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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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14.12.1940 No. 6 SFTS Yale NA-64 LAC. Bilkey

Operation: Training

Date:14 December 1940 (Saturday)

Unit:No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS)

Type: North American NA-64 Yale

Serial: 64-2209

Code: 3351

Base: Dunnville, Ontario, Canada.

Location: Township of Canboro, Ontario, Canada

Pilot: LAC. James Dalton Bilkey R/56212 RCAF Age 24. Killed


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.)

Burial Details:

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

CHB 18.12.2012
KTY - Updated 05.02.2018
CHB 17.02.2020 Link to Commemorative Feature added

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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