June 5, 1942



On the order for motions:


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


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

Mr. Speaker, I received yesterday afternoon from the Chief Justice, Sir Lyman Duff, who had been appointed the commissioner to inquire into the Hong Kong expeditionary force, a copy of the commissioner's report. I now desire to lay on the table of the house a copy of the letter from the commissioner transmitting his report which was made pursuant to order in council P.C. 1160 relating to the Hong Kong expedition, also a certified copy of a minute of the meeting of the committee of the privy council approved by His Excellency the Governor General, to-day, which minute records the submission of the report to his excellency for his excellency's information. I also wish to table a copy of the report itself.

The report is divided into two parts. There is the report proper, stating the principal conclusions and some ancillary matters, and an appendix in which the facts are fully stated and the evidence is fully discussed. The report and appendix combined cover in typewritten form some 115 pages of foolscap: the report proper is contained in twelve pages. Having regard to the importance and interest attaching to the report and the frequently expressed desire of hon. members to have its contents made known just as

Hong Kong Commission

soon as possible, it would, I believe, be meeting the wish of the house if I were to give hon. members at once the principal conclusions of the commissioner. They are contained in the report proper, which is as follows:

Your Excellency:

The order of Your Excellency, P.C. 1160, authorizing this inquiry is attached to this report. By it, I am directed to inquire into the organization, authorization and despatch of the Canadian expeditionary force to Hong Kong in October, 1941. I am instructed particularly to examine the selection and composition of that force, the training of its personnel, the provision and maintenance of its supplies, equipment and ammunition and the provision of transportation therefor. The order in council states that the purpose of the investigation is to determine whether there occurred any dereliction of duty or error in judgment by those whose duty it was to arrange for the authorization, organization and dispatch of the force that resulted in detriment or injury to the expedition or its members. My duty is to determine whether there occurred any dereliction of duty or error in judgment "on the part of any of the personnel or of any of the departments of the government whose duty it was to arrange for the authorization and dispatch of the expeditionary force" and whether, if such dereliction or error occurred, there resulted detriment or injury to the expedition or the troops comprising it. If it is found that such dereliction of duty or error in judgment occurred, it is my duty to fix the responsibility therefor .

In this, my report proper, I am stating my principal conclusions touching these matters, together with some salient facts. A full statement of the facts and a full discussion of the evidence appear in the appendix hereto which is to be considered as part of my report.

First, of the authorization of the expedition. The principal considerations prompting the invitation by the government of the United Kingdom to the government of Canada to send reinforcements to Hong Kong (two battalions of infantry with first reinforcements, and by subsequent communications a modified headquarters staff) are set forth in the telegram containing that invitation, dated the 19th of September, 1941. These considerations were largely those which influenced the Canadian government in accepting the invitation. I have been unable to obtain the consent of the government of the United Kingdom to the textual reproduction of this telegram.

The chief of the general staff having expressed to the government his opinion that there was no military objection to the acceptance of the proposal and that the reinforcements ought to be dispatched, the view of the war committee, as disclosed in the evidence of three ministers of the crown, the Minister of National Defence, the Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services, was that in the circumstances the only possible answer to the invitation was an affirmative one. The invitation was accordingly accepted and the expedition left Canada on the 27th of October.

The evidence discloses various reasons which appear to have actuated the war committee. In view of what other dominions had done in

Abyssinia and Libya it was Canada's turn to help; Canada ought to share in the responsibility for garrisoning the Pacific area; just as Australia was assisting in Malaya; the military value of the reinforcement would be out of all proportion to the numbers involved; the arrival of the contingent in Hong Kong would have a great moral effect in the whole of the far east and would reassure the Chinese as to the British intention to hold Hong Kong; the moral effect of the expedition might operate as a sensible influence for the preservation of peace there; at that juncture, in September, to gain time was beyond measure important; such an appeal from the predominant partner in the common cause could not be rejected.

