George Mitchell Croil, born June 5th, 1893,
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; died April 8th,
1959, in Vancouver, B.C. Royal Canadian
Air Force (RCAF) officer.
Vice-Marshal G.M. Croil
Defence Image Library, PL 117513.
During WWI, G. M. Croil wore the badge
of the Royal Flying Corps and trained new
pilots in Salonika and in the Middle East;
he was for some time T.E. Lawrence's (Lawrence
of Arabia) own pilot on desert missions.
Appointed to the Canadian Air Board in
1919, Croil helped ensure that Canada maintained
an air force during the peace era. He was
instrumental in establishing air force bases
in Morley and High River, Alberta. When
the RCAF was founded in 1924 under the authority
of the Canadian Army, Croil was among its
first officers. In 1925, he was sent to
Britain as liaison officer with the Royal
Air Force (RAF) and attended training at
the RAF Staff College. Back in Canada, he
served for five years as Commanding Officer
of the Camp Borden (Ontario) training base.
In 1931, Croil, once more in Great Britain,
completed his training at the Imperial Defence
College. He was appointed Senior Air Officer
with the RCAF, and in 1938 succeeded in
securing the RCAF's independence from the
Army. A dedicated advocate of a strong,
independent, national air force for Canada,
Croil was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal and
became Canada's first Chief of Air Staff.
A reserved man, strict and professional,
Croil stood out as an exceptional administrator.
When C.G. Power became Minister of Defence
for Air in May 1940, he asked for Croil's
resignation: while acknowledging Croil's
qualities as a conscientious officer, he
admitted to being somewhat put off by his
"puritanical and regimental" disposition.
Professional to the end, Croil accepted
an appointment as Inspector General of the
RCAF. He retired in 1944.