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RCAF Station Rivers

General Information

Base / Station:

  • Rivers

Province:

Period of Information:

  • 1939 – 1945
  • 1946 – 1971

Units:

  • No. 1 Air Navigation School
  • No 1 Central Navigation School
  • No. 2 Detachment No. 165 Transport Squadron
  • Joint Air School / Joint Air Training Centre
  • No. 417 Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron
  • No. 444 Squadron Air Observation Unit
  • Transport Support and Area Reconnaissance
  • No. 408 TacS & AR Squadron
  • No. 4 Advanced Flying School – OPENING DATE
  • 3 Flying School – OPENING DATE
RE 70-1787 Rivers, Manitoba, Aerial, Post War

Unit Duties / Information:

  • November 23, 1940 No. 1 Air Navigation School was moved to Rivers from Trenton. This school was formed to give navigators/bomb aimers advanced navigation training as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
  • May 11, 1942 No. 1 Air Navigation School was redesignated Central Navigation School after an amalgamation with No. 2 Air Navigation School from Pennfield Ridge, NB. The duties of this newly created school remained the same as those of the original school.
  • No. 2 Detachment of No. 165 Transport Squadron was formed at Rivers on April 23, 1943 with the task of initiating paratroop training in Canada. The unit worked in conjunction with the Canadian Army’s 1st Parachute Battalion.
  • In 1947 the Joint Air School was opened to train the Armed Forces in the techniques of air/army/navy operations. New airstrips were constructed in 1947 and 1948 and, at the time, made the airfield at Rivers one of the biggest in North America. The airstrip could be used as an emergency landing area for commercial airliners en route between Vancouver and Winnipeg.
  • June 1, 1947 No. 417 Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron formed. This squadron was used in close support training with army units and worked with the Joint Air School.
  • October 1, 1947 No. 444 Squadron was formed as an Air Observation Post Unit in cooperation with the Joint Air School. It assisted artillery units in training to range and direct artillery fire.
  • In March 1949 the Joint Air School was redesignated the Joint Air Training Centre, continuing with its previously tasked operations.
  • May 1, 1964 No. 8 Photographic Squadron moved to Rivers from Rockcliffe and redesignated Transport Support and Area Reconnaissance. March 15, 1966 the squadron was redesignated No. 408 TacS & AR Squadron. This unit was created to provide support to army units by providing aircraft and aircrew trained in weapons delivery.
  • Helicopter Conversion Flight was set up in 1947 to provide conversion training for RCAF pilots from fixed wing aircraft to helicopters which had been a new addition to the RCAF.
  • No. 4 Advanced Flying School evolved from the helicopter conversion flight and continued to train pilots in operating the helicopters. NO OPENING DATE.
  • No. 3 Flying School was opened to provide advanced training for pilots on the Expediter. NO OPENING DATE.

Aircraft Flown:

  • No. 1 ANS
    • Anson
  • No. 2 Detachment
    • Lockheed Lodestar and
    • Douglas Dakota
  • No. 444 / LAS
    • de Havilland Chipmunk,
    • Auster,
    • Cessna L-19 Bird Dog
  • No. 417
    • North American Harvard and
    • Mustang
  • No. 408
    • Lancaster,
    • T-33,
    • C-119
  • No. 3 FS
    • Expediter
  • HC Flight / No. 4 AFS
    • Sikorsky H5 and
    • H13

Financial Impact:

  • $1,617,635 (total cost of construction to 15 Mar 1942)
  • $5,000,000 loss to community upon closing.

Commanding Officers:

  • G/C W.A. Murray (as at Aug 43-Aug 1944) (Source Message to Base)

Date / Reason for closure:

  • The Central Navigation School was moved to Summerside PEI in the summer of 1945 and became dormant September 15, 1945 following the cessation of hostilities.
  • No. 2 Detachment ceased training June 30, 1945.
  • In 1953 the Central Navigation School, which had been radically reduced following WW II, was moved to Winnipeg for the purpose of training NATO aircrew.
  • August 1, 1948 No. 417 Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron at Rivers was disbanded.
  • April 1, 1949 No. 444 Squadron was disbanded when the Light Aircraft School assumed its duties.
  • September, 1964 No. 3 Flying School was moved to Portage la Prairie. ??WHEN WAS THIS SCHOOL FORMED AND WHAT WERE ITS TASKS??
  • No. 4 Advanced Flying Training School was moved to Portage in 1970.
  • April 1, 1970 No. 408 Squadron was disbanded.
  • In 1971 the base at Rivers was turned over to the Department of Indian Affairs as an Indian training center and then,
  • in 1981, it was transferred to the Department of Public Works. The property – including hangers, airstrip, nine-hole golf course, swimming pool, bowling alley, recreational facilities in addition to numerous other buildings was put up for public sale in 1983. It was eventually sold to a private businessman for just over $700,000.

Current Status:

  • abandoned airfield,
  • runways/taxiways still exist
  • most base buildings still exist

Location – Google Map

Photo Gallery

Cairn, Rivers, Manitoba – Photo by Nathan Kachur
Cairn Plaque, Rivers, Manitoba – Photo by Nathan Kachur
Aerial Photo – Rivers, Manitoba. National Defence Image REA 64-1
Aerial Photo – Rivers, Manitoba. National Defence Image REA 107-66
Site Diagram, 1 Air Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba – Photo Courtesy of Matt Heintz and Air Ministry Documents.

Station Magazine
“MTB – Message to Base”

Daily Diary – Index – No. 1 Air Navigation School

The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba has created a transcription of this Daily Diary.
Their web site is AirMuseum.ca


1940

School Relocated from Trenton, Ontario commencing the move 11 November 1940

November

December

1942

January

February

March

April

The School was re-designated No 1 Central Navigation School May 1942, Please see below for the No 1 Central Navigation School Daily Diary.

Daily Diary – Index – No. 1 Central Navigation School

The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba has created a transcription of this Daily Diary.
Their web site is AirMuseum.ca


1942

Prior to May 1942, No 1 Central Navigation School was No 1 Air Navigation School, please see above for the daily diary index of No 1 Air Navigation School.

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

1945

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Fatalities

This list was compiled from the entries in the Daily diaries of No 1 Air Navigation School, The Daily Diary of the Central Navigation School and other sources.  The list likely does not include all fatalities of personnel who died while stationed at RCAF Station Rivers, and likely includes some errors. Currently this list contains 40 personnel.

Aircraft List

Anson

DG872

6642

Course List – No 1 Air Navigation School

This List is incomplete and will be enhanced as my time permits and as requests are received.

Course NumberStart DateGraduation DateNumber of Students
Course 25 – Air Observer27 October 1941112 Graduates
Course 11 – Air Navigation Instructor7 November 1941
Course 26 – Air Observer11 November 1941
Course 27 – Air Observer27 October 194125 November 1941
Course 12 – Air Navigation Instructor10 November 1941
Course 28 – Air Observer10 November 1941
Course 29 – Air Observer25 November 1941
Course 1 – Air Observer Instructor25 November 1941
Course 2 – Air Observer Instructor7 December 1941

Course List – No 1 Central Navigation School

This List is incomplete and will be enhanced as my time permits and as requests are received.

NumberStart DateGraduation DateNumber of Students
Course 60BApproximately 24 June 1942Approximately 13 November 1942

For More information – External Links

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