I am permitted to reproduce a telegram from the War Office, of the 30th of October, after the expedition had left:

"We are very grateful to you for despatching your contingent to Hong Kong at such short notice. We fully realize the difficulties of mobilization and of distance which have had to be overcome. The moral effect of their arrival in November will be much greater than it would have been two months later."

The terms of this telegram assist us in forming an idea of the hopes and expectations with which the request of September was sent.

It would perhaps be a possible view that the propriety of this decision by the government is exclusively matter for consideration and discussion by parliament. Since, however, I am required to pass upon the question, it is my duty to say that I have no doubt the course taken by the government was the only course open to them in the circumstances.

It was urged by Mr. Drew that the change of government in Japan on the 16th of October-: by which a cabinet notoriously sympathetic with the axis powers came into office, ought to have led the Canadian government to reexamine the question of policy raised by the invitation of the United Kingdom. I had the advantage of reading a number of dispatches from the government of the United Kingdom, which I am not at liberty to reproduce, as well as a dispatch from the Canadian military authorities in England, which is reproduced in part, dealing with the probabilities concerning war with Japan, and my conclusion is that, having regard to the information of which the government was in possession, derived from the best sources of information open to them, nothing emerged before the departure of the expeditionary force on the 27th of October which could have been considered to be a justification for the withdrawal by Canada from the responsibility she had undertaken. On the contrary, the reasons which prompted the acceptance of the proposal continued to operate with possibly increasing force up to the sailing of the expedition.

Second, of the selection of the units for the expeditionary force. The responsibility for advising the Minister of National Defence with respect to the composition of the expeditionary force devolved upon General Crerar, the chief of the general staff. In a communication to the minister, in which his reasons for his recommendation are stated at large, he recommended that the Royal Rifles of Canada from Quebec and the Winnipeg Grenadiers from Manitoba should be designated. In this communication he said that a primary consideration in making the selection was "that the units selected should

Hong Kong Commission

be efficient, well-trained battalions, capable of upholding the credit of the dominion in any circumstances". He adds, "both" battalions designed "are units of proven efficiency".

So long as the minister's confidence in the chief of the general staff remained unimpaired, the minister would not overrule such a recommendation upon a purely military matter; and he cannot be justly criticized for acting upon it.

It is my duty, however, to consider whether there was any error of judgment in General Crerar's recommendation. Nobody, of course, was in as good a position as General Crerar for arriving at a sound judgment upon the selection of the units. His decision, moreover, was not a mere expression of opinion; it was the basis of his recommendation, made upon his responsibility as the professional adviser of the minister, upon which he expected the minister to act and knew almost at once that he was acting. The evidence, which is discussed in the appendix, satisfies me that General Crerar's recommendation was made upon sound grounds and that he is not chargeable with any error in judgment, still less with any dereliction of duty in relation to it.

The principal criticism directed against this selection concerns certain platoon weapons which are included in the establishment of a Canadian infantry battalion, but which, before October, 1941, were not available generally for training purposes to the Canadian active army. General Crerar says:

"There were, however, in Canada at the time in question a number of battalions (among which were Royal Rifles and Winnipeg Grenadiers) which, although somewhat handicapped by lack of supplies of certain platoon weapons (mortars and anti-tank rifles), in my opinion were generally adequately trained to undertake defensive responsibilities such as those in prospect in Hong Kong."

He adds:

"The short supply of mortars and antitank rifles was general in all units of the Canadian Army and not peculiar to the Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers."

This, he adds, is the natural and inevitable handicap of a country which is unprepared for war and has war brought upon it.

If this handicap, as General Crerar describes it, from the "short supply of mortars and anti-tank rifles", was to be a reason for exclusion from the expeditionary force in the case of the two battalions in question, then that reason was based upon a condition that, to repeat General Crerar's words, "was general in all units of the Canadian Army and not peculiar to the Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers" and must have applied equally to all such units; with the logical result of excluding all.

