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Original Canadian WWII RCAF Eagle Squadron KIA Pilot Officer Newman B. Burt Historical Archive

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Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind. The Eagle Squadrons were three fighter squadrons of the Royal Air Force (RAF) formed with volunteer pilots from the United States during the early days of World War II (circa 1940), prior to America's entry into the war in December 1941.

With the United States still neutral, many Americans simply crossed the border and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to learn to fly and fight. Many early recruits had originally gone to Europe to fight for Finland against the Soviet Union in the Winter War.

Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot Officer Newman B. Burt was an American volunteer in the RCAF and was killed in action on March 14th, 1943. He was buried in grave E10, St. Martin's New Cemetery, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland in March 17th, 1943. Included in this collection are his original RCAF dog tags, original photos of his internment ceremony, original correspondence and more. As this came from a massive private collection we believe we unknowingly sold his visor cap, earlier this year, which can be seen at this link.

RCAF material from WWII is extremely difficult to find. Offered in overall excellent condition with a few minor nips here and there. Ready to display!

Charles Sweeny, a wealthy businessman living in London, persuaded the British Government to form an RAF squadron composed of Americans. (His uncle, also named Charles Sweeny, had been working along similar lines, recruiting American pilots to fight in France. Sweeny's efforts were also coordinated in Canada by the World War I air ace Billy Bishop and the artist Clayton Knight, who formed the Clayton Knight Committee, which by the time the United States entered the war, had processed and approved 6,700 applications from Americans to join the RCAF or RAF. Sweeny and his rich society contacts bore the cost (over $100,000) of processing and sending the men to the United Kingdom for training.

The Canadian Air Force (CAF) was established in 1920 as the successor to a short-lived two-squadron Canadian Air Force that was formed during the First World War in Europe. John Scott Williams, MC, AFC, was tasked in 1921 with organizing the CAF, handing command over later the same year to Air Marshal Lindsay Gordon. The new Canadian Air Force was a branch of the Air Board and was chiefly a training militia that provided refresher training to veteran pilots. Many CAF members also worked with the Air Board's Civil Operations Branch on operations that included forestry, surveying and anti-smuggling patrols. In 1923, the CAF became responsible for all flying operations in Canada, including civil aviation. In 1924, the Canadian Air Force, was granted the royal title, becoming the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Most of its work was civil in nature; however, in the late 1920s the RCAF evolved into more of a military organization. After budget cuts in the early 1930s, the air force began to rebuild.

During the Second World War, the RCAF was a major contributor to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and was involved in operations in Great Britain, Europe, the north Atlantic, North Africa, southern Asia, and with home defense. By the end of the war, the RCAF had become the fourth largest allied air force. During WWII the Royal Canadian Air Force was headquartered in 20-23 Lincolns Inn Fields, London. A commemorative plaque can be found on the outside of the building.

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