Saturday, December 3, 2011

Flying Vehicles: Canadian Army Vehicles in Flight, 1942

A number of pictures from 1942 show the enthusiasm for obtaining first flight for army vehicles in Camp Borden.  Borden was the centre of Canadian Armoured Corps activities in Canada during the war, and trained innumerable reinforcements for Canadian units overseas.  While some tactical manoeuvres were carried out at Borden, in the early years, the task was largely to turn recruits with basic or no training whatsoever into specialized tradesmen.  Courses on gunnery, wireless, and driving and maintenance sought to familiarize troopers with the tricks of the trade.  Many men arriving in England in the years before 1943, however, would be inadequately trained in the most basic trades.  This is no reflection on the efforts at Borden, but shows the massive expansion of the Canadian Armoured Corps, which possessed only a handful of Great War-era Renaults at the outbreak of hostilities.
 Above and Below: August 1942, The Tank - Canada

Title: Military personnel driving a jeep at Camp Borden Date: [ca. 1942]
Place: CAMP BORDEN (ONT.) Creator: Gordon W. Powley
Format: Black and white negative Reference Code: C 5-1
Item Reference Code: C 5-1-0-67-12 Ontario Archives
Getting army vehicles airborne cannot be considered a logical tactical manoeuvre.  Attempting to jump minefields is not standard operating procedure!  It is possible that the men are putting jeeps and carriers through their paces, but more likely that these flying jeeps were launched for publicity purposes.  The Canadian public grew increasingly anxious for their army to take part in the war, and especially after Hitler's panzerkampfwagens stormed across France in May 1940, mechanized warfare was on the mind.  The public conducted buy-a-tank campaigns as a way to show their support, raising money for the government to purchase armoured fighting vehicles.  If the Canadian public perceived modern war as highly mechanized, then pictures of high-flying vehicles may have served to bolster the idea that the Canadian army was doing its utmost to gain proficiency.  Whatever the motivation, the launching of army vehicles made for some great photos. Perhaps these army drivers should have joined the Royal Canadian Air Force?!

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