January 27, 1918 - June 22, 1943
Walter Jesse Thurlow, born in Portsmouth, Frontenac County, Ontario, was the son of Edward Thurlow (1888-1983), farmer, and Elizabeth (nee Walker) Thurlow (1889-1952), Odessa, Ontario. He had one younger brother, William, and five sisters: Mrs. Gordon Abrams, Mrs. Joe Cashman, Alice, Ethel, and Mary. The family attended the Church of England.
In 1938, he had a foot injury when a heavy object fell on his right foot. He occasionally needed to wear a bandage for support.
He had previous military experience with NPAM for thirty days in Peterborough, Ontario.
Walter was a mixed farmer, plus worked for Anglia-Norcross in Kingston, Ontario are a labourer. He liked hockey and baseball. He wanted to enlist with the RCAF as an air gunner and a wireless operator. He was “underweight but wiry” and stood 5’ 4 ½” tall and weighed 116 pounds as of June 2, 1941 He had blue eyes and brown hair with a medium complexion. “Rather aggressive type of rural boy. Very keen to be a member of Aircrew. Has had 30 days of military training and states he likes it. Should train well.” After the war, he wanted to work in radio.
Walter started his journey through the BCATP at No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto, Ontario on July 1, 1941. He remained there until he was sent to No. 1 SFTS Camp Borden, Ontario on August 4, 1941. He was then sent to No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal, Quebec November 9, 1941 until March 28, 1942. “79.8%, 19th out of 67 in class.” While in Montreal, he was at Ste. Anne’s Hospital from September 30 to October 4, 1941.
From there, he was sent to No. 1 Bomb and Gunnery School, Jarvis, Ontario until May 16, 1942. “2nd out of 31 in class. A good and intelligent student. Rather sensitive, but a find keen and capable youngster.”
Walter was sent to No. 31 O.T.U., Debert, Nova Scotia May 17, 1942. He took a Ferry Command Radio School Course from May 19 to July 21, 1942. “13th out of 38 in class. A good trier, but slow – should prove satisfactory.”
Walter was then taken on strength July 1, 1942 with RAF Ferry Command. He made many trips between Canada and the UK. He was in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal on June 1, 1942.
On June 5, 1943, Walter married Margaret Georgina Black at St. John’s Church, Bath, Ontario. She then resided at Collins Bay, Ontario. The manager of the Royal Bank of Canada wrote, “This is to certify that I have been acquainted with Miss Margaret Black for several years. I know her to be a young lady of undoubted character and integrity and am happy to recommend her for any position in life which she wishes to undertake.”
June 22, 1943: “Aircraft struck side of hill during flight and caught fire, crashed in wooded and rocky area. No technical failure is evident.”
“The accident occurred when the aircraft was flown at a low altitude in hilly country causing it to hit the tops first, then a wing struck a large rock on the slop of a hill causing major damage and disintegration of the empennage and fuselage as it continued out of control through trees over the crest and crashed on fire on top of the ride. Pilot undertook contact flight over hilly country evidently encountered lower ceiling and visibility that given in weather forecast just prior to departure. Cold front and local thunder showers over area in vicinity of accident. Court of Inquiry being convened. Accident was located by search aircraft and party flown in to nearby lake. Remains were buried on site.”
Letter dated January 30, 1951: On June 22, 1943, Boston BZ272, attached to 45 Group, took off from Dorval, Quebec with the crew of Lt. Fritz Werner Svenson, Pilot, Royal Norwegian Air Force, P/O John Birkett, Navigator, and WOII WJ Thurlow, Wireless Air Gunner. “Aircraft did not arrive at Goose Bay and was found to have crashed…near Lake Proulx, Labrador. A search party found all three occupants had been killed. It was impossible to dig graves owing to the nature of the ground. The bodies were, however, covered and identification plaques place on split trees. The two RCAF personnel are held as Canadian casualties, not overseas, as the location is a most inaccessible one,” their names would be commemorated on the “Memorial that will be erected in Canada to those that do not have ‘known’ graves. The purpose of this letter is that Air Ministry may advise the RNAF as they see fit.”
Walter had $50 in the Royal Bank of Canada in Odessa, Ontario and 2-$100 Victory Loan Bonds. Margaret wrote on the estates form, dated August 1943: “The two bonds in a safety envelope in Odessa bank and I cannot get these. Also $50 in the bank there that I can’t touch without authority from Air Force, also an envelope in my husband’s name that contains $25 was certificate of mine that I cannot touch. He also had $50 in the bank at Dorval. Being married such a short time, I am unable to give you too much information, but I do hope this will be of help to you. I do not know what else is in these envelopes if anything, and the manager said if he saw a copy of the will or had authority from the Government, he could not otherwise let me touch my husband’s belongings.”
Margaret received a letter dated April 2, 1951, informing her that since Walter had no known grave, his name would appear on the Ottawa Memorial.