'That's the sacrifice of young Canadians': Preserving 150 letters from WWII Avro Lancaster pilot
Donald Plaunt was a prolific writer who often wrote to his family in Sudbury, Ont., from overseas
Andy Thomson combs through dozens of envelopes stacked chronologically in an aging golden florentine box.
The family heirloom was passed onto him by a cousin at their family home in Sudbury, Ont.
It contains 150 wartime letters from an uncle he barely knew, but has been able to form a connection with thanks to the messages.
"Right now my tail gunner is battling away on the piano and every now and again he is playing 'Yours,' which just about makes me weep," one letters reads.
Uncle Donald Plaunt's writing has become a passion for Thomson, who is a retired history teacher from Toronto.
Thomson, 76, has transcribed all 150 of Plaunt's letters, and has self-published a book about the stories entitled Write Soon and Often.
Thomson has dug up every military file from the moment Plaunt enlisted for the Second World War at the age of 18.
'Did what I would've done'
In the section that asked Plaunt what his main reason was for joining the air force, he wrote it was: "the proper thing to do."
All seven men onboard, including Plaunt, were killed.
Thomson was just a baby at the time, but remembers being drawn to his uncle's black and white photographs in uniform growing up.
"He kind of did what I would've done," Thomson said.
"The fact that he died means that might've happened to me."
It was a dark grey, steel aircraft with thundering engines and propellers that helped the Allies win the war.
'Remarkable that he has that history'
One of the two last flying Lancasters in the world is stationed at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ont., where David Rohrer is president.
Rohrer said he has heard countless stories about the Lancaster, but none as well documented as Thomson's.
"It's remarkable that he has that history," Rohrer said.
More than 70 years after his uncle's death, Thomson's eyes fill with tears as the Lancaster comes into view on the Hamilton tarmac.
"There's something between him and me that I can't explain," Thomson said.
"There's some connection I have with my uncle"