American citizens for the RAF or Royal Canadian Air Force, and then arranged for their transportation to Canada. Nearly 250 went on to serve with the Eagle Squadrons.”

The American Battle Monuments Commission webpage titled The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force states the following: “A fellow pilot of 71 Squadron was William Dunn, a U.S. Army veteran. He was credited with destroying five German fighters, and becoming the first American ace of World War II in Europe. Wounded in August 1941, he recovered and returned to American service as a fighter pilot in 1943.”

A Royal Observers Corps Association website page titled The American Eagle Squadrons Remembered states the following: “At the start of World War Two, in November 1940, 244 American pilots crossed the Atlantic to volunteer as fighter pilots with the RAF and the RCAF. They were welcomed here by the RAF and flew together in three units that became known as “The Eagle Squadrons”. These were 71, 121, and 133 Squadrons. Based at RAF Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire where they gave a good account of themselves. Ten of these brave defiant young men lost their lives, fighting for freedom, in 1941 and 1942.”

In the Foreword to U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Philip Caine’s book The RAF Eagle Squadrons, Air Chief Marshall Sir Glenn Torpy states the following: “These young American volunteers were much more than pilots, they were a living example to the beleaguered British people that the United States did care and that one-day would enter the war and ensure the survival of freedom in the world. The 245 Americans who flew with these famous squadrons achieved an enviable reputation during their time with the RAF, and went on to form the nucleus of the famed United States Fourth Fighter Group on 29 September 1942. They are no longer just names — they are young men growing up in the United States, taking the decision to join the RAF or RCAF, training in England, and for over 40 percent of them, losing their lives in the fight for freedom.”

(10) The early successes of female ferry aircrews paved the way for the formation in the United States of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in 1943. The exceptional legacy of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, ATA, etc., provided essential support and paved the way for future generations of military women.

The Fleet Air Arm Archive Air Transport Auxiliary webpage states the following: “Civilian pilots played an active part in the fight against the Axis forces, not more so than the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) men and women aircraft ferry pilots. Many American pilots, men and women, came over the ‘Pond’ to join the ATA, and did an invaluable job.”

The Wikipedia webpage titled Women Airforce Service Pilots states the following: “Cochran was introduced by Roosevelt to General Henry H. Arnold, chief of the Army Air Force, and to General Robert Olds, who became the head of the Air Transport Command (ATC). Arnold asked her to ferry a bomber to Great Britain in order to generate publicity for the idea of women piloting military aircraft. Cochran did go to England, where she volunteered for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and recruited American women pilots to help fly planes in Europe. Twenty-five women volunteered for the ATA with Cochran. The American women who flew in the ATA were the first American women to fly military aircraft. While in England, Cochran studied the organization of both the ATA and the Royal Air Force (RAF). Cochran returned from England and . . . on “September 13 [1942], Arnold sent a memo to General George E. Stratemeyer that designated Cochran as the director of “Women’s Flying Training.”

A U.S. Army webpage titled Women in the Army Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) states the following: “Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jacqueline Cochran – one of the most well-known aviators of that time – tried to interest the Army Air Corps in women pilots who would be trained to fly military aircraft within the United States. When that effort failed, she recruited a group of women pilots to serve in the British Air Transport Auxiliary. She accompanied them to England, then returned to the United States to recruit a second group.” “Cochran established the Women’s Flying Training Detachment, or WFTD. . . .” The text continues: “In addition to ferrying, testing and delivering planes for repair, the WFTD also performed check flights, put flying time on new engines, towed targets for anti-aircraft gunnery practice, flew searchlight tracking missions, and instructed male pilot cadets.” The Women in the Army Intro page quotes Retired General Gordon R. Sullivan, who was Chief of Staff of the Army from 1991-1995: “The defense of our nation is a shared responsibility. Women have served in the defense of this land for years before our United States was born. They have contributed their talents, skills and courage to this endeavor for more than two centuries with an astounding record of achievement that stretches from Lexington and Concord to the Persian Gulf and beyond.”

