Anson L7056 (2013)

Disappearance

The Avro Anson Mk 1 L7056 and its four crewmen went missing on 30 October 1942, while performing a routine navigation exercise from an operational training unit at Patricia Bay, British Columbia. As a front of bad weather began to move in, a recall was issued for all aircraft, but Anson L7056 failed to return.

Searches for the missing aircraft were initiated at noon on 30 October but were discontinued on 3 November after numerous search aircraft failed to locate any wreckage.

There were four crew members in the downed aircraft: the pilot, Sergeant Robert Ernest Luckock; two navigators, Pilot Officer Charles George Fox and Pilot Officer Anthony William Lawrence; and the wireless operator and air gunner, Sergeant William Baird. Of the four airmen, three were Royal Air Force and British citizens, and the fourth, William Baird, was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force and a Canadian citizen.

Wreath hung at the crash site of Anson L7056
Wreath hung at the crash site of
Anson L7056

Discovery

The Anson and its crew were found on 23 October 2013, when forestry engineers unexpectedly discovered the wreckage in a remote forest near Port Renfrew, British Columbia.

After alerting the Casualty Identification Program, Canadian Armed Forces military and civilian experts travelled to the site on the 10-11 of December 2013. They included a forensic scientist, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal diver, and an air crash expert.

On 10 December 2013, the remains of one of the airmen were discovered, and the British Columbia Coroner was contacted.

Recovery

From 5-9 May 2014, a team worked together to exhume the remains of the four airmen while remediating any hazards on the site. The team comprised of members from the Joint Task Force, the Casualty Identification Program, the BC Coroner’s service, Fleet Diving Unit, the Directorate for Nuclear Safety, and regionally based environmental officers, crash experts, and logisticians.

Former Casualty Identification Coordinator Ms. Laurel Clegg and Ms. Courtney Brown, Coroner, British Columbia Coroners Service at L7056 crash site.
Former Casualty Identification
Coordinator Ms. Laurel Clegg
and Ms. Courtney Brown, Coroner,
British Columbia Coroners Service
at L7056 crash site.

All four airmen were identified using forensic analysis by experts from National Defence and the BC Coroner’s service.

The families of the four airmen were notified of the recovery as soon as was possible. Many personal items retrieved at the crash site were returned to the families. All four airmen were interred at Royal Oak Burial Park, Victoria, BC, on 10 November 2014 in accordance with the agreement by all Commonwealth countries following the First and Second World War.

The signing of the BCATP by William MacKenzie King on 16 December 1939. Photographer: Walter J. Turnbull. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada (PA-200350), Ottawa, Ontario
The signing of the BCATP by
William MacKenzie King on 16
December 1939. Photographer:
Walter J. Turnbull. Courtesy
of Library and Archives Canada
(PA-200350), Ottawa, Ontario

British Commonwealth Air Training Plan – 32 Operational Training Unit

Anson L7056 was a training aircraft used by 32 Operational Training Unit based in Patricia Bay, British Columbia. The Operational Training Unit was the final stage in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) following an airman’s initial training school and specialized training schools. The BCATP trained nearly 137,000 aircrew for service in the Second World War, largely from Commonwealth countries.

The Avro Anson

An Avro Anson aircraft.
An Avro Anson aircraft.

The Avro Anson, named for an 18th century British admiral and nicknamed “faithful Annie” for its stability and reliability, was used as a commercial aircraft at its conception. The Royal Air Force recognized the aircraft’s maneuverability and durability, so it was adopted for military use in 1936. The Anson was used extensively for twin engine aircraft training in the BCATP, with over one million flying hours logged and 20,000 air crew trained.