This ground of exclusion indeed, if a proper one, was (as is fully explained in the appendix) applicable with still greater force to Canadian battalions generally than to the two battalions in question. In point of fact, these battalions were in a more advantageous position in respect of these weapons than the units of the army generally. The Royal Rifles had the three-ineli mortar for training purposes at least as early as April, 1941. Although they had no ammunition, the mortar platoon was trained in its mechanism and use, tactically as well as otherwise. The mortar platoon of the Winnipeg

Grenadiers was also trained in the mechanism and use of the same weapon; and further enjoyed the advantage of having, even before leaving for the West Indies, a number of antitank rifles (without ammunition) for training.

There were, moreover, solid reasons for believing that any deficiencies in training in such platoon weapons (with which General Crerar declares he was fully acquainted) could be made good before any encounter with the enemy. The evidence lends support to the expressed conviction of General Crerar and General Stuart (the present chief of the general staff) that this was done.

General Crerar adds:

"With information at my disposal concerning units of Force C and knowing professional ability and character of Commanding Officer Brigadier Lawson, I would say that Force C was certainly fit to meet an attacking force, even in superior numbers, and to give a fine account of itself by December 8th."

General Crerar says:

"Information at my disposal during latter part of September, 1941, indicated that outbreak of hostilities with Japan was not imminent and that time would, in all probability, be available to carry out intensive, adequate and possible extensive training of Canadian forces at Hong Kong after their arrival."

General Stuart agrees with this.

The evidence relating to the training, equipment and personnel of the two battalions is fully examined in the appendix. For reasons which there appear, I am satisfied that in respect of weapon training, as in respect of other matters, this selection cannot be justly impeached as affected by any error in judgment.

Third, of the steps taken to bring the units up to strength, including first reinforcements. The selection of the units made, it became necessary to provide "first reinforcements" for both battalions and to bring the Winnipeg Grenadiers up to strength. Both battallions were warned for service on October 9th and the ship which had been provided by the British government to take the expedition to Hong Kong was to sail before the end of the month. In an interval of not more than two weeks it was necessary to obtain the required additions, as well as to attend to the multifarious tasks involved in equipping the expedition. It must be remembered that all these preparations had to go forward, not only with urgency, but also with extreme secrecy. It was decided to obtain the men needed for the Royal Rifles in military district No. 2, with headquarters in Toronto, and those for the Winnipeg Grenadiers in military district No. 10, with headquarters in Winnipeg.

All men who were added to the two battalions prior to the departure for Hong Kong volunteered for service overseas with the battalion to -which they went. They were, in the case of each battalion, accepted as satisfactory by the officer commanding, or by officers designated by him. The steps taken by the battalion and district officers were taken under the direction of and were approved by National Defence headquarters at Ottawa and, in particular, of and by Colonel P. Henessy, the director of organization in the adjutant-general's department, upon whom devolved the immediate

Hong Kong Commission

direction and responsibility for the task of bringing the units up to strength and providing first reinforcements, and who became the senior administrative officer of the expeditionary force.

There were added to the Royal Rifles 154 men from military district No. 2, of whom 52 came from the Midland regiment and 102 from advanced training centres at Camp Borden. There were added to the Winnipeg Grenadiers, 282 men and 12 officers from military district No. 10. In the appendix I have examined in detail the training and qualifications of each group of the men added.

A period of sixteen weeks has been laid down as the standard period to be devoted to the training of an infantry recruit before sending his overseas. In individual cases and by reason of the exigencies of shipping, this standard has on occasion not been enforced. Of the men added to the strength of the Hong Kong expedition, all but six per cent had undergone more than sixteen weeks' military training after enlistment in the active army. As I have already said, all these men volunteered for service with the expedition and all were accepted as suitable by officers of the battalion to which they were going.

A number of officers gave evidence of the great value of the personal selection of men for a unit by competent officers of that unit. For example, Lieutenant-General McNaughton said (and with him General Crerar and General Stuart agreed):

"If I were the commanding officer and had had the chance to select the men and know them individually-see that they were all right I would not have worried very much whether they had completed the basic training or not, because character is the thing we lay most stress on, and, if they were people who were suitable in my judgment to incorporate in the battalion, I would have been perfectly happy to have had them. ... I would not have worried from the point of view of military efficiency one iota, because, if they are the right type of men, even on the voyage over I would have completed their individual training." I

* 6

I accept this evidence of Generals McNaughton, Crerar and Stuart and of other officers to

the like effect as of great weight in deciding

upon the propriety of the steps taken to bring the force up to strength and to provide it with first reinforcements.