Wikipedia’s Air Transport Auxiliary offering states the following: “One of the many notable achievements of these women is that they received the same pay as men of equal rank in the ATA, starting in 1943. This was the first time that the British government gave its blessing to equal pay for equal work within an organisation under its control.”

“You and more than 900 of your sisters have shown that you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. If ever there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that women can become skillful pilots, the WASPs have dispelled that doubt.” – Gen. Hap Arnold, AAF, in a speech to the last class of WASPs, before the program was disbanded in December 1944. The foregoing is a quote from Texas Woman’s University’s Women Airforce Service Pilots webpage.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

(11) A substantial portion of the Americans serving in Canadian and British aerial forces transferred to the United States Army Air Forces between 1942 and 1944, while others elected to enter other branches of the United States Military.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

In 1942, after the United States had declared war on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, a Canadian-American Military Board was established to facilitate transfers of American in the Canadian Forces to the U.S. Military. According to Fred Gaffen, on page 50 of Cross-Border Warriors: Canadians in American Forces, Americans in Canadian Forces From the Civil War to the Gulf, this joint effort arranged for the transfer of “2,000 of the approximately 5,000 Americans stationed in Canada of the total of some 16,000 remaining in the Canadian forces.” Fred Gaffen added (page 51) that “[U]pon U.S. entry in the war were some 2,500 airmen who transferred to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) from the RCAF.” The composition further informs readers that after “Pearl Harbour 1,759 American members of the RCAF transferred to the armed forces of the United States. Another 2,000 transferred later on and about 5,000 completed their wartime service with the RCAF.”

The American Battle Monuments Commission webpage titled The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force states the following: “After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 71 and 121 Squadrons contacted the U.S. Embassy to request transfer to American service. They remained with the RAF until September 1942 when all three squadrons were turned over to the American 8th Air Force as the 4th Fighter Group. The 71, 121, and 133 Squadrons became respectively the 334th, 335th, and 336th Fighter Squadrons. (By special order, former Eagle Squadron members in the 4th Fighter Group were allowed to wear their RAF pilot’s wings on their American uniforms.) They flew combat missions from October 1942 until April 25, 1945. As the top scoring Allied Fighter Group, they were the first with missions into Germany and the first over Berlin.”

The Canadian Encyclopedia Clayton Knight Committee records the following: “When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, forcing the US into the war, there were 6129 American aircrew serving in the RCAF. Slightly more than half, 3886, were under training with the BCATP. All were given the opportunity to return to the US; 3797 transferred back to their own forces. In total, between 1939 and 1945, 8864 Americans served in the RCAF, with 5263 completing their service; 704 were killed in training or combat. An additional 300 Americans served in the RAF.”

In (page 110) her 2012 book Into Dust and Fire, Rachael Cox writes: “One RAF Texan said, ‘A lot of these people are transferring now [to the American army] and that is only natural. But it is fun to talk to the ones who won’t transfer. . . .'”

Wikipedia’s British Commonwealth Air Training Plan webpage states the following: “After Pearl Harbor, 1,759 American members of the RCAF transferred to the armed forces of the United States, another 2,000 transferred later on, and about 5,000 completed their service with the RCAF.”

The Meadowlark Art Gallery’s Clayton Knight webpage summarizes the transfer of the RCAF-Americans by stating the following: “Bishop’s solution was to tap the rapidly maturing U.S. aviation industry for BCATP flying instructors and pilots. Of the more than 10,000 Americans serving with the R.C.A.F. at the time, 2,000 transferred to the United States services while the remaining men stayed in the RCAF throughout the war.”

Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s The Clayton Knight Committee webpage states the following: “On 7 December 1941, American aircrew serving in the RCAF totaled 6,129, with just over half, 3,886 under training [BCATP] in Canada. All Americans were given the opportunity to return to the US, and 3,797 requested transfer back to their own national forces. A special train left Washington stopping at every RCAF training base, and 1,759 Americans boarded the train. In total 5,263 Americans completed their service in the RCAF.”

