Wednesday, November 9, 2011

World War II Military Mail
Domestic Army and Air Force Facilities

Hundred of military training facilities were opened across the country during the war years. In addition to Canadian Army training centres and schools, the Royal Canadian Air Force set up schools and airfields to fulfill its commitment to the British Commonwealth Air Training Programme.

Over 150 Military Post Offices (MPOs) were created across the country. MPOs were assigned numbers corresponding to the 11 Canadian Military Districts in which the installation was located:

Not all military facilities were assigned MPOs. Mail from those stations was handled by the civilian post office.

This post shows examples of MPO and civilian cancellations from domestic army and air force facilities:

1. MPOs
2. Military Facilities Using Civilian Post Offices

Naval mail will be considered in another posting.

Reference: The Canadian Military Posts Volume 2, W.J. Bailey and E.R. Toop (1985) Edward Proud

1. MPOs

District No. 1 Western Ontario

M.P.O. 101 : St. Thomas Ontario

RCAF Technical Training School

MPO 101 (St. Thomas) to Saskatchewan, July 6, 1943

A plaque erected by the Ontario Heritage foundation on the site of the RCAF Technical Training School reads as follows:

The only facility of its kind in Ontario during the Second World War, No. 1 Technical Training School, St. Thomas was established by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939 to produce skilled ground crews for active wartime service. It was housed here in this hospital complex and was operated in compliance with Canada's commitment to establish air training facilities in sites removed from the theatre of war. Equipped to handle more than 2000 students at a time, the school offered six month course for aircraft electricians and aero-engine, airframe and instrument mechanics in addition to specialized training for fabric and sheet metal workers. When the war ended in 1945 the school was closed and the complex was returned to the Ontario Department of Health.

District No. 2 Central Ontario

M.P.O. 209 : Hagersville

RCAF No. 16 Service Flying Training School

MPO 209 (Hagersville) to Ingersoll, December 18, 1944

A plaque erected by the RCAF association on the former Hagersville station site reads:
A unit of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was dedicated in 1941 and served as a twin and single engine pilot training school. RCAF station Hagersville graduated its last operational class under the plan on March 30, 1945.

M.P.O. 203 : Niagara Falls

Army Camp

Machine cancellation

M.P.O. 203 (Niagara Falls) to Courtland, Ontario, October 27, 1943

The Niagara camp was originally opened in 1814 as Butler's Barracks. The site continued to be used as a training camp over the years. During World War II, the camp was used as a training centre for various regiments in the Hamilton Niagara Peninsula Command.

District No. 3 Eastern Ontario

M.P.O. 301 : Ottawa Lansdowne Park

Military Camp

a) Security Post Mark

Some early postmarks did not identify the location of the military post office.

M.P.O. 301 (Ottawa, Lansdowne Park) to Spanish Town, Jamaica, November 27, 1939
3 cents surface letter rate to Jamaica

b) M.P.O. Number + Location

M.P.O. 301 (Ottawa, Lansdowne Park) to Montreal, March 17, 1943

Paratroopers of "C" Company, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion,
who took part in the Fourth Victory Loan parade in the mess hall
at Lansdowne Barracks, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 4 May 1943.

M.P.O. 313 : Picton, Ontario

RCAF No. 31 Bombing and Gunnery School

MPO 313 (Picton, Ontario) to White Plains, N.Y., February 28, 1944

The base at Picton originated as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. An airfield was built on a high plateau overlooking Picton and the Royal Air Force's No. 31 Bombing & Gunnery School officially opened in April 1941. Five bombing ranges were also created to allow the students to practice. The school offered six week courses in bombing, navigation and air gunnery until it was disbanded in November 1944.

District No. 4 Western Quebec
M.P.O. 404 : St. Hubert, Quebec

RCAF No. 13 Service Flying Training School

M.P.O. 404 (St. Hubert, Quebec) to Bancroft, September 18, 1942

The St. Hubert Airport was taken over by the RCAF on September 1 1941 as the home of No. 13 Service Flying Training School under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.No. 13 SFTS re-located to North Battleford, Saskatchewan in February 1944.

District No. 5 Eastern Quebec
M.P.O. 502 : Mont Joli, Quebec

RCAF No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School

M.P.O. 502 (Mont-Joli, Quebec) to Grimsby, Ont., July 22, 1943
Shortpaid 2 cents and taxed 4 cents

Inaugurated on April 15, 1942, RCAF Station Mont-Joli was used as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan for a bombing and gunnery school.

Mont-Joli Airman's canteen 1942

M.P.O. 503 : Bagotville, Quebec

RCAF No. 1 Operational Training Unit

M.P.O. 503 (Bagotville, Quebec) to Garneau Junction, December 22, 1943

The First operational training Unit, initially named Bagotville Station, was built in 1942 in order to provide a training base for pilots of the RCAF. In addition to pilot training, Bagotville Station had the mission to protect the Alcan and hydroelectric facilities in the area, hence its motto "Défendez le Saguenay".

District No. 6 Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
M.P.O. 602 : Dartmouth, N.S.

