14 Wing Greenwood History
Greenwood's birth can be attributed to the declaration of war by the United Kingdom on Germany on 3 September 1939. Canada followed suit on 10 September 1939.
One of the earliest and best known war plans to expand all Commonwealth Air Forces was the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). It was also to change the future of the tiny hamlet of Greenwood, in the center of Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
The formal agreement, signed on 17 December 1939, created the largest air training system ever conceived, and provided a relatively safe training ground in Canada for mainly British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian airmen. The BCATP's goal was the graduation of 20,000 airmen annually from 74 training units across Canada.
Greenwood was selected for its fog-free climate.
Coming of the Royal Air Force (RAF)
Members of No. 36 (RAF) Operational Training Unit (OTU) started moving from Scotland to Greenwood by 24 February 1942, arriving on 9 March 1942.
By 25 March 1942, six Hudson MK III Aircraft were picked up from their sister OTU at Debert. Five more arrived on 27 March, and nine the following day. In early April, five Anson Aircraft were added to the growing fleet. Aircraft continued to arrive during April and May, and the Station was soon up to Aircraft strength.
The Hudsons and Ansons had been supplied by the United Kingdom Air Ministry. In late July, six Lysander Aircraft, to be used for drogue towing, were added to the fleet. By the end of August 1942, Aircraft strength totaled 36.
Station strength. Including 194 trainees, was 1,474.
By the end of November, course loading had doubled and 80 Aircraft including: 64 Hudsons, 11 Ansons and 5 Lysanders, were on strength.
Maritime Reconnaissance Training
RAF Station Greenwood was not just a training unit. The station quickly found itself involved in actual combat operations.
The year 1942 was probably the peak year for successful German U-Boat activity in the Western Atlantic area.
By the end of July 1942, Allied ships had been sunk in Canadian and Newfoundland waters. The OTU's students were being trained in anti-submarine work and its instructors were veterans of the art.
The OTU, as a wartime training establishment, was under pressure to produce aircrews as fast and as efficiently as possible. Accidents were bound to happen, and did. During the war, literally dozens of Aircraft were destroyed at Greenwood in accidents, but not all resulted in loss of life. We can find 31 graves of airmen from England, Australia, and New Zealand at the Holly Trinity graveyard in Middleton and in St. Lawrence (R.C.) Cemetery just outside Kingston, Nova Scotia.
Mosquito under OTU
By the end of 1942, changes for Greenwood were already in the wind.
The priorities in Europe were shifting. The Allies were going on the offensive. No. 36 OTU's new role was to train aircrew for the Mosquito. The first Mosquito (nicknamed "Mossie") arrived at Greenwood on 26 March 1943. On 3 July 1943, Greenwood officially became a Mosquito OTU and the first Mosquito course started training two days later. The last Hudson left Greenwood on 3 October 1943.
Support Aircraft for the Mosquito OTU were the Airspeed Oxford and the Bristol Bolingbrook, used for bombing and drogue towing. By the end of September 1943, there were 33 Mossies (10 dual), eight Oxford MK V's. and two Bolingbrokes. Mosquito strength would reach between 50 and 60 Aircraft, the majority being the bomber version. Later, a few Harvards and a Ventura or two (similar to the Hudson) were added to the station Aircraft fleet.
Orders were issued from higher authority and on 1 July 1944, RAF Station Greenwood transitioned to an RCAF Station.
RCAF Greenwood - War Years (1944-1945)
Training continued uninterrupted during disbandment of No. 36 OTU (RAF) and formation of No. 8 OTU (RCAF).
The daily diaries of No. 36 OTU and No. 8 OTU between June 1942 and April 1945 together record a total of 57 Greenwood airmen killed in 25 Aircraft crashes (see Honour Roll). No. 8 OTU's portion of this was 21 lives and 11 birds.
The 5th Special Mobile Anti-Aircraft Search Light Troop
The story of Greenwood would not be complete without mentioning another section that was also part of the political reality of Canada in those years. The Army Search Light Battery. It arrived at No. 36 OTU on 4 December 1942. Their task was to provide realistic training to aircrews - the terrifying experience of being "coned" by enemy anti-Aircraft battery searchlights.
Victory in Europe
On 31 March 1945, the BCATP ceased to exist. Then came V-E Day, 8 May 1945, when Germany surrendered. The war in Europe was over.
