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Introduction

Royal Air Force Ferry Command Finding Aids

by Ted Beaudoin

These FINDING AIDS can help thousands in many countries who would like to know more about this operation, for one reason or another; maybe because some member of his or her family was involved in its creation and operation, whether as a civilian who volunteered to serve as aircrew, ground crew or within administrative support; or one who was seconded to the Ferry Command from a military unit; or one who was attached to the FC from a bush-flying operation; or attached to the FC from an allied commercial airline carrier.

Many airlines from at least 23 allied nations were also involved. A number of air crew personnel also served as what became known as One-Trippers, such as selected graduates from the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Most of them ferried only one bomber across any one of the many ocean bridges created since 1940, while others stayed seconded to the FC to war’s end.

NOTE: By the end of the WW II, the BCATP had graduated 131,553 aircrew, including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators for the air forces of Australia, Canada, Great Britain and, New Zealand.
Source: Veterans Affairs, Canada web site,
www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/british-commonwealth-air-training-plan

Graduates of this phenomenal training plan, besides Canada’s Royal Canadian Air Force:
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 9,606; Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) 7,002; Royal Air Force (RAF) which included air force personnel from the following countries: Poland, 448; Norway, 577; Belgium and Denmark, 800; Czechoslovakia, 900; France, 2,600.

Given that family members who served as civilians in any capacity were also sworn to secrecy, the majority of them kept silent for many long years, leaving their children who have become today’s adults wondering just what it was their relatives or family friends did in the FC. Military personnel seconded to the operation were already under a military oath of loyalty to their King and country.

There are probably trainloads full of material produced and published since WW II on the allied air forces’ mastery of the air over all theatres of WW II. However, one can hardly fill the back seat of a family-size sedan with material on exactly how the allies gained this mastery of the air, in total support of allied naval and ground military forces, making it possible to bring the Second World War to a peaceful end by August 1945.

One of the most definitive, authoritative and easy-to-read books about this operation is Ocean Bridge, The History of RAF Ferry Command, written by Carl Christie (with Fred Hatch); one of its many covers at left. OceanBridgeimage