5 September, 1941...
... By the end of August summer seemed like a fading memory. The prairie sky was gone, replaced
by a sullen overcast that rolled and whipped along like a tattered, wind-driven blanket. Winter was coming.
Far above the city a small, bright shape appeared. Faintly, those on the ground could hear the drone of distant engines.
Gradually it resolved into the shape of an aeroplane - a single winged, twin-engined affair painted a fantastic yellow,
following the narrow ribbon of the South Saskatchewan River north and east into the City. Banking slightly the
machine dipped low over the University, then turned again to cross the river and circle the downtown and Riversdale.
Finally, after perhaps another lazy, low-level circle around downtown, it departed, vanishing over the cloud-swept southern horizon.
Once a novelty, overflights like this by the brightly-painted Avro Ansons
of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan schools had become common by the fall of 1941. Most were from the No. 7 Service Flying Training
School at the Saskatoon Airport. Some - such as this flight, late on a Friday afternoon - were from other schools around the province;
in this case the No. 3 Air Observer School in Regina.
The result of an agreement between Canada and Great Britain, BCATP schools cropped up in towns across the prairies since the deal was signed by
Prime Minister King. The first schools opened in April, 1940: 11 in Saskatchewan, six in Alberta and two in Manitoba. More were to follow. All were dedicated to
the same purpose: turning fresh recruits from every country in the Commonwealth into pilots, navigators, gunners, bombardiers and
wireless operators to feed the insatiable demands of war.
Usually relationships between the airmen and the locals were cheerful. Or at least, neutral. But "boys will be boys", as they say, and "incidents did
sometimes occur" as in this first hand account, "Strafing in Saskatchewan" by Roy S. Young.