Detail from the McGill honour roll, 1914-1918

Detail from the McGill honour roll, 1914-1918

James McMillan Hacker signature
James McMillan Hacker died in a crash at Camp Rathbun near Deseronto on this day in 1918. He had joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on September 10th, 1917 with the regimental number 74813. There was an interruption in his service in January 1918 when he was thought to have deserted, but he returned at the end of the month and was reinstated. He was in training as a cadet with 90 Canadian Training Squadron.

Hacker was born in Prince Edward Island on November 4th, 1885, the son of Thomas Henry Hacker and Sarah (née McMillan). His parents had both died by the time he enlisted: he gave his sister, Louise, as his next of kin. She was living in Summerside, PEI. Hacker was five feet five and three quarter inches tall. He had been a student at Macdonald Agricultural College at McGill University in Montreal between 1912 and 1916.

The Court of Inquiry into Hacker’s crash, held the next day, found that he had fallen out of aircraft C-1324 while practising spins. Here is the evidence from Second Lieutenant F.R. Winter:

Detail of Attorney General's 1918 file RG4-32/1792 at the Archives of Ontario

Detail of Attorney General’s 1918 file RG4-32/1792 at the Archives of Ontario

2nd. Witness. 2/Lieut. F.R. Winter, 90 C.T.S. R.A.F.

States:- I watched Cadet Hacker do one turn of a spin, in machine C-1324, he came out and dove for about 500 ft. straight down and went past the vertical and went on his back and fell out of the machine from a height of approximately 2500 feet. The machine then glided down and landed upside down.

[signed] F.R. Winter Lieut

The Court found that Hacker had died because his seat belt had somehow become unfastened. It recommended that a new type of belt be used in future.

James was buried in the Summerside People’s Cemetery in Prince Edward Island.