April 24, 1919 - October 18, 1947
John Leslie MacLeod was the son of Donald Alexander MacLeod (1889-1966), businessman, and Blanche Louisa (nee Baldry) MacLeod (1889-1968)M of Kingston, Ontario. He had two brothers, Duncan Rae and Donald Edgar, and one sister, Marjorie Louise Anderson. Another brother was stillborn. The family attended the United Church.
While a student, he was with the COTC, October 8, 1940, discharged October 31, 1941.
John enlisted with the RCAF in Toronto in early 1942. He had a B. Comm. from Queen’s University and was a chartered accountant at Thorne Mulholland Howson and McPherson in Toronto, auditing for two years. He spoke English, but indicated he read French and English as well. After the war, he hoped to remain in the RCAF flying, or with a commercial airline. “Above average type, tall, slender body, clean and neatly dressed, pleasant mature manner, good appearance, sincere, dependable, capable, industrious, good character, self-reliant, should respond well to RCAF training.”
He had fractured his lower left leg sometime prior to his enlistment, possibly as a child or teen. He stood 5’11” tall and weighed 151 pounds by June 16, 1942. “Good physique. Well developed. Strong looking. Intelligent. Good schooling. Modest, polite, and calm. Looks sold and impresses as reliable and persistent. Wants to fly and do his part. Mature and stable. Impresses well, clean cut type. Wants bomber pilot. Commission material. Night vision low average.”
He liked hockey, skiing, golf, and baseball. He smoked eight cigarettes per day and occasionally drank alcohol. He owned a 1940 Packard sedan, purchased in 1947 for $1350. He also had Canada Savings Bonds worth $1000 and a life insurance policy of $5,000, with a flying clause.
John’s journey through the BCATP began at No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto February 9, 1942. He was then sent to TTS St. Thomas March 28, 1942 until he was sent to No. 6 ITS, Toronto June 7, 1942. “Good maths, background. Capable, serious, and steady. Co-operative and helpful to other members of flight.” He was at the station hospital from March 12-24, 1942.
From there, he was sent to No. 12 EFTS Goderich, Ontario from August 30 until October 23, 1942. “Good conscientious student. Average flier. Above average in ground school. Link mark” 70%.”
He was then at No. 9 SFTS, Centralia until March 19, 1943. “Average pilot who is a bit forgetful; should be checked up occasionally. Keen hard working and well-liked by fellow students. Could be a good leader.” John was recommended for a commission.
Then he was sent to NO. 1 GRS, Summerside, PEI until June 11, 1943.
He was taken on strength with 160 Squadron at Sea Island, BC June 12, 1943, then transferred with the squadron to Yarmouth July 1, 1943, then to Torbay, Newfoundland.
He remained on the East Coast through to November 30, 1945, taking an officer’s course in May 1945.
John married Dorothy Alice Veinot of (1924-2006) River Hebert, Nova Scotia on September 29, 1945, in River Hebert. (They had no children and she never remarried.). On Dorothy’s father’s obituary, Dorothy was living in Germany in 1980. Dorothy passed away in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2006.
February 1, 1946, he was in Ottawa, later attached to 413 Squadron, Rockcliffe, September 1947.
John earned the DFC effective December 1, 1945. His brother, Duncan Rae MacLeod also earned the DFC overseas in January 1943. (See newspaper article above.)
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.”
The families received a letter from W/C Gunn informing them that the wreckage had been found, dated October 11, 1952, and a second letter dated October 24, 1952 letting them know that there was a metal cross atop a cairn at the site of the crash in memorial to those nine who died aboard Mitchell 894. Photographs would be forwarded.
Two years later, Dorothy received a letter telling her that since John had no known grave, his name would appear on the Ottawa Memorial.
John is also remembered on the family grave marker at St. Andrew’s United Church Cemetery, Dalhousie Mills, Ontario.