Canadian pilot killed in WWII crash – appeal for genealogy help please

Some of you will remember that I posted this time last year about Granny’s younger  brother, James, who was in the RAF and went missing during WWII.  Last week I was reading the Scottish Military Research Group’s blog post about an appeal for information on the two airmen (one Scot and one Canadian) killed in a WWII plane crash in Banff.

This is a pretty long post, and probably only relevant to those who live in, or have relatives in Aurora, Ontario, or have a particular interest in WWII RAF airmen, but please bear with me if you do 🙂  I know how generous the genealogy blogging community is, and I have seen what great results others have had, so I thought this was worth a go.

For the past three years, Craig Anderson has been making plans to erect a memorial to these two airmen at the crash site, and he would like to make contact with their relatives before the unveiling ceremony, but he has run into difficulty with tracing relatives in Canada.  He wrote to the “Edmonton Journal” asking for help in tracing Donald’s living relatives.  Craig’s letter reads

“For the last three years, I have been researching a Second World War crash site in Banff, Scotland, where an RCAF pilot lost his life. The pilot was Donald Banbury Douglas, of Belleville, Ont. He was the only son of Walter and Lela Douglas (maiden name Banbury), who moved to Belleville from Edmonton prior to the war. Walter Douglas worked on the railway.

Later this year, I plan to place a memorial stone at the crash site and hold a short service in honour of this pilot. I am trying to contact any relatives of the family and would appreciate any assistance readers can offer.

Donald Douglas was a hero who had almost finished his tour of duty when this un-fortunate accident occurred. It is my duty to tell his story and finally build a memorial for future generations to remember him.”

Having fairly recently discovered that Granny had a brother I knew nothing of, and that, as a young newly-married man, his plane had been lost without trace in February 1941, I was very moved to read about Craig’s endeavours to keep the memory of these other two young men alive.  He feels strongly that they should be remembered, and I felt compelled to offer to help Craig if I could.

Now, I can do the genealogy research on the Scottish leading aircraftman – Gerard Patrick Robbins (born in 1912 in Dundee, the son of Patrick Robbins and Isabella McGinnis or Martin), but Craig needs help with the Canadian research on Donald’s relatives.    I found four trees on Ancestry which show Donald’s parents, although none mention Donald directly.  I messaged all four tree owners last Wednesday (22nd March), but I’ve not had any responses yet.  Fingers crossed!

I found several documents and photos relating to Donald on the Veterans Affairs Canada great website, but as it’s a weekend, I haven’t had a reply to my request for permission to share their photo of him with you.  Go and have a look – he’s very dashing 🙂

Craig had contact on Thursday from relatives of Donald, but they had only known of him when he was young.  They pointed him in the direction of Aurora near Toronto for Donald’s mum’s side of the family.  She came from the Knowles family who were prominent in the town.

If you think you may be related to Donald, or can help Craig by spreading the word that he is on the look out for Donald’s living relations, I’d be really grateful if you would share this post.

All heroes deserve to be remembered 🙂

Thank you, if you made it to the bottom of this long post – you can contact Craig by leaving a wee message as a comment – he says he’s away this weekend, so I don’t have his permission to publicly post his email address (but it’s published in the text of his letter to the Edmonton Journal above, just remove the extra hyphen).

I’ll do a Part Two, as and when we get more details, and update you on my research on the fitter, Gerard Robbins, but I won’t post any details relating to people who are still living without their written permission.  Please share and make sure that Donald and Gerard are appropriately remembered, and hope that their relatives will find out about Craig’s mission.

Read Part 2 for a progress report.


About Jo Graham

Scottish genealogist - this blog is for my own family history and photos
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5 Responses to Canadian pilot killed in WWII crash – appeal for genealogy help please

  1. Adrian says:

    Congratulations on rising to the challenge Jo. This hero deserves to be recognised. How wonderful it would be if his descendants could be present at the memorial ceremony.

    It is said that there is only six degrees of separation between everyone on the planet. If lots of people share this request on their Facebook page, the relatives will be found. All you have to do if click the Facebook button above.

    Good luck!

  2. Lorraine says:

    Hello. I’m not sure if this will help, but if you conduct an internet search on the Canada 411 website, you can enter the name Knowles and the location of Aurora and about 5 names, addresses and phone numbers are displayed for that particular surname. Perhaps they may be related to Donald’s mother. Good luck.

    • Jo says:

      Thanks Lorraine – I will pass the details on to Craig Anderson who has organised the memorial. It would be fantastic if one of these people was related to Donald 🙂 Jo

  3. Pingback: Seeking relatives of a Canadian pilot killed in WWII crash – Part 2 | Images Past

  4. Kelvin says:

    Proud to offer you a page of remembrance to him and his crew if you wish?

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