06.05.1942 11 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, RCAF Hudson Mk.I #761 Flt Lt. Joseph H.U. LeBlanc
Operation: Transit, Newfoundland to Nova Scotia
Date: 6th May 1942 (Wednesday)
Unit No: 11 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, RCAF, Eastern Air Command (EAC), Canada
Type: Hudson Mk.I
Serial: #761 *
Base: RCAF Station Torbay, Newfoundland
Location: RCAF Station Torbay, Newfoundland
Pilot: Flt Lt. Joseph Hyacinthe Ulysses LeBlanc C907 RCAF Age 25. Killed (1)
Nav: Flt Sgt. William Freeborne 'Bill’ Colville R78383 RCAF Age 25. Killed (2)
Wireless Op: Sgt. Harold Fulford Taylor R71922 RCAF Age 23. Killed (3)
Flt Lt. Rudolph Irwin Ehrlichman C2637 RCAF Age 45. Killed (4)
Sgt. Montezuma Hold 'Monty' Brothers R51548 RCAF Age 33. Killed (5)
Cpl. Charles Frederick Else 18103A RCAF Age 23. Killed (6)
LAC. Norman Clifford Fleischman R84249 RCAF Age 21. Killed (7)
LAC. Smith Edward Crymes R70596 RCAF Age 34. Killed (8)
* This Hudson was an RAF order Serial N7346 and diverted to the RCAF
Above: Flt Sgt. William Freeborne 'Bill’ Colville from his Service Record
REASON FOR LOSS
Hudson #761 had been on detachment to RCAF Station Torbay in Newfoundland, and was returning to RCAF Station Dartmouth in Nova Scotia, for scheduled maintenance on the 6th May 1942.The aircraft took off at 17:42 hrs and developed engine trouble on lift off, struck the ground wing low and cart-wheeled and caught fire immediately. The three crew and five passengers, who were returning to RCAF Station Dartmouth on leave were killed. This was the first and largest fatal crash at RCAF Station Torbay.
The Court of Enquiry determined that when the aircraft was about 4/5ths of the way down the runway and about 5 feet in the air, a ”cough” or “backfire” was heard from one, or both, engines. The aircraft sank to the ground and touched its wheels, the engines picked up and the aircraft cleared the runway in a slight climb. The aircraft attained about 50 ft to 100 ft in altitude when a left bank was assumed, which gradually steepened assuming the characteristics of a sideslip.
The aircraft commenced to sink and turn more rapidly; there was fair evidence that the throttles were closed as the aircraft continued to descend as indicated by the evidence of one witness and the condition of the propeller blades after the accident.
The aircraft struck the ground left wing tip first, then cart-wheeled on its nose and came to rest in an inverted position. Fire occurred on impact and extensive damage resulted due to the force of impact and as a result of fire. All occupants of the aircraft were killed as a result of the impact.
The Court of Enquiry was of the opinion that the cause of the accident remained obscure. It offered the following theories for which the court considered that there existed reasonable supporting evidence:
(i) Overload, or unequal distribution of load;
(ii) Starboard engine failure;
(iii) A combination of (i) and (ii) above.
(1) Joseph H.U. LeBlanc enlisted in the RCAF on the 7th November 1938 and trained as a Pilot. He was promoted to Fg Off. on the 26th October 1939 and then to Flt Lt. followed by a posting to 10 (Bomber Reconnaissance (BR)) Sqn on the 4th May 1940 on a flying engagement. He was posted to 11 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Sqn on the 31st May 1941 and was on a 6 month detachment to RCAF Station Torbay with the Squadron.
(2) Flt Sgt. Colville was a Pilot but for this flight was designated as the Navigator. He was the first of three sons of Annie Colville to have been killed in the service of Canada and the Commonwealth. Other families tragically lost three sons during the war but uniquely all three Colville son’s were pilots:
Fg Off. Alexander Colborne ‘Alex’ Colville was listed MiA, along with his crew, when his Lancaster II was lost without trace on a mission to Stuttgart in Germany on the 15th/16th March 1944;
Fg Off. John Spencer ‘Sandy’ Colville was KiA when his Typhoon Ib was shot down by flak over France on the 18th August 1944.
(3) Sgt. Taylor was a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner with 11 (BR) Squadron at RCAF Station Torbay.
Previously on the 27th January 1942 on operations with 11 (BR) Squadron and returning to base from a patrol his Hudson Mk.I #768 ran into a blinding snowstorm. They lost an engine and were unable to reach base at RCAF Station Torbay and diverted to RCAF Station Gander. The second engine failed whilst they were trying to locate Gander the second engine failed and had to make a force landing some 20 miles SE of Grand Falls, Newfoundland at 15:10 hrs.
