Second World War aircraft found

British Frag 20-lb Mk III Bomb Tail Fin with Arming Vein.

British Frag 20-lb Mk III Bomb Tail Fin with Arming Vein.

Two Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians from Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) were called to help solve a 70-year-old mystery late last month.

On Oct. 25, PO2 Shawn Goodine, Maritime Explosive Ordnance Disposal (MEOD) 2 I/C, received a call from the Regional Joint Operations Centre (RJOC), telling him a crashed aircraft, possibly from the Second World War, had been found 10 kilometers northwest of Port Renfrew, B.C.

Employees from Teal Cedar Products Ltd. had stumbled upon the wreckage while surveying an area for potential logging.

“They thought they saw some military ordnance that resembled tail fins from aircraft bombs within the debris,” says PO2 Goodine. “They weren’t really sure so they called the RCMP for assistance.”

The RCMP passed the information on to the PO2 Goodine and early on Oct. 30, MEOD and a member of the RCMP headed to the remote logging area outside Port Renfrew to investigate.

The loggers had already surveyed the area and showed the divers every piece of debris they had found on the roughly 130 by 40 meter crash site.

“They knew where all the pieces were,” says PO2 Goodine. “So it was basically, ‘Shawn we found this, Shawn we found that. This is the landing gear. This is the piece we think belongs to a bomb.’”

As the team worked its way down the mountain slope from the tail section to the cockpit of the plane, they searched for serial numbers and anything else that might help identify the plane, but they found much more.

“We found a couple pairs of boots; we found part of a leather jacket worn by the aircrew, and the old style World War Two leather aviator hat. We didn’t find the goggles but we definitely found the leather hat and it actually still had the ear bud still in for comms,” says PO2 Goodine.

Unfortunately, there were no clues as to the fate of the plane’s crew as there weren’t any human remains with the clothing.

The Casualty Identification Section of the Directorate of History and Heritage has taken an interest in the find; they will be doing their own research to confirm the identification of the plane and what happened to its occupants.

Research done by the loggers along with MEOD’s own sleuthing has led them to the likely make of the aircraft. The colour scheme, shape, construction and a few instrument serial numbers pointed to an Avro Anson possibly the Mark V.

The construction was a particularly helpful clue. It had a combination of metal and wood which was common practice during the Second World War due to a shortage of metal. Canada produced 1,051 of these planes for the British.

On the west coast of Canada, the aircraft was used as a reconnaissance patrol and training platform for pilots.

Further research revealed that an aircraft of that type went missing Oct. 30, 1942, with a crew of five. Since it was never found, it was written off. PO2 Goodine could find no record of fatalities, though he’s doubtful anyone could have survived the crash that resulted in such a mangled scattering of aircraft parts.

The most important discovery for the bomb disposal crew was two tail fin assemblies – the part of a bomb that gives it stability so it falls to earth at the correct orientation.

The 20 lb bombs they once attached to were nowhere to be seen amid the 70 years of forest growth, which had swallowed much of the wreckage, but the presence of its components told PO2 Goodine that it’s highly probable that ordnance could still exist somewhere on the site.

The amount of ordnance is potentially significant, he says.

“Based off of research, we determined that if the particular aircraft that’s out there is identified correctly it possibly could have carried a max payload of 360 lbs, so 8 x 20 lb. bombs and 2 x 100 lb bombs.”

It would be quite the excavation to find out whether the plane was carrying a full payload.

“There’s so much growth just from vegetation on the floor, from fir needles, moss and stuff. We’re talking in some spots a foot to two feet of growth that’s accumulated over the years. So how do you dig through that?”

There are also several tonnes of deadfall – as large as three or four feet in diameter – crushing parts of the fuselage.

It would require a lot more than the three-four hours the divers had to explore the site in further detail. A detailed exploration of the site could also benefit from ground penetrating radar that would allow them to peer through the undergrowth and into the ground to reveal anything matching the size and shape of the potential ordnance.

The decision to do further exploration lies with Unexploded Ordnance Canada, a branch of Defence Construction Canada.

PO2 Goodine has submitted his report and now waits to find out whether the site should be further examined.

In the meantime, PO2 Goodine plans to do a little more digging through the history books to see if he can find any more information about the suspected aircraft and its crew.

Carmel Ecker, Staff Writer

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. this is so very interesting, as a wreck-chaser this is a dream come true…those flyboys were awesome characters…I am thrilled to read about the hunt for info…the only thing I leave at my wreck-site search is footprints…please sent photos when you complete your findings…Thanking you kindly, Stanley Strazza

    • Lookout says:

      Thanks for your interest Stanley. You will have to check with the Directorate of History and Heritage as they are the ones who completed the investigation of the site.

