26.01.1943 No 34 Operational Training Unit Ventura I AE665 P/O. Cormack
Date: 26th January 1943 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 34 Operational Training Unit - Eastern Air Command
Type: Ventura I
Base: RCAF Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick, Canada
Location: Northumberland Strait
Pilot: P/O. Donald Shaw Cormack AUS/414470 RAAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Nav: P/O. Stanley Joseph James AUS/416966 RAAF Age 27. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Matthew Hunter NZ/42329 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Weather: Wind: WNW 10-25 mph. Upper wind: WNW 25-45 mph. Cloud 10/10 above 8000 ft. Visibility: 5-10 miles. Temp: 34 degrees at surface.
Exercise: A cross country navigation exercise. Route: Base - Bathurst - Point Escumino - St. John - Base. Practice bombing to be carried out on the Musquash Range on route home.
Actual: Taking off at 13:00 hrs. When the Ventura reached Bathurst they reported their position which was their first turning point at 14:03 hrs.
Some 3 minutes later they then sent a message that they were changing frequency to Greenwood, this contact was never established. Nothing further was heard from the crew and the 3 other aircraft on the same operation completed the exercise successfully and returned to base.
Over 50 aircraft carried out extensive searches fir the missing aircraft which all proved fruitless.
At about 14:40 hrs an aircraft from Sumerside on Prince Edward Island reported sighting patch of oil off Point Escumac and for a moment noticed some old burning then dying out. They also noticed some wreckage.
Summary: Prior to the exercise the aircraft had carried out a satisfactory 25 minute test flight which was then followed by a 40 hour inspection on January the 14th, but due to poor weather conditions had not flown until the exercise.
The cause of the accident is obscure but it is 'probable' that the pilot attempted to go below a cloud bank at a point about 8 miles south of Point Escumino and crashed into Northumberland Strait where the wreckage was sighted.
Some wreckage was reported to be found later including a tyre which matched the aircraft type and a handkerchief with a laundry mark of 'S. James' - found some 5 mile east of Richibucto in the Strait of Northumberland. (see map shown)
P/O. Donald Shaw Cormack. Ottawa Memorial. Panel 3. Column 1. Born on the 01st November 1920 at Esk, Queensland, the son of William and Isobel Beatrice Cormack, of Esk, Queensland, Australia. Prior to service worked as an apprentice carpenter. Enlisted on the 11th October 1941. A total of 287 flying hours logged and reported to be a 'steady pilot'.
P/O. Stanley Joseph James. Ottawa Memorial. Panel 3. Column 1. Born on the 08th May 1915 at Cheltenham South Australia, the son of Charles Henry and Ethel Jane James, of 37 Findon Avenue, Seaton Park, South Australia. A.A.I.S. An accountant prior to service. Enlisted on the 08th November 1941.
Sgt. Thomas Matthew Hunter. Ottawa Memorial. Panel 3. Column 1. Born on the 13th August 1921 at Martinborough, the son of John Hogan Hunter and Ettie Hunter (née Hemi), of Martinborough, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a battery mechanic for the Australian Battery Company at Wellington. A total of 69 flying hours logged.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, National Archives of Australia, other sources as quoted below: