Lee J. Roebuck signature

On this day in 1917 Lee James Roebuck died in a flying accident at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto. He had enlisted in Toronto on August 16th, 1917, giving his home address as Bloomington, Illinois. He was born on April 2, 1884, the son of Lewis F. Roebuck and Anna (née Brigham). His regimental number was 74545 and he was five feet ten inches tall. He was attached to 87 Canadian Training Squadron.

The Intelligencer described the day of Roebuck’s crash in the following way:

Intelligencer 1917 Oct 22 Roebuck's death

Belleville Intelligencer report of Roebuck’s death, October 22nd, 1917, courtesy Belleville Public Library

Aviator Killed at Camp Mohawk
Series of Accidents at Camp Yesterday – One Killed One Injured

Yesterday was one of the bad days at Mohawk Aviation Camp, a number of accidents featuring the day, resulting in the death of one cadet and another receiving painful injuries.
Cadet Roebuck, of Chicago, who was making his first solo flight, ad ascended about 500 feet when his machine got out of control and plunged heavily to earth, the cadet being instantly killed, while the machine was a total wreck.
Another plane came down with a rush owing to engine trouble, and the cadet in charge was painfully injured. Other accidents of a minor nature are reported.

The official Royal Flying Corps record noted:

RFC casualty card for Lee James Roebuck

Casualty Card for Lee James Roebuck, courtesy of the Royal Air Force Museum

…Date of Casualty: 21.10.17
Where occurred: Canada Camp Mohawk
Type of Machine: Curtiss JN4a.
Nature and Cause of Accident: Machine half side slipped, half nose dived to earth from 300 ft. Loss of control by pilot thro’ stalling on a turn.
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: Nil…

Harry McBride, a rigger based at Camp Mohawk took photographs of the crashed plane. He estimated that the aircraft (C639) had fallen 800 feet. McBride stated that the aircraft belonged to 78th Canadian Training Squadron.

Photograph by Harry McBride of Lee Roebuck's crash

Detail of 2015.20 Album 2 (51)

Roebuck was buried at Bloomington (Scogin Hill) Cemetery, Illinois.

Lee James Roebuck headstone

Headstone for Lee James Roebuck, courtesy of Tony Cannon via Find a Grave

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