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Library Reference Number: 253

Aircraft Deliveries - Mission Accomplished

Ted Beaudoin

Britain in 1939 at the outset of World War Two was ill-prepared for what was to become an almighty conflict of huge proportions engulfing every continent. Both in men and materials, Britain was sadly lacking in numbers of fully trained aircrew or aircraft in comparison to Germany, who in spite of restrictions following World War One had developed a huge Air Force and well trained armed forces in preparation for their attempted domination of Europe.

North America on the other hand had been reading the signals of German re-armament in contravention of the Versailles Treaty. Therefore in anticipation of further world conflict had wisely made all the appropriate preparations in relation to modern aircraft manufacture.

With the monumental task of hurriedly training large numbers of aircrew and also acquiring sufficient numbers of North American built aircraft to supplement British types, there was one huge, seemingly insurmountable delivery problem in the shape of the Atlantic Ocean. Having arrived on these shores, there was a further massive problem in delivering those aircraft to war zones where they were urgently required.

Through seemingly miraculous means, those problems were overcome by somehow recruiting the help of over 3,500 men and women civilians from 23 allied nations, along with a number of air and ground support crews seconded from allied air forces to the RAF FC to help these civilians. The seconded crews came from a number of European nations, and others from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, to list a few known contributing air forces. It is also known that at least one aircrew member each came from Cuba and Egypt … but it is not yet known if these two were civilians or from military units. Towards bringing those little known facts to more general awareness, Canadian aviation author Ted Beaudoin has spent the past ten years of intensive research in many countries. During this painstaking research period several members of Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association along with countless others have contributed their experiences of ferrying urgently required aircraft to war zones along with civilian members of aircrew.

Author Ted Beaudoin has himself now been recognised for his work and all his research findings are in the hands of the Canadian Defence Authorities and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Publication is now expected in 2016 and we are very privileged to have been given advanced notice of publication and also access to Appendix 1. The following is a very brief preview of this appendix showing how sources of information were gleaned from world-wide archives, associations, companies, governments, museums, organisations and universities. Author Ted Beaudoin reports: -

To the best of my knowledge, there is not one single, solitary aviation museum in the world today that is dedicated solely to adequately and completely commemorating and showing how the civilians almost alone, and later, as a civilian and military mix, worked and worked so well - in other words, offering today's generation, and coming generations, the whole front and back story of the RAF's Ferry Command operation.

The only way I could comfortably - and accurately - tell the background story of what became Ferry Command was to write about some of the experiences of a few of the civilian Ferry Command veterans -- either as a result of personal interviews or through their families and/or other sources.

The paper trail of what became Ferry Command which to all intents and purposes was 100% funded by Britain's Ministry of Air Production involved recruiting, interviewing, testing / evaluating and rating applicants for the job. Hiring them or returning to their homes those not accepted, along with purchases, civilian and military personnel payrolls, expense accounts, communications, security, anti-espionage efforts, catering, billeting and accommodations, equipment, services, accidents, safety records, flight-testing, training, traffic, military supplies, weapons, ammunition, complete weather records and runway conditions - the works. That trail is buried somewhere in piles of file boxes stashed in any number of places, making it just about impossible to follow.

About This Appendix

This section lists web sites, and names of individuals, governments, private corporations, agencies and whose associations personnel have provided interviews, and other information and/or donated material in the form of such items as letters, news clippings - magazine and newspapers - CDs containing list is quite long, having taken nearly 10 consecutive years to build. The great majority of the personal and commercial dramatic, fictional and documentary films, and considerable other archival data … the information is available at no charge, and only a few web sites charge a fee.

This appendix also can serve as a valuable finding aid for those searching the internet seeking information about their relatives and/or friends who served with the Royal Air Force's Ferry Command - RAF FC - in any capacity: either as civilian employees, or as military personnel seconded to the RAF FC from various allied air forces, as 1-trippers, or for any length of time. They all pioneer air routes over the North Atlantic and other of the world's oceans, either with the RAF FC alone, or in co-operation with other allied air forces and commercial airlines.

Allied air forces and commercial airlines wasted no time in supplementing the RAF FC delivery rates of new fighter aircraft and bombers to where and when they were needed, and, as stated earlier in these pages, all winding up in delivering by war's end some 250,000 or more fighters, bombers, and cargo planes to war fronts.

How to find information on the internet about the RAF's Ferry Command operation of WW II. In trying to "find" anything on the internet dealing with the Royal Air Force's "Ferry Command" operation, it is important to be aware of the many "official" names by which it was known at different stages. Simply entering the words Royal Air Force Ferry Command or Ferry Command alone into a search engine will not yield many good results. Without using its official names in search engines, results will be sparse and almost limited. But by using the names shown below on different searches, many interesting results are more likely to show up.

