F. Malcolm Benitz Page last modified:

Frank Malcolm Benitz
Training
Canada & England
1940-1941

Enlistment - Canada:

Malcolm was a member of the third (?) group of Argentine volunteers to enlist in the RCAF in 1940.  The group numbered sixteen and included two of Malcolm’s first cousins, Frankie Bell and Douglas King, and two close friends Gerry Pryor and Ken Hale (accompanied by his wife Jean, Frankie’s sister).  They sailed from Buenos Aires on the SS Uruguay to New York, arriving in Montreal by train in mid-October.  On October 17, 1940, Malcolm enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RCAF VR), signing up for the duration of the war.

Anecdotes:

  1. Twenty-five years later, out riding with my father on a fresh morning at “El Piquete”, I asked him why he had volunteered.  He thought about my question a while and eventually replied: “I didn’t like what they were doing to the Jews.”
  2. He joined-up in Canada because the British embassy in Buenos Aires had turned him away on account “Benitz” is a German surname.  When first cousin Frank Watt arrived in England to volunteer for the RAF, he was jailed because his mother's maiden-name was “Benitz” – Frank was rescued by his brother Alpin, already an officer in the RAF.

 Pilot training - Canada:

Missing imgage

Enlistee, Oct. 1940
(Source: P. Benitz)

The entire group underwent the training and selection program for RAF pilots.  Their training lasted 22 weeks.  Malcolm – and likely most of the others – received his wings at Brantford, Ontario, on April 7, and graduated as a Flight Sergeant (R74280) on Wednesday, April 10, 1941.  He was disappointed on two counts: first, he was assigned to bombers not fighters; second, he graduated as a Flight Sergeant (non-commissioned), separating him from his close friends who had graduated as commissioned officers.

Following graduation, Malcolm had ten days leave, the first week of which he spent in Toronto, followed by 2-3 days in Montreal.  On Sunday April 20, he travelled by train to Debert, Nova Scotia, where he reported in at the RCAF station there.  He sailed for Britain on the HMS Derbyshire, departing from Halifax on Saturday April 26, 1941.

———O———

The following is a summary of the RAF training program for pilots, taken by Malcolm at the schools named.  Malcolm's group completed the program in 22 weeks, 10 weeks less than the sum of the weeks proposed per stage.

1. Manning Depot, at the Coliseum in the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, Toronto – 4-5 weeks
Taught hygine, how to maintain uniforms (polish shoes & buttons), and how to behave in the required military manner.  Also included two hours of physical training every day and instruction in marching, rifle & foot drills, saluting, etc.
2. Initial Training School, at No. 1 ITS (Toronto Hunt Club, Toronto) – 4 weeks
Theoretical studies in navigation, flight, meteorology, algebra, trigonometry; and various tests (physical, psychological, & a test flight, likely in a Link Trainer flight simulator) used to determine abilities and where best to post each volunteer.
3. Elementary Flying Training School, at No.10 EFTS (RCAF Station Hamilton, Mount Hope, Ontario) – 8 weeks
Taught the basics of elementry flying in the "learn-to-fly" program, 50 hours instruction in Fleet Finch aircraft (2-seater biplanes).
4. Service Flying Training School, at No.5 SFTS (Brantford, Ontario) – 16 weeks
Malcolm began SFTS on Monday January 27 and, 10 weeks later, received his wings on Monday April 7, 1941.
No.5 SFTS used twin-engined Avro Ansons to train multi-engine pilots (e.g. bomber pilots)  It had 3 parts: (1) 8 weeks in an intermediate training squadron; (2) 6 weeks in an advanced training squadron; (3) 2 weeks at a Bombing & Gunnery School.

 Operational Training - England:

Per Malcolm’s terse diary entries mixed in with random notes, the HMS Derbyshire took him to Iceland, arriving Wednesday May 14 (Helgafaal Camp. Reykjavick Alafoss Iceland); on Saturday May 17 his ship passed the island of Ailsa Craig off the west coast of Scotland, arriving later that day at Greenoch, a port west of Glasgow, Scotland.  Monday 19 he took the train to Uxbridge, a town in west London.  He may have had one or two days leave (his diary includes Margaret Evans with address, phone number, & times).

