Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

The RCAF’s secret weapon in WWII: 6,000 Jewish personnel. Ellin @ the Air Crew Association July 18, 2020

July 18, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT

As the world marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in WWII, author and journalist Ellin Bessner visits the Air Crew Association of Ontario meeting in Toronto, via ZOOM, to share a little known story about how the Allies won the air 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. They served despite facing widespread antisemitism at home, from the government of Mackenzie King, and in the very military they signed up to serve.
Even Canada’s most highly decorated Jewish Ace, F/L Sydney Shulemson, DSO and DFC, was never promoted higher due to antisemitism.
We’ll highlight some of the Canadians who were among “The Few”, the RAF pilots during the deadly summer of 1940.
And we’ll introduce you to those German-speaking Jewish airmen who manned secret jamming equipment while flying over the skies of Europe.  One was Pilot Officer Benny Yellin, of Montreal, who would go on to serve 49 missions in a Special Operations RAF Lancaster crew with No. 101 Squadron, operating the secret ABC “Cigar” during bombing raids.
If you would like the ZOOM link, please email Ellin and she will send it to you a day before the ZOOM talk.
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 is the author of “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and WWII”, published by the University of Toronto Press. Books can be purchased through UTPress, Amazon and Chapters. For those customers who live in the Toronto area, you can buy signed copies directly from the author, by arrangement. Contact Ellin  here.


July 18, 2020
11:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT
Event Tags:
, , , , , , , ,


Patricia Stobbs


Via Zoom contact Ellin for the link
Toronto, Ont. Canada + Google Map
Copyright © Ellin Bessner