Veteran Stories:
Clifford Bush

Air Force

  • Clifford Bush and cousin circa 1936. Bush's cousin went on to become an architect, and helped design the bridges used during the D-Day landings and subsequent invasion of France.

    Clifford Bush
  • The crest of the RCAF Overseas Headquarters.

    Clifford Bush
  • Clifford Bush's medals, left to right: Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, War Medal 1939-45.

    Clifford Bush
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"Circumstances create heroes. I was no hero, though I was a volunteer and pleased to serve my King and country."


Good morning. My name is Clifford Bush. I was born and raised in the City of Toronto and had the privilege of joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. My ambition was to be a pilot, but at that time, in our Royal Canadian Air Force, we had more pilots than we had aircraft. Therefore, I ended up in coming into the Air Force as an administration clerk. Hopefully, that I was going to re-muster after that. I went overseas in 1941 and stayed there until September of 1945. I ended up in the RCAF Records Division when it was being formed and taking our records over from the Royal Air Force. In the City of Gloucester, I met a gentleman, a Squadron Leader, Cunningham, who took me to London with him and I was on the... strength of the Royal Canadian Air Force Headquarters in London but attached to British Air Ministry. We were in the casualty section, which also encompassed the missing research and enquiries section. What do I mean by missing research and enquiry? Many of our aircraft were shot down over Europe and other theatres of war and we lost many of our men, as you well know, but many, many were prisoners of war. There were many of our airmen who were hidden by various underground movements in Europe and other theatres of war. Very interesting working with all the different military intelligence groups that we had. Too often the word hero is used and it's a word that's been badly abused by Hollywood and the movies they turn out. Circumstances create heroes. I was no hero even though I was a volunteer and was pleased to serve my King and country at that time. There are literally hundreds of stories to tell about our ATS, which is the women's divisions of our army. And the WRENS which was the women's division of our Royal Canadian Navy. And of the WDs which was the women's division of our Royal Canadian Air Force. The Royal Air Force had the similar groups of women in the armed forces. The Air Force ones, of course, were called WAAFs - W- A- A- F - which is Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Basically what it meant. Even today, in our armed forces, we have many ladies who are contributing a great deal and they've now become pilots in some of our fighter aircraft. Back in our wartime, it was 1939-'45, some of the ladies, who were actually ferrying aircraft from Canada over to England. From Toronto they would fly to Montreal, refuel. From there they'd fly to Gander, Newfoundland and refuel. From there they would fly to Iceland, refuel. And then over to England, with near empty fuel tanks. These aircraft were twin motor and four motor aircraft, fighting and bombing machines. There were about a thousand civilians who were involved in flying the aircraft to England. One hundred of them were ladies. Gentlemen, may I say, a word of advice: never underestimate the strength, the courage and the power of this supposed weaker sex.
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