This Week in History
A Little Piece of Norway in Canada
For the week of Monday April 7, 2008
On April 9, 1940, Germany’s armed forces launched a surprise attack on Norway.
Once the active resistance was over, the Norwegian government looked to Canada to relocate the Royal Norwegian Air Force. Canada was seen as an ideal location due to its spaciousness and its close proximity to the United States, from whom Norway was purchasing planes. The Royal Norwegian Air Force’s training centre, ‘Little Norway,’ officially opened at Island Airport in Toronto on November 10, 1940.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force fought as independent units within England’s Royal Air Force, thus the training at Little Norway was synchronized with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Upon completion of elementary training at Little Norway, students entered into the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and were then posted to various training schools across Canada. Thirty-three hundred airmen in various capacities were trained at Little Norway during the war.
The first Norwegian unit, 330 (Norwegian) Squadron, Coastal Command, RAF went to Iceland in April 1941 and the first all-Norwegian fighter squadron 331 (Norwegian) Squadron, Fighter Command, RAF, went on active service in England in June 1941. Norwegian Squadrons 332 (Fighter Command) and 333 (Coastal Command) soon joined the Royal Air Force.
The Norwegian recruits received a very warm welcome from both the Canadians and the Americans. Many Canadian families and organizations took in the recruits and treated them like family during their time in Canada. Many of the Norwegian recruits ended up marrying Canadian girls and many others returned to Canada after the war.
Norwegian training in Canada during the Second World War was designated a National Historic Event in 2001.
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