Lost Second World War airmen of Avro Anson aircraft found in British Columbia

Image Gallery

News Article / May 30, 2014

From Department of National Defence

The remains of four airmen from the crash of a Second World War training aircraft in British Columbia have been recovered during a collaborative operation with the British Columbia Coroners Service.

The four airmen – one from the Royal Canadian Air Force: Sergeant William Baird, and three from the Royal Air Force: Pilot Officer Charles George Fox, Pilot Officer Anthony William Lawrence, and Sergeant Robert Ernest Luckock – were conducting a navigation training exercise aboard the Avro Anson L7056 aircraft in October 1942 when they failed to return from the mission.

“We will never forget the sacrifice of those who came before us and the importance of recovering our fellow airmen cannot be understated,” said Lieutenant-General Yvan Blondin, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  “No matter how much time passes, doing the right thing for our people and for their families is an Air Force priority.”

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre in the United Kingdom to plan for an internment ceremony, in consultation with the airmen’s relatives, to provide the airmen with a final honoured and appropriate resting place in a Commonwealth War Graves plot.

The crew, all members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 32 Operational Training Unit, departed from Patricia Bay, British Columbia, on October 30, 1942. The aircraft failed to return and was not discovered during the subsequent search operation. The four airmen on board were presumed to have died, and their names were listed on the Ottawa Memorial to the missing. The wreckage of the Avro Anson was located on southern Vancouver Island in October 2013 by a logging company, Teal-Jones Cedar Products Ltd., working in the area, which immediately notified authorities. 

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces worked collaboratively with the British Columbia Coroners Office, which maintained jurisdiction over the crash site, to conduct a recovery operation from May 5 to 9, 2014.  The primary focus of the operation was to recover any human remains and artefacts, as well as identify and remove potential physical and/or environmental hazards. Access to the crash site is currently restricted while the department completes environmental testing.

More than 100 aircrew lost their lives while flying out of Patricia Bay during the Second World War.

Date modified: