St. Margarets, NB

1954 – Historical Narrative – National Archives of Canada


RCAF Station St. Margarets
21 AC&W Squadron

Historical Narrative
1 Jun 54 to 30 Nov 54


The role of RCAF Station St. Margarets has not changed since it was activated at the permanent location for 21 AC&W Squadron and 2 ADCC on 1 Nov 53. The station experienced a very rapid increase in personnel and at the same time accepted more responsibility operationally. Only minor changes have been made in the establishment and no increase in station facilities or accommodation has been made.

The strength of the station including 2 ADCC as of 30 Nov 54 is:









RCAF Station St. Margarets is still dependent upon RCAF Station Chatham for pay accounting and will continue to be until an accounts officer can be made available for the unit.

Part I – Administration


The only major change in the organization during the period was in the station headquarters section. Personnel administration now is the responsibility of the CAdO, with the Adjutant responsible to him for this duty. Another change in this section was the CAdO’s establishment, which was amended by deleting the F/L Adm position and adding a F/L aircrew position, with the addition of a F/O Adm assistant CAdO. The latter position has not been filled to date.

AFHQ and CHQ Staff Inspections and Visits

9 Jun 54

S/L Shaw, ADC/SOPC Branch conducted the first liaison visit between this unit and the Command SOPC branch.

17 Jun 54

A/V/M James paid a farewell visit to Station St. Margarets. On arrival, A/V/M James inspected the parade which had been formed in his honor. After delivering a farewell message to the personnel of this unit, the AOC and his party were briefed in the CO’s office.

29 Jun 54

An audit and inspection was completed at this unit by personnel from DND.

15 Jul 54

Mr. Davis, Associate Deputy Minister; Mr. McLaren, DCL Chief Engineer; W/C Hilton and S/L Brown, AFHQ/DCED; accompanied by G/C McKenna, CO Station Chatham, visited the unit regarding operational problems of the Diesel Plant.

10 Aug 54

A/C DS Blaine and A/C BF Johns from AFHQ visited the unit to discuss future station development and the siting of PMQs.

21 Sep 54

S/L Whitehead and F/O Hind from ADC/SOAF Branch conducted an inspection of the accounts section.

27 Oct 54

W/C Jackson, ADC/SOMS, conducted an inspection of the MIR.

8 Nov 54

S/L Bracken, ADC/SOCE Branch, completed an inspection of the CE Section.

Auxiliary Summer Camp

2450 AC&W Squadron (Aux.), Sherbrooke, Quebec, under Commanding Officer S/L FW McCrea arrived at this unit on 3 Jul 54 to engage in a two week program of intensive training. During this period 31 officers and airmen received general training and took an active part in the operational exercise "Check Point".


There were no changes in senior staff positions during the period. Personnel strength increased to 25 officers, 200 airmen, 85 airwomen, and 81 civilians, which is 89% of establishment. A high degree of morale was maintained throughout the summer months by providing as much variety as possible in the field of sports and entertainment.

Accommodation and Facilities

There was no new construction carried out during the period, consequently, the lack of accommodation remains as the number one problem at the unit. Two tier beds continue in use in all barrack blocks. Recreation facilities are confined to the lounges and canteens with space for one ping-pong table in the games room. There being no administration building, station headquarters continue to utilize the second and third floors in the south tower. No suitable space is available for sports equipment, reading rooms, post office and other similar requirements which go to make up a station.


The ration strength for the period averaged 180 per day, and the standard of messing was extremely good, which contributed much to the morale of the personnel. As no married quarters were available near the station, the sale of casual meals was quite high. The NCO in charge of messing, Sgt. JA Gulliver, operated the mess with a staff of 12 airmen and 22 civilians. Full course meals were served at midnight for shift workers.


The lack of recreational facilities was partly compensated for by transporting personnel to various centers of activities, including sea bathing which is available within 20 miles of the unit. The station hardball team participated in the Miramichi league, but did not win a place in the play-offs. The girls softball team won the trophy in the local league. A number of exhibition games were played with teams from various towns and communities, and much good will was fostered by this friendly competition.

Entertainment during the period consisted on monthly dances and a number of Bingo games. An outdoor carnival was held on 14 Oct, and the results obtained made all the preparation and good work by the entertainment committee really worthwhile. The station movie, which had been shown in the training projection room, was discontinued during the summer months. Personnel patronized the station theatre at Chatham which was operating 35 mm shows.

