November 1, 1914 - October 18, 1947
Arthur Gold Robertson was the son of James Paul Robertson (1869-1956) and Janet Georgina (nee Stevens) Robertson (1876-1949) of Stony Mountain, Manitoba. He had four brothers, James, Horace, Robert, and Sydney, plus two sisters, Jean Olive Dillabough and Ruby E Van Steelaut. One brother died at birth. The family attended the United Church.
Arthur liked electrical work and most sports and had been an interior designer for ten years prior to his enlistment with the RCAF but was unemployed. He had also worked for Dominion Bridge at Stony Mountain Penitentiary “and had inmates working for us.” After the war, Arthur thought he might like to work in the postal service.
Arthur was bilingual, speaking and writing French and English fluently. He stood 5’11” tall, had blue eyes and brown hair, with a sallow complexion. “Athletic.”
His journey started at No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto, May 18, 1940. He requested ground duties or become a member of the RCAF Service Police.
He remained in Toronto until being posted to No. 7 E. D. Winnipeg, Manitoba on June 24, 1940, then No. 8 R. D. in Winnipeg. Arthur was at the station hospital August 22, 1940, and again January 22 - 27, 1942, then a third time January 27 to February 12, 1942 at Fort Osborne Military Hospital.
Arthur married Muriel Irene McCullough (d. 2002) on May 10, 1941, at Christ Church, Stony Mountain, Manitoba. They had a son, Brian, born June 12, 1946.
Arthur had bank accounts and twenty-seven War Savings Certificates, plus $600 in life insurance, Irene the beneficiary. Irene never remarried.
Arthur remustered in October 1942. At No. 4 Medical Selection Board, Edmonton: “Average intelligence and education. Alert, well built, fit, stable. Well motivated. Keen. Age 27. Married. Average pilot material. Average observer material.”
He was taken on strength at No. FIS, Vulcan, Alberta for five months from March to August 1942. Irene joined him, living in Nanton, Alberta.
Remustering for aircrew, he was at No. 4 ITS October 25, 1942. “Reliable, responsible, industrious, alert. Recommended CO Alternate wireless air gunner.” “Excellent ability and capable of a strong effort. Prefers to be a pilot but content to be observer, if so selected. Has experience at aircraft controls and enthusiastic for flying training and duties.”
He arrived in High River at No. 5 EFTS January 24, 1943. “Above average ground school ability. Just average pilot. This airman has trouble flying under the hood. Allows the aircraft to wander. Conduct and attitude very good. Did a good job as Class Senior.”
From there, he was at No. 3 SFTS, Calgary where he earned his wings. “Above average at GIS.”
He was sent to Halifax August 7, 1943 waiting to be sent overseas. He arrived in England on September 3, 1943.
He was overseas from October 1943 to June 1945, posted to 158 Squadron, RAF. He was a POW in Germany from January to May 1945.
Irene received a telegram January 8, 1945. “Regret to advise you that your husband Flying Officer Arthur Gold Robinson J28553 is reported missing after air operations overseas February 5. Stop. Letter follows.” A memo from No. 158 Squadron RAF dated January 7, 1945: “…Halifax III MZ 432 Q was detailed for operations against HANOVER on the night of 5th January 1945. The crew, bomb load, and specialist equipment were as detailed in the above mentioned signal. The aircraft carried a fuel load of 2,000 gallons, which would normally suffice for some 8 hours flying. The aircraft took off from this station at 1701 hours on 5th January and no further news has been received and no rescue action undertaken.” CREW: Pilot F/O A. G. Robinson, J28663, Navigator F/S T. M. Laurie, 1565637, Air Bomber F/O G. W. Cross, J36865, Wireless Operator, Sgt J. J. Bromfield, 169521, Mid-upper Gunner F/S J. D. E. Rae, R195773, Rear Gunner, W/02 G. E. Marion, R143398, and Flight Engineer, Sgt/ G. Dacey, 1016932.
He was sent to No. 8 R.D. Winnipeg, June 12, 1945 until August 5th. Then he was taken on strength at No. 7 B&G School, Paulson until the end of August 1945.
