Ernest Emmett Francis Devlin by Turnar Kist

The Winnipeg Tribune. July 25, 1939.

Lest we forget
Rank, Unit, Division

Ernest Emmett Francis Devlin by Turnar Kist | | Essay | Military Service Record | Grave Reference | Additional information/links | This was probably the type of plane which Ernie was piloting when he he crashed. | | | Important Locations for Ernest Devlin. | Video | Citations
  • Name:Ernest Devlin
  • Service Regimental Number:n/a
  • Rank:n/a
  • Height/weight:n/a
  • Colour of eyes:n.a
  • Marital status:Single
  • Religion:Catholic
  • Address:116 Langside Street(Picture below from Google maps)
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): James Devlin-Father
  • Date of enlistment:March 1, 1938
  • City and province of enlistment:Winnipeg, Manitoba


Ernest Emmett Francis Devlin, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War 2 was born on February 6, 1917 to the parents James Devlin and Marie Devlin. He was born in Napinka, Manitoba, Canada, which is located northeast of Melita, Manitoba. Ernest was of the Catholic faith, was of Irish-Canadian descent and was also single. Ernest grew up at 116 Langside Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he lived with his two parents. He was well known in amateur athletic circles around the city since he played football, baseball, rugby and hockey. He was also very talented at all of those. Although he didn’t really have hobbies outside of sports, he would later become a member of the student council at St. Paul’s college while he was attending university at the University of Manitoba. While at the University of Manitoba, he wanted to complete an arts degree. While at university, he had a job working at the Gunney Gold Mine as a surface laborer. During his university though, on March 1, 1938, Ernie Devlin applied to be a member of the Air Force in Canada’s army. Ernie was just 21 years old when he applied, and he applied for permanent commission in the air force. At first, Ernest was stationed at Trenton, Ontario from November 7, 1938 to May 1, 1939, but was then transferred to Camp Borden, also in Ontario and was stationed there up until his death.(Records of War)

During Ernie’s training, he was a Pilot Officer in the Air Force. The first step for those who qualified for pilot training was a posting to an Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS). An eight week course involved all aspects of basic flight and navigation and about fifty hours of flying in the single engine primary training aircraft such as Fleet Fawns, Fleet Finches, de Havilland Tiger Moths, and later in the war, Fairchild Cornells. (British Commonwealth Training Plan) The plane which Ernie crashed in was known as a Fleet Trainer. The Fleet Trainer was a two-place open land or seaplane biplane. Standard equipment includes Hartzell wood propeller or Curtiss Reed metal propeller, and battery. (Fleet Trainer) Successful graduates of an EFTS would be posted to a Service Flying Training School (SFTS) where students were expected to improve their navigational skills, master instrument and night flying, and participate in formation flying exercises. Most faced the challenge of adapting to flying larger, twin-engine aircraft such as the Avro Anson or Cessna Crane. Pilots who were judged suited to flying fighter aircraft flew the single-engine Harvard aircraft, much more powerful and demanding than the aircraft at EFTS. Upon graduation from an SFTS, the pilot was ready to continue his training at an Operational Training Unit (OTU), generally in Britain. Other aircrew were assigned to BCATP schools devoted to their specialty such as navigation, wireless, and bombing and gunnery schools where a variety of aircraft were used in their training. The presence of the BCATP base had a major effect on the nearby communities, not the least of which was providing a sizable economic boost for towns which had still not recovered from the depression of the Thirties. The air force personnel were generally made welcome and participated with the civilian population in various sporting, cultural, and social events both on the base and off. Of the Canadians trained in the BCATP, 25,747 would become pilots: 12,855 navigators; 6,659 air bombers; 12,744 wireless operators; 12,917 air gunners, and 1,913 flight engineers.(British Commonwealth Training Plan)

Sadly, during training on July 24th, 1939, at the age of 22, the unthinkable happened. While carrying out formations ,with one of his classmates, J.B. Reynolds, at about 2:15 pm, near Cookstown(Picture below), Ernie’s plane, a fleet trainer, crashed into a tree after practicing a dive, and help was sent to him immediately; sadly, it was too late.(Letter to Parents) At the age of 22, the athlete, family member and good friend, died, even before the war had begun. On the same day of his death, the stories on the front page of the Winnipeg Tribune was talking about such things as, how The British were not going to bribe Hitler, as well as articles about The Japanese not standing as tall for invaded areas, and a golf tournament held in Winnipeg. The first two articles are relevant to Ernie because they are both surrounding the war which he would have fought in. Ernest's funeral was held at St. Mary’s Cathedral on a Friday, in July of 1939 at 9:30 am, and his plot was to be placed in his family’s plot. Like a service may be held for someone in the Air Force, there was a last Post, the gathering of members of the Air Force, and his service was also held by Archbishop A.A Sinnott. The last post is when rifles are fired as well as members of the 112 Squadron flying airplanes overhead with their wings dipped towards the chapel. There was also an Air Force procession down Hargrave Street, through Broadway, and down Osbourne Street to the cemetery where Ernest was to be buried.(Full Air Force Honors Mark Pilot's Funeral) After being in the Air Force for only about a year, the beloved son, sports star, friend and crusader, had now passed away sadly at the age of 22, and still rests in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Military Service Record

  • Age (at death): 22
  • Force:Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Unit:F.T.S Trenton
  • Service Number:n/a
  • Honours and Awards:None
  • Photograph:Yes
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): James Devlin-Father
  • Date of Death: July 24th, 1939
  • Country of Burial:Canada
  • Cemetery:St. Mary's Cemetery(Picture below)
  • Grave Reference: Section N, Grave 308, in Kavanagh family plot.
  • Location:Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Book of Remembrance:N/a

Grave Reference

  • Name of Cemetery: St. Mary's Cemetery
  • Grave Reference: Section N, Grave 308
Include the diagram of the cemetery if possible. Also provide some information about the cemetery if possible.

Grave_reference_pic.JPG This is where Ernie is buried. It is located on 520 Osbourne Street, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and the cemeterywas built on September 12,1884. Ernest is buried on the Kavanagh family plot.

Additional information/links

The Winnipeg Tribune, July 27, 1939.

Consolidated Fleet Trainer.
This was probably the type of plane which Ernie was piloting when he he crashed.

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This is outside of where Ernie started his training.

Grave of Ernest Devlin

July, 1939, The Winnipeg Tribune. newspapers/WPT/1939/07/28/articles/36.xml/ iarchives?query=ernest%2BAND%2Bdevlin%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers. Article about his funeral

July 24, 1939, This is a major article from the day Ernest Devlin died.

Important Locations for Ernest Devlin.

View Larger Map This is probably Ernie's permanent address. This is a map from Google maps.

View Larger Map Birthplace of Ernest. This is from Google maps.

View Larger Map This is near where Ernie crashed. This is from Google maps.


This is a video about the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.


"The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan." BomberCommandMuseum. N.p., n.d.
Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <>

"The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan." Canada Remembers. N.p., n.d. Web.
25 Apr. 2012. <

"Consolidated Fleet Trainer." History of Airplanes. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.

"Deaths." The Winnipeg Tribune 27 July 1939: n. pag. Manitobia. Web. 26 Apr.
2012. <

"Full Air Force Honors Mark Pilot's Funeral." The Winnipeg Tribune28 July 1939: 3.
Manitobia. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <

Military File of Ernest Emmett Francis Devlin. Library Archives Canada(LAC) Record Group(RG) 150, Accession, Box 5855-37.

"Obituary." The Winnipeg Tribune25 July 1939: 3. Manitobia. Web. 25 Apr. 2012.

The Winnipeg Tribune 24 July 1939: 1. Manitobia. Web. 16 May 2012.