Interest in hobbies tapered off with the coming of spring and the shop was closed during the period. During October the services of an instructor in leather craft was obtained from the provincial government and considerable interest was shown. Instruction was given in the afternoon and evening for five days per week and many fine articles in leather craft were produced.

A station Glee Club was organized under the capable leadership of F/O Ralph Stewart and a program is being prepared for presentation during the Christmas season.


There were no major changes in the security organization during the period. Security personnel staff was reduced by postings and transfers to three security police. The station entrance and the operations building continued to be guarded by seven Corps of Commissionaire personnel, with one man on duty at each post. Security training films were shown monthly and a number of lectures were given to make personnel security conscious. D-26 action on all personnel continued and approximately 60% have been cleared to date.

The lack of a guard house and detention rooms entailed additional administrative duties. A new system for pass and identification for entry to the operations building was put into effect during the period.


There being no medical officer on strength, an MO from station Chatham held sick parades at 1300 hours daily, Monday to Friday inclusive. A Nursing Sister, F/O Todd, was on strength during the period, except from 2 Aug to 18 Aug, when a civilian nurse, Miss AJ Hilchey (RN), was employed as a replacement.

Other medical personnel on strength were Sgt. JW Hailstone (Med A) and LAW SJ Sterns (Med A). The location of the MIR in the ground floor of the airwomen’s barrack block is satisfactory under the present circumstances.


The installation of dental equipment is nearing completion, and is located in the section occupied by the MIR, in the airwomen’s barrack block. Major Fell of the RCADC at Station Chatham has arranged to provide dental service at this unit, one day per week commencing 13 Dec 54. At present, personnel are proceeding to Station Chatham for this service.

Chaplain Services

Chaplain services for the Protestant personnel is provided by the padre at Station Chatham. He conducts services each Sunday on the unit and is available for personnel counselling on Tuesday of each week.

Chaplain services for RC personnel is provided by the local priest, Reverend Grant, who was appointed to the Supplementary Reserve for this purpose. He also conducted services each Sunday at the unit and was available for personnel counselling during the week.

There being no chapel at the unit, services are held in the upstairs lounge in the Airmen’s Mess.

Part II – Operations


The 21 AC&W Squadron is responsible to 2 ADCC for the air defence of its sub-sector and is to:

  1. provide early warning and GCI control within its assigned sub-sector.
  2. assume operational control for aircraft and weapons assigned to it by 2 ADCC for the destruction of the enemy.
  3. provide navigational assistance for friendly, military and civil aircraft.
  4. assume such other responsibilities that higher authority may direct.

In addition, 21 Squadron has been required to identify all radar tracks reported into sector by 22 AC&W Squadron and its early warning station 221 Squadron. This has been and still is necessary because 22 Squadron is not established or equipped to carry out this function. Throughout the period of this diary, 8 hour GCI and 14 hour EW state was maintained except during exercises and alert periods when 24 hour GCI state was assumed.


21 AC&W Squadrons operational sections and equipment are house in one main operations building and two satellite towers. The site is referred to as a "Type C Modified". The main tower contains the operational rooms and houses and supports the main search FPS-3 radar. The two satellite towers support and house the height finding equipment, two ISG-98 radar units. Two mobile FPS-501 Height Finders were supplied to this squadron for back up facilities. It was found over the past year’s operation that the ISG-98 is far from satisfactory. They were difficult to maintain and seldom could a height on a target aircraft be obtained at sufficient range or in time to be of any operational value. ADC was approached in September 1954 to have the two FPS-501’s replace the ISG-98 radar as they were found to have a superior performance and were much more satisfactory from an operational point of view. Authority to remove the ISG-98’s from the satellite towers and replace it with the back up radar was granted in November 1954. As the installation is not yet completed, a success or failure of this change is not reported. The transmitter and receiver sites, 5 and 10 miles respectively, for this squadron have not been completed yet and the squadron is still dependent upon lash-up air-to-air communications which provide 7 VHF frequencies. Two additional frequencies are remoted from station Chatham. UHF transmitters and receivers were installed and then removed to the main receiver and transmitter sites to accommodate the electric contractor and are no longer available to the squadron.


21 AC&W Squadron is established for 18 controllers and 184 FtrCops. During the period the squadron operated with an average strength of 13 controllers and 115 FtrCops. They are organized in six crews which average 20 FtrCops. Each crew worked a sift of six days on and three days off. This arrangement has been found most satisfactory and does not mean a continual juggling of personnel to give them time off for statutory holidays and monthly 48’s. The squadron retains two crews on duty during GCI periods and one crew during the early warning state. Twelve other FtrCops are required to man the operations switchboard. The only supervisory personnel on strength of the squadron are one Flight Sergeant, two Sergeants and twelve Corporals. During this period one F/O was promoted to F/L rank, one Cpl. was made Acting Sgt., and seven airmen were promoted to Cpl.

