Title and statement of responsibility area
Air Observer’s half-wing badges.
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
[between 1941 and 1942] (Creation)
- Canada. Royal Canadian Air Force
Physical description area
3 badges : cotton embroidered on felt ; 3 x 9 cm
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Archival description area
Name of creator
The Canadian Air Force (CAF) was established in 1920 as the successor to a short-lived two-squadron Canadian Air Force that was formed during the First World War in Europe. In 1923, the CAF became responsible for all flying operations in Canada, including civil aviation. In 1924, the Canadian Air Force, was granted the royal title, becoming the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
Name of creator
Cameron "Cam" Clare Hill was born on November 17, 1920 to Britton L. Hill and Grace Mildred Huff in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was raised alongside his two siblings; Lewis Eugene Hill (1909-1976) and Margaret Elizabeth Hill (1911-1990).
Cameron and his family moved to Kitchener, Ontario in 1930 and lived in a house at 49 Simeon Street.
Cameron attended Suddaby Public School, originally known as Central School, and then Kitchener Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School. As a teenager, Cameron enjoyed skiing and was a member of the Chicopee Ski Club in Kitchener, Ontario.
On June 27, 1940, Cameron enlisted to serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force Special Reserve during the Second World War. Cameron's attestation papers are dated October 14, 1940. He was assigned ID # R75616.
Subsequently, Cameron was enrolled in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), a joint military aircrew training program created by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand during the Second World War. Between 1940 and 1941, Cameron Hill was stationed at three different airbases and received specialized training in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). He was certified as a Bomb Aimer & Air Gunner at the Royal Canadian Air Force Station Jarvis in the No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School. He was also certified as an Astronomical Navigator at the Royal Canadian Air Force Station Rivers (later renamed CFB Rivers) in the No. 1 Air Navigation School. In addition, he was certified as an Observer at the Royal Canadian Air Force Station Malton in the No. 1 Air Observer School. Cameron celebrated his BCATP Wings Parade on June 7, 1941 and was promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant.
On August 15, 1941, Cameron Hill sailed with a convoy transporting Allied troops from Halifax Harbour in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool, England. The convoy briefly stopped over in Iceland. Cameron was temporarily stationed in England from September 1941 to May 1942 to complete additional training. He was assigned to No. 11 Operational Training Unit RAF (11 OTU) on September 30, 1941.
Shortly after, he was assigned to the No. 40 Squadron of the Royal Air Force and eventually was deployed from England to the Middle East in May 1942. The No. 40 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was based near El Alamein, Egypt less than 100 kilometers from the cities of Cairo and Alexandria. The Squadron commenced operations near El Alamein on June 23, 1942 and carried out raids to Tobruk, Libya, Beersheba, Israel, and El Dabaa, Egypt.
On October 7, 1942, Cameron and fellow aircrew left the base at El Alamein, Egypt to complete a flight operation flying towards Tobruk, Libya. During the flight, the aircraft propeller fell off and the engine failed. All aircrew members were forced to bail out of the Vickers Wellington aircraft by parachute in the early morning hours on October 8, 1942. Cameron and fellow crew member, Pilot Bowhill, were separated from the other four members of the aircrew during the crash landing and set out on foot for British lines. Cameron and Bowhilll were captured by Axis powers on October 11, 1942.
Between October 1942 and May 1945, Cameron Hill was held in custody as a prisoner of war (POW) and sent to POW camps in Libya, Italy, Austria, Prussia, Poland, and Germany. In May and September 1942, Cameron received two rank promotions to Commissioned Officer.
In the early months of 1945, Cameron Hill was forced to march westward across Germany along with many other Allied prisoners of war during the final stages of the Second World War. On May 2, 1945 Cameron was near the town of Kittlitz when a patrol of vehicles of the British Second Army arrived and liberated the Allied prisoners of war.
Cameron returned to England on May 11, 1945 and was repatriated back to Canada on June 1, 1945. Cameron was honourably released from service on September 21, 1945 and transferred to the Reserve, General Section, Class "E." He received five medals for his service during the Second World War including the 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, and the War Medal 1939-1945.
After the war, Cameron completed some business courses at the University of Toronto with benefits from the Veteran's Charter. Eventually, he joined his father in the family business, Bernardo Hill Tile & Terrazzo (later Hill & Glasser Ltd.)
Cameron married Jean Margaret Thompson on May 19, 1948 and together they had three children; James Cameron Hill (b. May 13, 1949) and twins Barbara Jean Hill and Gregory John Hill (b. May 7, 1951). Cameron was actively involved with the Kitchener-Waterloo Young Men's Christian Association and received the YMCA's highest honour, the Lou Buckley Award, after forty years of service.
Cameron died on October 31, 1988 in Kitchener, Ontario.
Scope and content
Three Air Observer’s half-wing badges, also known as ‘O’ badges, that were issued to Cameron Hill by the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.
Immediate source of acquisition
Donated by the Hill Family in 2019.
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Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
The Air Observer’s half-wing badge indicated an individual’s trade in the air force other than pilot, generally a navigation role such as Air Observer, Air Bomber, and Air Navigator.
During the First World War, the Air Observer’s half-wing badge was authorized in Canada to distinguish Royal Flying Corps observers employed in air reconnaissance. The badge became obsolete in the 1920s but was then re-instated in Canada in 1938 and issued to personnel in February 1940.
In 1942, the Air Observer’s half-wing badge was replaced with WAG (Wireless Air Gunner, Navigator, Bomb Aimer) badges however, personnel who had already been issued Air Observer’s half-wing badges were permitted to continue wearing them.
The Air Observer’s half-wing badge features a letter 'O' attached to a half-wing. Both the letter and the half-wing are embroidered in a light white or beige colour. The badges were to be worn on the left breast of an individual's uniform.
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Described by NM in May 2019.
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Script of description
Information about material in this file was, in part, gathered from the following sources: