I understand that. Is it the answer, then, that officers and non-commissioned officers from aircrew who go into the army are not subject to call again to the reserve, should their services be required?
When I happened to have the privilege of being overseas not so long ago I had the honour of visiting some of the Canadian squadrons in Yorkshire, England. I was proud indeed of the work being done by those squadrons, and was thrilled to see them going out on their flights. It is my understanding that thirty-four flights is considered a tour of duty; is that correct?
I should not wish to be quoted in my statement as to a tour of duty, because a tour may vary, according to the type of aircraft flown. For instance, a bomber tour may be quite different from a fighter tour. Thirty-four flights might be proper for one group.
That was the required number in the squadron I happened to visit, and it occurred to me that it was a large number. Has the department evef considered the possibility of lowering the number of flights in a tour so as to make it possible for some of those young men who have been trained and who are anxious to go overseas-and there are thousands of them-to take the place of other men who have had a number of tours? I saw a number of the men in our air force, and it seemed to me that many of them were tired and would welcome a lowering of the number of flights required in a tour. I mention thi^as a possible solution of the problem facing tne minister of arranging for the sending of these men overseas.
Tours to-day are much lighter than they wrere in the early part of last year, in that at that time an aircraft leaving England had to fly a considerable distance over enemy territory or enemy occupied territory before reaching its target. To-day many aircraft can fly over allied territory, and be over occupied territory for only
a very short time before returning to base. So that the risk involved in a tour is now considerably less than it was formerly. One other point comes up, and that is that pilots gain knowledge through experience. It is considered that as a man approaches the end of his operational tour he is more valuable to his squadron than a new man would be. The result is that we would not want to cut down tours to a point where our bombing squadrons would consist almost entirely of inexperienced men. Where a second tour is required it is always considerably shorter than the first one.
But is it not a fact that when bomber crews are made up they are placed first on easy flights, that they gain experience in that way, and later are given the more difficult flights? It seems to me these young men could be given the easier flights at first, so that they could work their way up to the more difficult ones.
I should like to bring a special case to the attention of the minister. At the outset however may I express my appreciation of the treatment and courtesy I have received from the parliamentary assistant to the minister. On several occasions he has helped me iron out difficult problems, and I take this opportunity of thanking him.
As I believe the .parliamentary assistant will recall, this case concerns a prisoner of war who wanted to be transferred from t'he R.A.F. to the R.C.A.F. This case is special through this man .being the first Canadian to be taken prisoner overseas. He was flying before the war broke out and he went to England when the show started, to join the R.A.F. He was taken prisoner and has been a prisoner for more than five years. The last word his mother had from him was that he expected to be released. I do not know how it got through in a letter, but he said the Russians were very near to the camp. You will realize that if this boy had been able to get his transfer to the R.C.A.F. he would have been drawing a much higher rate of pay.
Then there is the question of gratuities when these prisoners are released and returned to Canada. Upon what basis will gratuities be paid? Will special consideration be given to a case such as the one I have mentioned? There was no possible way of this boy getting a commission or any decoration for valour. He has been a prisoner from the very start, but that fact should not be held against his getting some special consideration.
War Appropriation-Air Services
This is an interesting case in another way. A boy with whom he went to school joined the RjC.A.F. and was also taken prisoner about four and a half years ago. He happened to land in the same camp and they have been together ever since. The boy who was in the R.C.A.F. receives higher pay than the boy who was in the R.A.F., yet they were raised together, went to school together and were taken prisoner within six months of each other. I hope I have made it clear that this is a special case through this man being the first Canadian to be taken prisoner of war.