Air Station

M.P.O. 602 (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) to London, Ont. September 19, 1943

RCAF Station Dartmouth was Eastern Air Command's most important base during the Second World War playing a pivotal role in the Battle of the Atlantic protecting convoys of merchant ships from German U-boat "Wolf Packs". Being the largest seaplane and landplane base in eastern Canada, Dartmouth was home at one time or another to nine RCAF long-range Bomber-Reconnaissance squadrons, whose aircraft flew thousands of hours on anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols over the north west Atlantic and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

M.P.O. 610 : Summerside, P.E.I

RCAF No.1 General Reconnaissance School

M.P.O. 610 (Summerside, P.E.I) to Ingersoll, January 16, 1943

RCAF Station Summerside
Pilots at the No. 1 General Reconnaissance School trained for nine weeks and navigators for four weeks. Upon graduation most were assigned to Coastal Command, which operated nearly every type of aircraft that engaged in anti-submarine warfare.

District No. 7 New Brunswick

M.P.O. 704 : Scoudouc, New Brunswick

RCAF Repair Depot

M.P.O. 704 (Scoudouc, New Brunswick) to Toronto, November 20, 1944

The Scoudouc airfield was a repair depot used to service aircraft employed on long range anti-submarine patrols, including Liberators or B-24s, American built four engine bombers.

District No. 10 Manitoba
M.P.O. 1001 : Shilo, Manitoba

a) Canadian Artillery Training Centre

M.P.O 1001, Shiloh, Manitoba to Winnipeg, June 13, 1941
Registered surface letter

M.P.O. 1001 registration handstamp

Shilo M.P.O. registration handstamp

b) A-35 Canadian Parachute Training Centre

The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion formed on July 1, 1942, was Canada's first airborne unit.

Duplex cancellation

MPO 1001 (Shilo, Manitoba) to No. 25 Canadian Infantry (Basic) Training, Simcoe, May 28, 1943

The Army started conducting its first training at Camp Shilo in 1934 with mounted artillery and machine gun units, followed by infantry units a year later. Although initially used as a summer camp only, starting in 1942 Camp Shilo was in continuous use and became a permanent year-round establishment.

M.P.O. 1004 : Macdonald, Manitoba

RCAF 3 Bombing and Gunnery School

MPO 1004 (Macdonald, Manitoba) to Winnipeg, November 22, 1944

RCAF Station Macdonald

District No. 11 British Columbia

M.P.O. 1124 : Boundary Bay, B.C.

Air Station

M.P.O. 1124 (Boundary Bay, B.C.) to New York, January 15, 1945

On April 10, 1941. No. 18 Elementary Flight Training School (No. 18 EFTS) was the first unit established at the newly created RCAF Station Boundary Bay. On May 25, 1942, No. 18 EFTS was disbanded as a result of the attack on the American Naval station at Pearl Harbor. The West Coast was now believed to be vulnerable to attack by the Japanese and the Boundary Bay station was chosen to protect Vancouver and the surrounding coast. Between early 1942 and April 1944 there were three operational fighter squadrons rotated through Boundary Bay.

M.P.O. 1111 : Jericho Beach, B.C.

Air Station

M.P.O. 1124 (Jericho Beach, B.C.) to Lock Haven, Pa., November 29, 1944

In 1920, the Jericho Beach Air Station was established Its role grew from RCAF sea boat training from 1924 to a more defensive role up to and during WWII. In 1942 the army's Pacific Command Headquarters moved to Jericho Beach.

District No. 12 Saskatchewan

M.P.O. 1203 : Mossbank, Saskatchewan

No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery Group

M.P.O. 1203 (Mossbank, Saskatchewan) to Island Falls, Ont., October 28, 1943

The school opened on October 28, 1940 near Mossbank as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and closed on December 15, 1944, having trained 2,539 bombers and 3,702 air gunners.

District No. 13 Alberta

M.P.O. 1312 : Vulcan, Alberta

RCAF No. 19 Service Flying Training School

M.P.O. 1312 (Vulcan, Alberta), to New York, February 23, 1944

RCAF Station Vulcan, also referred to as RCAF Aerodrome Vulcan, was officially opened on October 30, 1942. In April 1943, No. 19 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) took over the facilities. No. 19 SFTS ceased operation on April 14, 1945.

2. Military Facilities Using Civilian Post Offices

Coast and Anti-Aircraft Artillery Training Centre : Eastern Passage (Halifax), Nova Scotia

Halifax to Hamilton, blackout machine cancellation November 14, 1943

RCAF No. 13 Elementary Flying Training School : St. Eugene, Ontario

St. Eugene to Tilsonburg, February 23, 1943

RCAF No. 18 Service Flying Training School : Gimli, Manitoba

On September 6, 1943, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan established No. 18 Service Flying Training School (No. 18 SFTS) RCAF Station Gimli.

MPO 1010, Gimli, Manitoba, was opened on May 23, 1944. The letter below was mailed before the MPO was established.

Gimli to Roscoe, South Dakota, January 6, 1944