Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Group Captain Frank Scholes McGill

Group Captain Frank Scholes McGill was born in Montreal, June 20, 1894. He was a top athlete during his student days at McGill University. In 1915, he completed a commerce degree and was also awarded license No. 30 for float planes from the Aero Club of America. He went on to serve with the Royal Naval Air Service. In 1915 while flying with an instructor over the Thames estuary, McGill's plane crashed, resulting in a fractured arm and stay in the Royal Naval Hospital, Chatham. It was during this hospital stay that McGill wrote a letter to “Tommy” Church, then mayor of Toronto and a former swimming and football colleague. He suggested to Church that Canada should build up a strong airplane industry and air force and establish a training program for air crew from the British Empire. "I believe it's true that, in the near future, wars will be decided in the air. The country with the best air service will win." McGill knew Canada had an abundant supply of spruce, at the time a major component in aircraft construction, but discovered the wood was scarce in England. In 1917, he was second in command of the 1st Mobile Squadron, Scilly Islands. In 1918 he served with the British War Mission to the United States and various training stations as an instructor and advisor before being demobilised in 1919. He helped organize the Montreal Light Aeroplane Club and in 1934 organized and commanded No. 115 (Fighter) Squadron R.C.A.F. Auxiliary. In 1939, McGill resigned as commanding officer of the squadron to become a member of the Air Advisory Committee to the Minister of National Defense. In September 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, McGill was given the rank of wing commander and appointed commanding officer at Camp Borden. He replaced Group Captain Leigh Forbes Stevenson who was posted to Britain to study details of the Empire Training Plan. In June 1940, Wing Commander McGill left Camp Borden after his appointment as officer commanding No. 2 Service Flying Training School, Uplands, the first school to be opened under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In 1945 he was awarded Companion, Order of the Bath, with the following citation: “Since the outbreak of war, Air Vice-Marshal McGill has rendered outstanding and devoted service to the Royal Canadian Air Force. He has commanded a Service Flying Training School, and served as Air Officer Commanding a Training Command and as an Air Member of the Air Council with great distinction. In all his assignments he has displayed rare qualities of skill, organizing ability and devotion to duty. He sets a very high standard which is an example and inspiration to all who are associated with him. By his leadership, efficiency and unflagging zeal, he has rendered highly meritorious service to the Royal Canadian Air Force.”

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