No.12 E.F.T.S. Goderich Revisited

This is what got me interested with No.12 E.F.T.S Goderich.

Elizabeth Hamilton wanted to share something last week but she did not know how to share it. She had this comment about something I had written on this blog…

Instructing student pilots– a dangerous affair” struck a cord with me.  

My father’s best friend, Robert [Bob] Bruce Reid, was a Flight Sergeant Instructor with the #12 E.F.T.S. (Goderich, Ontario).  

On August 26, 1942, near Rostock, ON, in a Tiger Moth (#8909) on a cross country training exercise, there was a mid-air collision with another training aircraft with #14 S.F.T.S, a Yale (#3391).

All four, two instructors and two students, were killed: J.E. Mosher, Pilot Instructor, J. McVicar, student pilot; R.B Reid, Pilot Instructor, and D. York, pupil pilot.

 I do have a few photos of Bob which I’d like to post on this site, if that would be okay.  [Although I am not sure how to do an entry as polished as some of those I’ve seen here].  If permissable, I’d like to add a few comments from his official record and from a letter to my father alluding to the toll the training was taking on him.

This is what she wanted to add…

***

In memory of

Robert (Bob) Bruce Reid

RCAF Flight Instructor

13 Sept. 1918–26-August 1942

robert-bruce-reid-1918-1942

 

Rank:  Flight Sergeant Pilot

Service Number R72122

Age: 23

Unit: #12 E.F.T.S. Goderich

 

Additional Information:

Son of Grace Helen and Milton Douglas Reid, Drayton, Ontario, Robert (Bob) Bruce Reid filled out his attestation paper on the 1st of June, 1940 indicating that he put together model airplanes as a hobby and had passed an examination for commercial training of pilots, including a three hour unofficial nerve test and declared that he could fly without nervous tension.  His letters of recommendation spoke of him as “honest, industrious, free from bad habits and determined to succeed with whatever he undertakes,” and “with the energy and ambition to succeed.”  His school principal noted that Bob had to do a very great deal of farm work and that sometimes he had to stay home and work to permit older brothers to go to school. It was not easy but, by dint of hard work, he was presented with an award as the student with the highest standing at Matriculation. 

Bob was assessed as being dependable, alert, cheerful and eager to learn.  Initially he was judged suitable for bombers, a pilot of a large craft, but was directed into the flight instructor program.  He received his Pilot’s Flying Badge on 16 June 1941, and completed his Flying Instructor’s Course at the Central Flying School in Trenton, Ontario on 12 September 1941.  He began training new pilots on the 16th of September, with familiarity of Fleet, Harvard, Finch and Avro Anson planes. 

Even before beginning his instructor duties, he recognized the pressures of the job of pilot.  In a conversation with long-time friend and fellow L.A.C. A.C. Hamilton (radar tech), Bob talked for hours and said that he knew he was living on “borrowed time.” He was nervous but was not inclined to unwind with his comrades; he still believed in the higher calling of the war effort.  They both knew the demands that instructing could take: their friend, Floyd Henry, was a civilian flight instructor prior to the war and, at the time, he was in the Ontario Hospital recovering from what was known then as a nervous breakdown.  And there were the reports of all the other training accidents, both large and small.

After his training, Bob did the majority of his active teaching at #5 Special Flight Training School in Brantford, Ontario and was recommended for promotion to W.O.2 in June 1942. In May 1942, he applied for leave without pay and was transferred to #12 Elementary Flight Training School.  By August 1942, he had logged more than 1,000 hours in both solo and dual flying. 

On 26 August 1942, Bob Reid was on a cross-country flight exercise with his student, L.A.C. Douglas York in a Tiger Moth (#8909 Mark I 820) from #12 Elementary Flight Training School.  The weather was good—ceiling unlimited with visibility 3-6 miles in haze.  It was not the only training flight in the skies.  Flight Officer John Edgar Mosher and his student, J. McVicar, were up in a Yale (#3391 NA-64) from the #14 Special Flight Training School.  At around 15:00, over the farms of Lorne Diehl and John Ralston approximately 1 ½ miles north of Rostook, Ontario, the two planes collided, killing all four pilots.

According to eye witnesses, the Tiger Moth 8909 and Yale 3391 “collided head on at approximately 2000 feet while on cross country flights.  Both aircraft spun into the ground. Tiger Moth 8909 burst into flames and aircraft and occupants almost totally burned.  Yale 3391 hit ground with considerable force killing occupants immediately.”  The aircraft debris of the two planes was separated by about 1/3 mile.

According to the investigation of the collision, “the pilots of both aircraft failed to see each other in time to avoid collision.  Contributing factor: visibility limited greatly by haze especially looking towards sun.”  Other documentation in the file lists cause of accident as “unavoidable,” and “obscure.”  In a letter to L.A.C. A.C. Hamilton, her son’s best friend, Mrs. Reid wrote: “I do feel that he has gone on to a fuller life where he can serve without being worn out” and that “he is still working some way for the cause of freedom and that I will see him again…Bob packed a lot of Service into the last two years.”

To be continued…

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