|Headquarters, Number 6 Group Royal Canadian Air Force|
> Units and Formations
Updated: 2 Aug 04
Established: 1 Jan 1943
No 6 Group Units and Stations
6 Gp RCAF of Bomber Command was stood up on 1 Jan 1943, but to best understand its place in the order of battle it is necessary to return to the origins of the RCAF. From modest beginnings, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) grew to be the fourth largest air force in the world in 1945. A significant proportion of this force operated from England and Lincolnshire in both fighter and bomber forces.
The Army Council had proposed to Canada as early as 1915 that they should raise their own air units, but the proposed Royal Canadian Flying Corps did not materialise. By May 1918 there were 13 000 Canadian subjects serving in the RAF and the Canadian Privvy Council considered using this base to form some Canadian sqns within the RAF. On 5 Aug 1918 the Air Ministry authorised the formation of two Canadian sqns, one fighter and one bomber squadron. Two weeks later a Canadian Air Force detatchment formed at the school of Technical Training at RAF Halton to train ground crew for these sqns and on 19 Sep the Canadian Privy Council approved the formation of the CAF in England.
20 days after the war had ended, on 20 Nov 1918, No 1 Squadron (Fighter) was formed, followed on 25 Nov by No 2 (Day Bombing) Squadron. However the Canadian government did not propose to have a permanent peacetime air force and both Sqns and their Wing disbanded by 5 Feb 1920. The first permanent air force, the RCAF, was finally created at the fifth attempt on 1 Apr 1924.
In 1939 the RCAF had 20 sqns on strength with 270 aircraft of twenty different types; only 124 were suitable for operational service types and only 29 were first-line equipment (19 Hurricanes and 10 Battle Bombers). This was a contributing factor to the signing of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on 17 Dec 1939 ; Canada would be turned into a giant training mill. However in 1940 an agreement had been signed to allow the growing RCAF more than a training support role stating RCAF would supply 25 sqns for operations in the UK.
The first RCAF squadrons to arrive were renumbered to avoid confusion between dominion air forces (see Squadron numbering and codes for more details). No 1 Sqn became 401 Sqn, 110 Sqn became 400 Sqn and 112 Sqn became 402 Sqn. RCAF formed night fighter sqns - 406 Sqn, 409 Sqn and 410 Sqn) squadrons and an intruder (No 418) sqn, all operational in the summer of 1941.
The first RCAF bomber squadrons were formed in late 1941 under No 4 Gp in Yorkshire. On 1 Jan 1943 HQ No 6 Group assumed operational command of the RCAF bomber squadrons overseas. The group eventually operated 14 squadrons on eight different stations. RCAF Digby was unique in the UK in being a station titled RCAF rather than RAF and being commanded by Canadian Group Captain.
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