OLD PLANE CRASH SITE

Late in the morning of October 18th, 1947 a B-25 Mitchell Bomber belonging to the Royal Canadian Air Force crashed into Plewman Basin. They were heading north and clipped the nearby ridge in poor weather. The plane carried 7 crewman and 2 passengers, both “smuggled” civilians, none of whom survived.
The B-25 Mitchell bomber was used quite heavily by the Americans, Brits, Aussies, and others during WWII. The medium-altitude bomber was also equipped with a gun, and thousands of them were manufactured. When the war was over, many of them were refitted to fly reconnaissance missions during the early parts of the Cold War. Canada bought 164 B-25 Mitchell bombers in the late 1940s for the Royal Canadian Air Force to use as training aircraft, light transport, and to fly special missions. Some of the planes remained bombers–this was the Cold War, after all.
It was on one of these special missions that the converted B-25 crashed  The plane carried nine people: seven military personnel and two civilians (both “smuggled” aboard), a couple named Mr. and Mrs. F.M. Knight, who owned a hotel in Penticton. The plane was conducting an aerial survey and heading to Penticton to drop off the Knights. The weather was grim that day; it was the first snow of the season, the wind was howling, it was foggy, and visibility was very limited. The plane likely iced up and lost control because it lost a lot of elevation in a very short distance to end up on the floor of Plewman Basin.” But once the plane hit the floor of the basin, no one survived.
Though the peak of Old Glory was nearby and it was at the time manned by the Met Men, no one heard the plane go down because it was so windy. High atop Red Mountain, clearing the first ski run there, Ken Gresley-Jones and man called Jim Douglas, heard the plane pass so close over their heads that they hit the ground, but they saw nothing due to the fog. In fact, no one would see anything of this plane crash for five whole years, when Wilf Gibbard, the man who used pack horses to haul supplies up to the Met Men of Old Glory, randomly came upon the site after spotting something shiny in the bush while hunting for grouse.

Drive: From Rossland, drive north on Hwy 3B about 15kms and look on the left for a large tree with some weathered orange flagging tape wrapped around it, located a few meters from the highway. This is the lower trail, but is almost unusable as you near the clearcut, due to a tangle of large trees that have blown down.
Finding the upper part of the trail is difficult, even for those who have been there before, but that’s the best way to go. The description is not simple: Just before the highway cam tower/logging road on the right (Murphy Ck FSR), there’s a logging road on the left (no name)
. Hike or drive up this second logging road. The wreck is about 2kms from the highway.

Trail/Route: The logging road swings around, heads south towards the long east ridge of Mt. Plewman (sometimes called Cut Block) and takes a sharp right turn away from the tree line. Look for double flagging tape, and a hunter’s blind in the forest. The upper TH coordinates are: 47.167285°N 117.87704°W – 5,726′ just past the blind heading left. It doesn’t look like a trail, but it is, heads directly into the forest, and follows the edge of the clear cut through a creek bed.
Once on the trail, it’s not hard to follow to the “Crash Site” – coordinates: 49.167474°N 117.882076°W – 6,032′.
To get to the Igloo cabin, some pinkish flagging tape marks the trail start just before the crash site. This trail is overgrown in many areas, but has a few pink flags. The Igloo cabin coordinates are: 49.164907°N 118.888348°W – 6,271′.
 

The following are the lyrics to The Ghost Cat of Plewman Basin” from the CD – “Stories From Rossland”:
The winter wind blew on the ridge north of Plewman ’til rime grew so heavy; the first snow that year.
The 18th of October, 1947; the Red Mountain ski lift was almost complete.
Chick Jones and Jim Douglas cutting the first ski run, still at the top, all alone in the fog.
The old Mitchel Bomber circled three times and came roaring right overhead, lost in the fog.

Hugh Urquhart heard it in Squaw Basin, engines still roaring, but he and Dave Keffer were the last.
They must have gone right by the Old Glory Met Station. Bart Dudley was there, but he never heard a thing.
Plewman Peak passed to their right, then they turned east and crossed Record Ridge and went down in the trees.
No trace was found, though a man, name of Tjader, hunting off to the east, said he heard it explode.

In nineteen-and-fifty-two Wilf Gibbard walked over Record Ridge down into Plewman Basin.
He followed the Murphy Creek headwaters east, looking for grouse, heading for the Sheep Lake trail.
He found that Mitchel’s lonely resting place, but no trace of the nine crew and passengers aboard.
Some say for five years the animals took what was left of the bodies. Well that may be true, but I’m not so sure.

Sometimes when the snow’s deep and the moon’s bright on Plewman a great white cat appears like a ghost in the night.
Some say he’s a lynx, but he’s much too big for that; some say he’s a cougar who’s lost his tail.
But maybe he’s the ghost of the souls of that plane wreck, wandering the ridge and the trails for 50 years.
The Ghost Cat of Plewman Basin watches over that lonely place, and for 50 years that plane and it’s souls have been left in peace.

And the times that I’ve seen him have made me hope
that I might find a final resting place
like the Plewman Basin Cat.