A considerable amount of evidence was directed to show the effect of adding to two well-trained battalions groups of lesser trained men numbering about 6 per cent of the strength of the two units. That evidence conclusively establishes that an efficient battalion is, and must be, capable of absorbing recruits, who have not fully completed their training, up to a much greater proportion of its strength than

6 per cent, without at all detracting from the efficiency of the battalion as a whole.

From the whole of the evidence (which is fully discussed in the appendix) I have reached the conclusion that there was no unfairness either to the battalions, or to the expedition as a whole, from the addition of this small percentage of men who had not fully completed the standard period of training at the time they were accepted by the battalion officers. Nor have I any doubt that these men who volunteered for the expedition in order to enter

upon active service would be quickly absorbed into their new units, or that in accepting them there was not any unfairness to the men themselves; and I am satisfied that the acceptance of these men had no detrimental effect upon the efficiency of either battalion. I have found no dereliction of duty or error in judgment in connection with the additions made to the strength of the two units.

In the course of my examination of the evidence I found that the inclusion of this small percentage of men was not the result of any shortage of fully trained men in Canada. It arose from the necessity of obtaining the men with great speed and secrecy and the impracticability in the time available of selecting them from a larger number of training centres.

Four, of the general organization and dispatch of the force, apart from the subject of mechanical transport. The facts are stated in the appendix and they require no comment here.

Five, of mechanical transport. With regard to the mechanical transport of the force, consisting of 212 vehicles, the troopship, the Awatea, provided by the British authorities had not sufficient cargo space to take them. The war office was most anxious that the troops should go on this ship, as another opportunity to sail was not likely to occur for two months. Shortly before the expedition sailed, space for the vehicles unexpectedly became available in an Amercian ship and that ship sailed with the vehicles on November 4, but did not reach its destination before the outbreak of hostilities, as she was diverted by the United States naval authorities. Had she been allowed to follow her normal route, she would have reached Hong Kong before the Japanese forces or before the Japanese attack opened. This miscarriage was not in any way due to any fault or mistake of any officer of the Canadian forces or of any official of the Canadian government.

There was a small amount of free cargo space in the ship carrying the force and some twenty vehicles were sent to Vancouver to fill it. These, how'ever, did not arrive before the ship sailed. Had more energy and initiative been shown by the quartermaster-general's branch, charged with the movement of the equipment for the force, the availability of this space would have been ascertained earlier and the vehicles would have arrived in time for loading on October 24; and there is, in my opinion, no good reason for thinking that, had they arrived at that time, they would not have been taken on board. There is no evidence, however, that the troops suffered through lack of them, or that they were not supplied at Hong Kong. The facts are fully examined in the appendix.

After an exhaustive inquiry at the hearings and a lengthy study of the evidence in the appendix of this report, I am able to add a general conclusion about the Hong Kong expedition as a whole.

In October, 1941, the Canadian military authorities undertook a task of considerable difficulty. Subject only to my observation concerning twenty of the two hundred and twelve vehicles of the mechanical transport, they performed that task well. Canada sent forward, in response to the British request, an expedition that was well-trained and (subject as aforesaid, in so far as shipping facilities allowed) well provided with equipment. In spite of the disaster that overtook it soon after its arrival in Hong Kong, it was an expedition of which Canada can and should be proud.

Air Training Plan

The war came upon us when we were unprepared for it. In such circumstances, recalling military history, one would perhaps not be greatly surprised to discover that even two years after its commencement some military enterprise had been undertaken which had proved to be ill conceived, or badly managed. The Hong Kong expedition falls under neither description.