Air Surveillance

From June to November, 21 AC&W Squadron’s traffic increased from 5732 tracks per month to 8700 per month. This increase in the work load together with a large turn-over in personnel presented a severe strain on the capability of the squadron due to its inexperience of the replaced airmen and airwomen. The identification problem became acute and changes in procedure and display methods were instituted in an attempt to solve the problem. By 30 November considerable improvement in identification efficiency resulted from these changes. Many problems such as the weakness in the forward telling position and the operational display remain to be solved. These problems will be much easier to cope with when 22 AC&W Squadron is raised to a GCI status and become capable of carrying out the identification for their area of responsibility.

Aircraft Control

Prior to 1 Jun 54 the squadron had very limited experience controlling aircraft due to inadequate VHF frequencies, lack of aircraft, and limited radar facilities. However, since participating in exercise "Check Point" in July, a steady build up in control provisions and communications facilities has been accomplished. This is apparent by the increased number of intercepts, GCI let downs, controlled flights and flight surveillance provided to the OTU aircraft. Three controllers are now required to provide 1 (F) OTU with adequate control when they are carrying out flight training.

A summary of AC&W operations statistics is submitted as Appendix "A".


21 AC&W Squadron participated in exercise "Check Point" on July 9, 10 and 11. The intention of "Check Point" was to exercise the defensive role of the assigned air defence forces of the Air Defence Command in North America. The squadron’s operations order and report on this exercise are submitted as appendices "B" and "C".

On the 13, 14, and 15 September, exercise "Think Fast 9" was carried out. This exercise consisted of a series of attempted interceptions of 44 USAF SAC B-47’s by employing 12 Sabre 5 aircraft as interceptors which were supplied by 1 (F) OTU. The experience gained in tracking and intercepting these high flying jet bombers was of great training value. Seventeen interceptions were attempted during the exercise of which only 12 were successful. The remainder were ineffective mainly because they resulted in tail chases. This indicated that the controllers required considerable practice intercepting high speed, high flying aircraft and to change their tactics accordingly.

Synthetic exercises such as "Brown Trout" and "Head Wind" also were fully utilized and provided desirable and needed training.

On 10 Nov, exercise "Jack Frost" which was designed to provide practice in co-ordinating GObC and AC&W information was successfully completed. A copy of the report of this exercise is submitted as Appendix "D".

Electronic Countermeasures (ECM)

The squadron was subjected to interference on six occasions during the period, most of which consisted of mechanical (Window) and VHF or communication jamming. The squadron had very little experience with electronic jamming and it should be noted that only once was this form of ECM experienced. The ECM flights were made by 104 K Flight of RCAF Station St. Hubert and by USAF B-25 aircraft located at Rome AFB, New York. The recognition of training provided by these flights is of the utmost importance and the experience gained as a result could well contribute to the deciding factor in our ability to control aircraft in a time of actual hostilities.


21 AC&W Squadron was fortunate in having a strong nucleus of trained personnel when they moved to the present site at St. Margarets but as our strength increased to the present establishment and the ranks were filled with less experienced personnel, our ability to operate efficiently became less and less. To combat this problem a training organization, consisting of one Controller and three FtrCops, was set up. Lectures were given to eligible FtrCops and a small operations room was used to familiarize new personnel with the operating procedures and positions used by the squadron. This method of training proved of great value operationally because the airmen and airwomen could be taught the practical side of each position without interfering with the actual AC&W operations. From the 1st June to 30th November eight Controllers attended Fighter Controller courses. With the exception of one, who received his training at RAF Station Middlewallop, England, the remainder were trained at the USAF Fighter Controller school, Tyndall AFB, Florida.

Liaison, Cross Training and Visits

Because many controllers were away on training courses, 21 AC&W Squadron did not exchange crews with any neighbouring USAF ADDC’s and there were no official visits or inspections made by Command Headquarters to the Operations Section. However, Sector personnel are located on the site are periodically conferences are held. Liaison and training visits were made to other units of 2 Sector which provided 21 Squadron with useful information and experience.

On July 3, 2450 AC&W Squadron (Aux.) located at Sherbrooke, Quebec, arrived for their annual two weeks summer training. This unit was integrated with the squadron and participated in exercise "Check Point".

