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The RCAF’s secret weapon in WWII: 6,000 Jewish personnel. Ellin speaks to the Air Crew Association of Ont. March 28, 2020

March 28 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am EDT

As the world prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, and the liberation of Europe and Asia from the Nazi-Axis forces, author and journalist Ellin Bessner visits the Air Crew Association of Ontario meeting in Toronto, to share a little known fact about how the Allied air force helped win the war.
Among the Canadians who volunteered, were 6,000 Jewish personnel who served in the RCAF and RAF. They served at great personal risk, should they be captured, and their faith be discovered by the Nazis. Yet they volunteered, for King and Country, and to save their own people from Hitler’s Final Solution, despite facing widespread antisemitism at home, from the government of Mackenzie King to the very military they signed up to serve. Even Canada’s most highly decorated Jewish RCAF Ace, F/L Sydney Shulemson, DSO and DFC, was never promoted higher, due to antisemitism.
Take a look at the racist remarks written on the recruitment form about future Pilot Officer Benny Yellin, who would go on to serve 49 missions in a Special Operations RAF Lancaster crew with No. 101 Squadron, operating the secret ABC “Cigar” jamming device in bombing raids over Germany.
military attestation papers
Interview notes from Montreal recruit Benny Yellin to join the RCAF.

Several hundred Canadian Jewish women also enlisted, but had to overcome society’s disapproval, unequal pay, and outright sexual harassment to be able to “serve so that men can fly.” One of these fascinating stories involves S/O Rose Goodman. She rose to the job of adjutant of a fighter pilot training school at RCAF Claresholm, in Alberta.

Bessner, the author of “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and WWII”, published by the University of Toronto Press, will have books available for sale and signing at the event.


March 28
9:00 am - 10:30 am EDT
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Patricia Stobbs


Canadian Forces College Officers’ Mess
215 Yonge Boulevard
Toronto, Ont. M5M 3H9 Canada
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Copyright © Ellin Bessner