All of which is most humbly submitted by Your Excellency's most humble obedient servant


L. P. Duff.

His Excellency, _ The Governor General in Council, Ottawa, 4th June, 1942. With the consent of the house, Mr. Speaker, I would move: That 1,500 copies in English and 500 copies in French of the report made by Right Hon. Sir Lyman P. Duff, G.C.M.G., a commissioner appointed to inquire into all matters respecting the dispatch of a Canadian expeditionary force to the crown colony of Hong Kong, be printed in blue book form and that standing order 64 be suspended in relation thereto.


Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

As this is to be on the record, I hardly see the point in printing it, although I have no great objection. I rise primarily to ask if the evidence will be tabled and made available. I have not had a copy of it, but I do not know that I am entitled to it.

Topic:   L. P. Duff.

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



There will

probably be a demand for copies of the commissioner's report outside of the house as well as by members of parliament. The report and the appendix could be distributed1 in a more acceptable form if they were put out as a blue book. The report proper, which contains the conclusions I have read, will be printed in Hansard, and the report together with the appendix would be printed as a blue book. As to the evidence, I should have to inquire of the chief justice as to whether the evidence would be available to anyone. I assume that if it had been intended that it should be available, it would1 have been presented with the report. I believe it will not be available.

Topic:   L. P. Duff.

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I was

surprised that it was not tendered with the report, because that is the usual practice with all royal commissions. I think it should be tabled.

Topic:   L. P. Duff.

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



Of necessity this particular inquiry conducted by the Chief Justice of Canada was in the nature of a secret inquiry. Any publication of the evidence would certainly disclose many military secrets which should not be disclosed.

Topic:   L. P. Duff.

Motion agreed to.




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


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

Mr. Speaker, the Ottawa

air training conference has now concluded its deliberations. It was in reality two conferences. The first conference embraced fourteen of the united nations and was primarily concerned with the coordination of air training in north America. Immediately following this conference the delegations of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand joined with representatives of the Canadian government in a conference to negotiate a renewal of the British commonwealth air training agreement of 1939.

Although the existing agreement does not expire until March 31, 1943, it had been considered desirable to lose no time in making adequate provision for its extension. A new agreement was concluded this morning by the heads of the four delegations; the United Kingdom government being represented by the Right Hon. Harold Balfour; Canada, by my colleague, the Minister of National Defence for Air; Australia, by the Hon. Sir William Glasgow; New Zealand, by the Hon. Frank Langstone.

I should like now to read to the house the formal announcement of the new agreement which will replace the agreement signed on December 17, 1939. A similar announcement is being made in all four countries participating in the British commonwealth air training plan.

A new agreement for the renewal and expansion of the British commonwealth air training plan was reached this morning in Ottawa. This brings to a successful conclusion the deliberations of delegations from Canada, the United- Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, the four partners in the plan.

The new agreement replaces that which established the original British commonwealth air training plan on December 17, 1939.

Aircrews by the thousands, the product of that plan, now man the planes which in increasing numbers are carrying the war to the enemy. The plan has undergone changes and modifications. To meet changing war conditions its original scope was greatly increased during 1940. Moreover, because of the increased difficulty in training in combat areas, and because more and more aerodrome space has been required for operational squadrons, a considerable part of the Royal Air Force training organization previously functioning in England, has been transferred to this country by agreement with Canada.

Air Training Plan

The original British commonwealth air training plan agreement was timed to expire on March 31, 1943. The success of the plan, the necessity of adapting it to new developments, and the need for long-term planning, led the four participating governments to undertake the discussions for renewal of the agreement which has just been concluded.

The United Kingdom has been represented by the Right Honourable Harold: Balfour, M.P., Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Air, and the Right Honourable Malcolm MacDonald, M.P., High Commissioner to Canada; Australia by the Honourable Sir William Glasgow, High Commissioner to Canada; New Zealand by the Honourable Frank Langstone, High Commissioner to Canada; and Canada by the Honourable C. G. Power, M.P., Minister of National Defence for Air and the Honourable J. L. Ralston, M.P., Minister of National Defence.

The new agreement will take effect on July 1, 1942, and will terminate on March 31, 1945. Basically the plan remains the same. The original objective, of training in the speediest and most effective manner, the maximum number of aircrews to meet the demands of war, is still its goal. On a greatly expanded scale the extensive facilities in Canada will continue to be used by all four parties to the agreement. Australia and New Zealand, whose domestic air training has been increased because of the extension of the war to the Pacific area, will endeavour to participate in the expanded plan much the same as before. Canada will continue to supply a substantial proportion of the trainees, whilst the total number of pupils sent under the United Kingdom quota, including men drawn from various parts of the empire and from the European members of the united nations, will be augmented. In sum, many more men will be trained in Canada under the new agreement than were provided for in the original plan, as expanded from time to time.

Under the new agreement, there will be complete coordination of air training in Canada. The existing schools of the Royal Air Force in Canada, already organized, will retain their identity, but will for purposes of administration continue to be integrated with those of the air training plan under the control of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Further Royal Air Force units subsequently established in the dominion, will come under the plan. As a result there will be a single pool of trained personnel ready to be drawn upon as needed.

The new agreement provides moreover that there will be an increase in the number of

Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons overseas. In Canada, training on operational types will be on a scale much greater than hitherto. This is a notable development. It will mean that pupils will be trained in Canada, from the very beginning to the point where they will be ready to join Canadian squadrons, in action, against the enemy.

The new agreement provides for a redefinition of inter-governmental policy on many points relating to air training. Within the limitations of security these may be summarized as follows:

Finance: The costs of air training under the new agreement from July 1, 1942, to March 31, 1945, are estimated at almost one and one-half billion dollars. This will include all air training within Canada administered by the Dominion of Canada under the British commonwealth air training plan as expanded, including operational training units and R.A.F. transferred units.

The governments of Australia and New Zealand will each bear the cost of training of their respective pupils received into the plan. The United Kingdom will assume 50 per cent of the estimated cost less payments made by Australia and New Zealand. Canada will assume the remaining 50 per cent of the total as its share.

The United Kingdom's share of the costs will as far as practicable be in the form of a contribution of certain aircraft, engines, spare parts, technical equipment, bombs and ammunition and other supplies as required by the administrator of the plan.

Provisioning of aircraft and equipment. While the liability for providing equipment of the types referred to rests with the United Kingdom, the task of determining the nature of the equipment and the quantities required for agreed establishments will be the responsibility of Canada as administrator of the plan. In the past, this responsibility has, of course, rested largely with the United Kingdom in respect of the Royal Air Force schools and the change is, therefore, an indication of the greater degree of coordination of these schools to which reference has already been made. The willingness of the United Kingdom to entrust the Royal Canadian Air Force with increased responsibility in this important field of provisioning is a tribute to the Royal Canadian Air Force made by those best able to judge its efficiency in this regard.

Home war needs. Full allowance has been made, under the new agreement, to supply aircrews as necessary for the maintenance of any additional numbers of operational squadrons which may be retained in Canada for home defence.

Air Training Plan

Royal Air Force units in Canada. Royal Air Force units in Canada will be administered by the Royal Canadian Air Force in the same manner as units constituted under the British commonwealth air training plan. Units now established, will preserve their Royal Air Force identity; all new training capacity created at the request of the United Kingdom will come under the British commonwealth air training plan. Present arrangements for consultation with the United Kingdom air liaison mission will be retained.

Royal Air Force elementary flying training schools, now established in Canada will be civilianized on similar lines to British commonwealth air training plan elementary schools, except that the flying instructional staff and certain specialist ground instructional posts will normally be filled by Royal Air Force personnel in uniform.

Including the trainees from the United Nations and various parts of the empire, the number of trainees sent to Canada by the United Kingdom will be greatly increased.

Control and administration of Royal Canadian Air Force overseas. The agreement provides for important changes in the administration and control of Royal Canadian Air Force personnel overseas. Provision had already existed for consultation on major operational questions. There will now also be a much closer liaison with regard to all other questions affecting the employment of Canadian personnel.

