A Birks Bar Memorial Group to Pilot C.E.Brooks RCAF
A Birks Bar Memorial Group to Pilot C.E.Brooks RCAF - Defence Medal; 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp; and War Medal 1939-1945. Unmounted, with original ribbons, in their boxes of issue, the CVSM box with Clasp envelope, extremely fine. Accompanied by an RCAF Pilot's Wings (three-colour embroidery, padded, 46 mm x 17 mm), two RCAF CANADA Shoulder Flashes (white embroidered lettering on bluish-gray wool, 21 mm x 72 mm each), an RCAF Cap Badge (bronze, unmarked, 40.5 mm x 45.5 mm, lugs bent over), a sweetheart photograph (black and white, mounted, in a Photomatic frame, 64.7 mm x 77.8 mm) and a CD containing forty-three pages with copies of his Computer Card (documenting the medals he was to receive), Index Cards, Attestation Papers, Service Records, Training Documents. Accident Investigation Documents, Will, Official RCAF Casualty Notification, Province of Ontario Certificate of Registration of Death, plus four photographs of Brooks in uniform. Footnote: Clare Edward Brooks was born on February 26, 1913 in Young's Point, Peterborough County, Ontario (25 km north of Peterborough), the son of William Edward Brooks and Helen Brooks (nee Kearney) of Young's Point. He had three brothers (Oswald, Adrian, Russell) and two sisters (Geraldine, Helen). He was educated at Young's Point Public School (1919-1927), Peterborough College (1927-1932), Peterborough Vocational (1932-1933, where he took a one year business course and a two year course in motor mechanics). After school, he took four jobs in the civilian world, including: Johnson Motors in the Service Department (1934-1936), Kawartha Marine Sales in Sales and Service (1936-1938), Greavelle Boates, Gravenhurst in Sales (1936-1940) and DeHavilland Aircraft as an Aero Engine Fitter (1941-1942). He signed an RCAF Officer's Application & Record Sheet on October 3, 1941, naming his next-of-kin as his father and that he was single. He later married Helen Francis McDiarmid on October 17, 1942 in Toronto, Ontario and had no children. Her father, 787632 William C. McDiarmid was a veteran of WWI with the 130th and 75th Battalions CEF. Brooks signed his RCAF Attestation Paper on May 21, 1942 in Toronto, Ontario, naming his next-of-kin as his father, William Edward Brooks, stating that he had no previous military service and his occupation as that of Aero Engine Fitter. He also stated that he had previously applied to the RCAF in December 1941, with a "no action" result. He was very interested in building and racing speed boats, and was active in skiing, swimming, hunting and skeet shooting. He began his RCAF career at Toronto R/C on June 17, 1942 as an Aircraftman 2nd Class, before being transferred to IMD Toronto on September 9th. Later that year, he was transferred to "M" Depot at No. 4 Military District in Montreal, Quebec on November 6th. The year 1943 saw four more postings for Brooks while still training in Canada. The first was at No. 1 ITS in Toronto on January 9, 1943, where the Commanding Officer noted that Brooks was "A keen, alert, aggressive airman with a fine competitive spirit. Dependable and resourceful, he instills confidence" and noted "Second Aircrew Recommendation: Air Bomber". The second was at No. 20 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) at Oshawa, Ontario on March 21, 1943, where he was now a Leading Aircraftman and Pilot Officer, although it was noted that Brooks "lacks a certain amount of confidence in the air. Slow to grasp instrument (unusual positions) and aerobatics (rolls)." He transferred to No. 5 EFTS in Brantford, Ontario on May 16, 1943 and was "Assessed Average", awarded a Pilot's Flying Badge and achieved the rank of Temporary Sergeant on September 3, 1943. He was transferred to the east coast, to No. 1 "Y" Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 18, 1943, now a Pilot Officer. In his records, it was noted that "This student could have stood higher in class standing if he had applied himself more diligently. Must develop his self-confidence. Has average ability in flying and at ground school." He embarked New York on October 12, 1943, arrived in the United Kingdom on the 19th and was sent to Bournemouth. He was struck off strength of 3PRC to No. 11 AFU at Shawbury on December 7, 1943, where he was "Assessed Average". He saw four other postings while in the United Kingdom: at No. 1534 Bat. Flt. at Shawbury, where he was "Assessed Average"; transferred to No. 83 OTU at Peplow on April 11, 1944, listed as "Average"; to No. 1662 Con. Unit at Blyton, listed as "Average"; and at No. 1 LFS at Hemswell, listed as "Good Average". Brooks was taken on strength of 101 (RAF) Squadron on August 31, 1944, noted for a "quiet air of enthusiasm and his keenness to fly". Two weeks later, at the age of 31, he was piloting a Lancaster III PB. 456 "D", with Merlin 38's engines, as a member of a crew of seven, four from the RCAF and three from the RAF, carrying out a cross-country night training flight over the British Isles, when the plane crashed at 10:10 PM on the night of September 13, 1944, three miles east of the village of Drymen, southeast of Loch Lomond, Stirlingshire, near Dumbarton. Brooks was initially listed as "missing" but was later found and declared killed "instantaneously". Killed were J/35328 Flying Officer C.E. Brooks RCAF (pilot), 1869923 Sergeant F.A.W. Blerkom RAF, 1620148 Sergeant E. Foweather RAF (navigator), J/36869 Flying Officer L.G. Peardon RCAF, 915488 Flying Sergeant Y.J. Ward RAF, R/205581 Sergeant J.R. Stokes RCAF, and R/222387 Sergeant J. Watt RCAF (rear turret). A Report on Flying Accident or Forced Landing Not Attributed to Enemy Action was registered and begun on September 14, 1944 but little was added to it. Brooks' body was recovered and was buried at Dumbarton Cemetery, Dunbartonshire, Scotland, Section G, Extension 5, Bank 22, Grave 160. In a letter from G.E.J. Welsh, Squadron Leader, for Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, RCAF Overseas to Brook's wife Helen, he expressed condolences and forwarded her photographs taken at his funeral and at his grave site. His funeral took place at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Chapel, Dumbarton, Scotland on September 19, 1944. A mass was held the evening before and the day of the funeral, the funeral itself attended by the Commanding Officer, Station Adjutant, Assistant Adjutant, in addition to over 100 airmen and NCOs, along with 300 civic officials and civilians, all paying their respects, accompanied by a pipe and drum band. In a Proceedings of Court of Inquiry or Investigation, dated September 22, 1944 at RAF Ludford Magna, Ludford, Lincolnshire, England, the Court called twelve witnesses. It was noted during the inquiry that the weather conditions were "Fine" at 19:05 the date of the accident, at the point of departure at Ludford Magna, However, by 22:10 at the crash site near Drymen, the visibility was one mile but very hazy and "poor" light. The Court presented evidence of Brook's hours of experience within six months of the accident (on a Wellington (Day & Night: Dual 11, Solo 28; Night: Dual 10, Solo 29); on a Halifax (Day & Night: Dual 6, Solo 20; Night: Dual 1, Solo 13); on a Lancaster (Day & Night: Dual 4, Solo 9; Night: Dual 2, Solo 4), along with the notes made of his academic achievements and flying experience while training in Canada and the United Kingdom (as noted above). The official Report stated that "The aircraft was on fire and appears to have broken up before hitting the ground. The majority of the wreckage and the bodies lie in a N.E. direction except for the rear turret and the two engines which lie approximately 400 yds East of the main wreckage. Sgt. Foweather the navigator has his parachute pack clipped into his harness when found." The Court drew two Conclusions: (a) "The aircraft dived through the cloud on fire heading a South Westerly direction, breaking up shortly before hitting the ground. The rear section of the fuselage, minus the rear turret appears to have falled (fallen) off before the aircraft hit the ground, also the mid upper turret. How the rear turret came to be in the position it was found is impossible to tell. Parts of the wreckage are scattered over a distance of approximately 2 miles from the main wreckage." and (b) "From the evidence of witnesses it is certain that the aircraft was in flames for some time before crashing. It was first seen by witnesses at 2,000 feet when it appeared beneath the cloud. As the aircraft was detailed to fly at 20,000 feet we presume that the fire started as (at) this height but it is impossible to state exactly where the fire started. All the engines are under ground and efforts are being made to salvage them for inspection. The aircraft appears to have started to break up shortly before hitting the ground, possibly due to the fire and the severe stresses imposed in the descent from 20,000 feet. The main wreckage is still partially submerged and it is impossible to decide whether the fire extinguishing appliances were used. Group Captain Brummond of A.I.B. carried out a thorough investigation of the crash, but we have been unable to contact him. A report from him would possibly throw some light as to the cause of the crash." In his Report, the Commanding Officer stated "Obviously fire occurred in the air, and the distribution of the wreckage and bodies suggests that the aircraft exploded before hitting the ground. It is impossible to determine at what height the fire started or to offer any explanation as to why no member of the crew escaped by parachute." The Group Commander and Commander-in-Chief both agreed with the Conclusions of the Court, the latter also on record with agreeing with the Commanding Officer's Report. In his Will, dated September 10, 1942 at Toronto, it stated that "I Give, Devise and Bequeath my whole estate to my mother", and in the event of her death, it was to go to his father. Brooks had a $50 Victory Bond registered with the Bank of Montreal in Toronto and was insured with London Life in the amount of $103.76. The Estates Branch document stated that his wife had said F/O Brooks had taken out a $100 Bond while overseas in April 1944 but as of the filing of the document, she had not received the Bond. In addition to his five WWII medals presented here, his wife, Mrs. C.E. Brooks (Helen) of Norland, Ontario received his Memorial Cross, as did his mother, Mrs. W.E. (Helena) Brooks of Young's Point, Ontario.