With immense honor and respect, we celebrate the centenary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), an institution that embodies courage, excellence, and dedication to service over a remarkable century. Since its founding in 1924, the RCAF has played a crucial role in defending and promoting peace, shaping history, and inspiring generations.
Over a hundred years, the men and women of the RCAF have fearlessly taken to the skies, defending the ideals of freedom and justice that are fundamental to the Canadian identity. Their bravery in times of conflict, such as during World War II, where RCAF pilots significantly contributed to the Allied victory, is a testament to the courage and commitment of this exceptional air force.
Beyond combat moments, the RCAF has been a vital force in responding to natural disasters, humanitarian missions, and protecting Canadian airspace. Its legacy extends beyond geographical boundaries, touching lives and communities worldwide.
On the centenary of the RCAF, we pay tribute not only to the aviators and support personnel but also to the families who, with patience and resilience, supported their loved ones in service. We recognize the sacrifice and devotion that have permeated each decade of this extraordinary journey.
To the Royal Canadian Air Force, we express sincere gratitude for its exemplary service, continuous innovation, and vital role in defending the sovereignty and security of Canada. May this centenary be a moment of celebration, reflection, and inspiration for future generations who will continue to carry forward the impressive legacy of the RCAF. May the wings of the RCAF continue to soar high, defending freedom and peace for many more years. Congratulations on 100 years of exemplary service!
The Carty Brothers
Military service was in the Carty family blood. Five brothers from the Saint John, New Brunswick family served during the Second World War. They came by this dedication to duty honestly—their father Albert Carty had served with the No. 2 Construction Battalion during the First World War.
At a time when recruiting regulations restricted the ability of Black people to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force, all five overcame the odds and became airmen. Four of the five served at military bases in Canada during the war. Flight Sergeant Adolphus Carty, the eldest, was an airframe mechanic. His brother, Flight Sergeant William Carty, was an aeronautical inspector. Leading Aircraftman Clyde Carty was a firefighter. And Aircraftman (Second Class) Donald Carty was an equipment assistant.
Gerald Carty enlisted at age 18 and became one of the youngest commissioned officers in the Royal Canadian Air Force a year later. He served in the United Kingdom where he trained in radio and radar operation for aircrew.
In keeping with the family tradition, the two younger Carty brothers still at home during the war years, Robert and Malcolm, were members of the Army and Air Cadets.” ( www.veterans.gc.ca>eng, Anciens Combattants Canada, 2021-07-08)
“Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot Officer Gerald Carty was downed by enemy fire over occupied France during the Second World War; four of Officer Carty’s brothers were also active members of the RCAF. Unlike the movie, no rescue mission would be organized to save the pilot.
Gerald Carty was born in Saint John, N.B., in 1925. He was too young to enlist when older brothers Adolphus and William joined the air force after Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and war was declared. Three years later, in the spring of 1942, brothers Clyde and Donald joined the fight.” Gerald joined shortly afterward.
At 18, Gerald was the youngest officer in Canada.
The commission nearly didn’t happen for the airman. Even though the air force was integrated, when brass in Ottawa learned Carty was Black, the base commander at Mountain View received a memorandum questioning the soundness of selecting the airman for a commission.
The commander at Mountain View, furious that Carty’s achievement was in question, countered with a memo of his own, backing the young man.
Today, Gilbert Carty, Gerald’s nephew, says his uncle possessed a lot of courage. “I can only imagine the challenge he faced. He had tremendous marks (in his training classes), and he was up for the task. They could not revoke who he was.”
Officer Carty was posted to England in 1943.
“Officer Carty beat the odds until his 35th sortie. On a night mission over enemy territory, tracer bullets tore through his fuselage, igniting a fire and sending the four-engine heavy bomber plummeting to earth.
As a wireless-air gunner, his primary responsibility during routine flight was to transmit messages between the aircraft and base. This meant during a crash landing he must stay at his post and send out a distress signal to improve the crew’s chance of rescue. Carty remained aboard and crash-landed, a sandbank cushioning the impact. Initially reported “missing, believed killed,” in truth, the burned airman had been spirited to safety by members of the French Resistance, eventually making it to a hospital in Watford, England, where he spent months recuperating. All five Carty brothers survived the war and returned home decorated airmen.
Robert and Malcolm, continued the Carty tradition and enlisted in the Canadian armed forces. Malcolm joined during the Korean War and would remain with the military until the mid-1970s. Robert spent three decades in service of his country, some of that time as a peacekeeper in Cyprus.
What explains the Carty brothers’ desire to serve?
A generation earlier, their father, Albert Carty, and his three brothers-in-law did their part for king and country during the First World War. Thirty-seven years old and a father of five, Albert went to Europe with the all-Black No. 2 Construction Battalion with a trio of his wife’s brothers, Seymour, Harold and Charles. Seymore Tyler had the distinction of volunteering in the First and Second World Wars.
The Carty brothers made extraordinary contributions to civilian life after the Second World War. Returning home, they married and started families. Trans-Canada Airlines — the forerunner of Air Canada — expressed interest in hiring Gerald Carty as a commercial pilot. After Carty submitted a photograph of himself as requested, higher-ups saw he was Black and terminated the hiring process, Carty told Maclean’s in a 1995 article. Undeterred, he established his own charter company and applied his electronics smarts to found the first cable television company east of Montreal.
Gerald’s son David recalls the lesson his late father taught him, “You can do anything you try. One hundred twenty per cent. That was his motto.”
Adolphus became an ordained minister. With navigational skills acquired in the air force, William helped the founders of Perly’s Map Ltd. launch in 1948 and remained with the mapmaker for 25 years. Clyde was a boiler engineer and accomplished artist. Donald became a CPR porter, attended Ryerson Institute of Technology, worked for Canada Post and sidelined as a freelance writer.”
( Toronto Star, Feb 6, 2022 based on an article from The Evening Times - Globe, Saint John, New Brunswick, May 19, 1945.)