The changes at Greenwood were drastic. As early as April, Mosquitos were being flown to storage facilities. By the end of July, most were gone and Greenwood was no longer a training station. No. 8 OTU finally disbanded on 1 August 1945.
Tiger Force - NO. 6614 Wing Greenwood
Three "Very Long Range" (VLR) bomber groups, each consisting of 22 Squadrons, (one RAF, one RCAF, and the third a composite British Commonwealth formation), were created and code-named "Tiger Force".
By Spring 1945, "Tiger Force" was scaled down to two groups, considerably smaller than originally proposed.
By 8 May 1945, almost immediately, the RCAF units earmarked for "Tiger Force" were converted to Canadian built Lancaster Bombers (MK X's) and returned to Canada for training and reorganization. No. 6614 Wing Greenwood was created. The plan called for the Wings to commence training for the Pacific in August, with the first Wing to arrive in the Pacific Theater by December.
The arrival of the new bomber Wing overlapped the phasing out of No. 8 (RCAF) OTU. The disbandment order for the OTU was to be effective 31 July 1945. By 1 August 1945, No. 664 (Heavy Bomber) Wing and its two squadrons (No. 405 and 408 Squadrons) were officially formed. Training was to commence 24 August 1945.
405 Squadron was Canada's first bomber squadron to form overseas, in April 1941. In April 1943, it became the RCAF's first and only Pathfinder Unit.
With the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the subsequent capitulation of Japan on 14 August 1945, No. 6614 Wing (and Tiger Force) became superfluous. On 5 September 1945, No. 6614 Wing officially disbanded as part of Tiger Force.
Post War (1946-1949)
On 31 March 1946, the OTU ceased to exist. The station went into care and maintenance, effective 1 May 1946. One building after the other was closed.
By the end of June 1946, the station strength went to 72 people. For most of the "Care & Maintenance" period, strength would run around three dozen. Between July 1946 to February 1947, Greenwood slept. The skeleton staff carried out only minimal preventive maintenance and fire protection services.
Greenwood is reborn
The first indication of changes at Greenwood came with the publication of AFHQ Organization Order 854 dated 17 February 1947, which reorganized and activated Greenwood effective 1 April 1947. "Care & Maintenance" period had lasted officially for 11 months.
103 Rescue Unit
By the fall of 1947, Greenwood had finally moved out of the doldrums of the post-war period, although not to a degree predicted in February 1947. RCAF 10 Group, Halifax, announced in mid-October 1947 that No. 103 Rescue Unit (RU) would complete its move from Dartmouth (now Shearwater) to Greenwood by month end. No. 103 RU was conceived in January 1947, primarily to aid distress Aircraft. One of the reasons for its formation was the newly established Trans-Atlantic commercial air service.
The target date for the move was set for 29 October. The move included between 100 and 150 men and officers, two Canso amphibian Aircraft, one Norseman and one Sikorsky S-51 Dragonfly helicopter.
The year 1948 marked the beginning of Greenwood's affiliation with the Navy. In September, 103 RU deployed a Lancaster and a Canso to Goose Bay, Labrador, to work with RCN Units on a northern exercise. This work followed, in October by participation in naval maneuvers with both RCN and USN units. Such tasking was to continue until the formation of two maritime squadrons a few years later.
Anti-Submarine Warfare comes to Greenwood (1949-1958)
The clause in NATO Agreement pertaining to security of the North Atlantic was to have a great effect on RCAF Station Greenwood.
Canada had become increasingly uneasy over communist actions in Europe during 1948. One of the most feared Russian military build-ups was the growing submarine fleet.
No. 2 Maritime (M) Operational Training Unit
Greenwood was selected as the site for the required maritime reconnaissance training unit and first operational squadron. To help gather the required Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) expertise, 11 RCAF officers went to England to study coastal command training methods.
By 12 December 1949, the first course of 2 (M) OTU started and 405 Squadron was reactivated. Modified Avro Lancaster MK X wartime bombers were designated as their MR Aircraft.
2 (M) OTU continued to produce aircrew to fill the ranks of 405 Squadron until 30 April 1951. On this date, 2 (M) OTU's newest graduates formed the nucleus of 404 Squadron. The Unit had been a wartime coastal patrol squadron in England during the latter part of the war.