Arthur reenlisted in February 1946, after retiring from the RCAF in October 1945. He was posted to Winnipeg, was in Toronto, then Trenton, back to Winnipeg, then Trenton again, finally making it to Rockcliffe, Ontario by May 1946, attached to No. 124 Squadron, then to No. 13 Photo Squadron. By March 1, 1947, he was permament.
Mitchell 894 left Calgary, Alberta at 1032 hours, October 18, 1947 on a flight to Penticton, BC, estimated time en route, one hour forty-five minutes. Approximately one hour later, 1132 hours, the aircraft requested Crescent Valley Radio range for Penticton weather, by wireless, but did not give their position. This was given, but not acknowledged by the aircraft. Continuing in a letter by W/C W. R. Gunn, the families were told that the route of the aircraft was over a practically inaccessible area. Air and ground searches were conducted for many weeks, but due to severe winter weather, they were terminated. Several searches continued during better weather without success.
CREW: • Bliss Eugene Strader Bowman, R195797, LAC -- Aero Engine Mechanic o SON OF JAMES AND OLIVE BOWMAN; HUSBAND OF JOYCE BOWMAN, OF INKERMAN, ONTARIO. • Georges Yvon Lebel 26356, F/O, DFC -- Wireless Operator o SON OF JEAN BAPTISTE LEBEL AND CORDELIA LEBEL, OF RIVIERE-DU-LOUP, PROVINCE OF QUEBEC • Benjamin Cook, 19826, F/O. He earned the DFM. -- Navigator o SON OF WILLIAM JEFFERSON COOK AND EDITH COOK; HUSBAND OF GLADYS MATHER COOK, OF PENTICTON, BRITISH COLUMBIA • William Hugh Molyneux 24798, LAC -- Camera Operator o SON OF WILLIAM HUGH AND EDITH MOLYNEUX • John Leslie MacLeod, 20052, F/L, DFC -- Pilot o SON OF DONALD ALEXANDER AND BLANCHE LOUISA MACLEOD, OF CORNWALL, ONTARIO; HUSBAND OF DOROTHY ALICE MACLEOD • Arthur Gold Robertson, 28663, F/O - Pilot o SON OF JAMES PAUL AND JANET GEORGINA ROBERTSON OF STONEY MOUNTAIN, MANITOBA, AND HUSBAND OF MURIEL IRENE ROBERTSON. • James Noah Sabourin, 22103, Cpl - Airframe Mechanic o SON OF JOSEPH NOAH AND EDITH SABOURIN; HUSBAND OF RUTH C. M. SABOURIN, OF MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK
Two civilians: Frederick M. Knight and Beulah Jane (nee Braid) Knight, formerly of Calgary, were also aboard. Mr. Knight was the manager of the Incola Hotel, Penticton, BC, having been in the hotel business for 18 years, posted to Calgary and Lethbridge prior. They had three children: Cecile, 9, Joan, 5, and Billy, 6. The children were taken in by Mr. Knight’s brother, Mr. WG Braid of Winnipeg. “The Board of Inquiry…indicates that the crew stayed at the Incola Hotel in Penticton which was managed by Mr. Knight. Mr. and Mrs. Knight were quite friendly with the crew, entertained them, and showed them a good time. In view of this, it is presumed that, contrary to regulations, the crew took them along for the ride…Mr. and Mrs. Knight…were unauthorized passengers and there could be no legal liability on the part of the Crown to their estates. Since legal liability is denied, and because Mr. and Mrs. Knight were unauthorized passengers, a gratuitous allowance is not considered warranted.”
The Calgary Albertan reported on October 20, 1947 that Mrs. Robertson and Mrs Cook arrived on the missing aircraft from Penticton on the Friday. “They understood that the survey work was now completed in the Penticton area and they would be stationed in Calgary for a time. When the plane left Calgary on the return trip, it was expected to pick up equipment and return to Calgary.”
