14.12.1940 No. 6 SFTS Yale NA-64 LAC. Bilkey
Date:14 December 1940 (Saturday)
Unit:No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS)
Type: North American NA-64 Yale
Base: Dunnville, Ontario, Canada.
Location: Township of Canboro, Ontario, Canada
Pilot: LAC. James Dalton Bilkey R/56212 RCAF Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), No. 6 Service Flying training School at Dunville, Ontario, became operational on November 5, 1940. Just six weeks later, the school experienced the first of forty seven fatalities to occur during pilot training before it closed on December 1, 1944.
Leading Air-craftsman James Bilkey lost his life while practicing take-offs and landings when his aircraft went into an involuntary power spin from which he could not recover, crashing into the ground at 13:50 hours.
In his final year at Trinity College School, Port Hope Ontario, he was a member of the Fourth Form and one of the best gymnasts in the School, being a star performer on the first Gym Eight. He also played quarterback on the Middleside football team, was a member of the Middleside hockey team, and obtained his second team cricket colours. Because of his all-round proficiency in the work of the Cadet Corps, he won the Instructor's Cup for the best cadet.
After leaving the School, he spent a year at Lower Canada College and then entered the University of Bishop's College where he played on most of the first teams and distinguished himself as a quarterback on the football team. Later he took a position with the Montreal Daily Star but left to enlist in the R.C.A.F. in November 1939. He was making a training flight near Dunnville on December 14, 1940, when his machine went out of control and crashed, killing him instantly.
Reproduced courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada.
Left: Close up of the plaque Right: Yale - Spirit of Dunnville (courtesy No.6 Dunnville Museum)
The loss of a pilot was deeply felt by all on the station as evidenced in Bruce F. Johnston’s touching tribute to three fellow students who were killed while on Course 94. It was first printed on the “Wings Dinner” program which was held in the Sergeant’s Mess at No. 6 on April 4, 1944 – two days prior to graduation.
A thought for those who gave their lives -
And as we move along - a pause
In tribute to those pals of ours,
Who paid supremely for the cause.
To those swell fellows, and they were
The best of friends to all they met;
Respected loved and missed by all;
Those are three lads we’ll ne’er forget.
And to their families and friends,
Now left behind to mourn their loss,
We send our deepest sympathies -
They gave their best - at highest cost.
Reproduced courtesy No. 6 RCAF Museum, Dunnville.
Hudson Heights (St. James) Cemetery (courtesy C.W.G.C.)
LAC James Dalton Bilkey. Hudson Heights (St. James) Cemetery. Hudson Heights, Quebec. Section C. Lot 202. Born on the 29th March 1916, the son Paul E. Bilkey and Sarah E. D. Bilkey, of 427 Mount Stephen, Westmount, Quebec, Canada.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and R.C.A.F. specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum, Veterans Affairs Canada and other sources as quoted.
(1) Lake Bilkey in Northern Ontario was named after James in 1960