March 29, 1945 (19th Parliament, 6th Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE ICING (Prime Minister):

As hon. members are
aware, ceremonies are being 'held today at stations of the Royal Canadian Air Force throughout Canada to mark the winding up of the British commonwealth air training plan. These ceremonies will be a vivid reminder of how world-changing in their effects have been the events which have filled up the months and years since the original agreement was signed on December 17, 1939, by representatives of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The air training plan has been one of the most striking achievements in Canada's contribution to the organization of victory. More than 150.000 men have graduated under the plan as trained aircrew. All of them have shared in that comradeship in arms which is perhaps the proudest possession among the great fraternity of fighting airmen. Not a few have laid down their lives in defence of the great cause of the world's freedom. They belong to the chivalry of God.
When the principle of a joint air training plan was first agreed upon, but a few weeks after the outbreak of war, the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain, said in a message to me that "with the facilities, which Canada possesses this cooperative effort may prove to be of the most essential and decisive character." The progress of the plan has attracted the commendation and praise of leaders of many of the united nations. Hon. members will recall that when the Right Hon. Winston Churchill spoke in this House of Commons chamber on December 30, 1941, he referred to "the wonderful and gigantic empire training scheme" as "another major contribution made by Canada". A little later, President Roosevelt spoke of Canada as "the rerodrome of democracy"
Throughout the perils and fortunes of war, fighting airmen trained in Canada have daringly and gallantly carried the battle for freedom with increasing vigour and effect far across and above enemy lines in all parts of the world.
A sense of history surrounds the winding up of an enterprise as extensive and powerful as the British commonwealth air training plan has been. May the comradeship in arms be carried by our fighting airmen far beyond the days of war into the years of peace. Through the sovereign air may they continue to pass, not as messengers of winged death to those who have betrayed their fellow men, but as harbingers of peace for all mankind.
I have received to-day from the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the Prime Minister of Australia and the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand messages which I think it is of importance to record and which I shall now read. First I shall read a message from the Acting Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Hon. Walter Nash:
The ceremonies to-day mark the conclusion of one of the most outstanding enterprises in the history of the commonwealth in this war. The scheme providing for the training in Canada of air and grounderew personnel from all parts of the commonwealth was bold and imaginative. The men who were responsible for its conception have done an outstanding service to the peoples of the commonwealth and the memory of their work will never be forgotten.
We cannot pay too high a tribute to the Canadian government and people for their work in the execution of this scheme. From all parts of the British commonwealth thousands of young men trained in Canada have joined the forces in Britain, and from bases there have assisted in the magnificent air defence of Britain and in the great bombing missions against Germany which are yielding such tangible results to-day. Men trained in Canada have operated on every front in this war. They have all executed their tasks with high distinction and great gallantry. They have given an earnest of the solid training which they received in Canada.
Not only has the air training plan played a signal part in the victorious progress of the nations of the commonwealth but it has brought closer together the peoples of our countries. We in New Zealand have grown nearer to the government and people of Canada and the friendships made by our men in Canadian homes-where they were ever hospitably received-will long endure. Though our union in this great venture comes to an end to-day our association will remain in the concluding years of the war and through all the years to come, intimate-and should this be possible-even closer than to-day. It will inspire the cooperation which if progress is to be maintained must prevail through all the years to come between the nations and peoples of all parts of the commonwealth and empire. We are, by working together, learning to live together.
Next is a message from Right Hon. John Curtin, Prime Minister of Australia:
Australia has been proud and privileged to have been a partner in the British commonwealth
Air Training Plan

air training scheme which is now terminating. Our men who have been trained there have an indelible mark in operation in every theatre to which they were subsequently posted and their record is one of which this nation is proud.
Australia salutes men of our fellow partners who have been trained under the scheme. The comradeship established by Australians with their fellow-Britishers is something which offers a great hope for peacetime cooperation.
The Australian people and government offer to the Canadian people and government their warmest thanks for the wonderful hospitality shown to Australia. It will never be forgotten.
Finally, there is the following message from the Right Hon. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain:
At this moment, when the memorable British commonwealth air training plan is being brought formally to an end, I send you, the Canadian government and the Royal Canadian Air Force, my warmest congratulations on the successful accomplishments of a spacious task imaginatively conceived and most faithfully carried out.
This master plan has done much to speed us along the road to victory. In Canada alone trained air crews, of whom more than half were Canadian, have been turned out at an average rate of twenty-five thousand a year over the last five years.
Moreover, the quality of the training has been outstanding and has shown itself triumphantly in superiority which we have gained over the enemy in every type of air combat.
In witnessing, as we now do, consummation of a fine achievement, it is fitting that we should recall the training which has been carried out with equal success, though necessarily on not so big a scale, in Australia, New Zealand, South Airica and Southern Rhodesia, and, of course, advanced training which has been carried out in this country for all parts of the British commonwealth. Ail alike have done magnificently.
I am glad to learn that, although the joint training plan is being wound up, the training in Canada of air crews from this country is to be continued and I thank the Canadian government and the Canadian people most warmly for this further help.

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