Prior to the inception of the Empire Air Training Scheme (as it was commonly known in Australia), the RAAF trained only about 50 pilots per year. Under the Air Training Agreement, Australia undertook to provide 28,000 aircrew over three years, representing 36% of the total number trained by the BCATP. [N 1] By 1945, more than 37,500 Australian aircrew had been trained in Australia; a majority of these, over 27,300, had also graduated from schools in Australia.
During 1940, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) schools were established across Australia to support EATS in Initial Training, Elementary Flying Training, Service Flying Training, Air Navigation, Air Observer, Bombing and Gunnery and Wireless Air Gunnery.
The first flying course started on 29 April 1940. Keith Chisholm (who later became an ace and served with No. 452 Squadron RAAF over Europe and the Pacific) was the first Australian to be trained under EATS.
For a period, most RAAF aircrews received advanced training in Canada. During mid-1940, however, some RAAF trainees began to receive advanced training at RAF facilities in Southern Rhodesia.
On 14 November 1940, the first contingent to graduate from advanced training in Canada embarked for the UK. In January 1942, Clive Caldwell – the highest-scoring Australian ace of the war – became the first BCATP/EATS graduate to command a RAF squadron (112 Sqn)
Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, a majority of RAAF aircrews completed their training in Australia and served with RAAF units in the South West Pacific Theatre. In addition, an increasing number of Australian personnel were transferred from Europe and the Mediterranean to RAF squadrons in the South East Asian Theatre. Some Article XV squadrons were also transferred to RAAF or RAF formations involved in the Pacific War. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of RAAF personnel remained in Europe and RAAF Article XV squadrons continued to be formed there.
By early 1944, the flow of RAAF replacement personnel to Europe had begun to outstrip demand and – following a request by the UK government – was wound back significantly. Australian involvement was effectively terminated in October 1944, although it was not formally suspended until 31 March 1945.