Monument dedicated to four airmen 81 years later


  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Shirley and Ralph Morton stand my a monument that Ralph built on his property to honour four airmen that died in a crash on First Beech Hill Road. This photo was taken Nov. 11, 2021. The monument was officially dedicated by the Royal Canadian Legion Mersey #38 branch this past Nov. 25, 81 years after the crash. Ralph, unfortunately died this past June.</p>

QUEENS COUNTY – On Aug. 25, 1941 at about 3:30 a.m. an RCAF Anson Aircraft from #2 Air Navigation School in Pennfield, N.B. lost its bearings in the fog near Liverpool. Running out of fuel, the crew of five parachuted to safety before the aircraft crashed.

At dawn, another Anson aircraft from Pennfield was dispatched to search for the first downed plane.

The crew spotted a bonfire and the pilot turned his aircraft into the rising sun and ended up striking at tree with its wing and crashed. All four airmen aboard the plane died in the crash.

The crash occurred at First Beech Hill on Old Port Mouton Road in Queens County, on property owned by the Mortons.

Although the crash happened just a few months before Ralph Morton was born, he heard the stories growing up and he vowed that he would build a memorial to those that lost their lives.

The memorial was completed in 2021 and a small Remembrance Day ceremony was held at the site on Nov. 11. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, it was decided to hold off an official dedication until 2022. It was held this year Aug. 25th, 81 years from the time of the crash.

Unfortunately, Ralph had passed away in June.

Ralph's widow, Shirley, said that he dedicated a lot of time to this project.

"I think it was a good thing that he did. He was very passionate about it, because it was on his family farm and also because he had two cousins that were killed overseas during the war," she said.

Along with the memorial, Ralph had also completed a book about the incident.

He began working on the project about a decade ago thanks to the help of locals Scottie Rogers and Larry Weagle. Special thanks were given to Peck Aero Products, Bear River and Greenwood #14 Wing Squadron Engineering for their contributions.

The names of those who perished were: Flight Lt. Walter Samuel Smallman of the Royal Air Force (RAF), United Kingdom; Flight Sgt.George Tomas John Woodhams, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Canada; Sgt. Sydney street, RAF United Kingdom; and aircraftman first class Gerald John Eliott, RCAF, Canada.

The Mersey Legion Branch #38 will host a Remembrance Day ceremony at the 1st Beech Hill RCAF Memorial on Nov. 11 at 2:30 p.m.

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