I should like to say a word with respect to boys who have been discharged. Within t'he last two months five boys from my own town have been discharged, all of them having been overseas for four or more years. I took up their cases with the minister and I am glad to be able to say that three of them are now in the university while the other two are on the way to getting satisfactory employment. The matter of university training came up this afternoon, and I thought I should direct the attention of the committee to what has been done in these cases.
over to join the R.A.F. after the outbreak of war and many of them have been permitted to transfer to the R.CA.F. As to t'he particular case mentioned by my hon. friend, I do not know just when this young man joined the R.A.F., and whether he would be entitled to transfer. [DOT]
A commission cannot be put through until the prisoner of war is released, because it is necessary for him to have the usual medical examination. When this man is released and puts in an application for transfer it will certainly be considered.
one matter I should like to bring to the attention of the minister, a matter which my colleague from Halifax and I have already brought to the attention of the former minister of national defence for air and the parliamentary assistant. I refer to the case of Harold M. Cassidy of Halifax. Mr. Cassidy is a veteran of the first great war. He enlisted for overseas and served with one of the infantry battalions from Nova Scotia. When the present war broke out he felt that he should play some part in. it; he offered his services and finally secured employment with the R.C.AJF. as a barracks officer. He 32283-334
was taken on the strength of the eastern air command1 in November, 1941. I am informed that he was assured 'by the officials of the eastern air command that he would be given free quarters and rations. I may say the salary of a barracks officer is a very modest one.
Mr. Cassidy was transferred to Gander airport in Newfoundland. Upon arrival there he found that the promises of accommodation were not going to be met. He protested, strongly, and finally authorization was obtained to have him paid an allowance of $1.70 per day effective from April 1, 1942, several months after his arrival in Newfounde land. He received that allowance up until the time he left Newfoundland, and no question arises as to that. However, he never did receive an allowance for the period of his stay in Newfoundland up to April 1, 1942. He continued to protest, but he did not get any satisfaction. Not only did he get no satisfaction but on the contrary one of his pay cheques was withheld and some deductions made to cover mess charges alleged to have been incurred by him at Gander. He claimed they had all been paid, and I must say that his position was supported by what were apparently clear receipts which he had obtained when he left Gander. It must be remembered that the justness of Mr. Cassidy's claim was recognized when authorization was given by the treasury board, or whatever authority it was, to pay him an allowance from April 1, 1942. It would seem to me that when that principle was recognized the authorities also recognized that there was some injustice being done him which demanded a remedy and that therefore payment of his allowance should be made effective as of November, 1941.
I would urge upon the minister that he constitute himself, or have his deputy constitute himself a jury of one to look into the facts of this case. I have a lengthy file on it, but the -material facts could be summed up and made available in a very few minutes. My colleague and myself have devoted1 a good deal of time to this case, and I am sure that if the minister or his deputy would deal with it as a jury would, there will be no hesitation in meeting, Mr. Cassidy's demands. I have mentioned the matter to the parliamentary assistant, and I have no doubt that he has looked into the file. I told him yesterday that I was going to mention it to-day.
I understand that this Cassidy case is rather complicated and has some unusual features. It has been under consideration in the department for some considerable time and I shall be glad to look into it.
I am not entirely satisfied with the explanation that has been given in the ease of Air Marshal Breadner and the substantial pensions which are being paid to members of the air force who are now being retired. I must say that I agree personally with the stand which the minister took when he assumed this portfolio and decided that the situation should go back to what it was prior to Air Marshal Breadner's going overseas, when the officer who then held that position had to report through the chief of the air staff in this country. It is obvious, it seems obvious to the public, that Air Marshal Breadner was anxious to go overseas. I do not know him personally. I presume that he is an admirable officer and certainly he had a good war record. He wished to go overseas and to have while serving overseas the compensations he enjoyed in connection with income tax and all that kind of thing, but he refused to accept the discomforts of the situation of having to report to a new chief of air staff, having himself held that high position in Canada, and instead reported direct to the minister.
Perhaps I can straighten my hon. friend on that point, because I had something to do with it. Air Marshal Breadner did not have anything to do with it. I ordered him to report direct to me. I take all the responsibility.
