H. P. Crabb:

An Inventory of his papers at the University of Archives & Special Collections

Inventory prepared by Diana Saunders
University of Archives & Special Collections
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Finding aid encoded by D. Saunders (2012)
Finding aid written in English.

Collection Summary

University Archives & Special Collections
Winnipeg, Manitoba

H.P. Crabb

H.P. Crabb Fonds


0.50 m textual records; 410 photographs and other material

Mss 357, Pc 312 (A.12-17)


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Biography of H. P. Crabb

Herbert Philip Crabb was born in Donisthorpe, Leicestershire, England on January 8, 1889. He came to Canada in 1904 as a boy of fifteen and settled at Borden, Saskatchewan. In 1907, after a few years of farm work he joined the staff of the Bank of Commerce in Radisson, Saskatchewan. In 1912 he went to Winnipeg, Manitoba and worked for the real estate firm of Stephenson and Field. In April 1915 he enlisted in Winnipeg in the Canadian Remount Depot of Calgary. In May he went to France with Canadian 3rd Echelon Headquarters. In January 1917 Mr. Crabb transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and received flying training in Christ Church, Oxford. He was then posted as a flight instructor and after qualifying for service in the R.A.F. he became wing examining officer with the 26th Wing, R.A.F. at Cambridge. Towards the end of the war (1918) he was training instructors at Fowlmere, Cambridge, on Handley Page bomber aircraft.

In July 1919 he returned to Winnipeg and became a member of Stephenson, Field, and Crabb. It was at Fowlmere that he met Doreen Simons, who was a transport driver with the W.R.A.F. She came to Canada in 1921 and they were married in Winnipeg. He was 32 years old. In 1923 Mr. Crabb formed his own firm, Crabb and Company Ltd. with himself as president. He later formed the Crabb Construction Company, which built many of the larger homes in Winnipeg. He was also president of Moss Products Ltd. and General Discounts Ltd. He eventually sold Crabb and Company in 1953 and since then was self-employed in the investment business. During World War Two, he became commanding officer of the 112th City of Winnipeg Squadron from 1937 to 1939. He mobilized the squadron for active service, and every officer and 95 percent of the men volunteered for active service. In December 1939 Phil Crabb went to Air Force Headquarters in Ottawa with the rank of squadron leader, going to the Directorate of Manning. He was promoted to wing commander and deputy director of Manning in March 1940, and director in November 1941 with the rank of group captain. He was later second in command of No. 4 Air Training Command at Calgary and then commanding officer of No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mont Joli, Quebec.

In the summer of 1944, at the age of 55, he returned to Winnipeg. Phil Crabb served for many years on the Assessment Board of the City of Winnipeg and was also regional director for the Dominion Department of Labor. One of his main interests was the development of Canadian aviation. He served as a commissioner of the St. James – Winnipeg Airport Commission. He was a founder-member of the Aviation League of Manitoba, the Aviation League of Canada, and the Winnipeg Flying Club. Along with Bill Straith and Air Vice Marshall John Sully, Group Captain Crabb located and founded the airport in Winnipeg. He was later chosen to investigate the death of young Frederick J. Stevenson (1896-1928) who was killed in a flying accident in Northern Manitoba. On his return he suggested using the name Stevenson Field which is now Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. He was a member of the Winnipeg Gyro Club since its organization in 1920 and the Wartime Pilots’ and Observers’ Association. He was President of the St. George’s Snowshoe Club, and the Winnipeg Real Estate Board and a member of the Manitoba Club, St. Charles Country Club, Motor Country Club, and the Winnipeg Winter Club. Group Captain Crabb died at Winnipeg on May 5, 1966 after suffering from a series of strokes being survived by his wife Doreen and his son John Philip Crabb.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The fonds consists of H.P. Crabb's documents, notebooks, training manuals, correspondence, and photographs from his military service with the RFC in World War I and the RCAF in World War II.

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Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged into three series and photograph collection.