“Five aircraft from Edmonton and two from Vancouver scoured some 30,000 square miles of BC territory…paratroopers flown from Edmonton were standing by in Penticton, ready to jump to the help of the missing plane’s passengers and crew. In addition, 10 planes from the US combed the area of the international border for the missing aircraft, taking off from Seattle. Northwest Air Command revealed that the Mitchell plan was a photographic survey aircraft. It had been carrying out aerial mapping of the Penticton area and was based at the BC town. The craft flew to Calgary Friday and tried to return to its base on the same day. However, icing conditions at 16,000 feet forced it to return to Calgary for the night. It took off from the municipal airport at 1032 am Saturday. It was last heard from one hour and 20 minutes later when it signalled the radio range station at Crescent Valley, BC. The pilot asked for a report on the weather at his point of destination: Penticton. He said he had sufficient gas for a further four hours flying. When the plane left Calgary, it was expected to arrive at Penticton in about two hours but had fuels for a flight of six hours aboard. At the Calgary municipal airport, officials said, to the best of their knowledge, the RCAF transport was to have flown across country along a practically straight line between Calgary and its BC base.” [See articles above.]
In October 1952, the Windsor Star reported that a wreckage was found in the BC interior. The Vancouver Sun had a full report. The reporter from the Trail Times, Bob Porteous, went to the crash site by pack horse and on foot. [See article.]. “A junkyard of death high in the mountains.”
Wilf Gibbard spotted the wreck while out hunting near Rossland, BC. “It was only by sheer luck that I stumbled on the crash.I had been out chopping wood at the halfway cabin. On my way back to my camp, I decided to leave the trail on the chance of seeing some grouse. The first thing I saw was a shiny piece of metal glinting in the sunlight. I followed the path of aircraft pieces 200 yards down the slope before coming on the main wreck.”
“THE AIRCRAFT STRUCK AT 62OO FOOT LEVEL IN A HOURSEHOE ENCLOSURE ON THE EAST SLOPE OFF MOUNT GLORY. AIRCRAFT IMPACT DIRECTION IS WEST TO EAST DOWN SLOPE, BUT DISTANCE DOWN FROM THE TOP (3/4 MILE) AND STEEPNESS PRECLUDES POSSIBLITY OF AIRCRAFT APPROACH FROM WEST. DESCENT IS CONSIDRED TO HAVE BEEN IN OUT OF CONTROL, SPIN, OR SPIRAL CONDITION. ALL COMPONENTS FOUND NEAR BY. ALTHOUGH WATCHES VARY, THERE IS AN INDICATION THAT CRASH OCCURRED A FEW MINUTES AFTER THE RADIO CONTACT WITH THE CRESCENT VALLEY. WEATHER AT TIME WAS CLOUD BELOW MOUNTAIN TOP AT ICING TEMPERATIVE. 894 DID NOT HAVE WING DE ICERS. THERE WAS FIRE ON IMPACT BUT NOT SURVIVORS CAMP FIRE AS STATED IN NEWSPAPERS. ALL RADIO MASTS AND AERIAL WIRES HAVE BEEN RETURNED FOR CHECKING AT 418 SQDN. NONE APPEAR TO BE MISSING. A SMALL QUANTITY OF HUMAN BONES WERE FOUND BUT NO SKULLS. IT COMPRISED THREE HIP SOCKETS, TWO PIECES OF ARM BONE, ANDO NE OF LEG. THREE PIECES FROM A SKULL CROWN, A FEW RIBS AND A PIECE OF JAW CARRYING TWO MOLAR TEETH. THE CORONER AT ROSSLAND BE SUMMONED AND WAS SATISFIED THAT THE VICTIMS WERE THE NINE PERSONS LISTED IN THE AIR FORCE RELEASE. IN MY POSSESSION ARE A NUMBER OF SMALL PERSONAL ARTICLES FROM WHICH SOME OF THE PERSONNEL MAY BE IDENTIFIED. YOUR AUTHORITY TO HAND THESE OVER TO THE B OF I IS REQUESTED.” W/C W. O. REEVES
A memo dated October 20, 1952: “W/C Reeves Inspector who visited scene of crash considers in view of fact that original guides have refused to return to area of crash until next summer due to terrain and weather, it is very unwise for any board of investigation or funeral party to attempt to proceed until next summer. Pictures taken by AIB party and 12 Group being forwarded for grave ledger sheets and info next of kin.”
There is a metal cross atop a cairn at the site of the crash in memorial to those nine who died aboard Mitchell 894.