John Richard Speer signature
On this day in 1918 John Richard Speer was killed in an air accident at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto. Speer was a schoolteacher from Springfield, Manitoba, who had joined the Royal Flying Corps in Winnipeg on November 2nd, 1917. He was officially appointed to the Corps in Toronto on January 7th, 1918 as a cadet. He was five feet six inches tall, with a medium complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. His regimental number was 153957.
The Royal Air Force casualty card for Speer notes that he was involved in a collision when he was killed. The Court of Inquiry held two days after the crash noted that Speer was in a Curtiss JN-4 aircraft, number C-313, part of 89 C.T.S. The aircraft he collided with was C-103, piloted by Cadet Sweet of 79 C.T.S. Cadet Speer’s plane was sent into a nose dive by the collision and Speer died of internal injuries caused by the crash. Cadet Sweet’s plane span out of control, but landed flat and Sweet survived with only minor injuries. He was able to give evidence to the Court of Inquiry.1
Speer was born in Springfield, Manitoba on March 23rd, 1897, the son of James Speer and Elvira (née Beattie). They buried him in the Moose Nose/Sunnyside Cemetery in Springfield and he is also remembered on the war memorial there.

Springfield, Manitoba war memorial, courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society

Springfield, Manitoba war memorial, courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society


1 Court of Inquiry records in Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/2401 at the Archives of Ontario

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