British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

Canadian and international graduates of the air training plan.

More than 130,000 aircrew from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Airforce graduated from the schools set up in Canada under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Among the students from the Royal Air Force were many airmen from countries that had been overrun by the Nazi forces. In addition, many Americans crossed the border from the neutral United States in the early years of the war to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force. When the United States declared war on December 8, 1941, there were an estimated 6,129 Americans in the RCAF. By the spring of 1942, 1,759 Americans were released from the RCAF and enrolled in the armed forces of their own country and about 2,000 more were transferred by the end of the war.

According to F.J. Hatch, “In the years after the war RCAF pilot badges were to be seen on a number of high ranking air force officers in the Pentagon.” (Aerodrome of Democracy, p. 94) 

BCATP Graduates in Canada (1940-1945)
Air ForceNumber of Graduates
Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 72,835
Royal Australian Air Force (RA AF) 9,606
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) 7,002
Royal Air Force (RAF) including approximately 42,110
  • 448 Polish aircrew
 
  • 677 Norwegian  aircrew
 
  • 800 Belgian and Dutch aircrew
 
  • 900 Czech aircrew
 
  • 2,600 Free French aircrew
 
  • 5,296 Naval Fleet Air Arm
 
TOTAL 131,553

In addition to the 131,553 aircrew trained in British Commonwealth Air Training Plan schools, 5,296 Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm personnel were trained in Canada in Royal Air Force schools prior to July 1, 1942. “For all practical purposes [the Royal Air Force schools] formed an extension of the BCATP but were not officially incorporated as part of [the BCATP] until July 1942.” (F.J. Hatch, The Aerodrome of Democracy, page 71)