Elmer Worden signatureElmer Worden was killed near Camp Rathbun on this day in 1918. He had joined the Royal Flying Corps in Winnipeg on January 31st, 1918 with the regimental number 154631 and was officially appointed to the Corps on February 4th. He was described as five feet nine and three quarter inches tall, with a ruddy complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes.

The Royal Air Force’s report of the accident noted the following facts:

Date of Casualty: 16.9.18
Where occurred: 2½ miles east of Rathbun aerodrome
Type of Machine: C1363
Nature and Cause of Accident: Killed. Came down in spin, made steep nose dive & turned over on back before striking ground.
Result of Accident: Killed

The Court of Inquiry into Worden’s accident found that his head had taken the brunt of the impact because his seat belt did not restrain him enough inside the aircraft. A sketch of a proposed improvement to the seat belt is included in the court record:

Sketch of proposed seat belt by Captain Coats in Attorney General's 1918 file RG 4-32/2610

Sketch of proposed seat belt by Captain Coats in Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/2610

Worden was born in Plankinton, South Dakota on June 16th, 1892, the son of Lavander Worden and Carrie (née Olson). He had been working as a construction manager in Grande Prairie, Alberta before he enlisted. Elmer’s family were living in Colville, Washington when he died and he was buried in the Highland Cemetery there.

The Colville Examiner reported Worden’s death:

Elmer Worden death report

The Colville Examiner report of September 21st, 1918 on Worden’s death, courtesy of Chronicling America

COLVILLE BOY KILLED IN AIR

ELMER WORDEN DIES FROM AIRPLANE ACCIDENT AT CAMP RATHBURN, ONTARIO

Expected to Leave Soon for Overseas – Details Have Not Been Received by Relatives

News was received Monday by Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Worden of Colville that their son Elmer was killed in an airplane crash at the aviation field at Camp Rathburn, Deseronto, Ontario, on that day. The details of the accident have not as yet reached this city, but word came the last of this week that the body would be shipped here for burial. Funeral arrangements cannot be completed until date of arrival is known.

Elmer Worden was 26 years old and enlisted in Alberta last winter. His father is in the implement business in Colville with the Stevens County Implement company and his mother and two younger sisters live in this city. He also is survived by a brother who is employed in the Portland shipyards and an aunt, Mrs. James McCormick, who lives in Spokane. The young man was expected to leave soon for overseas. The news of his sudden death came as a sad shock to his bereaved family.

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