Died in a plane explosion

Shared note Died in a plane explosion
Sgt, Monty Holt Brothers, his crew mates and the Hudson 761

The following is from a Post by Randy Ruller on the Ruller YaBB see ­http­://­www­.­randoon­.­com­/­kinfolks­/­forums­/­yabbfiles­/­Attachments­/­Sgt­-­Monty­-­Holt­-­Brothers­.­htm­

The new RCAF airport at Torbay, near St John's had been opened less than a year when the first fatal crash occurred on 6 May 1942. The RCAF had moved a detachment of 11 Sqn Hudson patrol aircraft to the new airport, where they could extend their coverage into the North Atlantic to a much greater range than from the home base in Dartmouth.

By early May, one of its aircraft, Hudson 761 became due for a periodic inspection and it was decided to return the aircraft to the parent unit, in Dartmouth, N.S. for this work.

F /L Leblanc, a pre-war RCAF pilot and his crew were selected to ferry the aircraft back to Dartmouth. Hughie Leblanc was rated as an above average pilot and described by those who knew him as the type chap "who would do anything for you". His crew consisted of F/Sgt Colville the Navigator, and two Wireless Air Gunners, Sgt' Taylor and Brothers.

Sgt Taylor was considered to lead a charmed life as he had already survived two aircraft crashed. The first occurred the previous summer when the Hudson, on which he was a crew member, crashed and exploded during take-off from Dartmouth. Miraculously the entire crew survived. His second crash, occurred in February when his Hudson made a crash landing in the woods between Grand Falls and Botwood. The aircraft was destroyed and they were stranded in the woods for several days before being rescued but apart from frostbite and exposure the crew escaped serious injury.

Three passengers were scheduled to also make the trip and Leblanc also intended to stop off at Gander and pick up another passenger who also wanted to go to Halifax. At the last minute an airman from 1 Group in St John's arrived the airport and asked Leblanc if he could hitch a ride and Leblanc agreed to take him along.

Records do not show who the extra passenger was but the St John's newspapers reporting on the crash, noted that one of the passengers was returning to the mainland to be married.

At about 3.00 PM, a group of airmen and civilians watched as the aircraft commenced its take-off run and after using about four fifths of the runway, lifted off the ground. Then one of both of the engines sputtered momentarily and backfired. The aircraft sank back to the ground, but then the engines picked up again and the aircraft cleared the runway and started a straight climb.

It continued to climb to about 100 feet when it developed a left bank which grew steeper, the characteristic of a side slip. The aircraft commenced to sink, the throttles appeared closed, and the aircraft struck the ground, left wing tip first, cart wheeled and came to a stop inverted and burst into flames.

The crash tender, ambulance and fire truck were at the scene within a few minutes but the aircraft was a mass of flames and from the extent of the damage it was obvious the occupants had been killed on impact.

This was the first, and as it later transpired the most serious fatal RCAF crash at Torbay and a funeral with full military honors was planned.

The funeral parade lined up on Barnes Road at 2 PM, on May 8th with an escort party of 40 men, a firing party of 10 men and the 35 man band which had been flown in from RCAF Gander for the occasion. The parade moved to the RC Cathedral where the body of F/L LeBlanc had been taken earlier in the day and the service there was conducted by F/L Fitzgerald the RCAF chaplain. During the service the Band remained in the cathedral yard and played sacred selections.

At the end of the service the funeral party reformed and moved to the Anglican cathedral where the bodies of the other seven victims had lain since morning. The service there was conducted by a number of prominent clergy including the Lord Bishop of Newfoundland, himself, who read the lesson.

The funeral parade , now augmented by Canadian Army and other service personnel, reformed after the service and proceeded to the railway station by way of Gower St, Queens Rd and New Gower St. The eight caskets were carried in four trucks, two to a vehicle and each casket was covered with a Union Jack, the supporting party marched at the side of each truck. As they marched through the streets the band played "The Death March in Saul"

When they reached the railway station the whole parade was lined up on the platform where a special train was waiting to take the caskets and escorts to Gander. The Escort's advanced and placed the caskets in the railway car and then, as the train slowly pulled away the firing party fired a salute of three volleys and the Last Post was sounded.