With 103 Rescue Unit, two operational squadrons and the OTU, RCAF Greenwood had a crowding problem, which taxed all station facilities. A decision was made to move 2 (M) OTU to RCAF Summerside, PEI, effective 14 November 1953. The unit departed Greenwood after graduating 18 courses of 70 crews totaling 450 airmen between 12 December 1949 and 6 November 1953.
Lancaster to be replaced by Neptunes
The P2V Neptune was conceived during the war as the first Aircraft designated specifically for Anti-Submarine Warfare. The version Canada purchased was the P2V5. The first of the 25 Aircraft arrived to Greenwood on 30 March 1955.
The Neptune was not the only new Aircraft received in Greenwood in 1955. On 17 January, a Piasecki helicopter (the "flying banana") was received by 103 Rescue Unit.
The once proud Lancaster though finished at Greenwood by November 1955, continued to fly for the RCAF for many more years.
As early as 1952 the RCAF issued requirements for a new long-range patrol Aircraft to replace the wartime Lancaster.
The Argus, although primarily designed to be a long-range patrol submarine hunter/killer, had a secondary cargo and passenger capability.
By 1958, less than three years from contract start, the first big sub-hunter was airborne. The name "Argus", came from the Greek mythology. Argus, "the vigilant watchman", was the 100 eyed giant; a most fitting name for an Aircraft which at that time had more sensors on board than any other single Aircraft.
It was not until 1 May 1958, that Greenwood received its Argus for operations.
In all, 33 were produced, the last being 20742 (no. 20742 was delivered in 1961). The first 13, 20710 - 20722, were Mark I's; the reminder being Mark II's. The most obvious difference between the two was the much larger chin radome on the MK I series for the APS 20 radar system. The MK II used the British ASV 21 search radar.
This newer, larger, more complex airframe would require not only more space, but also more personnel to maintain and operate it. More hangars were built, the last started in 1958.
In early March 1958, No. 2 (Maritime) Operational Training Detachment (2 (M) OTU Detachment) was formed at Greenwood. Their initial task was to become proficient with the new Aircraft and prepare the lesson plans for their future students. N0.9 FTTU was responsible for the Argus aircrew and groundcrew technical training.
In late July 1958, 405 Squadron became the first operational unit to receive the Argus. By this time, Greenwood had five of the big birds.
It was not until 15 April 1959 that 404 Squadron received its first CP-107 Argus, 20730. On 1 May 1961, 415 Squadron was reactivated at Summerside to become the third operational unit to fly the Argus. Starting in May 1958, the Greenwood Neptunes were transferred to 407 Squadron, Comox, B.C. replacing the last Maritime Lancasters. They were to serve another ten years at Comox before being replaced by the Argus.
Maritime Patrol and Evaluation Unit (MP&EU), originally "Test, Development and Evaluation Flight" under 404 Squadron, was granted its present designation on 11 June 1959.
During the 23 years of Argus flying, there were two accidents that resulted in loss of life and Aircraft. The first occurred in 1965. 404 Squadron was deployed to Puerto Rico on an Exercise. On the night of 23 March, Argus 20727 plunged into the ocean 60 miles north of the Island.
All perished including two government research scientists.
404 Squadron crew were:
- S/L J. A. Anderson, DSO, DFC, CD
- Sgt P. Chapman, CD
- F/O H.S. Cocks
- F/O B.W.G. Cromlish
- F/L J.E.K.A. (Kaye) Huet
- F/O R.C. Johnson
- Sgt M. Jones, CD
- F/O F.A. Knights
- F/O G.A. Maguire
- F/O J.M. Peele
- F/L J.E. Perron, CD
- F/O J.A. Richardson
- F/L C.M. Sorge
- F/L J.W. Tetrault, CD
- F/O R.G. Williams
The second accident occurred at Summerside, PEI on 31 March 1977 when 415 Squadron Argus 20737 crashed on landing. Three died and six others were medically grounded for up to a year. Killed were: Maj Ross Hawkes, Sgt Ralph Arsenault, and MCpl Al Senez.
In 1968, in an attempt to alleviate the crowding at Greenwood, 103 RU terminated its 21 years existence at Greenwood and was transferred to Summerside.
In 1975, 449 Squadron was disbanded. The Canadian Forces started an overall reorganization and this left Greenwood with two squadrons, one operational (405 Squadron) and one training (404 Squadron).