  2. Chris Charland says:

    G’day

    Avro Anson Mk. I. s/n L7056 from No. 32 O.T.U.

    Pilot – 1332144 Sergeant R. E. Luckock

    Navigator – 1336878 Pilot Officer C. G. Fox

    Navigator – 1333943 Pilot Officer A. W. Lawrence

    Wireless Operator – R131545 Warrant Officer W. Baird

    The aircraft went missing on a routine navigation exercise (Navigational Exercise 3), on the 30th of October, 1942 . At 09:10 hours, one hour after the aircraft was overdue, a search was made by several aircraft and further searches were conducted until the 3rd of November, All efforts to find the aircraft
    were fruitless.

    The Accident Investigation Board concluded that the exact cause was unknown but probably due to bad weather. The pilot had very little instrument time. It was a considered opinion that the aircraft was lost at sea or damaged and that the occupants may reasonably presumed to be dead either on Vancouver Island or near it.

    Cheers…Chris

    Chris Charland
    Associate Air Force Historian
    Office of Air Force Heritage and History
    Royal Canadian Air Force

    ccharlandATcogecodotca

  3. Colin MacGregor Stevens, CD says:

    My preliminary research, based upon the clues provided suggests that this is Avro Anson # 7056 out of 32 Operational Training Unit (RAF) at Pat Bay. 1 RCAF and 3 RAF crew (i.e. 4 not 5 aircrew as reported in the article).

    I have chosen not to reveal their names here as it is unconfirmed and the next of kin deserve to be notified properly through DND and the RAF.

    The LOOKOUT article reported that PO2 Goodine “could find no record of fatalities”. He is welcome to contact me and I can share the four names that I found as the probable crew for this a/c crash. seaforth72 at gmail com

  4. This is good news that the aircraft wreckage has been found as this can provide some closure for the families of the crew.

    As it is likely that human remains are/were there as well as possible unexploded bombs, the site should remain off limits until the ordnance is cleared and human remains and/or personal effects have been recovered. The crew could have been from Canada or any Allied nation, especially the British Commoneralth countries or the USA. Crews were often a mixture. Both the RCAF and the RAF operated on the West Coast, though I expect that this was an RCAF aircraft.

    It would be interesting to know from the ongoing research the aircraft markings, the squadron number and the station that it flew out of. I suspect that it flew out of RCAF Station Pat Bay, BC for this flight.

    I found a number of Avro Anson aircraft in Saskatchewan. Having been directed to one in a farmer’s yard I could not find it the first time because I had been looking through it, not at it! The early models had a fabric covered fuselage. The canvas had rotted away leaving the windows on the sides lying on the ground.

    Some of the largest objects at the crash site will likely be the the two engines, wheels, fuel tanks, seats, landing gear, instrument panels, cowlings and flaps. Unlike the aluminum Canso wreck at Long Beach there is not much likely to be easily identified from a distance as an aircraft at the Anson crash site. The bombs were identified as HE but might be practice bombs which had a small (though still hazardous) bursting charge. Although early in WWII some Ansons were used as bombers they were primarily used as a training aircraft.

    By the way an incorrect word was used in the photo caption. For ” vein” read vane” The vane was a safety device and was shaped like a propeller. As the bomb fell the vane rotated and unlocked the firing mechanism. Thus if a plane crashed carrying bombs, the safety was still on so to speak, although 70 plus years later corrosion can change things.

    Rest In Peace

  5. gary says:

    is it just the 1 photo so we can get a better idea, or will u upload more wen it comes through

    • Lookout says:

      For the time being, we just have the one photo online and a couple in the print version of the newspaper. We hope, however, to do a follow-up article, which will likely include more photos.

  6. Deryck Brown says:

    If the aircraft crashed in 1942 it was not an Anson Mk V, it would have been a Mk I or Mk II.

  7. Ron Mills says:

    Is this site still off limits? We are really interested in visiting it in a purely historical perspective,before the public go in there and pick it clean.Thank you,RM

    • Lookout says:

      Yes, the site is off limits. Primarily, it’s a safety issue as there is a high likelihood that there is unexploded ordnance. Also, it’s best if the site is left undisturbed so investigators have a better chance of finding the information they need to solve this mystery.

  8. Mark Meury says:

    I mushroom pick in the area and am interested in more info about crew and ordinance thank you

    • Lookout says:

      At this time, the investigation into this aircraft is ongoing. All the information we have is in the article. We will certainly do a follow-up if more information is found.

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