Wikipedia’s page titled Clayton Knight Committee states the following: “In 1941, after the US proclaimed war, a ‘Recruiting Train’ traveled to Canada. Americans who wanted to return to the United States Armed Services were able to through the deal Roosevelt had established with the CKC. In total, 2,000 of the 10,000+ Americans serving with the RCAF decided to return to the United States services. The rest continued service in the RCAF during the remainder of the war.”

(12) The practical experience these veterans of Canadian and British service possessed provided the inexperienced American Forces with an immediate degree of competence and effectiveness. More than a few became accomplished combat pilots, the American Fighter Aces Association possessing many of them within the organization’s core membership.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

In the Foreword to Brigadier General Philip Caine’s book The RAF Eagle Squadrons, Air Chief Marshall Sir Glenn Torpy states the following: ” In the Foreword to Brigadier General Philip Caine’s book The RAF Eagle Squadrons, Air Chief Marshall Sir Glenn Torpy states, “The 245 Americans who flew with these famous squadrons achieved an enviable reputation during their time with the RAF, and went on to form the nucleus of the famed United States Fourth Fighter Group on 29 September 1942.”

A National Museum of the U.S. Air Force webpage titled Eagle Squadrons states the following: “Manned entirely by American pilots, these three RAF units, Numbers 71, 121 and 133 Squadrons, flew Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires in combat over Europe from Feb. 5, 1941, to Sept. 29, 1942, when they were transferred to the AAF. Formed into the 4th Fighter Group, they provided numerous experienced combat veterans who proved invaluable to the inexperienced AAF fighter pilots who began to arrive in England in large numbers in 1943.”

The American Battle Monuments Commission webpage titled The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force states the following: “They [the Eagle squadrons] remained with the RAF until September 1942 when all three squadrons were turned over to the American 8th Air Force as the 4th Fighter Group. The [RAF] 71, 121, and 133 Squadrons became respectively the 334th, 335th, and 336th Fighter Squadrons. They flew combat missions from October 1942 until April 25, 1945. As the top scoring Allied Fighter Group, they were the first with missions into Germany and the first over Berlin.”

American Eagle Squadron and RAF pilot Don Gentile states (page 28) the following in his 1944 autobiography One Man Air Force: “I was lucky enough to get attached to the Eagle Squadron, in which some of the finest fighter pilots who ever lived were working. . . . There were not many better teachers of attack and defense than those killers, and of those who were better teachers quite a few were in the Eagle Squadron.”

Tamar A. Mehuron writes the following in his Airforce Magazine article titled The Eagle Squadrons: “On Sept. 29, 1942, members of the three Eagle Squadrons were transferred directly into the 4th Fighter Group, US Army Air Forces. Having flown for Britain for two years, the Eagles brought to their green American units a core of badly needed combat experience. After helping the RAF in its time of desperate need, many of the Eagle pilots continued to serve valiantly for the remainder of World War II.”

On page 39 of his book Two-Man Air Force, author Philip Kaplan writes the following: “While the Fourth Fighter Group was technically the newest American fighter outfit in England, its pilots were, in fact, the most combat-experienced and well-prepared in the European theatre of operations.”

(13) The bravery and foresight displayed by the Americans who enlisted in the Canadian and British armed forces represent a largely unrecognized story of valor, and their initiatives are worthy of official recognition.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

The  RAF Ferry Command website provides information about the Royal Air Force Ferry Command / Transport Command operation of World War II. The page states the following:  “By and large, it was . . . civilians . . . who did the job. They were unarmed, non-uniformed, and non-insurable: yet, their aircrews component delivered 9,442 of the 10,000 airplanes assigned to their care. These same individuals have been set aside in the margins of history pages. A low loss of aircraft, lower than predicted, but at a high tragic cost of more than 500 lives.”