The months of December 1930 and January 1940 saw the recruiting of air and support ground crews, and administration personnel, along with the delivery of aircraft from the USA into Canada. The actual flying of bombers across the North Atlantic Ocean only began on Sunday, Nov.10th, 1940 with a Canadian national railroad company the Canadian Pacific Air Service which came into being earlier, in September, 1940. It came to be known unofficially as the CPASD - or Canadian Pacific Air Services Department, a branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). This same operation was also known by two other identifiers … ATFERO for Atlantic Ferry Organization and its Return Ferry organization, the RFO, for which no known logos have yet been "found" on the net, nor in corporate archives of the CPR.

Nine months later, by May, 1941, ATFERO would be ripped from CPR's civilian hands at the demands of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who wanted it placed under the military control of the Royal Air Force, operating concurrently from what was then known as St Hubert airport in St. Hubert, south of Montréal Island, and Dorval airport on the west end of Montréal Island, both in the Canadian province of Québec: thus the logo showing the British Ministry of Aircraft Production.

Another name change came into place two months after that, in July, 1941 when it became officially known for the first time as the RAF Ferry Command.

The fourth and final name along with major administration and logo changes is dated April 1943, revealing the final "official" name of the operation, the one by which is was formally known and recognized throughout the world - the R.A.F. Transport Command.

Little wonder it's been difficult to find useful and accurate results on this incredible airborne armada by using only the words … Royal Air Force Ferry Command or Ferry Command.


The author then continues Appendix 1 with an extraordinary long list of sources of material contained in the forthcoming 2016 publication. Those sources being located in countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand & the USA.

Aircrew having completed flying training in Canada might be interested in the following source mentioned -
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Inc., Box 3, Grp. 520, RR #5, Brandon, Manitoba
It is the only museum in the world which is dedicated solely to those 130,000-plus aircrew personnel who trained under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

Canadian Museum of Flight, Hangar #3 5333 216th St., Langley, British Columbia - V2Y 2N3

Jerry Vernon, President of the Vancouver branch of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, provided material for James McClelland's paper on the January 15 1940, hauling from North Dakota into Manitoba of Hudson bombers by a farmer with a rope and two of his horses. (This method to overcome USA's neutrality at that time).

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Road, Mount Hope, ON - L0R 1W0 (Near Hamilton, ON)

Bomber Command Museum of Canada - 1729 - 21st Ave., Nanton, Alberta

Gander Airport Historical Society (GAHS)

North Atlantic Aviation Museum - 135 Trans Canada Highway, PO Box 234, Gander, NL - A1V 1W6

Dorval Historical Society, Centre communautaire Sarto Fournier,1335 Lakeshore Drive, Dorval, Québec H9S
Alain Jarry historian - Beverley Rankin, Dorval City representative.
For many, Dorval was the starting point for a delivery before setting off across the Atlantic; while at the other side of the Ocean - Prestwick Airport - Aviation House, Prestwick, KA9 2PL
Several other Prestwick contacts (names and companies) are mentioned in Appendix 1.

Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association
Website Entry, No.234 reports on the development of the books, Earth Angels Rising, and Sworn To Secrecy. Members Alex Bowie (162), Jack Burgess(120) and the late Joe Barclay all participated in Atlantic crossings.
Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association is acknowledged in Appendix 1 as a major supporter of the Project.

The small number of contacts mentioned above are only a few selected items drawn from the very large list of individuals, associations, government & national agencies and other aviation contacts involved in the ten-year research project. The full comprehensive list will appear in Appendix 1 of the book to be published in 2016, but in the meantime has very generously been made available to the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association Website.

When the research findings are at last published in 2016, this should go a long way towards creating a belated awareness of the vastly important part played in delivering over 250,000 fighters, bombers and cargo planes to where they were urgently required in the widely spread war zones during World War Two. - Jack Burgess.

A new website now exists to pay a long-term and long-overdue tribute to the nearly-forgotten thousands of unarmed, non-uniformed and non-insurable civilians who came from 23 allied nations to create and sustain the world's first large-scale military air ferry unit in 1940: what became popularly known throughout World War II as the Royal Air Force Ferry / Transport Command. Announcement of this new website,, has been timed to coincide close to Remembrance Day in Canada, Wednesday, November 11, which is generally known in many countries as a day of remembrance celebrating the endings of World War I and World War II.

The above preview of material due for publication in 2016 by kind permission of author Ted Beaudoin.