Royal Canadian Air Force overseas headquarters is given general supervision over Royal Canadian Air Force personnel attached to the Royal Air Force, and, subject to operational expediency, may recall any officer or airman so attached to serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Also subject to operational expediency the concurrence of Royal Canadian Air Force overseas headquarters is to be obtained in the selection of commanding officers for Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons and in posting of Royal Canadian Air Force officers of the rank of wing commander and above.

The Royal Canadian Air Force personnel reception centre in the United Kingdom is to be functionally controlled by Royal Canadian Air Force overseas headquarters. A Royal Canadian Air Force establishment will be formed in England to which Royal Canadian Air Force officers and airmen awaiting disposal, or convalescing after illness, may be sent.

National Identification. Under both the original and the new agreement, the United Kingdom government undertakes that pupils

of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, after training is completed, and so far as is practicable, shall be identified with their respective dominions. So far as Canada is concerned, the new agreement proposes to implement this purpose, as operational considerations permit, through the constitution overseas of squadrons and higher formations with all-Canadian personnel, commanded by Canadian officers; and through the policy of posting Canadian personnel to squadrons in which Canadians already are serving. At present, Canadian personnel is scattered in over 600 Royal Air Force units.

(1) Bomber Squadrons. A Canadian bomber group to consist of R.C.A.F. bomber squadrons is to be formed and will be under the command of R.C.A.F. officers. Canada will furnish the ground crews for these formations. In preparation for the formation of the Canadian bomber group, and in order that they may gain the necessary experience of group control, a number of R.C.A.F. officers will be appointed supernumerary to posts at group headquarters. In order to keep the implementation of this policy to form a Canadian bomber group under constant review, a Canadian bomber group progress committee will be set up by air ministry. There will be Canadian representation in this committee.

(2) Fighter Squadrons. It has been recognized that by reason of operational requirements, fighter squadrons must necessarily remain under the control of the commander-in-chief, R.A.F., fighter command. In pursuance, however, of the objective of national identification, R.C.A.F. fighter squadrons, so far as possible, will operate from stations which will be made R.C.A.F. stations, manned by Canadian staffs.

(3) Coastal Command Squadrons and Army Cooperation Squadrons Overseas. Canadian coastal command squadrons overseas are to be manned as far as possible with Canadian personnel. Army cooperation squadrons allotted to Canadian army formations will be Canadian squadrons.

Commissioning of Aircrew. The general principle, is established that all pilots, observers, air bombers, and navigators, considered suitable according to the standards of their own countries, and who are recommended for commissions, will in fact be commissioned. The existing percentages governing the number of commissions given to wireless operator (air gunners) and air gunners will be maintained, but some flexibility will be permitted

Air Training Plan

to ensure that airmen in these categories with the necessary qualifications are not excluded from commissions on account of the quota.

Transfers Between Air Forces. The partners in the agreement will consider applications of individuals for transfer to the air forces of their own nationality.

The new agreement reaffirms and reinforces the determination and capacity of the nations of the British commonwealth to maintain the training of aircrews on a vast and increasing . scale. It emphasises the role of Canada, as "the airdrome of democracy", in this task.

The original training agreement was conceived in a spirit of vigorous enterprise. The agreement concluded this morning will be carried through in the same spirit and will play its part in building up with certainty and with speed air forces of overwhelming and terrifying strength.

Here the agreed statement ends.

My colleague, the Minister of National Defence for Air, expects to be able to table in the house next week the report of the Ottawa air training conference, at which representatives of the united nations were present, and also the agreement for renewal of the British commonwealth air training plan, which was signed this morning.

I believe hon. members would wish me, on their behalf and on behalf of the Canadian people, to express a word of appreciation to the delegations from our sister nations of the British commonwealth upon the speedy and businesslike conclusion of the new agreement. Their fine achievement is the result of the frankest and most cordial deliberations. It was particularly appropriate that the United Kingdom delegation should have been presided over by the Right Honourable Harold Balfour, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Air, who shared in the negotiation of the original agreement, and whose special knowledge and continuous association with the enterprise were of exceptional value to the conference.