The Toronto Star article The Americans who died for Canada in WWII finally get their due: ‘These men are my heroes contains the following quote: “Jeb Hockman, a spokesman for the Virginia War Memorial, is quoted in a The Star article: ‘It certainly isn’t common knowledge to Americans. And I don’t think many Canadians are aware of it, either. But the families of these men remember.’”

Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s The Clayton Knight Committee webpage states the following: “On the RCAF honour roll, all 48 states are covered with Americans killed in action while serving in the RCAF. New York State leads with 128 killed, Michigan – 59, California – 54, then Texas – 37, and so on. Most of the Clayton Knight recruited Americans served in RCAF in RAF Bomber Command, and 445 were killed in British bombers. While American history and movies continue to show only the Flying Tigers and Eagle Squadrons as American heroes, the 5,263 Americans in the RCAF are forgotten.”

(14) The United States Nationals who volunteered for service with military-associated Canadian and British ancillary entities are to be equally recognized for their volunteerism, contributions, and sacrifices.

Notes, Quotes & Citations

By serving in a Canadian or British military or paramilitary uniform the “Yanks” risked life, limb, and U.S. citizenship. Furthermore a significant number were hurt, maimed, or killed. Merely crossing the Atlantic Ocean by ship or airplane was inherently dangerous during the Second World War. Scores also perished as a result of training accidents or combat. Thus, these valiant Americans all contributed to the Allied victory and shared the many risks associated with wartime service to one degree or another. Therefore, they should be equally honored.

Other Recommended Viewings

Above and Beyond. Pope Productions Ltd. and Shaftesbury Films, 2005.

American Eagle and the Proud Maple Leaf. Written and performed by James Blondeau.

http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/media/vid_americaneagle1/americaneagle.html

Captains of the Clouds. Warner Brothers, 1942.

Corvette K-225.

Every Time We Say Goodbye. H Tristar Pictures, 1986.

Flying the Secret Sky: The Story of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. VanDerKloot Film & Television. 2008. ISBN 978-1-59375-844-8.

Forgotten Pilots, programme 1 part a
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALYlpvlgaqU

Forgotten Pilots, programme 1 part b
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAB5goCmg1o

Forgotten Pilots, programme 2 part a
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeT9GZDXhrU

Forgotten Pilots, programme 2 part b
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTTSoB8PrbI

Forgotten Pilots, programme 3 part a
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx4rSlUlaC0

Forgotten Pilots, programme 3 part b
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdgeXq2HHMw

War Stories with Oliver North: Yanks in the RAF. December 3, 2007. ASIN: B0010PG3A0.

https://www.amazon.com/WAR-STORIES-OLIVER-NORTH-YANKS/dp/B0010PG3A0/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=war+stories+yanks+in+the+raf&qid=1550566582&s=movies-tv&sr=1-1-catcorr

Sources and Suggested Readings

A Yank in the R.A.F.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Yank_in_the_R.A.F.

Air Transport Auxiliary

http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/rollofhonour/ata/ata.html

Air Transport Auxiliary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Transport_Auxiliary

Allies in Complicity: The United States, Canada, and the Clayton Knight Committee’s Clandestine Recruiting of Americans for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

http://www.erudit.org/revue/jcha/2004/v15/n1/012074ar.pdf

Allison, Les and Harry Hayward. They Shall Not Grow Old: A Book of Remembrance. Brandon, Manitoba: Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Inc., 1992.

Aircrew Remembered

http://aircrewremembered.com/AlliedLossesIncidents/

American Experience: Fly Girls

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/flygirls/timeline/

Americans in the British Flying Services, 1914 – 1945

http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/americans-in-the-royal-air-force/americans-in-the-british-flying-services-1914-1945.aspx

Ann Wood Kelly (1918-2006)
http://airtransportaux.com/members/wood.html

Ann Wood-Kelly
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Wood-Kelly

Ann Wood-Kelly
https://www.womensmemorial.org/oral-history/detail/?s=ann-wood-kelly

Association of Manitoba Museums

http://www.museumsmanitoba.com/en/find-a-museum-by-name/details/140

Barris, Ted. Behind The Glory: The Plan that Won the Allied Air War. Markham, Ontario: Thomas Allen & Son Publishers, 2005.

