WW II aircraft and remains recovered from Vancouver Island mountainside
Avro Anson aircraft and crew of 4 missing since 1942 found by logging crew near Port Renfrew
A Second World War training aircraft and the remains of four airmen who went missing in 1942 have been recovered from a remote logging site on Vancouver Island.
The Avro Anson aircraft went missing on Oct. 30, 1942, after it left the air force base at Patricia Bay in Sidney on a navigational training flight.
After the aircraft failed to return to the base as planned, searches failed to locate any wreckage.
Last October, a logging crew working for Teal-Jones Cedar Products on a remote mountainside on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew came upon the wreckage.
The Department of National Defence surveyed the site and discovered the remains of the four airmen, but conditions at the time made it too difficult to recover them.
This month, specialists from the B.C. Coroners Service returned to the site with DND personnel and were able to recover and eventually identify the remains.
The surviving family members were then contacted to let them know of the discovery.
Aircrew included 1 Canadian, 3 Brits
The four airmen included Sgt. William Baird from the Royal Canadian Air Force, and three members of the British Royal Air Force: Pilot Officer Charles Fox, Pilot Officer Anthony William Lawrence, and Sgt. Robert Ernest Luckock.
All four were members of the Royal Canadian Air Force 32 Operational Training Unit, and after they were presumed dead, their names were listed on the Ottawa memorial for the missing.
In statement issued on Friday, the Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said officials were working with their counterparts in the U.K. to provide a final resting place for the men's remains in a Commonwealth war graves plot.
"Our government makes every effort to honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, irrespective of the length of time that has passed. This recovery, and subsequent burial, will provide closure to the families and give these fallen service members the dignity and respect they deserve," said Nicholson.
DND says more than 100 aircrew lost their lives while flying out of Patricia Bay during the Second World War.
“We will never forget the sacrifice of those who came before us and the importance of recovering our fellow airmen cannot be understated. No matter how much time passes, doing the right thing for our people and for their families is an air force priority," said Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blodin, the commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, in the statement.
The Avro Anson was a twin-engine aircraft used for training bomber crews throughout the Commonwealth during the war. They remained in use by the Canada military until 1952.