James Stewart LEES

Male 1917 - 1946  (29 years)


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    All

  • Name James Stewart LEES 
    Born 1 Jan 1917  Oyen, Alberta, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    _UID 95849BD6BAE94572A7DF4DAF5164BD03DB4A 
    Died 15 Sep 1946  Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cause: Air Crash 
    Buried Chilliwack (Canadian Legion) Cemetery, Little Mountain, British Columbia. Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Plot52. Block C. West Row
    Person ID I15951  The Path to Our Future
    Last Modified 24 Jul 2018 

    Father Thomas LEES,   b. 20 Jun 1883, Morebattle, Roxburghshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Dec 1950, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years) 
    Mother Susan WELSH,   b. Abt 1885, Yetholm, Roxburgh, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 8 Aug 1910  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F5172  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Evelyn Gladys MCNEIL,   b. 1 May 1920, Bedington, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Sep 1994, Morpeth, Northumberland, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
    Married 31 May 1945  St Cuthbert's Church, Bedlington, Northumberland, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Living
    Last Modified 15 Jul 2017 
    Family ID F5181  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • ?b?Flight Lieutenant James Stewart Lees, D.F.C.?/b?
      September 15, 1946
      Royal Canadian Air Force
      Service Number J/20727
      Chilliwack (Canadian Legion) Cemetery, Little Mountain, British Columbia. Age 32
      Son of Thomas and Susan Lees, Abbotsford, B.C.
      Husband of Evelyn Gladys Lees, Abbotsford, B.C.
      Although James Lees did not move to Chilliwack with his parents, several reports about Lees' exploits during the war were presented in the ?i?Chilliwack Progress?/i?. Lees remained in Alberta and prior to his enlistment in the R.C.A F. worked at Turner Valley, Alberta. He was a frequent visitor to Chilliwack until posted overseas in August 1942. As the pilot of a Lancaster bomber, Lees was reported missing on a raid over Milan until it was reported he had crash landed in North Africa. Lees returned to England aboard a transport plane and next encountered difficulties over Berlin. On this mission the starboard engine burst into flames and the plane started to lose height. Lees decided to press onwards towards the target until the port outer engine began to overheat causing the aircraft to lose further altitude. Although forced to jettison the bomb load the crew, being so close to Berlin, decided to observe the city in flames. On the return trip, the crew reported they could see the fires for some 200 miles. On operations over Leipzig, Lees' Lancaster aircraft was raked by machine and cannon from stem to stern by a German night fighter. Despite the attack, Lees and his crew continued the flight and dropped the bomb-load against the city. Lees managed to land the Lancaster at base without the use of flaps and with two burst tires. Lees' abilities as a bomber pilot with 50 Squadron were recognized with the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943. Lees joined the peacetime R.C.A F. after his discharge from active service. His wife, Evelyn Gladys Lees arrived from England to Abbotsford, where James Lees' parents had moved. On September 15, 1946, three weeks after being reunited with his wife and family, James Lees was killed when the Dakota aircraft in which he was a passenger crashed near Estavan, Saskatchewan. Twenty R.C.A.F. service personnel were killed. James Lees is also commemorated on the Abbotsford War Memorial.
      ?b?Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.?/b?
      ?i?"This officer was pilot of an aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig one night in December 1943. Whilst many miles from the target the aircraft was hit by bullets from an enemy fighter. The rear turret was rendered unserviceable and the main hydraulic gear was damaged. The windscreen near the pilot was shattered causing intense cold in the cabin. In spite of this, the resolute pilot flew on to the target, executed his attack, afterwards flying the aircraft to base where he effected a masterly landing. His skill, courage and tenacity set an example of the highest order. Pilot Officer [sic] Lees has successfully completed very many sorties, including five attacks on Berlin."?/i?
      ?u??b?Listed as one of Canada's Largest Disasters?/u??/b? worst in Canadian Aviation History at the time. The Dakota plane that crashed at Estevan Airport,
      was originally a US Air Force plane
      A Douglas C-47A-DK Skytrain
      SN#92713 (c/n 12544)
      transferred to the RCAF
      as Dakota III #962, (12544).

      The plane crashed and burned at 10:20 a.m. (CDT)
      Sept 15, 1946, Killing 20 RCAF Pilots,
      plus one ground crew man who was on board.
      It crashed near a ravine
      at the west end of one of the runways,
      in the NW part of the Landing field,
      a place that had become known by local residents
      as "Death Valley",
      because of a number of R.C.A.F. accidents
      which took place there during the war.

      The Estevan airfield was formerly No. 38 Service Flying Training school,
      and then became the headquarters of No. 4 Equipment Holding Unit.
      It was the scene of several crashes during the war.

      The DC3 started in production in 1935.
      This plane was only built in 1944
      seating capacity 34
      2 Piston Engines
      also known as a DC3
      Registration: 962
      Msn / c/n: 12544