  • 1. Military Service
  • 2. Civil Aviation
  • 3. Personal
  • Pc 312 (A.12-17) - Photograph Collection

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Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on access.

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Custodial History

The fonds was donated to the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections by John Philip Crabb 2012.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

MILITARY SERVICE [ 1915-1974 ]
11 World War One correspondence & documents re: enlistment, orders, transfer, discharge, repatriation 1915-1919
2 Cadet Crabb's handwritten notebook 1917
3 Cadet Crabb's Loose Leaf Notebook with handwritten notes and diagrams 1917
4 Army Book 425, Pilot's Flying Log Book 1918-1919
5 RAF Pilot's Flying Log Book 1934-1944
6 Flying Training Manual "A" Flight No. 12 Squadron RCAF Part 1 Flying Instruction 1935
21 RAF Manual of Air navigation Vol. 1 1935
2 No. 112 (402) Squadron Winnipeg; lists of personnel, correspondence, evaluation, pamphlet, financial statements 1938, 1939, 1952
3 No. 112 Squadron newspaper article 1939
4 Directorate of Manning, Ottawa; notes, speeches, correspondence, precis 1940-1942
5 Instructions to manning officers; RCAF recruiting tests [ca. 1941]
6 RCAF pamphlets 1941-1942, 1949-1950, 1967
7 No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mont Jolie, Quebec; correspondence, newspaper article, pamphlets, date book 1943-1944
8 Letter to Guy Gibson in reference to photographs 1944
9 RCAF Association Lakehead Memorial unveiling 1959
10 402 Squadron newspaper articles 1959, 1974
11 Research Material - RCAF service badge, membership cards, newspaper articles, correspondence

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31 Gyro Club rosters, membership cards, constitution, newsletters, correspondence 1926-1961
2 Winnipeg Flying Club correspondence, newsletters, meeting minutes, rosters and other material 1928-1929,1945-1948
3 Canadian Flying Clubs Association various documents 1933, 1936, 1966
4 St. James-Winnipeg Airport Commission minutes, correspondence, financial 1938-1941
5 St. James-Winnipeg Airport Commission minutes, correspondence, financial 1942-1946
6 St. James-Winnipeg Airport Commission minutes, correspondence, financial 1947-1956
7 St. James-Winnipeg Airport Commission blueprints
8 Clubs/Associations 1948
9 Manitoba Club 1959-1961
10 Research Material - private Air Pilot's Certificate (1928); membership cards

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PERSONAL 1915-1966
311 City of Winnipeg Assessment Office notes & correspondence [ca. 1936]
12 St. Charles Country Club 1956-1966
13 Letters of condolence, obituaries 1966
14 Research Material - greeting cards, travel journals, cards
15 Music/songbooks 1915, 1916, 1940, 1943

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Pc 312 (A.12-17) 1915-1944
11 World War One planes [1915?]-1918

37 photographs

2 World War One planes [1915?]-1918

3 photo post cards

3 World War One - H.P. Crabb & misc. 1915-1919

36 photographs, 1 negative

4 World War One misc. 1917-1918

6 photo post cards

5 World War One aerial photos of planes [1918?]

9 photographs

6 World War One aerial photos [ca. 1918]

21 photographs

7 Photo book - personal-England and Canada; military-Fowlmere, England 1918-[ca. 1921]

143 photographs

8 World War Two planes [194-?]

4 photographs

9 World War Two misc. [194-?]

43 photosgraphs

10 Canadian Flying Clubs Association 1931

4 photographs

11 Winnipeg Flying Club 1930-1933

4 photographs, 1 negative

12 No. 112 Squadron 1938-1939

16 photographs

13 No. 112 Squadron 1939

3 photo post cards

14 RCAF staff party, Ottawa 1942

9 photographs

15 Photo book - farewell tribute to H.P. Crabb, Ottawa 1942

25 photographs

16 No. 9 Bombing & Gunnery School, Mont Jolie, Quebec 1944

76 photographs

17 Miscellaneous

7 photographs

18 Postcard Collection n.d.

Four DVDs containing scanned images of postcards from early 20th century.

