Louis Joseph Prete J40973

July 10, 1921 - October 7, 1943

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Salesman joined RCAF and became pilot. As a staff pilot at No. 6 B&G School, Mountain View, Bolingbroke 10084 collided with Bolingbroke 10015. Eight men aboard both planes were killed.

Louis Joseph Prete was the son of Peter Prete and Vincneza (aka Virginia) (nee DeFlorio) Prete of Peterborough, Ontario. He had four brothers, Raymond, Ernie, Edward, and Patrick. Edward was studying to be a priest in Toronto and Patrick was in active service overseas. The family was Roman Catholic, of Italian heritage.

Louis worked as an office clerk for Canadian General Electric from 1938-1940 leaving the positin because it “was not suitable” and then as a salesman for United Cigar Stores, 1940-1941. He was very interested in sports, consistently at the Peterboro YMCA. He had one year of drafting, electricity, and machine shop at technical school. Louis married Dorothy Ethel Midgley on February 3, 1940 in London, Ontario. They had a son, Edward Peter Louis Prete, born June 18, 1940. Louis was in debt “paying for furniture before releasing same, otherwise perfectly clear.” He added that “The Canadian Air Force is my idea. My first ambition in same is to become a Pilot.” Louis stood 5’8” tall and weighed 158 pounds. He had brown eyes and brown hair. He had his appendix out in 1939, in the hospital for 11 days. He smoked eight cigarettes per day and drank alcohol socially in moderation. Louis was considered athletic, but overweight, well developed, with no excess fat. The second toe on both feet over-rode 3rd toe. “Physically very fit, athletic build. A good steady type. No evidence of nervous trouble. Better than average prospect for pilot. Very keen boy. Wants pilot.” In April 1941: “Physically fit, except for glycosuria [which is connected to possible kidney disease and/or diabetes]. Some neurotic tendencies, concern about self. Otherwise fit for aircrew.” In October 1941, several more checks were made and results proved negative.

He started his journey through the BCATP in Toronto on October 21, 1941 when he was accepted to serve with the RCAF. He was then sent to No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto November 5, 1941 until November 22, 1941. From there, he was sent to No. 1 B&G School, Jarvis, Ontario November 23, 1941 until February 13, 1942.

His pilot training commenced at No. 5 ITS, Belleville, Ontario February 15 until April 11, 1942. He was 82nd out of 162 in his class with 71%. “Clean cut lad with plenty of confidence. Has been energetic, conscientious on course. Good drill man.”

He was then sent to No. 30 EFTS, Oshawa, Ontario April 12 to June 20, 1942. He was 41st out of 56 in his class with 71.7%. “Pupil slow to absorb training in early stage. Has shown considerable improvement. Tends to nervousness and resulting roughness on controls.”

Louis then went to No. 16 SFTS, Hagersville, Ontario June 21 until October 23, 1942, when he earned his wings. He was 30th out of 45 in his class with 65.1% overall. He was rated as an average pilot except on straight runs over as a pilot, where he was above average, with navigation weak. His instructors thought he best suited to be a staff pilot.

Louis provided partial financial support to his mother.

Louis was AWL on two occasions: February 8, 1942 and June 7, 1942. He lost one day of pay for each infraction. He was confined to quarters from February 24 to March 1, 1943 for an unknown medical reason.

Louis was attached to RCAF Mountain View, Ontario as of October 24, 1942.

On October 7, 1943, two Bolingbroke aircraft, 10084 and 10015 from No. 6 B&G School, Mountain View, Ontario, collided. All men were killed. LAC Joseph Alphonse Camille Adelard Paquin, Air Gunner; F/O Donald Gordon Porter, Pilot; P/O Louis Joseph Prete, pilot, Sgt. Joseph Jean Andre Gagnon, Air Gunner; Sgt Joseph Raoul Rene Lussier, WAG, LAC Joseph Henri Rosaire Riopel, Air Gunner; LAC Leo Gerard Shields, Air Gunner, all RCAF. See CASPIR link below for photos and more details.

From the Court of Inquiry: “Three Bolingbroke aircraft (10147, 10015, and 10084) with pilots F/O Metivier, F/S Prete, and P/O Porter, respectively, took off on an authorized flight to practice firing exercise G5, being a line astern formation, which S turned behind the drogue, firing alternately inshore and offshore. Each aircraft had three gunners who in turn from centre turret fired different coloured ammunition, each gunner having one run over course, a new drogue being used for each run over course as the target aircraft dropped its used drogue at designated fields at each and of run for scoring. On this flight concerned, no drogues were in evidence, as some hitch had occurred and F/O Metivier, the leader, a staff pilot, discontinued the exercise by wagging his wings and set course for the base. By lecture and in all previous similar exercises, pilots had been told to always continue this line astern formation until about 3 miles distant from base had been reached, when formation could break off for landing. For some unknown reason, P/O Porter apparently tried to come into a VIC formation, resulting in collision with aircraft piloted by F/S Prete, both aircraft locking wings and stalling, therefore diving into the lake. Parts of crew gear, small fragments of aircraft and a part of body (unidentifiable), were picked up shortly after crash. F/S Prete has been recognized as a reliable, careful pilot, and P/O Porter had been repatriated from Beaufighters overseas. It is a coincidence that both had been logged for taxiing accidents on June the 21st. I discovered that P/O Porter had been in difficulties over minor infractions of flying discipline before and it so happens, this investigating officer personally knew this pilot Porter overseas and agrees with off record comment of his cockiness. As a result of this crash, the two pilots, Prete and Porter, with their crew are missing believed killed. No identification of bodies or aircraft is possible as yet, except by process of elimination and service knowledge of F.17 as to who were in the missing machines. The weather although hazy, visibility was quite good. Provincial police were approached and cooperated in endeavoring to locate civilian eyewitnesses. Some 40 local nearby residents were interrogated but none could be found who saw the crash. The only evidence therefore of the crash is given by sole occupant, LAC Gagnon, witness number four who actually saw the collision and witnesses 2 and 5 who saw the machines just breaking apart as they hit the water.”

“Investigation Officer was flown over the same run on a similarly hazy day with weather the same as on the flight being investigated. No salvage of aircraft recovered as gear found included two helmets, one with name of crew member, the other with regimental number of another, also one shoe badly torn with regimental number of a third member. No other proper identification is available. At least one machine was heard to explode on impact with the water. CAUSE: Pilot effort in not keeping proper formation, resulting in collision in air followed by both aircraft crashing in the lake.”

Louis’s medals were returned undelivered and returned to stock in November 1949. In October 1944, Dorothy received a letter at her address in Meyersburg, Ontario, informing her that since Louis had no known grave, his name would appear on the Ottawa Memorial.