Featured Squadron of the Month

135 Bell Irving RCACS Crest

135 Bell Irving Squadron

Squadron Name:  135 Bell Irving Squadron
Chartered: June 20, 1942 
Status:  Active
Community:  Vancouver, BC

Squadron History

With Flying officer S. M. Gibson appointed as the Commanding Officer, 135 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets was stood up on the 20th of June 1942. It was originally stationed in South Burnaby with the name 135 Royal Oak Squadron and was open to boys 14 ½ to 17 ½ years of age for the purpose of training them for service with the RCAF when of age. Following the war, the Air Cadet Program’s aims and training were changed to meet the evolving practical needs of Canadian youth.

In the 1950s, the squadron moved to Vancouver at the RCAF Station Kitsilano, and was given the name 135 Vancouver Squadron.

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In the early days of 135 Royal Oak Squadron
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135 Vancouver Squadron

Following the closing of RCAF Station Kitsilano in 1965, the squadron moved to its permanent home in the Seaforth Armoury. In 1978, the squadron requested and was granted a name change to 135 Challenger RCACS.

In 1975, the Canadian Parliament authorized the enrolment of females in the cadet program. This permitted girls to take advantage of all the training programs and compete equally for promotions in cadets for the first time. Like most other squadrons that were formed prior to this change, recruiting numbers for the squadron increased to the point that additional resources and manpower was required to administer the program.

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Air Commodore A, D, Bell Irving

In 2010, to honor Air Commodore Alan Duncan Bell-Irving, one of the founders of the Air Cadet program, 135 Challenger Squadron requested yet another name change to 135 Bell-Irving Squadron. This was also done to show the connection between the Squadron and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada as Air Commodore A.D. Bell-Irving’s Father was one of the founders of Canada’s Highland Regiment.

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Ron Rique presenting an ACLC Certificate of Affiliation to Capt. Bodnaruk and SSC Chair Lisa Chung at the Ceremony to celebrate the Squadron Name Change to 135 Bell Irving Squadron

In 2012, the Squadron moved to its temporary home at the Bessborough Armoury. This was caused by fact that the Seaforth Armoury was undergoing extensive renovations which was expected to last 5 or more years.

During the appointment term of Captain Tim Challen as the Commanding Officer of 135 Bell Irving Squadron, (2012-2015) through collaborations with the SSC, a 135 Bell Irving Challenge Coin was minted and produced in a limited quantity.

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At the CO’s discretion, this coin was to be awarded to individuals and or cadets deserving of recognition for going above and beyond expectations for service to the Squadron. Some coins were also presented to Guest Speakers, Reviewing Officers and distinguished guests as tokens of appreciation.

In January 2018, 135 Bell-Irving Squadron was honored to move back to their renovated home at Seaforth Armoury. Along with their move back to Seaforth, 135 RCACS and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada formalized their partnership to ensure the highest quality of training and opportunity for the cadets of 135 RCACS by Seaforth Highlanders of Canada formally becoming their affiliated unit.

On June 12, 2022, 135 Bell-Irving Squadron celebrated its 80th anniversary.

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135 Squadron Cadets during a tour of the Comox Air Base in 1993

Table of Past Commanding Officers of 135 Bell Irving Squadron

2023 – presentCapt. Roberta Dight
2019 -2023Capt. Matthew Blackstock
2015 – 2019Capt. Chris Smith
2012 – 2015Capt. Tim Challen
2009 – 2012Capt. Darcy Bodnaruk
2005 – 2009Capt. Roberta Dight
2001 – 2005Capt. Bruce Lumgair
1999 – 2001Maj. Cindy Adams (Croston)
1997 – 1999Capt. Don Wiseman
1994 – 1997Capt. Coy Travers
1991 – 1994Capt. Sandy Nightingale
1989 – 1991Capt. Capt. Vic Bridgette
1986 – 1989Capt. Rob Allison
1983 – 1986Capt. Scott Edmiston
1983Capt. Bruce Kilby
? – 1977Capt John Edwards
1966 – 1970Capt. Hal Philbrook

The Squadron Sponsoring Committee, Staff and Cadets at 135 Bell Irving Squadron is extremely grateful for the support it received from The Seaforth Highlanders Regiment and the Billy Bishop Kerrisdale Legion Branch #176 over the years.

More information about 135 Bell Irving RCACS can be found on their website: https://www.135air.ca
and on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/135bellirving

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