Memorial remembers 11 lost in 1945 Liberator bomber crash


Francis Langlands, Dereck Watson and Fay Jenkin .

Thompson Lake Park in Chilliwack swarmed with upwards of 600 guests on the rainy afternoon of Sept. 26, all looking to catch a glimpse of a new monument to commemorate 11 men who died on June 1, 1945, after crashing their B 24 Liberator Bomber KK-241 in a Second World War training mission.

The Airplane Creek Memorial features three large slabs of granite positioned around the 14 cylinder engine captured from the bomber’s wreckage.

Present at the ceremony were the families of victims who died in the crash, travelling from England, Norway, and New Zealand.

Fay Jenkin, niece to Sergeant David Robertson Langlands, a 33-year-old volunteer Royal Air Force (RAF) member and police officer who died in the crash, found herself getting more emotional than anticipated as a formal fly-past was made.

“It’s always been something we’ve known about in our family history,” says Jenkin, whose family lives in Scotland, home to Langlands family.

“But there was never any memorial the family could visit, and no site to commemorate him.”

Cadets, members of the Branch 280 Legion, and Guards of Honour stood in the downpour to watch the unveiling.

“When the young cadets were asked by their commanding officers if they wanted to leave, they stood their ground,” says Jenkin.

“We all found it hard to control the tears at some points.”

On the rainy day of June 1, 1945, Jenkin’s uncle and 10 other RAF airmen training at the Abbotsford 5 Operational Training Unit climbed into their bomber and flew into thick clouds.

Their last radio transmission was to the Abbotsford airfield querying their position – but Abbotsford’s response was not acknowledged, and the bomber failed to report in at its first checkpoint.

Unbeknownst to officials in Abottsford, the plane had flown into the side of Mount Welch in Chilliwack, killing all on board.

For the next 16 days, over 200 men and 50 planes searched desperately for the lost members.

The wreckage was found near the summit of Mount Welch on June 16.

Once the remains of the plane were found, a retrieval group used trucks, jeeps, and packhorses to reach an advance camp eight miles from the base of the mountain.

Due to the difficult terrain, the group was forced to dismount and travel by foot over the course of three days to reach the wreckage.

The terrain made it impossible to return the deceased back to Abbotsford, and their remains were buried in a mass grave on July 1 between the summits of Mount Welch and Mount Still.

A simple wooden cross marks the grave.

Years later, on June 11, 1983, air cadets from 861 Silverfox Squadron in Abbotsford built a cairn to commemorate the airmen on an island in Airplane Creek, close to the camp location of the 1945 search group.

Over time, rumours were heard by nearby 147 Airwolf Squadron in Chilliwack that the cairn was weathered and in poor condition.

By 2013, Lieutenant (N) Ron Shore and other cadets from the Airwolf Squadron had pieced together a plan to visit the cairn.

They braved the terrain to find that it was in complete disrepair.

“We arrived at the location and found most of it lying right in the middle of Airplane Creek,” says Lt(N) Shore.  

From that day onwards, Lt(N) Shore made it his mission to rebuild a new memorial for the lost airmen.

With the help of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 280 and a large group of volunteers, Lt(N) Shore directed efforts to raise funds for the new memorial.

He and his team were able to raise a total of $85,000, resulting in the granite memorial in Thompson Lake Park.

He says the memorial, apart from remembering the 11 lost that day, pays tribute to the 55,573 personnel who died in service to Bomber Command during the Second World War.

Lt(N) Shore says his motivating reason for organizing a new memorial was because “it simply was the right thing to do.”

“We need to remember all of those who passed in World War Two,” he says.

“We served shoulder to shoulder, and the memories always need to be honoured.”

But despite a successful unveiling, Lt(N) Shore says roughly $20,000 is still needed to pay for the new memorial.

For those interested in donating towards the project, please call Rob Love, President of the Veterans Memorial Restoration Society at 1-888-888-4124 or donate at

People donating more than $2,000 will have their name engraved on the monument, and people who donate more than $500 will receive a plaque with an engraved 50 calibre shell from the Liberator on it.


Rachel Lallouz
Staff Writer

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  1. Lewis Wood says:

    Gordon Hammond was another member of this crew and as a member of the Banstead History research Group I completed a lot of research on this crash.
    I have just added a photo of Albert Eric Broadbent.
    I did try and contact Derek Watson several years ago but failed. If he or anyone else can let me have any more details especially photographs of these men, I would be delighted to add to our Roll of Honour.
    Lewis Wood

  2. derek watson says:

    Thank you Rachel for your coverage on Liberator kk241 memorial. For all of us who attended it was a very moving experience .
    This magnificent granite memorial will forever record the
    sacrifice these airmen gave in service to their country.

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