On Sunday May 25, Malcolm travelled to Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire, to begin the next phase of his training at the 22 Operational Training Unit (OTU) based there; the third course given by that OTU.  Per his diary, he trained on Wellington Mk.Ic (which, except for the motors, was identical to the Mk.II he would later fly).  His finished training almost two months later, on Tuesday, July 15.  Malcolm wrote: "Report of CI (O.T.U.)  “Keen Pupil who has developed into a sound & steady pilot. Ought to do well on operations.” !!? Above Av.

While at OTU, Malcolm recieved letters from home (10) and sisters Corina & Moira (Mula), and heard from Frankie Bell, Gerry Pryor, & Tony Traill.

Following OTU, Malcolm had 7 days leave which he spent in London, meeting with: Tony Traill, Frank Watt, Hughes, Doug (?), Jackie Brougham, Binks (married Bill Lacey), his step-aunt Moll Hale, Eve Brown, & others.  He stayed at the Royal Palace Hotel & the club; and saw several shows, including “Me & My Girl”.

Malcom reported for duty at 104 Squadron, Driffield, Yorkshire, on Tuesday July 22, 1941.  He began flying Wellingotn Mk.II's on Monday July 28 (4 hours), and the following day began the B.A.T. course.  (Beam Approach Training: an early system for guiding pilots onto a runway when landing at night.  If too far to the left he heard a series of dots, too far to the right a series of dashes, if on course a continuous note.)

Diary 1941 Letter from Cy, 28 July 1941    
Missing image.

(PDF file - 7.7 mb)

Malcolm recorded some pertinent dates (e.g. training courses, movements, leaves, date Jerry Pryor was k.i.a.).  It is filled with addresses of friends & relatives (& girls), and notes about flights made, radio call codes, & other related info. – apparently added wherever he found space, i.e. not in date order.
(We may add an index of names.)
Missing image. Letter from Cy, apparently a fellow student at 22 O.T.U., Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, England.    

Photos - Training in Canada:

TrainingCanada-01

Missing image.

SS Uruguay - October, 1940
BACK: R.C.Lindsell - G.P.Hughes - D.S.King - G.C.Pryor - A.B.Wheeler
K.F.H.Hale - J.W.Mattingly - J.Edward - C.J.Wyllie - J.F.K.Sandys
FRONT: Andy - J.F.M.Bell - D.D.P.Joyce - B.H.L.Gittins - Captain Oakley
Jean Hale
- N.E.B.Weitzel - R.P.Hughes - F.M.Benitz
– 16 volunteers, 9 kia / mia
(Source: Frank Bell album (J. Bell))

TrainingCanada-01-back

Missing image.

“Captain N.B.Oakley
Wishing you safe and happy landings”

TrainingCanada-02

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“Argentine Youths Now In R.C.A.F. Uniform”
The Evening Telegram
Toronto, Thursday, October 24, 1940
(Source: Frank Bell album (J. Bell))

TrainingCanada-03

Missing image.

“Argentine volunteers received in Ottawa
by Chas. Duncan, Deputy Air Minister
Oct 17th 1940”

(Source: Frank Bell album (J. Bell))
——
David Joyce, Douglas King, Richard Hughes, George Hughes,
Malcolm Benitz, Richard Lindsell, unknown, Norman Weitzel,
Gerry Pryor, Charles Wyllie, John Edwards, Bryan Gittins,
Frank Bell, J.Mattingly, John Sandys, Brian Wheeler, Ken Hale.
(Names: C. Meunier, unknown could be: Bernardo De Larminat.
Years later Larminat thought photo had been taken in Buenos Aires.
)

TrainingCanada-06

Missing image. Missing Missing Missing Missing Missing

La Nacion, Dec. 1940
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-04

Missing image.

“Argentine Group. R.C.A.F. Toronto Canada 1940”

“Manning Pool - Toronto
First Day in Uniform”

(Source: Frank Bell album (J. Bell))

TrainingCanada-05

Missing image.

Malcolm Benitz, Gerry Pryor, Frankie Bell
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-07

Missing image.

Ice-hockey prep
Roughing up the goalie

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-08

Missing image.

Ice-hockey
Broom up - Malcolm facing-off

Short of equipment, each player wore only one ice-skate.
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-09

Missing image.

Ice-hockey
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-10

Missing image.

Ice-hockey
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

No.10 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School), RCAF Station Hamilton, Mount Hope, Ontario

Trainer: Fleet Model 16B (Finch II)

TrainingCanada-101

Missing image.

Malcolm Benitz, David Joyce, Charlie Wyllie
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-102

Missing image.

Visit to the hangars
XX, Frankie?, Gerry?, Malcolm, YY
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-103

Missing image.

Gerry Pryor
Fleet Finch trainer

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-104

Missing image.

Frankie Bell
Fleet Finch trainer

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-105

Missing image.

Stinson Reliant
Malcolm & Frankie "pulling" on its prop
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-106

Missing image.

Malcolm Benitz
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-107

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Frankie Bell, Malcolm Benitz, Charlie Wyllie
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-108

Missing image.

Fleet Finch trainers
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-109

Missing image.

Fleet Finch trainers
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-110

Missing image.

Fleet Finch trainers
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-111

Missing image.

Fleet Finch trainers
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-112

Missing image.

Westland Lysander
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

No.5 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) at Brantford, Ontario

Malcolm began on Monday January 27, 1941, and, 10 weeks later, received his wings on Monday April 7, 1941.
Trainers:  Fairchild Ranger PT-19 – Harvard Mk.IIB – Avro Anson Mk.I

TrainingCanada-113

Missing image.

Debriefing
Fairchild trainer

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-114

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Malcolm Benitz
Harvard trainer

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-115

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Avro Anson, Fairchild, Harvard (tail)
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-116

Missing image.

Fairchild taxiing, Anson back left
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-117

Missing image.

Loading fuel - Harvard & Farichild trainers
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-118

Missing image.

Fleet Finch & Avro Anson trainers
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-119

Missing image.

Avro Anson trainer
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-120

Missing image.

Avro Anson trainer
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-121

Missing image.

Taking off
Cockpit of Avro Anson

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-122

Missing image.

Charlie Wyllie ?
Aboard Avro Anson

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-123

Missing image.

Avro Anson - rear view
Vicinity of Brantford, Ontario?
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-124

Missing image.

Avro Anson - forward side view - starboard (right) engine
Vicinity of Brantford, Ontario?
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-125

Missing image.

Gull hit nose – Avro Anson
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-126

Missing image.

Gull hit nose – Avro Anson
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-127

Missing image.

Belly Landing – Avro Anson
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-128

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Belly Landing – Avro Anson
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

Miscellaneous

TrainingCanada-201

Missing image.

Trainees celebrating?
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-202

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Transport between Training Schools?
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-203

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Possibly: Leaving for England
HMS Derbyshire, 26 April, 1941

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

On Leave (Day family?) – Canadian Winter '40-'41

TrainingCanada-301

Missing image.

Malcolm & xxxxx
Today “The Old Mill Inn & Spa”
Toronto, Ontario
Established as an inn, 1914, still in business, 2018.
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-302

Missing image.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-303

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The Old Mill Inn
Toronto, Ontario

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-304

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The Old Mill Inn
Toronto, Ontario

(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-305

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Malcolm
The Old Mill Inn
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-306

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Malcolm
The Old Mill Inn
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-307

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xxxxxxxxxxx
The Old Mill Inn
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-308

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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
The Old Mill Inn
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-309

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xxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-310

Missing image.

xxxxxxxxxxx
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-311

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Malcolm
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-312

Missing image.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-314

Missing image.

Francis Day & Malcolm
Day nicknamed Malcolm: “el colmo” (the limit)
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

Mr & Mrs Francis J. Day were English and, having lived in Peru & Argentina, opened their home in Toronto to the South American volunteers.  Mr. Day was an engineering operations manager at a Massey-Harris plant in Toronto.

TrainingCanada-315

Missing image.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-316

Missing image.

Francis Day and Knobby
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

TrainingCanada-317

Missing image.

Francis Day and Knobby
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

 

TrainingCanada-318

Missing image.

Who? Toronto? 1940?
(Source: F.M. Benitz (PBz))

 


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)