Article XV Squadrons

17 December 1939 -


Article XV of the Riverdale Agreement that implemented the Empire Training Scheme (EATS) on 17 December 1939 made provision for the formation of distinct dominion squadrons within the Royal Air Force's order of battle. Thus, the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand airmen trained under the scheme would serve in Australian, Canadian and New Zealand squadrons. After negotiations, a further agreement was signed on 17 April 1941 that provided for the formation of 25 Canadian, 18 Australian and 6 New Zealand Squadrons under Article XV.

Article XV was a product of the dominions' experience during the First World War. Each government wished to retain the capacity to influence the employment of their personnel and ensure they were not simply subsumed into the large British organisation. For its part, Britain was not prepared to let the large numbers of dominion personnel result in the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand governments seeking to influence strategic air policy. The British retained control of command appointments to the Article XV squadrons and of the promotion of dominion personnel serving with the RAF.

Ultimately 44 Canadian, 16 Australian and 6 New Zealand squadrons were formed. Shortages of appropriately trained personnel, combined with often obstructive RAF posting and promotions policy, meant that early in their existence many of the Article XV squadrons were devoid of their national character and virtually indistinguishable from ordinary RAF squadrons. By the end of the war, however, most Australian squadrons had developed a distinct national character. The bulk of Australian EATS graduates, however, did not serve with the Article XV squadrons but with a mainstream RAF squadron.