Cecil Humphreys signature
Cecil James Gaston D’Herbez Humphreys died on this day in 1918. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on August 14th, 1917 at the age of 20. His regimental number was 74523 and he was five feet nine and a half inches tall. Humphreys was granted a commission in the Corps on December 5th of the same year. He was working as a flying instructor for 89 Canadian Training Squadron of the Deseronto Wing of the Royal Air Force when he died. The RAF casualty card notes that he died in a flying accident in a Curtiss JN-4 aircraft and that Cadet W. A. Tramble was slightly injured in the incident.Cadet Tremble gave the following evidence to the Court of Inquiry held at Camp Mohawk on the day of the accident:

Detail from Attorney General's 1918 file RG 4-32/1745 at the Archives of Ontario

Detail from Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/1745 at the Archives of Ontario

6th. Witness.

No. 154368 Tremble W.A. Cadet 89 C.T.S. states:-

About 11.30 a.m. July 15/7/18. I was on my fourth trip up in the air practising gentle turns with Lieut. Humphreys. On the way home Lieut. Humphreys was driving the plane. He made three climbing turns around a yacht on the lake. While making the third turn the right wing tip touched the water, throwing machine directly over on it’s back. Next thing I remember was coming up out of the water about five feet from the fuselage. I then swam over to machine and removed my tunic and helmet and then made two attempts to remove Lieut. Humphreys, but was unable to do so. By that time one of the crew off the yacht picked me up in a small boat, but refused to dive under the machine. The owner of the yacht then arrived with a second boat and made several attempts to remove the Officer by diving under the machine. Attempts were also made by a man with a launch but neither were successful. As machine was sinking they decided to get a line on it. After doing so I went ashore in one of the small boats and telephoned from Mr. Chas. Walters cottage, Napanee, to Deseronto reporting the accident.

After telephoning I changed my clothes and then went down to the shore. Here the Medical Officer ordered me to lie down in the launch and rest. Then went to a cottage and rested until taken to Deseronto, by the Medical Officer.

The death registration records that Humphreys died in the Bay of Quinte, by drowning and the Deseronto Post reported the accident in the following way:

1918 Jul 18 Deseronto Post report of Lieut Humphrey's death

Lieut. Cecil J. Humphry Drowned

Lt. Cecil J. Humphry of the R. A. F., an instructor at Camp Mohawk met a tragic death by drowning on Monday when the machine in which he was instructing a cadet plunged into the Bay of Quinte near the High Shore. The cadet, sitting in the back seat was able to free himself. The late Lt. Humphry comes from Selkirk Ave., Victoria, B. C. His mother is at present in England. The remins were conveyed with military honors from the Presbyterian Church to the R.A.F. plot, Deseronto Cemetery where burial took place.

Cecil was born on June 6th, 1897 in Langport, Somerset, England, the son of Charles James Humphreys and Berthe Marie Therese (née D’Herbez). The family arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1911 and lived for a while in Spokane, Washington. Cecil attended McGill University and had been working for the Bank of Nova Scotia before he enlisted. He gave his home address as 924 Selkirk Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia.

Humphreys was buried in Deseronto Cemetery.

Grave of C. J. Humphreys

Intelligencer newspaper report of Buchanan and White's crash near Picton

Intelligencer newspaper report of the crash between Buchanan and White, published July 15th, 1918


Two Airmen Killed Near Picton, Ont.

Cadets from Deseronto Camp collided in the Air

DESERONTO, July 15- Caedt J. F. Buchanan and Cadet J. C. White of the Royal Air Force were instantly killed about 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon as a result of a collision in the air near Picton, Ont. Both were Canadians.

Cadet Buchanan’s next of kin is his mother, Mrs I. F. Buchanan, Box 66, Loreburn, Sask. Cadet White came from Delhi, Ont., where his father P. G. White, resides.

The body of Cadet J. C. White will be forwarded from Picton to his home in Delhi, Ont., on Monday. Arrangements have been completed as to the remains of Cadet J. F. Buchanan, who was also killed in the same accident.

On July 13th, 1918 two cadets from the Royal Air Force’s 81 Canadian Training Squadron at Camp Rathbun in Deseronto were killed when they collided in mid-air near Picton.

The story about this crash still circulating in Prince Edward County is  that the two men were rivals for the affection of the same woman. The official Court of Inquiry into the accident does introduce a woman: a Mrs Palmer. This letter from Major Woodman of 42nd Wing, Deseronto, summarizes the court’s findings:

Detail from file RG4-32/1598 at the Archives of Ontario

Detail from Attorney General 1918 file RG4-32/1598 at the Archives of Ontario

Royal Air Force,
Toronto, Canada.

Herewith Court of Inquiry in which Cadets Buchanan and White were killed. I visited the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred and while there was asked by a Mrs. Palmer that Cadet White’s body be taken to her house. She stated that Cadet White was a great friend of the family and had always spent his leave with her. She also stated that Cadet White had on the previous day visited her home and had promised to come over the following day and drop a message to her.

When this Court of Inqiry first came in I returned it to the President with instructions for him to get evidence from Mrs. Palmer. The Court went over to Mrs Palmer’s house at Picton for the purpose of getting her evidence but she she refused to give any evidence at all. On account of Mrs. Palmer’s statements to me I concur with the Opinion of the Court in that Cadet White had flown to Picton for the purpose of stunting or dropping a message to Mrs. Palmer.
(Sgd) F. V. Woodman
Officer Commanding 42nd Wing,
Royal Air Force.

This could have been Annie Palmer (née Ready), who was listed as living near Picton in the 1921 census. She married Leonard Palmer in 1912 and would have been 27 at the time of the crash.

An eyewitness account from William Cox, a civilian from Picton, describes the collision:

Detail from file RG4-32/1598

Detail from file RG4-32/1598 at the Archive of Ontario

About 3.00 p.m. on the 14th July 1918, I observed three Aeroplanes flying South, at I think about 2,000 feet. They were flying in this formation,-
The centre man turned to the Right fairly sharply, the Right hand man turned to the Left and the wings of the machines caught. The two machines came down locked together. I went to the field where they fell and one pilot had just been taken out of his machine, – he was alive at the time. The other fell out of his machine as they collided and fell about 100 feet from the crash.

Irwin Franklyn Buchanan signature
Irwin Franklyn Buchanan was a 23-year-old former lathe hand from Loreburn, Saskatchewan who had joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on December 18th, 1917 with the regimental number 153685. He was five feet five inches tall. He was born in Michigan in November 1894, the son of William Henry and Frances Buchanan. In the Court of Inquiry, Lieutenant E. P. Cavanagh of 81 Canadian Training Squadron stated that Buchanan was “very erratic – you could never depend upon him doing the same thing twice…His discipline was very poor, he would never do as he was told.”

Irwin’s family were living in Detroit and he was buried in that city, in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Gilbert James White signature

The other pilot was 23-year-old Gilbert James White. He had joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on December 12th, 1917 with the regimental number 153535. He was five feet eleven inches tall and had previously been working as a clerk in London, Ontario. He was born in Delhi, Ontario on August 16th, 1894, the son of Philo Gilbert White and Edith (née Wilson).

Gilbert was buried in Delhi Cemetery, Ontario.

William Kellock Domville signatureOn this day in 1918 William Kellock Domville died in Kingston General Hospital as a consequence of a flying accident which happened at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto on July 4th, 1918. The casualty cards from the Royal Air Force for this incident supply the following information:

Date of Casualty: 4.7.18
Where occurred: Canada
Type of Machine: Curtiss JN4 C304
Nature and Cause of Accident: Flying accident error of judgement
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: 153345 Cadet C. J. Schultz slightly injured

William Domville had joined the Royal Flying Corps as a cadet on October 10th, 1917 in Toronto with the regimental number 152405. He was five feet nine and three quarter inches tall and had previously been a student at the Royal Military College in Kingston. He had been granted a commission in the Royal Air Force on May 1st, 1918 and was working as a flying instructor with 82 Canadian Training Squadron at Camp Mohawk. He was born in Hamilton on March 2nd, 1899, the son of Percy Domville and Mary Elizabeth (née Jarvis).

This photograph from the collections of the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County shows the aircraft involved in Domville’s crash. This may have been the crash which killed him.


CABHC: HC00021

Domville was buried in Hamilton Cemetery.

Frank Creeggan signature

Bank clerk Frank George Creeggan signed up in Camp Petawawa on this day in 1918. Creeggan was born in Lyndhurst, Ontario on August 10th, 1899, the son of Alfred Henry Creeggan and Mary (née Sheffield). His father had enlisted in November 1915. Frank was a former student of Deseronto High School.

Frank joined the 75th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 346073. He was described as five feet eight inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His service record shows that he joined the 2nd Canadian Artillery Tank Battalion and arrived in England on October 18th, 1918 on the HMTS Victoria. He was immediately admitted to hospital in Bristol, suffering from influenza. He remained in hospital until November 29th.

In December 1919 he was attached to the unit’s 3rd Wing in Kinmel Park Camp, Rhyl and was appointed acting Lance Corporal in January. This camp was the scene of a riot by Canadian troops on March 4th and 5th 1919, in protest at delays in being sent home to Canada. Creeggan left the camp later that month and left England on July 1st.

Creeggan was demobilized on July 11th, 1919 in Ottawa. In the 1921 census he is listed as living in Battleford, Saskatchewan, still working as a bank clerk.

John Robson signatureJohn Robson was killed in a flying accident at Camp Mohawk on this day in 1918. He joined the Royal Flying Corps on January 23rd, 1918 in Winnipeg with the regimental number 154486 and was officially appointed in Toronto five days later. He was described as five feet eleven inches tall, with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He was 21 years old and had been serving in the North-West Mounted Police for three years. He gave his home address as Lairhope, Teviothead, Hawick, Scotland. His parents were Walter Robson and Isabella (née Laidlaw). The Royal Air Force report of the accident is as follows:

Date of Casualty: 3.7.18
Where occurred: Canada Deseronto Ontario Camp Mohawk
Type of Machine: Curtiss JN4a
Nature and Cause of Accident: Aeroplane accident. Error of judgement
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: None

A Court of Inquiry held on the day of the accident found that Robson had got into a spin and been unable to get out of it. His aircraft (C-595) got into a vertical nose dive and crashed on its back just north of Camp Mohawk.1

Robson was buried in Deseronto Cemetery.

John Robson's grave in Deseronto

John Robson’s grave in Deseronto

He is also remembered on the war memorial in Teviothead, Scotland.

1 Records held in Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/1792 at the Archives of Ontario

Edward Leo Burns signature

Electrician Edward Leo Burns was conscripted into the Engineers Section of the 2nd Depot Battalion of the Eastern Ontario Regiment in Ottawa on this day in 1918. He was born in Deseronto on November 8th, 1889, the son of James Burns and Ellen (née Fox). Burns’s regimental number was 3325727. He was described as five feet six inches tall, with a dark complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair and a large scar on the outer side of his right knee cap.

Burns’s service record shows that before leaving Canada he had quite extensive dental treatment. Below is the chart explaining that on July 11th, 1918 he had eight fillings, three extractions and bridgework to replace his four missing top front teeth.

Edward Leo Burns dental treatment

Edward left Montreal on July 19th, 1918, arriving in England on August 8th on the SS Corsican. He joined the 3rd Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Depot, with which he served in England until June 23rd, 1919, when he returned to Canada on the SS Belgic, arriving in Halifax on Dominion Day. He was demobilized in Kingston on July 3rd.

Burns married Mary Reedy in Cobourg, Ontario on September 13th, 1926 and the couple had three children. He died in 1954 and was buried in St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Cobourg.

George Rice signature
George Rice died on this day in 1918. He was a member of the Royal Air Force’s 42nd Wing in Deseronto, but died in Toronto General Hospital of tongue cancer. He was an electrician who had joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on March 27th, 1917 with the regimental number 70853. He was five feet eight and a quarter inches tall. He was promoted to 1st Air Mechanic on February 1st, 1918. Rice was born in England in 1889. He gave his next of kin as William Rice of Chagford, Devon. When he enlisted, Rice was living in Parry Sound. George was buried in the Toronto Necropolis. There is some disagreement in the records about the date of George’s death, but his RAF record and the death registration entry both state June 28th.