Becker, Captain Dave. Yellow Wings: The Story of the Joint Air Training Scheme in World War 2. Pretoria: The SAAF Museum, 1989.

Billy Bishop

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Bishop

Billy Fiske
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Fiske

Birrell, Dave. Big Joe McCarthy: The RCAF’s American Dambuster. Nanton: Nanton Lancaster Society, 2012.

British Air Transport Auxiliary

http://www.airtransportaux.com/

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) 1940-1945

http://rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/history-heritage/british-commonwealth-air-training-plan/index.page

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Commonwealth_Air_Training_Plan

Captains of the Clouds
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captains_of_the_Clouds

Carroll W. McColpin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carroll_W._McColpin

Carroll W McColpin
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/22827

Caine, Phillip D. Eagles of the RAF. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1991.

Caine, Phillip D. The RAF Eagle Squadrons: American Pilots Who Flew for the Royal Air Force. Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, 2009.

Canada in the Second World War

https://www.junobeach.org/canada-in-wwii/articles/british-commonwealth-air-training-plan/

Canadian Virtual War Memorial

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial

Canadian Women and the Second World War

http://www.hillmanweb.com/war/2016/1603.html

Captains of the Clouds

http://www.airmuseum.ca/web/captains.html

Carroll W. McColpin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carroll_W._McColpin

Carroll W. McColpin

http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/22827

Carroll, David. The Home Guard. Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1999.

Clayton Knight

http://www.meadowlarkgallery.com/KnightClayton.html

Clayton Knight Committee

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/clayton-knight-committee/

Collins, Robert. The Long and the Short and the Tall: An Ordinary Airman’s War. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1986.

Commandos Strike at Dawn

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commandos_Strike_at_Dawn

Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum

http://manitobasignaturemuseums.ca/commonwealth-air-training-plan-museum/

Commonwealth Association of States

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Commonwealth-association-of-states

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

http://www.cwgc.org/

Conrad, Peter C. Training for Victory: The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in the West. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1989.

Corvette K-225

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvette_K-225

Cox, Rachel S. Into Dust and Fire: Five Young Americans Who Went to Fight the Nazi Army. New York: NAL Caliber,  2012.

Dickon, Chris. Americans at War in Foreign Forces: A History, 1914-1945. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2014.

Dominic Salvatore Gentile
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominic_Salvatore_Gentile

Dunmore, Spencer. Wings For Victory. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1994.

Dunn, William R. Fighter Pilot: The First American Ace of World War II. University Press of Kentucky, 1996.

Dwight Eisenhower speech at Canadian Club, Ottawa, Canada, January 10, 1946

https://eisenhower.archives.gov/all_about_ike/speeches/pre_presidential_speeches.pdf

Eagle Squadrons

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/196915/eagle-squadrons/

Eagle Squadrons

http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/americans-in-the-royal-air-force/eagle-squadrons.aspx

Ed Tracey: RCAF-American WW2 flight instructor and USAAF fighter pilot

http://20thcenturyaviationmagazine.com/rcaf-americans/ed-tracey-rcaf-american-ww2-flight-instructor-and-usaaf-fighter-pilot/

Eisenhower, Dwight D. Crusade in Europe. New York: Avon Books, 1948.

Every Time We Say Goodbye

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/74265/Every-Time-We-Say-Goodbye/

Flypast. Volume 45 Number 7. May 2011.

http://www.torontoaviationhistory.com/Toronto/Flypast/Flypast_45_7.pdf

Frank Zavakos – Spitfire Pilot RAF No. 71 ‘Eagle” Squadron
https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/frank-zavakos/

Frank G. Zavakos
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/240190

Gaffen, Fred. Cross-Border Warriors: Canadians in American Forces, Americans in Canadian Forces From the Civil War to the Gulf. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1995.

General Robert James Dixon
https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/104993/general-robert-james-dixon/

Gentile Air Force Station
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile_Air_Force_Station

Gentile, Don S. One Man Air Force. New York: L.B. Fischer Publishing Corporation, 1944.

Gentile Station
https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/gentile.htm

Gibson, Guy. Enemy Coast Ahead. Manchester: Crécy Publishing Ltd., 2005. Copyright 1946 by the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon.

Gossage, Carolyn. Greatcoats and Glamour Boots: Canadian Woman at War (1939-1945). Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2001.

Granger, Byrd Howell. On Final Approach: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII. Scottsdale, AZ: Falconer Publishing, 1991.

Great Depression

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression

Hatch, F.J. Aerodrome of Democracy: Canada and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan 1939–1945. Ottawa: Canadian Department of National Defence, 1983.

High Flight

http://arlingtoncemetery.net/highflig.htm

Hollywood and Canada’s Navy

https://navalandmilitarymuseum.org/archives/articles/sailors-life/hollywood-and-canadas-navy

Home Guard

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/world-war-two-in-western-europe/britains-home-front-in-world-war-two/home-guard/

Home Guard (United Kingdom)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Guard_(United_Kingdom)

H.R.980 – American Patriots of WWII through Service with the Canadian and British Armed Forces Gold Medal Act of 2019

International Squadron. Warner Brothers. 1941.

International Squadron (film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Squadron_(film)

Jackie Cochran – First Woman to Fly a Bomber to Britain
http://flightsofhistory.perfectdayfactory.com/jackie-cochran-first-woman-to-fly-a-bomber-to-britain/

Jacqueline Cochran
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_Cochran

Jacqueline Cochran & The WASPs
https://www.dwightdeisenhower.com/370/Jacqueline-Cochran-The-WASPs

Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran
http://airtransportaux.com/members/cochran.html

Joe McCarthy (RCAF officer)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_McCarthy_(RCAF_officer)

John Gillespie Magee

http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/s,johnmagee.html

John Gillespie Magee Jr.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gillespie_Magee_Jr.

Joseph Charles “Joe” McCarthy DSO DFC and BAR – The RCAF’s American Dambuster
http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/s,joemccarthy.html

Kaplan, Philip. Two-Man Air Force. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books, 2006.

Lavigne, Michel and James F. Edwards. Kittyhawks over the Sands: The Canadians & The RCAF Americans. Victoriaville: Lavigne Publications, 2002.

List of foreign volunteers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foreign_volunteers#American

Mackenzie, S.P. The Home Guard: A Military and Political History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Major General Carroll Warren McColpin
https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/106323/major-general-carroll-warren-mccolpin/

McColpin, Carroll W.

http://www.4thfightergroupassociation.org/uploads/8/2/0/3/8203817/336_mccolpincwweb_a.pdf

Meacham, Jon. Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. New York: Random House, 2015.

Mrs. Miniver

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._Miniver

Mrs Minivere: The film that Goebbels feared
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150209-the-film-that-goebbels-feared

Mrs Miniver. Series 5, Episode 1 of 3.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b051j5tb

Of Their Own Free Will: The Eagle Squadrons of WWII. Kenneth C. Kan. Friends Journal. Summer 2016. Vol. 39 No. 2. Page 6.

Peden, Murray. A Thousand Shall Fall. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Company, Ltd., 1988.

Operation Chastise

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Chastise

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee: “High Flight”

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/196844/pilot-officer-john-gillespie-magee-high-flight/

RAF Ferry Command

http://rafferrycommand.com/

RAF Ferry Command

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Ferry_Command

Robert J. Dixon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_J._Dixon

Rohmer, Richard. Generally Speaking: The Memoirs of Major-General Richard Rohmer. Toronto: Dunburn Press, 2004.

