Gateway Gazette

Second World War airmen laid to rest in British Columbia 72 years after their death

Four Canadian and British airmen from an Avro Anson aircraft crash buried with full military honours

VICTORIA, B.C. – Four Second World War airmen were laid to rest today at Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria, British Columbia, almost 72 years to the day after they went missing. The Canadian and British airmen were recovered by the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) earlier this spring in collaboration with the British Columbia Coroners Service.

The four airmen were:

Pilot Officer Charles George Fox, 31, of London, England, British Royal Air Force;

Pilot Officer Anthony William Lawrence, 21, of Bramley Croft, Surrey, England, British Royal Air Force;

Sergeant Robert Ernest Luckock, 21, Brentwood, Essex, England, British Royal Air Force; and

Sergeant William Baird, 25, of Calgary, Alberta, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Quick Facts

  • The crew, all members of the Royal Canadian Air Force 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 exact cause of the crash is unknown, although weather is suspected to have played a role. The four airmen on board were presumed to have died.
  • More than 100 aircrew lost their lives while flying out of Patricia Bay during the Second World War.
  • The wreckage of the Avro Anson was discovered in October 2013 on southern Vancouver Island by a logging company, Teal-Jones Cedar Products Ltd, which immediately notified authorities. The DND and the CAF confirmed the presence of remains in December 2013.
  • The DND and the CAF worked collaboratively with the British Columbia Coroners Office to conduct the recovery of the remains of the four airmen from the crash site in May 2014.
  • The airmen have been interred in a collective Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave at the Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria, B.C. The collective flat grave marker will be inspected and perpetually maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Canadian staff.
  • Veterans Affairs Canada and the Royal Air Force Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre have provided support to the family members of the four airmen and coordinated their participation in the funeral.

Quotes

“We will never forget those members of the Commonwealth who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Regardless of the amount of time that is passed, and perhaps because of it, it is incredibly important and gratifying to finally be able to give these fallen members the dignity and respect they so deserve. This ceremony demonstrates to the families that their sacrifice will never be forgotten.” – The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence

“The ultimate sacrifice these brave young men made for our peace and freedom will never be forgotten. Today’s service provides an opportunity for all Canadians to carry the flame of remembrance forward, as we recall and honour those who have served their country with courage and determination.” – The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada

“The aircrew whose remains we buried today were lost without trace in 1942 and for their families and all who loved them, that loss must have caused incalculable pain. Seventy two years later, while that pain may have numbed, those left behind still bear the reality of a life lived without a father or a brother, and today’s ceremony has been of immense significance to them. It has been my great privilege, and that of the three members of the Queen’s Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force Regiment who accompanied me to Canada, to participate in this final chapter of the story of those missing men. On behalf of the Royal Air Force, we salute their dedication, courage and sacrifice. Per Ardua ad Astra.” – The Reverend (Group Captain) Nick Barry, QHC RAF, Deputy Chaplain-in-Chief, Royal Air Force

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