As the train disappeared, the band played appropriate music, as the funeral party marched away to an open area and were dismissed.

The Board of Inquiry which investigated the accident considered the possible causes as follows:

(i) Misuse of controls by pilot in that the engines were not tested at full power and the lack of power or failure of engines when the aircraft was just airborne may have been attributed to cold engines.
(ii) overloading- aircraft took control over pilot
(iii) overload or unequal distribution of weight
(iv) starboard engine failure

Final conclusions

(i) the aircraft was overloaded
(ii) the load was incorrectly distributed
(iii) partial failure of starboard engine
(iv) misuse of controls by pilot

The file was reviewed at Air Force Headquarters and the final comment added by a Wing Commander whose signature and some comments unreadable.

"I do not agree the aircraft was overloaded and do not concur that any blame can be attached to the pilot...(unreadable) deem that it can be ....(unreadable) as "cause unknown" only."
Entry from the RCAF Stn Gander Daily Dairy for 10 May 1942.

The burial service for the crew of Hudson 761 who were killed at Torbay was held at RCAF cemetery conducted by F/L Taylor and F/L Fitzgerald with full military honors. The funeral party in charge of F/L Scharffe.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission records are as follows:

BROTHERS, Sgt, Monty Holt, R/51548. R.C.A.F. 6th May, 1942. Age 33. Son of Wesley and Victoria Brothers, of Wroxeter, Ontario; husband of Anne Jane Brothers.

Rest in Peace
COLVILLE, Flt. Sgt. William Freeborne, R/78383. R.C.A.F. 6th May 1942. Age 25. Son of Alexander and Annie J. Colville, of Bowmanville, Ontario.

We love you so darling bill He gave his today for our tomorrow

CRYMES, L.A.C. Smith Edward, R/70596. R.C.A.F. 6th May 1942. Age 34. Son of Rupert S. Crymes and Elizabeth Olive Crymes, of Lonoke, Arkansas, U.S.A.; husband of Ola Crymes, of Picton, Ontario.

Until we meet with God
ELSE, Cpl. Charles Frederick, 18103A. R.C.A.F. 6th May 1942. Age 24. son of Nelson and Mary Else, of St. Thomas, Ontario.

Rest in Peace
EHRLICHMAN, Flt. Lieut. Rudolph Irwin, C/2637. R.C.A.F. 6th May 1942. Age 45. Son of Walter and Antoinette Ehrlichman, of Seattle, Washington. U.S.A. husband of Lilian C Ehrlichman of Santa Monica, California, U.S.A.

The Lord is my shepherd

LE BLANC, Flt. Lieut. Joseph Hyacinthe Ulysses, C/907. R.C.A.F. 6th May, 1942. Age 25. Son of Aurele and Anita Le Blanc; brother of Mrs. U.F. Gaudet of St. Joseph, New Brunswick.

Rest in Peace
TAYLOR, Sgt. Harold Fulford. R/71922. R.C.A.F. 6th May 1942. Age 23. Son of George Victor Milne Taylor and Alice Laura Taylor, of Harold, Ontario.

Until the day break and the shadows flee away

See also The Canadian Commonwealth war graves and information at ­Http­://­www­.­cwgc­.­org­

Country: Canada
Locality: Newfoundland and Labrador
Visiting Information: The cemetery grounds are open for visitation every day from sunrise until sunset.
Location Information: The cemetery is located a quarter mile north of the Trans Canada Highway and two miles east of the town of Gander. Along the Trans Canada Highway there are signs in either direction pointing to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.
Historical Information: Gander Airport, which had been an experimental flying station before the Second World War, was greatly expanded and developed in connection with the Atlantic Ferry Organisation for the transport of aircraft. During the war, air-reconnaissance planes and military defence forces were based at Gander, which was the headquarters of an anti-aircraft regiment of the Royal Canadian Army. Most of the airmen buried in Gander Cemetery were killed in aircraft which crashed in this area during the war. Gander War Cemetery contains 100 burials of the Second World War.
No. of Identified Casualties: 100

Montezuma Holt Brothers
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