Les Stewart: Air Force brat

September 3, 2008

RCAFEmblenI was born in 1959 on a Royal Canadian Air Force radar station, CFB Sennetere, Quebec where my dad was stationed. He was a Chief Warrant Officer and made 22 Atlantic ocean crossings during WWII. They gave him an Atlantic Star medal and a gun as the ship’s purser.

Dad retired at CFB Borden in 1961 because it was close to his hometown of Paris, Ontario and my mom’s Ukaranian relatives in Toronto. The service was very good for men who came of age in the Great Depression. The house my mom and dad bought on Bayfield Steet was financed through the DVA.

I guess it is unusual for a non-commissioned air force officer to be given a navy medal. He prepared flight crews in Canada under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. My Dad trained commonwealth flight crews in Canada and brought them over to England.

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Agreement, between Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand was signed in Ottawa on December 17, 1939.

My mom was in the RCAF Women’s Division a corporal and a teletype operator in London, England during the war. She enlisted because it seemed much more exciting than farming the 1,000 acres of her father’s wheat farm in Ste. Agathe, Manitoba. My Uncle Jerry was lucky: he was old enough to work in Poland during the war. Just the forearm tattoos. I never got a chance to know Dad’s brother Neil.

My oldest brother was in the Canadian military for over twenty years. He retired as a major after graduating from the Royal Military College of Canada, RMC and Purdue University. Keith wore an iron ring. Gary, next in line, spent a short time at Royal Roads.

Business, especially big business, is now organized like an army. It is, as some would say, a sort of mild militarism without bloodshed; as I say, a militarism without the military virtues. G.K. Chesterton

RCAF: per ardua ad astra, “Through Struggle to the Stars”

RMC Yearbook 1968

RMC Yearbook 1968

Clan Stewartvirescit vulnere virtus, “Courage grows strong at a wound”

Keith siblingsThanks to Brent for the story and Keith’s photograph.

Keith Cold Lake PIpeband

Keith Comendation

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