Featured Squadron of the Month

90 Esquimalt High School Squadron

BCPC Crest

Squadron Name:  90  Esquimalt High School Squadron
Chartered:  February 4th, 1942
Status: Stood down: December 1945
Community:  Victoria, BC

Squadron History

Esquimalt High School Air Cadet Squadron was the third squadron formed in the Victoria area in October of 1941. It was formed shortly after 83 Oak Bay High School Squadron and at the same time as 89 Victoria High School Squadron. It was part of the Victoria Wing that was in existence during the war years of 1941 – 1945, with the other six squadrons from the Victoria area.

The Squadron was formed under the tutelage of Sgt Maj Radcliffe who shocked the boys who had shown an interest in being part of the Squadron by informing them to “behave or else!”. After this shock, the proceedings were handed over to F/O Simons who advised the cadets on the training they would receive. The boys were advised that there would be 14 courses ranging from Aerial Navigation to taking the Wing Commander’s cat for a walk in the evening.

The first CO of the Squadron was Mr. Parnell who was a popular teacher and proved to be a very popular Commanding Officer.

With the arrival of uniforms in the Spring of 1942, training really started in earnest. A big part of the early training was administration. Future NCO training was held at Central Junior High School and one brave Leading Air Cadet (LAC) took on the task of teaching Morse Code to the cadets. Cadets from 90 Squadron attended their first summer camp in Calgary after the end of the school year. While there, they got a taste of Air Force life with early rises, busy days and evenings and tired nights.

Immediately after rising and dressing, the beds were made (air force style), floors swept and once the barracks were presentable, it was off to breakfast. During their training at camp, they received instruction in subjects from physical training, engine maintenance, photography, link trainer, armaments and many other courses. The camp was of ten days duration and although the training was tough the cadets were sorry to see it come to an end.

Training at the school started again very shortly after the start of the 1942-43 school year. In addition to the regular Friday evening training, Drill was practiced every Tuesday. At the end of the school term, on April 21st, the CO, Mr. John Parnell left the school and Squadron. The consensus from the 21 cadets was that he would be sorely missed. On May 3rd, CO Parnell was replaced by the new CO, Mr. Clive Kelly.

On May 12th 1943 the Wing’s Annual Inspection and Colours Parade was held at Royal Athletic Park once again and Air Vice-Marshall F. L. Stevenson, Air Officer Commanding Western Air Command was the Reviewing Officer. He as accompanied by Air Commodore E. McLeod, AOC, Group, Western Air Command. The 90 Esquimalt Squadron Colours were received by Cpl Witmer for Reeve A. Lockley while the trumpeter for the parade was Cpl Eric Rossiter of 90 Sqn.

Cadets of 90 Squadron shortly after the arrival of their uniforms: 1942-43 School Year

Some of the Cadets pictured are (in no particular order):
Craig Hall, Eric Going, Elmer Hodder, Eric Rossiter, Gordon Roger, Ken Crowe, Don Foote,
Harry Witmer, Jack Evans, Jim Parlane, Don Jickling and Alan Ismay

The 1943-44 year started with Summer Training at Patricia Bay Air Station outside Victoria under the leadership of S/L Symonds and F/Lt Routley, both Cadet Officers. The cadets reported that the meals were good, the weather fine and the surroundings interesting.

The biggest change in September 1943 at 90 Esquimalt Squadron was the formation of an ‘all girls’ flight, started by Mrs. Browne. This Flight consisted of 33 girls while the boys could only muster 28 cadets. Training of the girl Cadets was carried out by their CO, F/O Kelly, with the assistance of Cadet Sgt Ken Crowe.

Training, for all cadets continued through the winter months with one drill and two classroom periods per week, as well as, parading with the rest of the Victoria Wing at Central Junior and Victoria High Schools.

The girl Cadets formed a precision drill team that made its first public appearance on Sports Day, May 23rd 1944, marching to the school band at Bullen’s Park in Esquimalt.

Squadron Girl Cadets in 1944

Back Row: AW1 Sheila Dickie, AW1 Mona Coulter, AW1 Betty Spiers, AW1 Jean Corry,
AW1 Jean Whiteford, LAW Joan Greaves, AW1 Shirley Pilgrim, AW1 Jelen McCaughey, AW1 Marie
Gillard, AW! Helen Piddington, AW1 Marilyn McKenzie, AW1 Betty Webb,
AW1 Ada Conibear, AW1 Ruth Craven

Centre Row: AW1 Gwen Rossiter, LAW Joyce Empey, AW1 Joyce Sheen, AW1 Erna Stadler,
AW1 Gwen Jones, AW1 Sheila Cordingly, AW1 Janet McLure, AW1 Louise Chandler,
AW1 Cicely Rossiter, AW1 Audrey Imrie, AW1 Mona Caley, AW1 Eileen Falkner,
AW1 Kathleen Kaye, AW1 Sybil Freeman

Front Row: LAW Lois Weeks, LAW Elaine Harris, LAW Mary Dickinson, LAW Rita Fecteau,
LAW Doreen Kent-Fawkes, Sgt Sheila Burnett, FO W. Ozard, F/Lt C. Kelly, Cpl Lios Babinett,
LAW Francis Smith, LAW Hazel French, Cpl Evelyn Dabinett, LAW Wilda Thomas

During the Easter Break there was a dance held for all Victoria Cadets and a display by the Squadron’s drill teams, both boys and girls, was presented.

