RCAF Airwomen’s reunion to be held in June

RCAF Airwomen is a group dedicated to maintaining ties amongst former and currently serving Royal Canadian Air Force airwomen. The organization will hold its 14th reunion in Ottawa from June 7 to 9, 2019, and invites current and retired airwomen to attend.

RCAF airwomen train on radar scopes at the Radar and Communication School in Clinton, Ont. DND Archives Photo

The spark that led to the formation of the group–and the regular reunions–occurred in 1988, in Vancouver, B.C. Diane (Vince) White and Shirley Duff, who served in the RCAF, met by chance at a department store and made a luncheon date to talk over old times. During that luncheon, they thought it would be a great idea to hold a reunion of all airwomen from the 1951 to 1966 era.

They set about planning and held a very successful reunion in Vancouver in June 1990, attracting women from throughout Canada, the United States and the Mariana Islands. A second reunion was held in Ottawa, Ont., in June 1993. After that, it became a periodic occurrence. The RCAF reunions have attracted anywhere from 200 to 450 airwomen and everyone has a great time, renewing old friendships and making new ones.

Reunions continue every second year. Visit the website to join and register for the reunion. You’ll also receive the monthly newsletter.

If you were a member of the RCAF’s Women’s Division, or an airwoman in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), retired or not, you may join the RCAF Airwomen. Get to know many of the ladies who lived history, including Second World War veterans, and hear from women in active roles in today’s RCAF.

On June 20, 1952, five airwomen model RCAF uniforms at RCAF Station Aylmer, Ont. DND Archives Photo

About 50,000 women served in the CAF during the Second World War. Some 17,000 of them served in the RCAF Women’s Division, created in 1941, working in both traditional and non-traditional trades. As well, about 4,480 women served as nursing sisters. The RCAF was the first service to recruit women during the war, and the last to release them, with the final woman being discharged by March 1947. RCAF nurses, however, continued to serve.

The RCAF was also the first of the three services to recreate a women’s organization during the post-war period. In 1951, the Canadian government announced that women would be recruited into the RCAF because it needed more personnel due to the construction of three radar lines across the country: the Distant Early Warning Line, the Mid-Canada line and the Pinetree line. On July 3, 1951, the first 80 enlisted women arrived for basic training at St. Jean, Que.

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