Bodies of 2 pilots found nearly 72 years after Lake Muskoka crash
Published Saturday, September 14, 2013 8:06PM EDT
More than 70 years after their plane crashed into Lake Muskoka, the bodies of two airmen have finally been recovered.
Leading Aircraftsman Theodore (Ted) Bates of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Flight Lieutenant Peter Campbell, a member of the British air force, will be buried in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday with military honours.
They went missing on Dec. 13, 1940 when their Nomad 3521 collided mid-air with another aircraft.
The Canadian navy’s diving unit recovered their bodies nearly a year ago, but the Department of National Defence did not formally announce that until Friday.
The government said it withheld the information from the public to protect “against disturbance" of the crash site.
“It’s been a long time, but there is going to be closure,” Bates’ brother Tom told CTV Barrie.
In a news release, Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson said the recovery “will provide closure to the families of Flight Lieutenant Campbell and Leading Aircraftsman Bates, as well as reassure them that the ultimate sacrifice made by their loved ones will never be forgotten.”
Bates and Campbell went missing during a search-and-rescue operation involving another airman who had disappeared during training the previous day. Their plane collided with Nomad 3512, another aircraft that had been searching for the same pilot.
The wreckage of Nomad 3512 and its pilots were recovered shortly after the crash. But many feared that Bates and Campbell’s bodies were lost forever.
In 2007, Matt Fairbrass, who heads up the Lost Airmen Project, discovered the missing wreckage using a side-scan sonar.
“We had no idea there was actually remains, we were just hoping to have artifacts for an exhibit,” Fairbrass told CTV.
The OPP’s Underwater Search and Recovery unit eventually located the aircraft in 2010.
At that time, divers recovered personal effects and the aircraft's three .30 calibre machine guns.
The Royal Canadian Air Force said it’s now working out the logistics of pulling the plane wreckage from the lake.
With a report from CTV Barrie’s Mike Walker