On October 19, F/L JW Park, Ops 1, attended USAF, EDAF, Senior Controllers course at Stewart AFB, Newburgh, New York.

During exercise "Think Fast 9", Dr. Ross and Miss Fulton both of ADC’s Operations Research Section, evaluated and prepared a report on our high level tracking ability and to some extent reported on the Squadrons findings in regard to the ISG-98.

Each course receiving operational training at Station Chatham visits this station for one day during their training period and are given a lecture and tour through the Operations Building. This, together with their training with the OUT, has proved to be necessary and valuable to the squadron as well as providing the trainees with an insight into the air defence organization.

Part III - Technical

Radar Maintenance

Jun 54

During the month of June two projects were carried out on the FPS-3 equipment. Extraordinary maintenance was required to reduce the survey error in the ISG-98 offset following angle. Extraordinary maintenance was also required for radome repair (1145Z 18 Jun to 1400Z 22 Jun). A shortage of IB23 TR tubes and high voltage pulse transformer caused an extended period of limited serviceability.

Canadian Marconi Company Engineers arrived to complete work on the ISG-98, this required approximately one week. Considerable trouble was experienced in servicing this equipment, this may be attributed to a peculiarity of the wave guide switches and associated circuitry. Radome repair was started on the 22nd Jun and completed on the 26th Jun.

During Jun only preliminary checking was done on the TPS-501 equipment but none of it was removed from the vans.

Jul 54

During July serviceability of the FPS-3 was normal, approximately eight days were limited due to lack of a HV pulse transformer.

Trouble with waveguide switch relays continued to plague the serviceability if the ISG-98 and the equipment was subsequently operated in the "hold" position to prevent further scanning troubles.

During this month one TPS-501 was installed as a mobile installation for the July exercise. Lack of experience and trained personnel resulted in abnormal difficulties in getting the set serviceable. It was finally reported in a "Newtel" at 1905Z 10 Jul, as serviceable and available for operations. Although results indicated that this site could be used if necessary, work on a more permanent roof installation commenced by the end of the month.

Aug 54

The FPS-3 was limited to one beam operation for the entire month.

AMC representatives investigated the peculiar faults of the ISG-98 waveguide switches. The fault was attributed to an incorrect cam in the antenna switch unit, resulting in longer than normal switching pulses. This equipment became unserviceable soon after to the pulse changing relay so that the effect of the new cam could not be determined.

During August routine modifications were completed on one TPS-501. The installation of one unit in the roof location was completed, the other being left in the temporary ground location.

Sep 54

During September the FPS-3 was completely operational for three weeks, and for the remainder of the time one transformer was unserviceable because of the high voltage pulse transformer.

During this month the ISG-98 was left in an available state and no request was received to operate it.

The TPS-501 installation on the north roof was operated and results were satisfactory although complete coverage could not be obtained. The other equipment was dismantled in its ground location and installation on the south roof location was complete by the end of the month.

Oct 54

The FPS-3 transmitters were modified during the month (1300 hours Z 27 Oct to 0400 hours Z 31 Oct) accounting for most of the unserviceable time, otherwise the operation of the old type transmitters was satisfactory.

The final corrective maintenance to be performed on ISG-98 equipment was done on 1 Oct when the pulse changing relay contacts in equipment number one were installed, enabling the equipment to be operated in "wide" pulse position. Subsequent to this date both equipments were placed on an available status.

The TPS-501 installed on the south roof became operational this month but attempts to utilize blanking circuits to eliminate mutual interference was unsuccessful. Some unserviceable time resulted from critical spares. Slight interference with the FPS-3 was noticed and operations were reluctant to make full use of this equipment.

Nov 54

During most of the month limited unserviceability of the FPS-3 resulted from critical spares. i.e. high voltage pulse transformers. A fault developed in the rotation control circuit (azimuth motor starter) and the fault was finally cleared by adjustment. Replacement parts for this are unavailable.

ISG-98 equipment in the south satellite tower was completely disassembled and removed from the radome.

TPS-501 equipment in the south roof location was removed and placed in the south satellite tower. This installation was completed by the end of the month.


Jun 54

On 24 June, upon receipt of spares and crystals, the other 3 VHF channels were made operational and at end-month a spare channel was also operational.

On 31 May excavation for the new transmitter building began. The contract for this was awarded to Caldwell Construction Company, Fredericton, NB. Excavations and form of the transmitter building proceeded slowly through the month of June.

