Seeking relatives of a Canadian pilot killed in WWII crash – Part 2

As per my last post, I’m still appealing for help in tracing living relatives of Flt Lt Donald Banbury Douglas, a young Canadian airman who died in a plane crash while on a test flight in Banffshire, Scotland in 1945.  Craig Anderson is planning to erect a memorial to Donald and the Scottish leading aircraftman who was also in the plane, G P Robbins, and would like to make contact with their relatives.  Having found a collection of documents and photos relating to Donald on the Veterans Affairs Canada website, I emailed them to ask permission to post a picture of him.

I then received several emails and documents from the archivist at the High School that Donald attended in Toronto. Forty young men from the same school died in WWII and the school commemorates them in a Memorial Book.  (Photo reproduced from the Memorial Book of Lawrence Park Collegiate in Toronto, Ontario with kind permission of R Whitehouse).  Capt Whitehouse was able to tell me that Donald was the only son in the family, and Craig had information to say that Donald’s mum, Lela Douglas, maiden surname Banbury, was part of the Knowles family from Aurora, Ontario.  I wonder if Donald had any sisters?

I appealed to the genealogy blogging community and my Facebook and Twitter followers to spread the word about this appeal (thanks, guys, please keep going!) and a comment was posted by Lorraine on Part 1, pointing me in the direction of Canada 411, a directory site.  It shows that there are 5 Knowles families in Aurora, and a LOT of Douglas families in Edmonton, so it will be more efficient to contact the Knowles families first.

Adrian left a comment saying “there is only six degrees of separation between everyone on the planet so if lots of people share this request on their Facebook page, the relatives will be found”.

Thank you, and please share using your preferred method of social media – there’s a nice selection of buttons below!


On the Veterans Affairs Canada website, you can view documents about the accident and very moving correspondence to and from Donald’s father, Walter Douglas.  These documents can be accessed in person – File RG24 (War Dead) Volume 27404,  in Ottawa, Canada, with the exception of the photo above.

About Jo Graham

Scottish genealogist - this blog is for my own family history and photos
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12 Responses to Seeking relatives of a Canadian pilot killed in WWII crash – Part 2

  1. lifewrite says:

    I have sent a link to your post to The Aurora Cultural Centre who may be able to assist you in your search:

  2. Jo says:

    Thank you – it’s very kind of you to help. Fingers crossed!

  3. Joan says:

    Kudos for this search. I always like a project lie this one — a puzzle solver’s delight. Looking forward to reading about the conclusion.

    • Jo says:

      Thanks Joan, I couldn’t resist getting involved as I had a great uncle who was a WWII airman who also never came home. I hope we find relatives before the ceremony 🙂

  4. lifewrite says:

    Here is a mention and photo of Mr. Knowles in Aurora, possibly grandfather of Douglas (looks like him!)

    John McIntyre might know more.

    • Jo says:

      You are turning out to be a great source of information – thought about genealogy as a career? 🙂 Thank you, I will check out the link.

  5. Pauline Davie says:

    My husband is the grandson of Gerrard P Robbins. We only recently found out the details of this story. We live in Aberdeenshire.
    Per would welcome any information you have on the crash to find out a little more about my husbands grandfather. Gerrards 3 children still survive today.

    • Jo Graham says:

      Hello Pauline and thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m afraid I don’t have any further information to add to the story. I wonder if Craig Anderson managed to arrange for a memorial at the site of the crash? I will need to look into it and see if I find any further information. I will drop you an email if I come up with anything 🙂

      • Pauline Davie says:

        Thank you so much Jo. The power of the internet is amazing. We only heard the story two weeks ago from Gerard’s daughter. She only remembered minor details from which we managed to find out more from the internet like the actual date and site of the crash. Then we were amazed to find this blog providing more precious information. Hopefully we manage to hear more from Craig.

        • Jo Graham says:

          I hope so, Pauline – let me know if you get any further information and yes, the internet is quite amazing at times. Fingers crossed that Craig gets back to you with news soon.

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