Bodies of Second World War airmen pulled from Lake Muskoka
More than seven decades after disappearing into Lake Muskoka, the bodies of two airmen have been recovered and will be buried with military honours.
Nearly 72 years after their Nomad aircraft crashed the bodies of Peter Campbell of the Royal Air Force and Ted Bates of the Royal Canadian Air Force have been recovered. It is news that Bates younger brother has waited decades to hear.
“It been a long time and there is going to be closure,” said Tom Bates.
The airmen went missing on December 13th, 1940 while on a search and rescue mission for another pilot. Their Nomad collided in mid-air with another aircraft. The bodies of the two pilots from the other plane were found a year later but it was feared Campbell and Bates would be lost forever.
Matt Fairbrass discovered the wreckage in 2007 using side scan sonar. Since then he formed a group and has worked tirelessly to have the plane recovered from the bottom of Lake Muskoka.
“We had no idea there was actually remains, we were just hoping to have artifacts for an exhibit,” said Fairbrass.
The OPP’s Underwater Search and Recovery unit located the aircraft in 2010 and last October military divers recovered the bodies but waited to release the information to protect the crash site.
“This particular dive operation will certainly stay with the team forever,” navy Lieut. Greg Oickle, acting commanding officer of the Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) which led the recovery, said in a statement.
Divers also recovered several artifacts including pieces of their uniforms, a gold ring and RAF and RCAF patches.
“He promised those wings to my mother. I have them now,” said Bates
With this chapter finally closed, Fairbrass is hoping the wreckage can soon be ressurrected.
“We can recover the aircraft, it can be put in a proper museum and as story properly told about how they went looking for a friend,” added Fairbrass.
The two soldiers will be laid to rest with military honours a special ceremony in Guelph on Tuesday.