The wisdom of establishing the gigantic British commonwealth air training plan in Canada has been abundantly demonstrated. The most severe test came quite early; it was in the spring and summer of 1940 when the prospect of immediate danger might well have discouraged long range planning for ultimate victory. But Canada never wavered in her belief in British courage and British resolution, and in ultimate victory. This belief found its expression in our determination not only to go ahead with the plan, but also to speed up and

expand its development. This supreme act of faith was shared to the full by the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, the other partners in the plan.

To-day, the governments of Australia and New Zealand find themselves in a position very similar to that of Britain in the summer of 1940. They have displayed like courage and resolution, and have made the same decision. The fact that, despite the approach of war to their own shores, Australia and New Zealand have decided to continue as active partners is another striking proof of the soundness of the original project. It is also a further earnest of the determination of their peoples to let nothing divert them from the main objective: the achievement of victory.

Hon. members will, I am sure, join with me in an expression of sincere and wholehearted appreciation of the part taken by the Minister of National Defence for Air as head of the Canadian delegation, and chairman of the conference. We all know how close, almost from its inception, the British commonwealth air training plan has been to his heart. He and his able civilian and service advisers have borne the brunt of Canada's share in negotiating the new agreement.

The gigantic and devastating raids over Germany, of the past few days, particularly those upon Cologne and Essen, have stirred the hearts of the peoples of the united nations. A very large proportion of the gallant young airmen from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who took part in these raids, received their training in Canada in schools of the British commonwealth air training plan. There could be no more dramatic or convincing evidence of the magnitude and effectiveness of the plan.

I shall be availing myself of a particularly appropriate moment, if in concluding these remarks, I express on behalf of the parliament of Canada the unbounded admiration and appreciation of all its members of the gallant and important role 'which Canadian airmen so prominently played in the recent raids. Not only members of parliament but the Canadian people as a whole are filled with admiration of their achievements. We shall ever remember with gratitude what our brave young airmen are so valiantly doing to defend the security of their own Canadian homeland, and to preserve freedom in all parts of the world.

House of Commons




On the orders of the day:


James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)


Hon. J. L. ILSLEY (Minister of Finance):

I wish to announce that the government has approved the appointment of Mr. James Matson, Montreal, manager of the Royal Insurance company in Canada and of the Liverpool, London and Globe Insurance company and associated companies in Canada, to act as supervisor of war damage insurance. This appointment cannot be confirmed until Bill 56, at present before the House of Commons, has been passed, but in the meantime no time is being lost to organize the scheme of war damage insurance and arrange for its being put into effect as soon as possible after the passage of the bill.

In view of recent events emphasizing the possibility of enemy attack, the government is taking all necessary steps to provide the facilities whereby war damage insurance may be written by the established fire insurance companies and their agents throughout Canada, as soon as possible after the enactment by parliament of the pending legislation. It should be pointed out that any steps taken at the present time, including the appointment of Mr. Matson, and any other personnel, is purely tentative at the moment, and it is hoped that the public will not hamper their organizational work by besieging them with applications for war damage insurance. No war damage insurance can be written under the scheme until the pending legislation has been passed, and after allowing a short period thereafter for completion of the organizational work. The government will announce in advance when the scheme is ready and applications for war damage insurance can be received. In the meantime, until the legislation is passed and the scheme is fully organized there is the promise of protection by the government to the extent indicated by clause 6 of Bill 56, namely:

If any person, during the period between the tw'enty-fourth day of December, one thousand nine hundred and forty-one, and the thirtieth day after the commencement of this act, both inclusive, has sustained or sustains loss from war damage, and if he makes application to the minister on or before such thirtieth day aforesaid, to enter into a contract of insurance in respect of such property, the minister may enter into a contract of insurance in respect of such property effective from the beginning of the twenty-fourth day of December, one thousand nine hundred and forty-one, but the amount of the indemnity payable under any such contract in respect of war damage to such property during such period shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars.




June 5, 1942