Tommy Hunter, Bryan Wild, Jimmy Ward, Moose Jaw Dec 1940
“It was a fine, bright day but terribly cold, and we realised at once why they had issued us with beaver hats, fur-lined gloves and special boots. We had been warned that venturing out without this type of protection could lead to severe frostbite, especially at night.
Moose Jaw aerodrome 1940 (Keston Pelmore’s photo)
Moose Jaw aerodrome showing triangular formation (Keston Pelmore’s photo)
The whole camp looked bleak and functional, probably because the buildings had been erected on a tight budget. As far as the eye could see it was flat, flat, flat. It was clear why the ‘powers that be’ had chosen the prairie sites to train pilots and other aircrew. The weather was excellent for flying (heavy snowfalls had finished by December) and the flat prairie landscape was of course free of obstacles. Furthermore, there was no blackout and so night-flying was easy to organise in terms of lighting, with plenty of runway lights and no problem in using powerful floodlights. The three of us stopped near one of the runways to watch a large machine equipped with giant rollers moving slowly along pressing down the snow. We nodded our approval; we had wondered how the loose snow was treated to allow an aircraft to take off safely.”
No black out in Moosejaw!
Moose Jaw – dome of City Hall visible
“We eventually arrived at the small town of Moose Jaw at 7 o’clock at night. We had to stop and gaze at the brilliantly lit streets, a rare sight after the black-out arrangements back in UK.
The river even supported a motor car
“As a result of the delay on the arrival of the Harvards, we had ample opportunity to visit Moose Jaw in the evenings, approximately five miles away. It was a small town, but most interesting and so different from the English towns we knew. There was one long main street and all the others branched off at ninety degrees. There were plenty of excellent cafes which cooked anything from steak and chips to ham and eggs, and also offered marvellous desserts such as apple pie and ice cream, which came as a completely new combination to me. The shops too were stacked with goods of all kinds; no shortages here! We could get anything and everything we wanted, it seemed. After the austerity of Britain this was an eye-opener to us all. And open, free, ice rinks! Whilst skating at night under floodlight, I fell and knocked out a front tooth and damaged another, so I spent some weeks there without smiling! When I went to see the station dentist, whose surgery was in a small room in one corner of a hanger, I was alarmed to see that his drilling equipment was simply operated by a foot pedal like one of the old Singer sewing machines. We were also amazed to find that the river here had frozen hard enough to support a motor car”
Moose Jaw – where Dad and his fellow u/t pilots had a whale of a time in 1941-42