Mal was born in Toronto on February 8, 1923. He attended Danforth Technical School and was an Apprentice Tool and Die Maker, Machinist.
He enlisted in the RCAF in Toronto in September 1941. He served at #1 Manning Depot in Toronto, then #1 ITS and then #1 Elementary Flying Training School at Malton, Ontario. He finished his flying training at #13 Flying Training School at St. Hubert and received his Pilotís Wings on August 28, 1942. Prior to posting to the UK he trained at #1 Operational Training Unit at Bagotville Quebec. When arriving overseas he completed training at #56 OTU at Tealing, Scotland, and ATP at Poona, India.
After leaving #56 OTU in Scotland , Mal was posted to India. The trip through the Bay of Biscay on the Brittanic was memorable for two good reasons: the good news was that there was plenty of food on board (including pie and ice cream not seen for many months.); the bad news was that the weather was so rough and foul, only 12 of a total of more than 160 airmen were in any condition to eat! On arrival in India, Mal became familiarized with the Harvard for a time and then to #5 Sqdn.and tank busting Hurricane IIDís with two 40mm cannons. Then he was posted to #261 Sqdn. with Hurricane IICs with four 20mm cannon flying out of Chittagong.