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World War II plane crash airmen: Families get closure to 72-year-old mystery

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World War II plane crash airmen Royal Canadian Air Force Sgt. William Baird, Pilot Officer Charles Fox, Pilot Officer Anthony Lawrence, and Sgt. Robert Luckock vanished 72 years ago while flying an Avro Anson L7056 World War II twin-propeller plane in a training exercise from Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, reports NewsOXY on June 1. After Royal Canadian Air Force Sgt. William Baird and his three British air force pilots left Patricia Bay on Oct. 30, 1942, they were never seen again.

For 72 years, the fate of the four airmen remained a mystery for their families. Even though a search for the missing plane and the missing airmen was conducted by Canada’s air force, there was no sign of where the aircraft and its crew might have potentially gone down. The four men were listed as missing, presumed dead – but never forgotten.

Royal Canadian Air Force Sgt. William Baird has family in Alberta and for the past decades, his name, along with his three British companions, was listed on the Ottawa Memorial as missing. Fox, Lawrence, and Luckock have family members in Britain and in a cooperative effort, Canadian and British officials are working to plan an interment ceremony and provide the men with a Commonwealth War Graves plot.

Seventy-two years after the airmen’s disappearance, three logging engineers found the wreckage of the Avro Anson L7056 while working on a very remote mountainside near Port Renfrew, just 31 miles from where the plane had taken off, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. "They came across some debris in the forest, and they figured it was a plane crash," said Michael Pegg of Teal-Jones Cedar Products Ltd., whose engineers made the discovery.

"There were wheels, the engine of the plane, mangled plane parts. There was a boot, shoes and a jacket," said Pegg. Coroner Matt Brown added that “we also found a number of artifacts — several wallets, a cigarette lighter, and a couple of other personal items that we were able to link back to the four men on board.”

The World War II plane crash airmen and their plane were found last October, but due to local weather conditions, the recovery and identification of the remains was impossible until the weather improved by early May. For the forestry crew who discovered the missing plane, this has “been a fascinating story,” said Pegg. For the family members who finally have an answer to a 72-year-old unsolved mystery, it is a story to be told for generations.

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