May 24, 1922 - October 18, 1947
James Noah Sabourin was the son of Joseph Noah Sabourin (1895-1957), agent/notary public, and Edith Elizabeth (nee Helman) Sabourin (1896-1986) of Ottawa, Ontario. He had five siblings: Everett Helman Sabourin (1819-1981), Dorothy March Elizabeth Jarvis (1920-2019), Francis Sabourin (1924-1925), Rodney Joseph Sabourin (1926-2020), and Ronald Sabourin (1929-1929). The family was Roman Catholic.
As a child, he had Scarlet Fever, diphtheria as well as an abscess on the front of his right thigh. He stood 5’5 ½” tall and weighed 141 pounds. He had blue eyes and brown hair.
In August 1940, James was with No. 1 Ordnance Store Co. RCOC, NPAM. He had applied to the RCAF in September 1939.
James, bilingual, had been a sheet metal/tinsmith worker, prior to enlistment with the RCAF in February 1941. He hoped to be involved in ground duties, as an airframe mechanic using his sheet metal skills. After the war, he planned to return to his former employer.
He participated in hockey, cricket, and baseball moderately.
James’s journey through the BCATP started at No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto, February 18, 1941. He was then sent to TTS, St. Thomas on March 22, 1941.
He was at No. 6 SFTS, Dunnville, Ontario from August 14, 1941 before being sent to Halifax by November 27, 1941. He had been servicing Yale and Harvard aircraft. “Good worker.” He arrived in the UK December 26, 1941 and was attached to 400 Squadron by January 13, 1942, then with 128 A.F. May 1, 1944.
James arrived in France in July 1944. James was three years in England and Holland.
He returned to Lachine, Quebec March 9, 1945, then went to Trenton on the 20th of March.
By April 19, 1945, James was attached to No. 7 Photographic Wing, Rockcliffe, Ontario. On February 6, 1946: “Hay fever: four or five years. Starts about August and disappears about the time of first frost. Never on sick parade for this. Brother has Hay fever for about 8 years. Never off work. Should be fit aircrew in view of fact hay fever does not incapacitate.”
By November 1946, he was permanently posted to 13 Photo Squadron and by. March 1, 1947, with 413 Squadron.
James married Ruth Cecelia Margaret Thibodeau of Moncton New Brunswick on January 25, 1947 in Ottawa. They had no children. Their assets included a joint bank account of $103.42, $400 in Victory Loan Bonds, and $1000 in life insurance.
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, J28663, F/O - Pilot o SON OF JAMES PAUL AND JANET GEORGINA (NEE STEVENS) ROBERTSON OF STONY MOUNTAIN, MANITOBA AND HUSBAND OF MURIEL IRENE (NEE McCULLOUGH) • 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.
Ruth, residing in Moncton, New Brunswick, received a letter providing details of the crash. She was to receive a photo of the cairn.
In late October, 1955, Ruth received a letter from W/C Gunn informing her that since James was buried in an inaccessible location on Mount Glory, north of Rossland, BC, his name, along with the name of the crew aboard Mitchell 594 would appear on the Ottawa Memorial.