WarbirdsNews has been following the discovery of an Avro Anson Mk.I in the dense woodland of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The aircraft disappeared without trace in October, 1942, taking the lives of her four man crew: RCAF Sgt. William Baird and RAF Pilot Officer Charles Fox, Pilot Officer Anthony Lawrence, and Sgt. Robert Luckock.
Canadian, Allan Scott, has been in conversation with us about this Anson since February. He is in the process of helping produce a film about the aircraft and her crew with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the documentary which should be excellent given the promotional video HERE. Scott has been to the crash site, and provided WarbirdsNews with photographs. We felt that our readers would be interested in reading Scott’s communications with us over the past couple of months in the order they happened, as they make good reading. The documentary will be a true testament to the sacrifices made by so many during the war. These are all Allan Scott’s messages, with a small amount of editing for clarity.
Allan Scott – Feb 12th: In October of 2013 the remains of an Avro-Anso Mk.I were discovered on Vancouver Island in Canada. This aircraft took off on the morning of October 30th 1942 from Patricia Bay, then an RAF training base. [The crew were] all RAF with one Canadian and have been lost for some 71 years. The Department of National Defense forensic investigators will be searching for crew remains and personal effects when weather cooperates in a few months. The plane was discovered by loggers and the location has been kept quiet to keep souvenir hunters away.
The film producer I will be assisting at the moment is attempting to get in touch with the DND forensic investigator. She is the lead military investigator that will be looking for crew remains and personal effects. The documentary film producer would like to ensure her and the military that the story would be handled with the utmost respect and dignity ‘if’ they give us the green light to do a documentary. My father was in the RAF at Patricia Bay (Vancouver Island) in the early 40’s. He has since passed away but he told me that there was a fair number of crashes with loss of life. There are three such crashes in my area alone, and I visited one on Nov. 11th, this Remembrance day, with military personal in attendance. Very surreal indeed! I took numerous photographs of the scene which is up a mountain and difficult to get to. The logging company that recently discovered the Avro Anson up the mountain are trying to keep a lid on the exact location for the time being…
To date the TV news has not done a story on this find which is great as it could attract lots of looky loo’s who may disturb findings in the spring when any snow has melted. Apparently the Canadian Forces are notifying the RAF crew’s remaining family in England. (which is a story in its self)
The logger manager I spoke with told me his father in-law had many hours flying the Ansons during the war. He took the 90 year old gentleman up to the crash site to lay a wreathe last November. We are really hoping that we can interview him.
Allan Scott – (FEB 14th): Last night I got a phone call from the logger that discovered the crashed Avro. By all accounts, he found the helmet and head sets intact and a few cockpit gauges unbroken. The cockpit is in relatively fair shape. He located the tail wheel and noticed what appeared to be a bomb tail fin close by so the Armed Forces brought in Bomb Disposal and no less then 3 coroners after human remains and personal effects have been found. A 90 year old former Avro Anson pilot was taken to the scene, and he is surmising that the RAF crew ‘may’ have experienced engine failure due to the way he saw the prop damage. The documentary film producer and myself are meeting the logger this Saturday. I think all of us involved with this finding want to handle it with extreme respect for the RAF crew and one Canadian that were aboard [as well as] their remaining relatives. Apparently they have been successful in finding relatives of the Canadian.
The site is now [officially] a war graves site. [Apparently] the coroners nearly slid over a steep cliff with their vehicle which probably would have resulted in fatalities so we also have to discuss on-site safety and many, many other issues. We hope to eventually interview former aircrew from the base. Most will be in their 90’s.
The snow has melted early up the mountain and a DND military investigator is returning on May 1st or 2nd to assess the crash site. Following that the investigation team is planning to return in a month, possibly two. Our team is … disappointed in this, as in this time we know that locals are going to try and find the wreck. The DND has told our documentary group that they will cooperate with our film, but we cannot go to the site until they are done investigating. … [There is] nothing we can do right now but interview former ground crew and pilots. We are certainly discovering more about the aircraft and crew each day and have total support from the flying community in Canada. We hope to do our very best honoring the young lives that were lost in this incident so long ago. We are committed to this and will do it….
Allan Scott – (March 29th): We flew over the site two weeks ago, and it is in very mountainous terrain and … unforgiving for any kind of flying problem. Our GPS took us directly to the site, and we could not spot any wreckage at all. It is in between trees. The benefit to this is it will make it difficult for scavengers.
Allan Scott – (MAY 16th): The DND have finished their investigation of the crash … The military has given our documentary team the green light to proceed to the crash site and begin filming. We happily accomplished that task yesterday, May 15th. Our film team was escorted to the logging road by one of the logging engineers that discovered the plane, and he proceeded home after showing us the blue tape on the trees directing the complicated route in. He told us to pay attention to the twists and turns in the road as it is quite easy to get lost. There is no cell phone coverage in the mountains for any kind of emergency should we get into trouble. We rented a 4X4 vehicle and despite the all-terrain vehicle, we lost traction and had to hike (with all gear) to the area where the real difficulty began. We had to pass over 500 feet of logging slash before we reached the forest edge and another 500 feet to reach the awkward, steep slope where the wreckage appeared. Apparently the DND and the coroners had two sentries with shot guns in case of bears or cougars. We took a 16oz. can of bear spray and set it down by a tree. As our aviation expert began to identify wreckage parts on camera a huge black bear came crashing down a slope towards us and we did everything wrong after that. We yelled BEAR and ran. The Aviation guy had a 12ft microphone cord attached between him and the camera man. He and the cameraman charged off in unison to grab the bear spray can and the camera man fell. I was shortly behind them slipping and sliding. Usually tail end Charlie is the first snack for the big bruin. Thank God the bear did a right turn and took off in the other direction so we continued with our work. While our hearts recovered from near heart attacks, the mosquitoes were plentiful. We forgot to take repellant of course. The camera man captured the comment ‘BEAR’ but unfortunately missed the best action as he was sprinting away. You may see the BEAR comment on the extra section at the end.
The large amount of wreckage is scattered around like one would expect. Bits of wing, lots of tubing and surprisingly wood bits, a section of landing light, two engines; one with its Mk.I tell tale cylinder bumps, and one bent propeller attached. Also, tail remnants, fuel tanks with bladder, perspex and much, much more. We discovered a badly deteriorated packed parachute with rip cord still in its exact place. We eventually discovered another rotten parachute. I have bagged up the best parachute and painstakingly carried it out to give to the BC Aviation museum. I also have three gauges and one with obscured perspex which I can’t read. The aircraft had a bright yellow skin typical of the trainer and we have taken some paint chips to give to potential sponsors. I discovered a wheel noting that the hydrolic ram attached which was covered with some sort of protective canvas type cover had brilliant chrome in absolutely perfect condition. The three of us were really taken back by the incredible site in front of us realizing that one Canadian and three young RAF volunteer reserve died tragically at this site. It was nothing short of a privilege to be there. One could plainly see how they hit the massive trees which have long since died and slammed into the side of the hill. There was no fire damage observed. We surmise that may be because of the thick bladder around the fuel tanks.
Our teams intention was to organize a memorial on site but we have all agreed it is far too dangerous and unpractical as very few vehicles would make it up there safely. We are going to canvass the idea of a memorial at the closest town’s cenotaph with a respectful service and hopefully a warbird flyby. We are aiming for September due to more cooperative weather at that time compared to November. Our deadline to have the film finished up is by November 11th 2014. At this point I am not certain of distribution etc. but I can assure you that it will be available for viewing.
We have managed to contact the Canadian’s surviving family, and we have been told by military officials that one RAF pilot’s relatives have been contacted to date. The Canadian relatives are absolutely thrilled at us bringing this story to light after so many years. This plane was thought to have gone down in the Pacific ocean some 71 years ago. I am honored to be part of this incredible discovery and that we have such a great group of people to bring this incredible story of Avro Anson L7056 to light.
I am involved in research and have been interested in this history for many years as my father and uncle were in the RAF stationed on Vancouver Island during the war years. They also worked on Avro Ansons. Another member of our team is 90 year old Tom Burdge from Victoria. Tom is a true gentleman and a former WW2 fighter pilot who with great difficulty and determination made his way to the forest mountainside crash site in October of 2013 to lay a wreathe on behalf of the Vancouver Island Aircrew Association. The TEAL JONES LOGGING ENGINEERS that discovered the plane have been outstanding in assisting us ensuring that our collective goal is a respectful documentary to honor the crew of L7056. I am proud to work with such a great group of people.
Once again we appreciate any support with this project.
Thank you kindly,
WarbirdsNews: So there you have it. Allan Scott and his team are hard at work producing what should be a wonderful tribute to these four WWII airmen. The ‘Kickstarter’ site to help fund the film is at the following address…
Thank-you so much for helping everyone be aware of this amazing find. Allan, you couldn’t have told it better. Dennis, Walter and Tom are humbled that they found this amazing site, and that a documentary has been made so we never forget. God bless the men that died. RIP.
Note: Lorraine Cronin is the wife of forestry engineer Dennis Cronin. Dennis was the engineer that first spotted the wreckage of Anson L7056 while surveying the area. Dennis was present for the burial of the four crew on November 10th 2014. Sadly, in 2016 Dennis Cronin passed away from cancer Our friend Dennis will be missed by all his family, work mates and friends.
Note: The area where the Anson sits peacefully in the forest is NOT going to be logged.