On October 30, 1942, five twin-engined Avro Anson L7056 navigation trainers of 32 Operational Training Unit took off from the Royal Canadian Air Force base at Patricia Bay (Victoria International Airport today) on southern Vancouver Island.
Three of L7056’s crew were volunteer British airmen from the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve: observer Pilot Officer Charles George Fox, age 31 and married; observer Pilot Officer Anthony William Lawrence, 21; and 32 Operational Training Unit staff pilot Sgt Robert Ernest Luckock, 21. Wireless operator Sgt William Baird, also 21, from Brooks, Alberta, was the sole Canadian on board. Weather conditions proved to be worse than forecasted and at approximately 11:30am flying control recalled the Ansons, calculating that the weather was good enough for the aircraft to regain Patricia Bay.
Four Ansons returned but nothing had been heard from L7056 since the exercise go-ahead almost three hours earlier. Aircraft from Patricia Bay flew over 40 hours searching the coastal waters and densely forested coastal margins but no trace of Anson L7056 or her crew was found. The four airmen were documented as ‘presumed dead’ and are commemorated at the Ottawa Memorial.
Some seventy-one years later, on October 24, 2013, three Cowichan Valley forestry engineers from the wood products company Teal Jones Group – Dennis Cronin with his colleagues Walter Van Hell and Tom Weston – found the wreckage. The undisturbed remains of a crashed aircraft, including what appeared to be the tail assembly of a bomb or smoke float. Ordnance Department from RCN Naden attended the crash site to check for unexploded bombs. Although the original fabric fuselage covering and any markings had long since rotted away, a serial number on an engine data plate confirmed that Anson L7056 had been found.
DV Media has created a documentary on the loss and discovery of Avro Anson L7056. Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/7vesfMtkS28
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