Starting in 1974, the Canadian Forces started a series of cutbacks with drastic reductions to Air Force flying rates, and many other Canadian Forces Units dropped from active service.
The impact on Greenwood was that six Argus from 18 were stored, reducing base strength to 12 from 18. Some 242 personnel were immediately cut, real estates dropped. About 140 PMQ's were suddenly empty. Base personnel provided 142 officers and men to support the 1976 Olympics in Montreal from February to October.
In July 1976, an Air Reserve Augmentation Flight (ARAF) was established. This unit was to play an especially important role in the phase-in of the Aurora Aircraft . A considerable number of Argus technicians who were retiring at the time, were maintained as active members of the Reserves and supplemented Argus servicing and maintenance while regular CF members trained on the CP-140 Aurora.
In September 1978, MP&EU transferred in from Summerside, PEI.
The year 1979 was the last "real Argus year" for Greenwood.
CFB Summerside's 415 Squadron continued to fly the Argus through the end of spring 1981, when the unit transferred to Greenwood and converted to the Aurora.
Dawn of the Aurora
The first Aurora (a variant of the Lockheed P-3 Orion) rolled off the assembly line on 25 January 1979 and flew its first flight on 22 March.
The first Auroras replaced the 33 Argus', with 14 to be stationed at Greenwood and the other four in Comox, B.C.
415 Squadron was to be transferred from Summerside, PEI to Greenwood, centralizing all east coast Long Range Patrol Aircraft and greatly reducing the cost of Aurora support facilities.
Manning at Greenwood jumped 10% in 1980 to cope with the many new challenges brought about by the Aurora program. With the addition of 415 Squadron the following year, there was an ever greater increase in personnel.
The Base was to accept the CP-140 on time. On 27 May 1980, the first Aurora, CP-140, arrived at CFB Greenwood. Ceremonies were held on 29 May initiating a new era of ASW for Canada and Greenwood. ASW Aircraft from Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, France and the USA were on hand for this historic event, and the Governor-General and his wife were the guests of honour. The last Aurora, CP-140 118, arrived at Greenwood 10 July 1981.
On 27 July 1980, the first Operational Aurora Mission was carried out. The first NORPAT was flown during the week of 1 September 1980.
On 19 November, the Base newspaper was renamed "The Aurora", replacing its old mast head "The Argus". During the 1950's, the Station paper had been known as "Wings Over Greenwood". During the four war years, there had been as many Station periodicals, beginning with the RAF "Overseas".
The ceremonial arrival of the "Swordfish" Squadron, held on 24 July, was highlighted by the last official flight for the Argus. Argus 736 departed for PEI for scrapping at CFB Summerside.
Fincastle and Beyond...
The Fincastle Competition started in 1961 as an annual Commonwealth bombing competition between RAF, RAAF, RNZAF, and Canadian ASW Squadrons. In 1970 it was modified to its present ASW form, where crews now fly a day and night sortie against a submarine and are judged on their ability to detect and attack their target.
Normally, Canada selects her Fincastle crew from the winner of the national O'Brien ASW competition.
On 5 October 1981, 405 Squadron won Fincastle in Australia.
From August to November 1983, CFB Greenwood provided support to Air Canada. During this time, the runways at Halifax International Airport were being repaired, causing seven of Air Canada's flights to be diverted to Greenwood. Base personnel assisted Air Canada staff in coordinating refueling and ground-handling requirements and processed over 1,600 passengers.
By 1988, the Aurora provided more and more non-military tasking including: fisheries surveillance, RCMP drug enforcement, and something new...Department of Immigration tasking to search out "Mother Ships" involved in illegal immigration operations.
The closure of CFB Summerside was announced in May 1989. By September, it was official that 413 Search and Rescue Squadron would be transferred to Greenwood in 1991. Thus, after 23 years, Greenwood would again become a multi-Aircraft air base with 413 Squadron bringing their Labrador helicopters and Hercules Aircraft.
On 10 June 1991, 413 Squadron officially arrived at Greenwood.
During the summer of 1995, 434 Combat Support Squadron, with 14 T-33 Silver Star and eight Challenger jets moved to 14 Wing Greenwood from 12 Wing Shearwater. The squadron supports Naval, Land and Air elements performing such roles as: electric warfare training, forward air control training, coastal surveillance, and air evacuations.