Royal Air Force in World War II

https://www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org/royal-air-force-in-world-war-ii.html

Search the Armed Forces Memorial roll of honour

https://www.gov.uk/search-armed-forces-memorial-roll-of-honour

Smith, I. Norman. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Toronto: Macmillan Company of Canada Limited, 1941.

Spiros Nicholas Pisanos – RAF No. 268 Squadron / No. 71 ‘Eagle’ Squadron
https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/spiros_pisanos/

Spiros Nickolas Pisanos
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/17182

Spitfire: The Plane that Saved the World. British Film Company. Eliptical Wing Ltd. 2018.

https://www.amazon.com/Spitfire-Plane-that-Saved-World/dp/B07D59528V/ref=tmm_dvd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1552181109&sr=1-1

Steve Pisanos

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Pisanos

Steve Pisanos: A ‘wow’ life for World War II ace
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/sdut-steve-pisanos-obituary-2016jun29-htmlstory.html

The 379 Americans

http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/americans379.html

The Aerodrome of Democracy (1940-1945)

http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/on-windswept-heights-2/22-history-1939-1945.page

The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force
https://www.abmc.gov/news-events/news/eagle-squadrons-wwii-american-volunteers-fly-royal-air-force

The American Eagle Squadrons Remembered

http://www.rocatwentytwelve.org/the-american-eagle-squadrons.html

The Americans in the RCAF

http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/americansrcaf.html

The Americans who died for Canada in WWII finally get their due: These men are my heroes

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.print.html

The Canadian Army

http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/his/ol-lo/vol-tom-3/par1/index-eng.asp

The Clayton Knight Committee

http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/s,claytonknight.html

The Dambusters

http://www.dambusters.org.uk/

The Dambusters: How bouncing bombs – and incredible flying by RAF pilots – flooded the Ruhr valley and delivered a crucial blow to the Nazi war machine

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/fb-5422621/OPERATION-CHASTISE-1943-DAM-BUSTERS-RAID.html

The Eagle Squadrons

http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2007/October%202007/1007eagle.aspx

The Eagle Squadrons of WWII: American Volunteers Fly with the Royal Air Force
https://www.abmc.gov/news-events/news/eagle-squadrons-wwii-american-volunteers-fly-royal-air-force

The Great Dictator
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Dictator

The Women’s Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary

https://www.wai.org/pioneers/2008/womens-section-air-transport-auxiliary

The University of Dayton Alumnus, March 1943 (“. . . the last full measure of devotion” Frank Zavakos, page 3)
https://ecommons.udayton.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1060&context=dayton_mag

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/united-kingdom.html

Vernon Charles Keough
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/214879

Vernon Keogh
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Keogh

War Stories with Oliver North: Yanks in the RAF. December 3, 2007. ASIN: B0010PG3A0.

https://www.amazon.com/WAR-STORIES-OLIVER-NORTH-YANKS/dp/B0010PG3A0/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=war+stories+yanks+in+the+raf&qid=1550566582&s=movies-tv&sr=1-1-catcorr

WASP awarded Congressional Gold Medal for service

http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/119851/wasp-awarded-congressional-gold-medal-for-service.aspx

WASP On The Web

http://www.wingsacrossamerica.us/wasp/

Whitehouse, Arch. The Years of the War Birds. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1960.

William Vanderkloot
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Vanderkloot

William R Dunn
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/240123

William R. Dunn
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Dunn

William R. Dunn: Eagle Squadron Pilot
https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/william-r-dunn-eagle-squadron-pilot/

Winston Churchill’s Two Battles

http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/winston-churchills-two-battles/

Women in the Army History – Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD)
https://www.army.mil/women/history/pilots.html

Women in the Army Intro
https://www.army.mil/women/index.html

Women Airforce Service Pilots

http://www.twu.edu/library/wasp.asp

Women Airforce Service Pilots
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_Airforce_Service_Pilots

Women Airforce Service Pilots Digital Archive

http://twudigital.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p214coll2