Possibly now that the member for Quebec South is in the house he might explain after I am through why Air Marshal Breadner should not report to the chief of air staff in this country, and why a man who is as young as,Air Marshal Breadner should be allowed to retire at this time merely because of the fact that he does not wish to report to the chief of the air staff in this country. It seems to me that men in high positions in the forces, particularly in the permanent force, are allowed to do things which junior men of the forces are not allowed to do. Why should Air Marshal Breadner be given the opportunity of retiring when there is a war on? A man with his talents should be retained in the service of his country. I do not think that personal convenience should be taken into consideration in this matter at all. After all, the war is still on and we should take advantage of the services of these men.
Last year I took up the matter that has been referred to by the hon. member for Lake Centre, the substantial pensions now being paid to members of the permanent force owing to the fact that we have had a war. I know that the public do not understand why anybody or any particular branch of the service should be able-may I put it this way, and not unkindly?-to profit to the substantial
extent they can do because of the promotions in rank that they have had in the last four or five years. The public just do not understand why a man who, if he had retired five years ago, would have received a pension of $2,400 is now allowed to retire on a pension of over $5,000 when he is still around fifty. Most of us in this house who are fifty think we are still young and capable of performing useful service to our country. I think these men could have been retained in the service with profit to Canada. I would ask the minister to let us know the total amount being paid in pensions to permanent members of the air force who have retired.
The minister referred to war service gratuities coming under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Veterans' Affairs, which department has to look after the big problems that arise in connection with the veterans. I wish the minister would give some consideration, if he has not already done so, to the Canadians who joined the R.A.F. either before the war or after the beginning of the war and subsequently were attached to the R.C.A.F. I have a communication from the minister's department to the effect that these men, or their widows in case of their death, are not entitled to the war service gratuity that is being paid to members of the R.C.A.F., despite the fact that in some cases they have been attached for a number of years to the R.C.A.F. and have been performing duties with the R.C.A.F. The matter was particularly drawn to my attention by the case about two years ago of a man from my own city who had been attached to the R.C.A.F. for about two years, although he was a member of the R.A.F., having gone over to England either prior to the war or at the beginning of the war. As the minister knows, the difference between the pension that the British government pays to the widow and what the Canadian government normally pays in respect of a man killed in the service of his countiy is made up by the Canadian government. What happened in this case was that the British government paid a gratuity to the widow, and when the Canadian government started to pay the difference in the pension they deducted so much per month to take care of the gratuity that had been paid to the widow by the British government. The point I am trying to arrive at is this. In view of the fact that this government and other governments have taken the stand that the widow of a man killed in the service of his country is entitled to be pensioned at the rate this countiy pays, it seems to me that the same stand should be taken in connection with war service gratuities, and that this widow should be entitled to the war service gratuity she would have received if
War Appropriation-Air Services
her husband had joined the R.C.A.F. instead of going over to England and joining the R.A.F. at the beginning of the war. I draw that to the minister's attention because it seems to come within the purview of his department, and I think should be drawn to the attention of the Minister of Veterans' Affairs.
It is true that the difference between the R.A.F. and the R.C.A.F. gratuity will be paid by Canada if the airman was domiciled in Caanda at the outbreak of the war and returns to Canada and makes a claim within one year of his discharge. That brings up the question of the man who prior to the war had gone overseas and joined the R.A.F. or the British army and had ceased to be a Canadian citizen and had become a British subject. They do not qualify. Otherwise the man who had served ten or fifteen years in the British army would be entitled to come to Canada and say: Pay me the difference between the gratuity paid by the British government and the gratuity paid by Canada as if I had remained in Canada all my life.
I do not think the minister understood what I was getting at. The pension department claims that the gratuity is part of the pension, and in this particular case, when they came to pay the pension to the widow, they deducted the gratuity that had been paid. I wrote to the minister's department and asked if it was not only fair that the R.C.A.F. should pay the war service gratuity that would have been paid if the man had been serving as a Canadian with the R.C.A.F.
I quite agree with my hon. friend that the Canadian gratuity has nothing whatever to do with the pension, and that any such gratuity payment should not be deducted from the pension payable to the widow. If my hon. friend will let me have the particulars I shall be glad to look into the case.