Jul 54

On 8 Jul, Major P Stewart (USAF) arrived as official CTelO’s observer for Exercise "Check Point" returning to ADCHQ on 12 Jul.

During the month word was received that Cossor (Canada) Ltd. had been awarded the contract covering installation of the equipment at the TX and RX sites, remoting facilities at Station Chatham and this unit, the poles and antenna forms at both sites, and clearing and stumping grubbing of additional wooded land at the TX site as well as grubbing of the entire site.

The first shipments of equipment for these sites arrived the latter part of July.

On 29 Jul, the UHF equipment arrived awaiting temporary installation in the "lash-up" workshops by an installation party from 6 RD as project W424 – this equipment consisted of one multi-channel and five single channels.

Aug 54

On 20 Aug the UHF installation (project W424) was completed at this unit with exception of 4 single channel TX’s taken to 6 RD for modification. This party was headed by F/O Fulton with FS Perrault and 3 Techs.

The engineer i/c of installation, Mr. Abbass, visited the unit; additional equipment was received for the sites.

Construction of the TX building was approximately 15% complete at end month.

Sep 54

FS Perrault returned from 6 RD the first of the month and installed the 4 modified UHF TX’s.

Cossor (Canada) Ltd. started installation of the equipment at the RX site. All single channel UHF RX’s were removed from the "lash-up" installation and installed at the RX site the end of Sep.

On 7 Sep, FS RL Locke, Com M Supr, was TOS from Station Chatham and employed as the REO’s assistant at the sites.

Construction of the TX building continued to be slowed by adverse weather and was approximately 30% complete by 30 Sep.

The sub-contract for clearing, stumping and grubbing at the TX site, erection of the antenna forms at both sites and installation of the ground mat for the LF tower, has been awarded to North Shore Const. Co. and a start has been made at the RX site and clearing at the TX site.

Canada Bridge Co. were awarded the contract for erection of a 250 ft. steel LF tower.

Oct 54

The DND Inspection Services Representative, Mr. D McPhee, arrived at the sites and will remain until final completion of equipment installation contract.

Canada Bridge had placed the concrete tower-footings and erection of the tower will be carried out in the spring of 1955.

On 27 Oct, all remaining UHF lashup equipment was removed and handed over to Cossor to permit installation of the Antennae.

Placing of poles at RX site was 65% complete at end of month. All equipment now on hand was placed in RX site with wiring approximately 60% complete. All phases of outside construction continued to be held up by extremely wet weather. At end month, the TX building was approximately 35% complete.

On 20 Oct, Mr. H Ponting of Bell Telephone arrived to temporarily replace Mr. B Alexander, as Assistant A/Wire Chief, who left 23 Oct.

Nov 54

Installation of equipment and wiring at RX site was completed on all equipment on hand and installation of equipment and cabling progressed in the Monitor Room at this unit.

The antenna farm at the RX site was nearly completed and erection of poles started at TX site. The clearing, stumping and grubbing of TX site continued but was delayed by weather. Laying of ground mat for LF tower was approximately 85% complete.

Telecommunications General

During this period, there was an approximately 50% changeover in Telecom personnel. Of 19 persons transferred out, 6 went to conversion training, 3 for release, and the balance normal career transfers.

On 1 Oct the following 4 promotions were received: Cpl. GR Flegel Radar Tech (G) to Sgt., two Radar Techs (G) to Cpl. and one Comm Tech (G) to Cpl.

CE Section

During the a/m period the CE Section has had several personnel changes. In October our storeman, Mr. Whitty left for a new position in Chatham, Mr. Roger Carroll taking over the duties of storeman. FS JW O’Hara arrived from Station Greenwood to take over the position of Foreman of Works. On 15 Nov F/O GM Smith was transferred to Station North Bay with F/O JR Rundle from ADC HQ taking over the duties of CEO.

On 15 Jul the unit was visited by Mr. Davis of the DM’s Office; Mr. McLaren, chief engineer for DCL; W/C Hilton and S/L Brown of AFHQ, DCED. On 10 Aug A/C DS Blaine and A/C BF Johns visited the unit to discuss siting of PMQ’s and future station development.

The latter part of Aug S/L Forbes-Roberts and F/O Smith visited AFHQ to finalize siting of PMQs and other new construction.

Construction was started on a new Armco building in Sep, this building to be used as an interim Recreation building and snack bar pending construction of the proposed Rec. Hall.

During the summer the landscaping project was completed.

Installation of equipment in the Receiver Building has been started and the construction of the Transmitter Building is about 50% complete.