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Oversized Items 1939-1957
  • Group photograph of 112 (A. C.) Squardron, RCAF, Winnipeg 1939
  • Caricature depicting H. P. Crabb dressed as a cowboy flying a World War Two aircraft. The depiction of Crabb was constructed by "Graburn, RCAF, 1942" using fabric for the clothing with paper body parts and a color copy of the aircraft. 108 signatures of colleagues adorn the mat surrounding the portrait and was presented as a gift to Crabb on the occasion of his retirement.
  • Group photograph labeled "Works Officers Conference, Calgary, February 8-9, 1943
  • Signed portrait of Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC dedicated to Group Captain H. P. Crabb. Not dated.
  • Photograph with typewritten description affixed to the mat that reads: "Pictured above, right, as he stepped off the train at the C.P.R. station Sunday evening is Flying Officer George F. (Buzz) Beurling, D.S.O., D.F.C., D.F.M. and Bar. He is being met by Group Captain H. P. Crabb, Senior Administrative Officer of No. 4 Training Command. F. O. Beurling was scheduled to arrive during the afternoon by plane from Medicine Hat, but weather conditions "washed out" the flight. Disappointed at missing the "flip", the flier said he hoped to do some flying while in Calgary. He will remain until Tuesday." Not dated.
  • Photograph with description handwritten on the back of the frame reading: "Group Captain H. P. Crabb shakes hands with Wing Commander (later Group Captain) St. Pierre on occasion of signing over of station to W. C. St. Pierre. Not dated.
  • Photograph with typewritten description affixed to the mat that reads: "While waiting for their friends at the Ritz Carlton, Wing Commander G. P. Gibson, V.C., D.S.O. and Bar, D.F.C. and Bar, greatest hero of World War II, left, and Air Marshal W. A. (Billy) Bishop, greatest hero of World War I, converse about thier luncheon, earlier today, with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt, as well as many other distinguished guests at the Chateau. The two heroes were on their way to Ottawa via plane. Weather conditions forced them to stay in Montreal this evening. They plan to leave first thing in the morning. Montreal, 25/8/43.
  • Photograph affixed to cardboard mat depicting a group of R.C.A.F. soldiers marching in a parade with civilian onlookers in the background. Not dated.
  • Framed certificate conferring upon H. Philip Crabb a Life Membership by the Winnipeg Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Handwritten date on back, September 26, 1957.
Oversized Map Folder 1
  • Certificate presented to Philip Crabb commemorating the coronation of King George VI and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on May 12, 1937.
  • An excerpt from The Illustrated London News dated June 10, 1939. The first page is a colour portrait of Marshal of The Royal Air Force: His Majesty King George VI. The second page is an aerial photograph of a Spitfire aircraft. The third page depicts decorations of the Royal Air Force and the Air Forces of the Dominions. The fourth page depicts distinctive badges and badges of rank of the Royal Air Force.
  • Airplane picture dated 1936 depicting Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh's Lockheed Sirius with Pontoons with a technical description of the aircraft on the backside along with an offer by "Borden's Chocolate Flavor Malted Milk" to send for 14 other airplane pictures, diagrams and data.
  • Airplane picture depicting a new 15 passenger 1933 Curtiss-Wright Condor Transport airplane with a technical description of the aircraft on the backside along with an offer by "Borden's Chocolate Flavor Malted Milk" to send for 14 other airplane pictures, diagrams and data.
  • A black and white poster printed in Canada and published under the authority of Major the Honourable C. G. Power, M.C., Minister of National Defence for Air. The poster depicts a photograph of Pilot Officer John G. Magee, Jr. with a copy of a poem he wrote titled, "High Flight". The poster is dedicated to Group Captain Crabb from H. H. Booth, the artist who designed the poster.
  • A print of an official portrait dedicated to Group Captain Philip Crabb from Air Vice Marshall J. A. Scully dated April 4, 1945.

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