While my humble venture into entrepreneurship was initially born out of necessity (but thankfully fuelled by a small but devoted clientele), "CanMilAir Decals" has always been dedicated to the memory of my father. 
 
His intense pride in the Canadian military and his passion for its aeronautical aspects, instilled within me at a very young age my own admiration of our military in general, and a love of its air elements in particular. 

In his later years he would become a strong proponent of veteran's advocacy and a leader within Canadian veterans organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Corps Association, so should you note a poppy on my printed material, you will now understand why it is there.

Lest We Forget  

In memory of my father . . . 
 
Lewis W. (Pat) Burns
 
1894 - 1976

 

In Flanders' Fields
by Major John McCrae

In Flanders' Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' Fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.

 

 

Pte. Lewis Burns - 1916

Lewis W. ("Pat") Burns was born in Boissevain, Manitoba on September 13, 1894. He enlisted with the 222nd Canadian Infantry Battalion (Southern Manitoba) on 17 April 1916. The Battalion left Winnipeg by train on 1 November and arrived in Halifax, N.S. twelve days later. The next afternoon RMS Olympic (with approx. 7000 on board), with an escort of Royal Navy destroyers, slipped away and headed out into the North Atlantic. They arrived in Liverpool, England on 21 November 1916. The following months were filled with training.

In January 1917 the 222nd was disbanded and its officers and men were transferred to the 19th Reserve Battalion, to be used as replacements for existing fighting units already in action.

Pte. Burns was in a draft of replacements that was shipped over to France in May 1917 where he joined the 46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan) which had been in action since August 1916. The battalion spent the next three months taking turns with the 50th, 85th and 49th Battalions on the front lines at Arras. His first "over-the-top" combat experience was during the Canadian assault on Hill 70 and the French town of Lens in August 1917, where he became a casualty of German Mustard gas. After a short convalescence he returned to active duty and in October was at Passchendaele, where the Canadian Corps suffered 80% casualties. It was during the battle of Passchendaele that he was recommended by his commanding officer to receive the Military Medal for "bravery in battle". For reasons unknown, the medal request was denied. Of the 600 men in the 46th Battalion at Passchendaele that day, 403 became casualties. 

Promotion to Lance Corporal came in November 1917.

Following the battle of Passchendaele, the battalion spent the next two months out of the lines resting and training the new replacements. 

The 46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan) was known as the  "The Suicide Battalion". From its origins in February 1915 until its disbandment in 1919,  a grand total of 5,374 men had served in the battalion. 
  
Of these men 4,917 were either killed or wounded. That is a casualty rate of over 90%! 
  
The 46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan) received an amazing 16 battle honours in just 27 months!


Rifle Section
No. 1 Platoon, C Company
46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan)
10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
Canadian Expeditionary Force
France 1917

Rifle Section
BACK ROW  (Left to Right)
   
FRONT ROW  (Left to Right)
LambkilledOct 26     Munroewounded  Oct 26
Deanwounded  Aug 21     Cpl. LeewoundedSept 18
SorensonmissingOct 26    Capt. Brockelbank  killedOct 26
HusbandwoundedOct 26    Sgt. Rogers  
Handigord  woundedAug 21    
PierceykilledOct 26    
BurnsgassedAug 21    
BeviswoundedAug 21    

 
222nd Cap Badge
Cap Badge for 222nd Canadian Infantry Battalion 1915-1917
46th Cap Badge
Cap Badge for 46th Canadian Infantry Battalion
46th Collar Tabs
Uniform Collar Tabs for 46th Battalion
46th Shoulder Badges
46th Battalion Shoulder Badges
46th Battalion
Unit Distinguishing Patch for the 46th Infantry Battalion
Issued to units in the field as a means for quick identification.
Battalion Band
Badge identifying members of the Battalion Band.
Pte. Burns played a French Horn in the 222nd Band.
Lewis Gun
Badge for Lewis Gun Section in the 46 Battalion.
L/Cpl. Burns commanded a Lewis Gun Section composed of 9 men.

 

RFC Fed up with the endless mud and horrors of trench warfare, L/Cpl. Burns applied for a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps on Feb 1, 1918 and received his orders in early May to report for elementary training at the RAF aerodrome in Hastings, England.

The decision to leave the mud and trenches of France probably saved his life, as "...the 46th Battalion was practically annihilated at Cambrai" during the battle of Canal du Nord on 27 and 28 September 1918. In the month of September alone, the 46th suffered a total of 680 casualties. Breaking through the Hindenburg Line had cost the 46th Battalion more than Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele put together.

Upon completion of his training in November 1918, he received orders taking him to Aboukir, Egypt for his advanced flying training and when the Armistice was signed on November 11th, Flt. Cadet Burns was on a train travelling through Italy.

Flying training officially concluded with his commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force on May 28, 1919 and he left Egypt bound for England in mid June. It wasn't until the middle of September that he was able to board the RMS Megantic for the voyage to Canada and finally on September 25th he arrived back in Winnipeg. He had been gone for almost three years.

 
RFC
These matching eagles were worn on the lower uniform sleeves. They appear in the previous photo just above the rank stripe.
RFC Wings
RAF Wings
RAF Wings
These are some "wings" from his early uniforms.
A reproduction Royal Flying Corps on the left and his original Royal Air Force on the right.
The ornate one on the bottom is for a dress uniform.

 
1914 - 1918 British War Medal 1914 - 1918 Victory Medal Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal - 1953
You can click on the individual medals to learn more about each one.


EFTS Badge
One of Canada's greatest contributions in World war II was with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

From April 1940 until March 1945, the BCATP supplied the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force with 137,000 pilots, navigators, bombardiers, wireless operators, flight engineers, and air gunners. Aerodromes and training schools sprouted up all over Canada and by 1945, there were 360 schools on 231 sites across the country.

One such school was the #20 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) at RCAFS Oshawa, Ontario. An "Elementary Flying Training School" gave a recruit 50 hours of basic aviation instruction on a simple bi-plane trainer like the Tiger Moth or Fleet Finch. Pilots who showed promise went on to advanced training at a "Service Flying Training School". Others students went on to different specialties such as wireless, navigation, bombing or gunnery.

With his application for active service in the Royal Canadian Air Force rejected due to his age, L.W. (Pat) Burns "was taken on strength" at # 20 EFTS on 23 June, 1940 as a civilian instructor and served in that capacity until the station was disbanded on 15 November, 1944.

A review of his log books shows that he gave basic ground school lectures in such topics as "Theory of Flight" and "Airframes", and his first entry as a Link Trainer Instructor was on 3 July, 1940 with his last being on 20 October, 1944.

He logged a total of 4,234.25 hours as a Link Trainer Instructor, and each of his students would have received between 10 - 12 hours of of instruction.

Shown below are his wings from his time at #20 EFTS and a pair of RCAF wings..

EFTS Wings
RCAF Wings
Link Trainer
This is a picture of a Link Trainer of a type used during WW II for teaching pilots the proper procedures of instrument flight, such as using a radio range for determining an airplane's position in bad weather and a subsequent let-down to a field for landing.

The Link was mounted on a base which permitted the trainer to turn, tilt and bounce as the instructor (who sat at a desk outside the trainer) created rough air and put the pilot through simulated flight conditions. An operator sat at the desk and transmitted radio signals which the "pilot" in the link heard though his ear-phones.

The pilot "flew" the link through various turns, climbs, and descents, and the link's "course" was traced in red ink by the remote "bug" on a map on the table. After a flight was completed, the pilot could study the red-line course to determine what he might have done incorrectly.

There was no AIR CONDITIONING in these trainers...and on a summer day, it got pretty hot inside this "box". Many a young trainee almost crashed and burned--not from lack of flying skills, but from the heat!

Today, we use computers!

 

Reply to Flanders' Fields
by John Mitchell

Oh! sleep in peace where poppies grow;
The torch your falling hands let go
Was caught by us, again held high,
A beacon light in Flanders' sky
That dims the stars to those below.
You are our dead, you held the foe,
And ere the poppies cease to blow,
We'll prove our faith in you who lie
In Flanders' Fields.

Oh! rest in peace, we quickly go
To you who bravely died, and know
In other fields was heard the cry,
For freedom's cause, of you who lie,
So still asleep where poppies grow,
In Flanders' Fields.

As in rumbling sound, to and fro,
The lightning flashes, sky aglow,
The mighty hosts appear, and high
Above the din of battle cry.
Scarce heard amidst the guns below,
Are fearless hearts who fight the foe,
And guard the place where poppies grow.
Oh! sleep in peace, all you who lie
In Flanders' Fields.

And still the poppies gently blow,
Between the crosses, row on row.
The larks, still bravely soaring high,
Are singing now their lullaby
To you who sleep where poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.

 

 

 
 

 

 

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