THE CREW of MITCHELL MK. III D-10 RCAF No. 413 Sqdn. (P)
Lost on Oct. 18, 1947

Pilot Flight Lieutenant JOHN LESLIE MACLEOD, DFC

Service Number: 20052
Age: 28
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 413 Sqdn.
Citation: Distinguished Flying Cross, Atlantic Star, War Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, 1939-45 Star, Operational Wings and Pilots Flying Badge.
Honours and Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross
Date of Birth: April 24, 1919
Glen Norman, Ontario, Canada
Date of Enlistment: February 9, 1942
Son of Donald Alexander and Blanche Louisa (n?e Baldy) MacLeod, of Cornwall, Ontario; husband of Dorothy Alice (n?e Veinet) MacLeod of Ottawa, Ontario. Brother of Duncan Rae, Donald Edgar and Marjorie Louise

MacLEOD, F/O John Leslie (J24399) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.160 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron – Award effective 1 December 1945 as per Canada Gazette dated 15 December 1945 and AFRO 183/46 dated 22 February 1946. Born in Alexandria, Ontario, 24 April 1919. Attended Queens University (B.Commerce). Home in Kingston, Ontario; enlisted in Toronto, 21 January 1942 where he had been an auditor. Trained at No.6 ITS (graduated 29 August 1942), No.12 EFTS (graduated 23 October 1942), and No.9 SFTS (graduated 19 March 1943). As of recommendation he had flown 1,380 hours, 865 operational (105 sorties). Remained in postwar RCAF, first with No.5 Equipment Depot, then AFHQ. Assigned to No.413 (Photographic) Squadron, September 1947; missing on a flight on 18 October 1947 (No.413 Squadron Mitchell). Sent by registered mail to next-of-kin, 7 November 1949.
“This pilot and captain has completed most successfully many operational sorties. His ability to handle his crew resulted in their being selected as one of the best in the squadron. His steadiness in undertaking all task, his courage and cool efficiency have made him an excellent pilot whose service in operational flying is most praiseworthy.”
Flight Lieutenant MacLeod is also commemorated on a cairn at Mount Glory near Rossland, British Columbia.

Flying Officer GEORGES YVON LEBEL, DFC

Service Number: 26356
Age: 25
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 413 Sqdn.
Citation: Distinguished Flying Cross, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, Operational Wings, War Medal 1939-1945
Honours and Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross
Date of Birth: February 20, 1922
Cacouna, Qu?bec, Canada
Date of Enlistment: June 26, 1940
Quebec, Qu?bec, Canada
Son of Jean Baptiste Lebel and Cordelia Lebel, of Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec.

LEBEL, P/O Georges Yvon (J85624) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.429 Squadron – Award effective 21 July 1944 as per LondonGazette of that date and AFRO 2052/44 dated 22 September 1944. Born 1922 at Cacouna, Quebec; home there; enlisted Quebec, 26 June 1940. Trained at No.2 WS (graduated 20 January 1941) and No.4 BGS (graduated 15 March 1941). Commissioned 1944. Invested at Buckingham Palace, 11 August 1944. Missing, presumed dead, 18 October 1947 following crash of a Mitchell, No.413 Squadron. D Hist file 181.009 D.5524 (RG.24 Vol.20667) has recommendation dated 29 May 1944 when he had flown 47 sorties; he must have been on second tour. Recommended again, 21 June 1944 following his 50th sortie.
As air gunner this officer has taken part in a large number of sorties involving attacks on a wide range of enemy targets. He has proved himself to be a skilful and determined member of aircraft crew and his exemplary conduct in the face of the enemy has won great praise.

Flying Officer BENJAMIN THOMAS COOK , DFM

Service Number: 19826
Age: 28
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 413 Sqdn.
Citation: Distinguished Flying Medal
Honours and Awards: Distinguished Flying Medal
Date of Birth: March 17, 1919
Glenella, Manitoba, Canada
Date of Enlistment: October 1, 1946
Son of William Jefferson Cook and Edith Cook. Husband of Gladys Mather Cook, of Penticton, British Columbia. Father of Barry and Charlene Cook. Brother of William, Stanley, Harold, Edith Cook and Dorthy M. Wood.

Flying Officer ARTHUR GOLD ROBERTSON

Service Number: J/28663
Age: 32
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 413 Sqdn.
Citation: 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Pilot Flying Badge, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Maple Leaf Emblem, Defence Medal and War Medal 1939-45.
Date of Birth: November 1, 1914
Stoney Mountain, Manitoba, Canada
Date of Enlistment: July 23, 1943
Son of James Paul and Janet Georgina (n?e Stevens) Robertson of Stony Mountain, Manitoba. Husband of Muriel Irene (n?e McCullough) and father of Brian Arthur of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Brother of James Melvin, Norace E., Robert Edgar, Sidney Allan, Jean Olive and Ruby E. Robertson. Flight Lieutenant MacLeod is also commemorated on a cairn at Mount Glory near Rossland, British Columbia.

Leading Aircraftman BLISS EUGENE STRADIE BOWMAN

Service Number: R/195797
Age: 24
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 413 Sqdn.
Citation: War Medal 1939-1945, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
Date of Birth: January 19, 1923
Winchester, Ontario, Canada
Date of Enlistment: October 26, 1942
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Son of James and Olive Bowman; husband of Joyce Bowman, of Inkerman, Ontario.

Lance Corporal WILLIAM HUGH MOLYNEAUX

Service Number: M577343
Age: 24
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 413 Photo Sqdn.
Citation: Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, War Medal
Date of Birth: April 19, 1923
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Date of Enlistment: October 1, 1946
Son of William H. Molyneaux. Brother of Roy, James, John Molyneaux, Evelyn Hodge and Mrs. A.R. Munro.

Corporal JAMES NOAH SABOURIN

Service Number: 22103
Age: 25
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 413 Sqdn.
Citation: 1939-1945 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
Date of Birth: May 24, 1922
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Date of Enlistment: February 17, 1941
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Son of Joseph Noah and Edith Sabourin; husband of Ruth C. M. Sabourin, of Moncton, New Brunswick.

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I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am "home", are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking. I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.
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