*Excerpts from "The History of CFB Greenwood 1942-1992". The book is available for $20.00 and can be ordered at: Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, PO Box 786, Greenwood NS B0P 1N0Tel: (902) 765-1494 ext 5955
For more information, please contact the 14 Wing Heritage Officer.
434 Combat Support Squadron Closes Down
On April 28, 2002, the 434 (Combat Support) Squadron Colours were deposited in the All Saints Cathedral, Halifax with the Squadron closing its doors on July 15, 2002.
Here are a few images of the various events surrounding the close down:
434 Squadron Final Flypast
434 Bomber Squadron was formed at Tholthorpe, England, on 13 June 1943 as a unit of No. 6 Bomber Group.
It began operations on 12 August of that year and continued to operate from Tholthorpe until 11 December 1944, moving the following day to Croft. The Squadron operated there for the remainder of its stay in England. Equipped first with Halifax vs, the Bluenosers converted to Halifax III's in May 1944. The Squadron was adopted by the Rotary Club of Halifax and took the nickname "Bluenose" in reference to the common nickname for Nova Scotians. The schooner "Bluenose" is well known for it's fine record.
434 Bomber Squadron switched again this time to Canadian built Lancaster x's in December 1944. During the war years they flew some 2600 combat sorties, dropped 10,575 tons of bombs and mines, and lost 68 crew. Besides acquiring approximately 150 individual decorations, honors and awards, the Bluenosers received the following battle honors;
- English Channel
- North Sea 1943-1944
- Baltic 1943-1944
- Fortress Europe 1943-1944
- France and Germany 1944-1945
- Biscay Ports 1944
- Ruhr 1943-1945
- Berlin 1943-1944
- German Ports 1944-1945
- Normandy 1944
- The Rhine
Following the cessation of hostilities in Europe the Squadron spent a short period flying liberated POW's from the continent to the United Kingdom before returning to Canada as part of the "Tiger Force", the Very Long Range (Bomber) Force formed for operations in the Pacific. The end of the Pacific War found the Squadron still in the early stages of formation and was disbanded at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on 5 September 1945.
434 (Fighter) Squadron Squadron was formed as a Day Fighter unit equipped with the Canadian built North American F-86 Sabre at Uplands (Ottawa), Ontario on 1 July 1952. The Squadron joined No. 3 (Fighter) Wing at Zweibrucken, Germany in March 1953.
434 (Strike Attack) Squadron (1963-67). The role of 434 Squadron changed to that of all weather strike and reconnaissance and the Canadair built Lockheed CF-104 Starfighter was chosen as the Sabre replacement. 434 Squadron discontinued operations as a Sabre unit in January 1963 and the first CF 104 pilots arrived at 3 Wing the same month. The Squadron disbanded once again three years later in 1967.
Once again 434 Squadron was reactivated, but this time the "Bluenosers" were to serve in Canada. The Squadron stood-up in February of 1968 with its new Canadair built CF-5 Freedom Fighters.
434's role was that of Tactical Fighter and Operational Training, initially providing lead-in training for the CF-104 community. This multi-purpose role included Close Air Support, Interdiction, Photo Reconnaissance, Air Superiority and training for all of the above. In April, 1975 the Squadron was renamed 434(Tac F) Squadron and the role changed to Rapid Reaction Squadron standing ready to deploy to Europe in event of hostilities.
In 1982 the unit moved to Bagotville, Quebec and then to Chatham, New Brunswick in 1985. In 1988 the unit was once more stood down and the Squadron colours, were subsequently placed in All Saints Cathedral, Halifax, NS.
434 (Composite) Squadron was reactivated at CFB Shearwater on 5 July 1992. It was formed by combining half of 414 Squadron, which split and sent Aircraft to both coasts, with VU-32 which was deactivated.
434 (Combat Support) Squadron was moved to 14 Wing Greenwood in August of 1995 and in 2002 the Squadron was again stood down.
On July 15, 2002, 434 (Combat Support) Squadron was again stood down and the squadron colours were deposited in the All Saints Cathedral, Halifax.
434 has flown the following Aircraft:
- Handley Page Halifax
- Avro Lancaster
- Canadair (North American) F-86 Sabre
- Canadair (Lockheed) CF-104 Starfighter
- Canadair (Northrop) CF-5 Freedom Fighter
- Canadair (Lockheed) CE/CT-33 Silver Star
- Canadair CC/CP/CE-144 Challenger