June 2, 1922 - November 8, 1943
Eric John Mills, born in Larder Lake, Ontario, was the son of Lester Stirling Mills, mechanic, and Milly (nee Segal) Mills. He had two brothers, William Lester Mills and Leonard Arthur Mills, plus three sisters, Moan Beverly (nee Mills) Eddy, Helen Lillian Mills, and Georgia Rachel Mills. The family lived in Pontiac and the district of Cochrane, then in the district of Abitibi, QC at Normetal, then to Timmins, Ontario. They attended the United Church.
He was a machinist prior to enlisting in the RCAF in the summer of 1942. Eric took three years of the industrial course at his high school, majoring in the machine shop. He planned to reside in Timmins, once the war was over. He had linear scars on his forehead, cheek, and chin. He stood 5’7 ½” tall and weighed 150 pounds. He had brown eyes and black hair. “Ability to learn is good, chooses questions, evidence of aggressiveness. Grade XI Ontario. Recommended for Standard Tradesman Skilled Group. Disappointed at not making Aircrew ITS, still keen for Aircrew duties. Husky, hard boiled type, will require strict discipline. Asked numerous questions, independent. Stable.”
He was sent to No. 5 Manning Depot, Lachine, Quebec, July 30, 1942. He was then sent to No. 5 E. D. Moncton, NB September 25 until November 29, 1942, then to No. 4 Wireless School, Guelph, Ontario by November 21 1942 until June 13 1943.
At. No. 7 B&G School, Paulson, Manitoba, from June 14 to July 26, 1943: “14th out of 24 in class. 86%. Improved steadily as air firer. Rather slow on theory. Final assessment: Slow to learn, but tries at some things, needs supervision.”
From there, he was sent to Eastern Air Command, Halifax July 31, 1943 and 116 Squadron, Sydney, NS, and then Gander, Newfoundland.
On the estates form, his father wrote, “the deceased expressed in the presence of myself and his mother that any state he left should go to her, his mother. Also in his last letter to me, he stated that he had started to purchase another victory bond. William Lester Mills, brother of deceased, is in the Canadian Navy and he is at present stationed at Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.” Eric had 13- $5 War Savings Certificates and 1-$50 Victory Loan Bond.
For more information, please click on the link below. All personnel onboard Canso 9834 who died are listed, along with the Court of Inquiry’s investigation.
THOSE ABOARD CANSO 'A' 9832
*P/O William Keough Cairns, J35956, survived *F/S Frederic Dixon Hirtle, R131516, survived *F/O James Barrie Dalgleish, J10579, survived * Sgt A. H. Jones, Brantford, Ontario, injured *LAC Percy Leroy Marsh, Fredericton, injured *WO2 Robert Flemming Lowther, J41907, killed *Wing Commander Ralph Royden Ings, C27599, killed. *F/L Joseph Coates Redmond, Edmonton, Alberta, J5072, killed *Major Kenneth Storey Morton, RAF, killed *Mandel Max Epstein, R104789, RCAF, killed *S/O Irene Watson, RCAF WD, killed *Sgt. Eric John Mills, R184018, RCAF, killed
Further information about the survivors:
• P/O William Keough Cairns (1921-1992), Weston, Ontario, J35956 -- survived. He married Rene Irene Fairbridge (1920-1984) in 1945. They had a daughter, Barbara (1946 - 2004) and a son, Douglas (1947-1947). In 1948, an article explained that a postman, named William Cairns, 28 years old, rescued a housewife in Toronto from her gas-filled home. He was celebrated and became a hero, winning the DOW Award for his act of outstanding bravery, earning a $100 Canada Savings Bond. He enjoyed genealogy, researching his family tree. William Cairns died in Toronto.
• F/S Frederick Dixon Hirtle, Strathmore, Alberta, R131516 -- survived. In February 1939, according the Calgary Herald, Fred Hirtle, along with the winners of an amateur radio contest held at his father's movie theatre in Strathmore, were part of a radio broadcast. Fred was a member of a music club, playing the cornet, trumpet, and organ. He continued to play music throughout his life. In December 1967, he became the new Chief Flying Instructor with the Chilliwack Flying Club. A newspaper article reported: "He was with the RCAF's coastal command flying Cansos in Newfoundland and Sunderlands overseas. He was discharged from the services in 1945. He took an instructor's course with Waneta Airways, Trail, BC in 1956 and has been an instructor at Trail and Castlegar since that time. He moved to the coast in September. Married, he has one daughter, Elaine, who is teaching school in the district." He was a member of the Rotary Club in Salmon Arm, BC in 1983. He passed away in 1997, buried in Sorrento, BC. He was married twice, his second wife passing away in 1999.
• F/O James Barrie Dalgleish, Toronto, Ontario, J10579 -- survived. He married Margaret Louise Patton in June 1944.
• Sgt A. H. Jones, Brantford, Ontario -- injured.
• LAC Percy Leroy Marsh, Fredericton, New Brunswick -- injured.
• Major Kenneth Storey Morton, RAF, Doddington, Northumberland, UK -- killed. He was the son of John and Hilda Susie Morton. He was serving on the HQ Staff of Coastal Command, RAF. He is commemorated in St. Aidan's Churchyard and on the Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial, Brookwood, Surrey. In the church, there is a stained-glass window in his memory, depicting a Halifax bomber towing a glider. The inscription reads, "To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Kenneth Storey Morton, Major Royal Artillery (T.A.) of Hetton Law who gave his life on Active Service Overseas on 8th November 1943, aged 23. Erected by his parents." Some discrepancies in the information as he died in a Canso, and another source shows he was 28. His name appears on the Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial in Surrey, England.