On May 17th, the Wing Annual Inspection was held at Royal Athletic Park with Group Captain D.B. Hobbs, DSO, DSC and Bar as Reviewing Officer. On this occasion 16-year-old AC Frederick Holland of 90 Esquimalt Squadron was the Wing Trumpeter.

The 1944-45 training year started with the usual summer camp at Pat Bay Air Station, a squad of nine Esquimalt High School Cadets attended, starting on July 25th. These Cadets were joined in their barracks by Cadets from 259 Penticton Squadron and 217 Princeton Squadron. There is a full write-up on the life at a Summer Air Cadet Camp under the heading 1944 Summer Camp Routine. After the 10-day camp, the cadets anxiously waited for the start of the new school year to continue their training.

The training through the year was more intense than previous years with Mondays having NCO training along with Administration, Aircraft Recognition and Signals classes. Tuesdays saw some cadets taking aero engine courses and on Wednesdays there were full uniform parades for all cadets. The usual Friday evening Wing Parades at Victoria High School continued and through the winter months there were also wing classes held on these evenings.

As spring approached, the evening classes moved outdoors as the cadets prepared for their Annual Inspection which was again taking place at Royal Athletic Park.

Cadets of 90 Squadron in 1944-45 School Year

Back Row: Jack Raven, Hugh Campbell, Bob Rainsford, George Connolly, Fred Sherwood,
Brian Burns, Roy Jobling, Mike Piddington, Warren Pready, Ken Douglas, Bill Floyd, Art Kaye
Centre Row: Alan Ross, Bob Caley, Richard Baugh-Allen, Jack Creedon, John Griffin, Ken Weeks
Mike Hanna, John MacDonald, Dave Wigmore, Bill Stephenson
Front Row: Cpl Lois Dabinett, Cpl Eric Rossiter, Cpl Jack Eaton, Cpl Bruce Jubb, Sgt Frank Osselton,
CO Clive Kelly, Mr W. Ozard, F/Sgt Ken Crowe, Cpl Jim Parlane, Cpl Jim Wright, LCDon Fickling, Doreen Kent-Fawks

It should be noted that by 1945, the Girl Cadettes took part in all aspects of the training and continued to have their own precision drill team under the guidance of F/Lt C. Kelly and commanded by Cpl Lois Dabinett.

There is no mention of girl Cadets in either the 1941-42 or 1942-43 yearbooks but with the start of a Girls Flight in September 1943, some of the girls had already attained NCO ranks. This leads us to assume that some girls were involved in the program prior to the start of their own flight. There is mention of the Squadron strength being 34 Cadets in June 1942. This number included two Cadettes as the girls came to be known. There is no mention of the girl’s names, although, at the formation of the Girls Flight, it appears that S. Burnett and B. Foote may have been Corporals which would indicate previous service.

No record was found in either the 1944-45 or 1945-46 high school yearbooks of the date the Squadron was shut down following the end of the Second World War. It can only be assumed that the Squadron closed in either June of 1945, or just prior to the start of the Christmas break which was the case with Oak Bay High School Squadron.

Squadron Commanding Officers

DateCommanding Officers
Oct 1941 – April 1943Mr. Parnell
April 1943 - Dec 1945F/Lt Clive Kelly

Squadron Sponsoring Committee Chairs

DateCommittee Chairs
Oct 1941 – April 1943Mr. Parnell
April 1943 - Dec 1945F/Lt Clive Kelly

Squadron Cadet Commanders

DateCadet Commanders
1942-43Act Sgt
1943-44Sgt Ken Crowe
1944-45F/Sgt Ken Crowe

Reviewing Officers

DateReviewing Officers
May 28th, 1942G/C C.L. Trecarten
1943Air Vice-Marshall L. F. Stevenson
1944G/C D.B. Hobbs, DSO, DSC & Bar
1945G/C D.B. Hobbs, DSO, DSC & Bar

A large portion of the information provided in this presentation was obtained from the 1942 – 1945 Esquimalt High School Yearbooks. During this period, it was not uncommon for high school staff to be appointed to hold either the CO position or the Air Cadet League of Canada Representative position for their squadrons. Squadron sponsorship from civic groups started evolving after the war years when some High School administrators made the decision to disband their school based squadrons for various reasons. It was felt then that these squadrons would no longer be needed for training future Air Force personnel. 90 Esquimalt High School Squadron was one of those disbanded squadrons.

A very special thank you to Mr. Mike Symons BCPC’s Chief Historian for providing us with this very interesting presentation.

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