Remebering first Royal Canadian Air Force members killed in WWII

CTV Atlantic

Published Sunday, September 15, 2019 1:48PM ADT

Last Updated Sunday, September 15, 2019 1:52PM ADT

On the eve of the Second World War, a small plane operated by Warrant Officer II James Edgerton Doan and Cpl. David Alexander Rennie vanished on its way to patrol for enemy submarines off the coast of Nova Scotia.

It wouldn’t be until 1958 – 19-years after the disappearance – that the long lost wreckage of the Northrup Delta 673 would be discovered in a dense forest in central New Brunswick. Now, 80-years later, the soldiers are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

On Saturday, a memorial plaque was unveiled in Deersdale, N.B. to honour the two men who made the ultimate sacrifice on Canadian soil.

Believed to be the first Royal Canadian Air Force members killed in WWII, a service was held for the soldiers deep in the woods at the crash site – providing great sentimental value for families of the men.

“Our parents would have loved to have seen this; and our grandparents,” says niece of Cpl. Rennie, Shirley Routliffe who was 15-years-old when the plane was found.

“My mom and I were at home and mom had said she didn’t want to go away, she didn’t know why,” says Routliffe. “Mom said ‘I just have to stick around for a while, something’s going on, I’m not sure what.’ And that morning we heard the news about the plane.”

The ceremony on Saturday was moving for all involved, including Major General Blaise Frawley, who says it’s surreal to be standing in the exact spot of the crash.

“It was 19-years before anybody actually discovered the location and you can really understand given the terrain and the foliage how that would happen,” says Frawley.

The obscured crash site now serves as a gravesite for the men; whose bodies were never recovered. Including a piece of the plane wreckage – it makes for an untraditional gravesite, but one that gives closure to those with ties to the fallen soldiers.

“It’s been really nice for us and we felt it’s just been so important,” says Routliffe. “I didn’t realize how important it was going to be.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Lyall

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