Air Crew Association
During the Second World War, some 350,000 Allied airmen, were trained through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
This diverse group, drawn from the nations of the British Commonwealth and the United States of America, were trained to fulfil the need for crews to man the aircraft which eventually proved victorious against the German, Italian and Japanese enemy forces. These airmen bonded together to form aircrews and developed a special esprit de corps.
Following the war the Air Gunners, who as a group had experienced a particularly rough time during operations, joined together to form an association for comradeship. In 1977 the Air Gunners Association held a meeting in the small town of Wool in Dorset, England and realising that no Air Gunners had been trained for the past 20 years, decided to invite other aircrew members to join them in an organisation that became the Air Crew Association.
A Historical Perspective
The idea took time to develop strength but in the first 5 years it attracted 2,500 mainly former Second World War aircrew and enlisted colleagues in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Cyprus and the USA.
By its 10th birthday the Association boasted some 9,000 members and 70 branches. The ACA Council organises a number of corporate functions such as an AGM/Reunion Weekend, a Commemorative Church Service at the RAF Church of St Clement Danes in London, an annual Branch Delegates Meeting and a Family Service at the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, England.
In 1985 the Royal Canadian Air Force ex-Prisoner of War (POWs) held an International Assembly in Calgary. More than 900 former POWs attended and from this event a local group was formed. Meetings were held weekly and were so popular that the membership was expanded to those having earned a flying wing in an Allied Air Force.
In 1987 this became known as the Aircrew Association Southern Alberta Branch. Membership includes doctors, lawyers, those responsible for helping develop the oil wealth of Alberta and many successful businessmen. They are a group of highly decorated veterans and it should be noted that some of their fellow Air Force comrades have been recognised by the city by naming major thorough-fares and buildings after them. The Aerospace Museum here in Calgary also provides a wealth of information on the part played by members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The local branch held meetings every Thursday starting at 11 am at the Mewata Armouries in Calgary. A common thread of service served and survival keep the members together and after the usual beverage and conversation in the Officer’s Mess they move into the dining room for lunch.
Business matters were discussed followed by a speaker, either one of their own or a guest from outside. Many distinguished persons have addressed the members in the more than twenty years that this branch was in existence.
During the year a number of activities are organised including golf tournaments, visits to the many museums in the city and in the province, support for the local Juno Beach Academy of Canadian Studies that emphasizes the part played by Canadian Veterans in previous conflicts, plus giving aid to the local Veterans Food bank.
Each year a Christmas Party is organised with live music and local entertainers and held in a local legion. Well over a hundred members and their ladies attend. Respect is shown to deceased members by mass attendance at funerals and the placing of a poppy by each member on a cushion placed at the front of the church.