(NEWS BULLETIN photo) A map from a display at Vancouver Island Military Museum locates 57 crash sites where military aircraft went down on training missions during the Second World War.

Dozens of planes went down on Vancouver Island training for war

Exhibit at Vancouver Island Military Museum depicts dangers of flying B.C. coast during war years

From 1942 to 1944, during the Second World War, an average of five airmen lost their lives each week in air training accidents across Canada.

Flight training during wartime was a risky business, especially on the B.C. coast. Flying in unpredictable winds over mountainous and forested terrain, that claimed the lives of 1,240 trainees and instructors.

Many of those lives were lost in crashes on or near Vancouver Island. An operational training base at Patricia Bay in Victoria became the third busiest in B.C. and graduated more than 5,000 air crew, but also tallied 179 training deaths from that base alone.

A new exhibit at Vancouver Island Military Museum depicts the dangers and costs of flight training thousands of air crew in the unforgiving skies of the B.C. coast.

“It’s strictly on British Columbia, on the four bases that are here and on the searches for the aircraft that have been found on Vancouver Island afterwards,” said Brian McFadden, Vancouver Island Military Museum vice-president.

RELATED: Nanaimo will solemnly remember at cenotaphs, legions

There are some well-known military aircraft crash sites on Vancouver Island. One, a Consolidated Canso bomber used to hunt enemy surface craft and submarines off the B.C. Coast, lies near Radar Hill, south of Tofino. The wreckage of a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber that crashed into a mountain in the Nanaimo Lakes watershed in 1944 lies in an undisclosed location, its crew buried near the wreckage.

In all, 57 crashes on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands claimed the lives of airmen and instructors during the war. Some of those crash sites weren’t found for decades and remains of their crews never recovered. Others couldn’t be brought home because terrain and weather made it impossible.

“Eleven guys died in 1945 at Mount Welch in Chilliwack when their Liberator crashed into the top of the mountain and they couldn’t recover the bodies. It was just too dangerous,” McFadden said.

Adding to the pain of the families who lost their loved ones was that the deaths weren’t counted by the military as combat casualties and are often overlooked by historians.

RELATED: Canada’s wartime air training school graduated more than 130,000 crew

Vancouver Island Military Museum in Nanaimo and its new exhibits, including the story of Canada’s war grooms, will be open to the public following Remembrance Day observances, Nov. 11. For more information about the museum, visit http://vimms.ca.

RELATED: Canada became home not only to war brides, but also to war grooms



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nanaimo’s Kirkwood Academy presents 20th production of ‘The Nutcracker’

More than 150 dancers of all ages to participate in classic Christmas ballet Nov. 22-23

Nanaimo RCMP utilize new online crime reporting tool

Damage, mischief, theft under $5,000 can be reported online

Nanaimo boxers will look to land punches for Ringside Rescue program

Nanaimo Boxing Club holding a fundraiser card Saturday, Nov. 23, at Departure Bay Activity Centre

Harbour City Theatre Alliance builds on tradition with ‘A Christmas Carol’

Local adaptation of the Christmas classic returns to Nanaimo starting Nov. 21

Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers encourages document shredding

Shredding Day fundraiser happens Saturday, Nov. 23, at Save-On-Foods Brooks Landing

Harbour City Theatre Alliance builds on tradition with ‘A Christmas Carol’

Local adaptation of the Christmas classic returns to Nanaimo starting Nov. 21

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Bidders down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Little progress in preventing sudden infant deaths since last report: BC Coroner

Coroners panel studied 141 sleep-related sudden infant deaths between 2013 and 2018

Dive team searching for missing Cowichan fisherman

Bill Court said family and friends are actively engaged in the search

B.C.’s ‘Dr. Frankenstein of guns’ back in jail yet again for trafficking in Glock parts

Bradley Michael Friesen has parole revoked for allegedly importing gun parts yet again

B.C. woman suing after laser hair removal leaves her with ‘severe’ burns, scarring

Nadeau felt ‘far more pain’ than usual during the treatment

$2.9 million judgment in B.C. blueberry farm sabotage lawsuit

The new owners saw most of their farm ruined just as they took possession

Most Read