Anson L7056 (1942 / 2013)

DISAPPEARANCE
Avro Anson Mk 1 L7056 and its four crewmen went missing on October 30th 1942, while performing a routine navigation exercise from 32 OTU (Operational Training Unit, RAF) 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 October 30th but were discontinued on November 3rd after numerous search aircraft failed to locate any wreckage. There were four crew members on L7056: the pilot, Robert Ernest Luckock, two navigators, Charles George Fox and Anthony William Lawrence, and the wireless operator and air gunner, 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 her crew were found on October 23rd, 2013, when forestry engineers unexpectedly discovered the wreckage in a remote forest near Port Renfrew, British Columbia. The logging company notified the regional RCMP who then notified the British Columbia Regional Joint Operations Centre. After alerting the Casualty Identification Officer at the Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) at National Defence Headquarters, Canadian Armed Forces military and civilian experts travelled to the site on the 10th and 11th of December, 2013. They included a forensic scientist from DHH, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal diver from CFB Esquimalt and an air crash expert from Canadian Forces Base Comox. On December 10th, 2013, the remains of one of the airmen were discovered, and the British Columbia Coroner was contacted.

RECOVERY
From the 5th to 9th of May 2014, a team worked together to exhume the remains of the four airmen while remediating any hazards on the site.

Casualty Identification Officer Laurel Clegg and Ms. Courtney Brown, Coroner, British Columbia Coroners Service At L7056 crash site.
Casualty Identification Officer
Laurel Clegg and Ms. Courtney Brown,
Coroner, British Columbia Coroners Service
At L7056 crash site.
The team comprised of members from the Joint Task Force (Pacific), the Casualty Identification officer from the DHH, the BC Coroner’s service, Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific), the Directorate for Nuclear Safety, and regionally based environmental officers, crash experts and logisticians. 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 will be returned to the families. All four airmen were interred at Royal Oak Burial Park on 10 November 2014, Victoria, BC, 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
L7056 Anson was a training aircraft used by 32 Operational Training Unit (OTU) 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
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 RAF 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.

An Avro Anson aircraft.
An Avro Anson aircraft.