Three thousand miles across a hunted ocean they came, wearing on the shoulder of their tunics the treasured name, “Canada,” telling the world their origin. Young men and women they were, some still in their teens, fashioned by their Maker to love, not to kill, but proud and earnest in their mission to stand, and if it had to be, to die, for their country and for freedom.
One day, when the history of the twentieth century is finally written, it will be recorded that when human society stood at the crossroads and civilization itself was under siege, the Royal Canadian Air Force was there to fill the breach and help give humanity the victory. And all those who had a part in it will have left to posterity a legacy of honour, of courage, and of valour that time can never despoil.
-from a speech by Father J.P. Lardie, Chaplain 419, 428 Squadron at the dedication of the RCAF Memorial at Middleton St. George, 15 June, 1985
Although hundreds of Canadians were serving with Bomber Command in the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of war, the Canadian involvement was one that grew as the war progressed. Through the training of large numbers of aircrew in Canada by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the number of Canadians serving in all aspects of the air war increased dramatically and members of the Royal Canadian Air Force played a major role. Many members of the RCAF served in Royal Air Force squadrons.
One third of all Bomber Command aircrew were Canadians.
In October of 1942, No.6 Group of Bomber Command was created to be completely manned by Canadian officers and men and at the end of the war it had grown to fourteen squadrons. No. 405 Squadron RCAF finished the war serving with No. 8 Group RAF, the Pathfinder Force.
The Canadian effort reached its peak in 1944 when 25,353 sorties were flown. In total, No. 6 Group flew a total of 40,822 sorties during the war. 271,981 hours were flown, a total of 126,122 tons of bombs were dropped and 814 aircraft lost. Eight thousand decorations for bravery were awarded to No. 6 Group aircrew.
Canadian aircrew veterans remember their efforts with great pride as expressed by Jerry Fultz, “I had the honour and pleasu
Royal Canadian Air Force Bomber Squadrons At the end of the War
Canadian Bomber Command Losses Statistics
The Museum’s Best Estimate for the Number of Canadians Killed While Serving with Bomber Command is 10,250.
RCAF (Overseas) Bomber Casualties by Aircraft Type [Hugh Halliday Statistics]
- Halifax 3675 (32.8 %);
- Lancaster 3349 (29.9 %);
- Wellington 2586 (23.1 %);
- Stirling 523 (4.7 %);
- Whitley 280 (2.5 %);
- Mosquito 259 (2.3 %);
- Blenheim 127 (1.1 %);
- Manchester 123 (1.1 %)
- Hampden 296 (2.7 %);
These numbers include non-Bomber Command operations and aircraft such as the Mosquito and Blenheim in non-bomber variants.
These numbers include 379 Americans who were serving in the RCAF.
These numbers do not include Canadians in the RAF.
RCAF Airmen killed in RCAF Squadrons by Aircraft Type [Hugh Halliday Statistics]
- Halifax 2407 (57.4 %);
- Hampden 92 (2.2 %);
- Lancaster 985 (23.5 %);
- Wellington 707 (16.9 %);
Bomber Command Training Units, RCAF Squadrons, and RAF Squadrons [BCMC Statistics]
- 1498 (14.0 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed training at Bomber Command OTU’s and HCU’s.
- 4255 (39.9 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed on RCAF Bomber Command Squadrons.
- 4906 (46.0 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed on RAF Bomber Command Squadrons.
Bomber Command Casualties by Year [BCMC Statistics]
- 1939 -10 (0.1 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed.
- 1940 -73 (0.6 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed.
- 1941 -532 (5.0 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed.
- 1942 -1809 (17.0 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed.
- 1943 -3031 (28.4 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed.
- 1944 -4081 (38.3 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed.
- 1945 -1121 (10.5 %) Canadians and other RCAF killed.
Visit Canada’s Bomber Command Virtual Memorial to search for individual names, squadrons, and dates.