The crew spent 5 days and nights, before being rescued, with no protection except a parachute as a tent in blinding snowstorms and with only emergency rations. Sgt. Taylor suffered from exposure, lack of food and frost-bite to both feet. He made a full recovery after 5 days in RCAF Station Hospital Gander.
(4) Rudolph Irwin Ehrlichman had previously served in the United States (US) Army Infantry between 1917 and 1918. He then transferred to the US Air Corps and served as an Aviation Instructor between 1918 to 1919.
Above: Rudolph Irwin Ehrlichman from his Service Record.
He was honourably discharged as a Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt) in the (Military Aeronautics) Signal Corps on the 15th September 1919.
He spent 1920 and 1921 as a Commercial Pilot in Washington State as a ‘Barnstormer’. He enlisted the RCAF on the 19th August 1940 and qualified as a Pilot. At the time of the accident he was the Armaments Training Officer at the Eastern Air Command (EAC) HQ Halifax.
His son 1st Lt. John Daniel Ehrlichman O-719905 also served in WW2 as B-17 Navigator in the 8th Air Force. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on the 18th May 1945 and the Air Medal (AM) with Three Oak Leaf Clusters between 23rd August 1944 and 13th April 1945.
(5) Sgt. Brothers was an Instrument Maker by trade and was on detachment with 11 (BR) Squadron, RCAF.
(6) Cpl. Else was an Airframe Mechanic by trade who was on detachment with 11 (BR) Squadron, RCAF.
(7) LAC. Fleischman was employed in the General Duties trade with #1 Group Headquarters, St. John’s Newfoundland.
(8) Smith Edward Crymes served as a Private in No. 12 Detachment, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC) as an Armourer. He was discharged on the 21st August 1940 for the purposes of enlistment into the RCAF as an Armament Technician. He was also a qualified Air Gunner.
Gander War Cemetery
Flt Lt. Joseph Hyacinthe Ulysses LeBlanc. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 4, Row 5, Grave 1. Inscription: 'BORN 17TH AUG. 1916 REST IN PEACE'. Born on the 17th August 1916 in St. Joseph, New Brunswick. Son of Joseph Albani and Exilda (née Gallant) LeBlanc. Both his parents predeceased him in March 1929 and October 1934 respectively. His immediate Next-of-Kin was his sister, Mrs Anita (née LeBlanc) Gaudet of St. Joseph, New Brunswick, Canada.
Flt Sgt. William Freeborne 'Bill’ Colville. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 3, Row 3, Grave 15. Inscription: ‘WE LOVE YOU SO, DARLING BILL. HE GAVE HIS TODAY FOR OUR TOMORROW’.Born on the 29th April 1917 in Bowmanville, Ontario. Son of Alexander and Annie Josephine (née Colborne) Colville of Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Harold Fulford Taylor. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 3, Row 4, Grave 23. Inscription: 'UNTIL THE DAY BREAK AND THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY REST IN PEACE'. Born on the 22nd June 1918 in Rawdon, Ontario. Son of George Victor and Alice (née Meiklejohn) Taylor of Rawdon, Ontario, Canada.
Flt Lt. Rudolph Irwin Ehrlichman. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 3, Row 1, Grave 1. Inscription: 'THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD'. Born on the 29th March 1897 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Son of Walter (deceased in 1933) and Antonetta (née Gruenberg) Ehrlichman of Seattle, Washington, USA. Husband to Mrs Lillian Catherine (née Danielson) Ehrlichman of Santa Monica, California, USA.
Sgt. Montezuma Hold 'Monty' Brothers. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 3, Row 4, Grave 22. Inscription: 'REST IN PEACE'. Born on the 25th November 1908 in Wellington County, Ontario. Son of Wesley and Victoria (née Holt) Brothers of Wroxeter, Ontario. Husband to Anne Jane (née Fisher) Brothers of Geraldton, Ontario, Canada.
Cpl. Charles Frederick Else. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 3, Row 4, Grave 24. Inscription: 'RESTING IN PEACE'.Born on the 24th December 1918 in St. Thomas, Ontario. Son of Nelson Wellington and Mary Helen Else of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
LAC. Norman Clifford Fleischman. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 3, Row 4, Grave 26. Inscription: 'TILL THE DAY BREAKS AND THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY'. Born on the 28th August 1921 in Hespeler, Ontario. Son of Edward Charles (deceased) and Isabella (née McConnell) Fleischman of Hespeler, Ontario, Canada.
LAC. Smith Edward Crymes. Gander War Cemetery, Plot 3, Row 4, Grave 25. Inscription: 'UNTIL WE MEET WITH GOD'. Born on the 24th December 1907 in Big Beaver, Saskatchewan. Son of Rupert S. (deceased) and Elizabeth Olive (née Smith) Crymes of Lonoke, Arkansas, USA. Husband to Ola (née Perkins) Crymes of Picton, Ontario, Canada.
Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to this crew and their families.
Other sources as quoted below: