The English County Remembering Canadian Casualties Of World War Two

The Canadian servicemen six were flying a Wellington Bomber.
The Canadian servicemen six were flying a Wellington Bomber.

Six Canadians killed on January 2, 1944, when the Wellington bomber they were flying collided with a hillside in England’s West Yorkshire County have been adopted, so to speak, by the community as their sons. All were members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Among the deceased was a pilot, 28-year-old Flt. Sgt. Ernest Israel Glass, from Walpole, Sask., who lived in Moosomin, Saskatchewan. Five other servicemen called Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick home.

Their squadron, No. 82 Operational Training Unit, Royal Air Force (82 OTU), formed in June 1943, was training for night bombing.

Oakworth village where the crash occurred is home to Andy Wade, who has been researching the event for many years. He is a member of the group known as Men of Worth, who have been investigating the lives of the people and the crash.

He said the Wellington departed from the RAF station Ossington, about 130 kilometers southwest of Oakworth, on the training exercise. As the plane flew north, clouds moved in, significantly affecting visibility.

They think the plane flew straight into the hillside, he said.

No official eyewitnesses can give an account of the collision although Wade said there may be one potential eyewitness.

The owner of a pub located nearby was using an outhouse and might have seen the aircraft hurtling toward him, just missing the privy and hitting the hillside, Wade explained.

The village pays a tribute and lays a wreath annually at a large, flat boulder, inscribed with the names of the servicemen. That has taken place since July 1993, usually on the first Sunday of the year when the memorial was inaugurated.

Wade said the commemoration is similar to Remembrance Day ceremonies, but limited to the location of the tragedy.

Wade said Glass, born February 3, 1916, enlisted in the RCAF on June 5, 1937, and trained as a mechanic. After three years, he applied and was accepted for pilot training. He arrived in England in 1943 for additional bomber training. He had been in England for close to a year when he died.

They should always remember these types of incidents because they are important parts of history, he said. They consider the dead to be Yorkshire’s sons, CBC News reported.

The other servicemen who died are Jack Henfrey of Ninette, Man., and Kenora, Ont., James Justin McHenry of Lonsdale, Ont., Emery Savage of Fisher Branch, Man., James Edwin Dalling of Sackville, N.B., and Norman Willard Crawford of Saint John.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE