May 4, 1945

F/L William Gavin Campbell
Blacon Cemetery, 
Chester England
Mirrored at the CATP Air Museum Site
Office of Chief of the Air Staff ~Ottawa
4th May, 1945
Mr. J. M. Campbell
Strathclair, Manitoba
Dear Mr. Campbell:

I have learned with deep regret of the death of your son, Flight Lieutenant William Gavin Campbell, on Active Service Overseas on April 30th, and I wish to offer you and the members of your family my sincere and heartfelt sympathy.

It is most lamentable that a promising career should be thus terminated and I would like you to know that his loss is greatly deplored by all those with whom he was serving.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Leckie
Air Marshal 
Chief of the Air Staff
Wing Commander M. W. Gall 
No. 428 Squadron
R.C.A.F. Overseas
6th May, 1945

Mr. J.M. Campbell
Strathclair, Manitoba
Dear Mr. Campbell

You will already have received word that your son, Flight Lieutenant W.G. Campbell, was killed in an air accident on the forenoon of 30th April, 1945, and will I am sure, wish to have further particulars of the incident. These, as you will understand, I must ask you to treat as confidential

Your son and his crew were detailed for a day cross country training flight. Approximately, one hour after take-off, information was received that the aircraft in which your son was flying had crashed. All members of the crew were killed. It is regretted that no information regarding the cause of this unfortunate incident is available. The aircraft was seen spinning down, apparently out of control and hitting the ground with great force. Your son was a very experienced pilot, having spent many months as an instructor.

Owing to the time taken to communicate under present conditions, it was not possible to ascertain your wishes regarding the funeral in the time available and I had therefore to arrange for burial without reference to you. You will, I am sure, understand the necessity for this action, and I sincerely trust the arrangements we were able to make were what you would have wished.

Your son's funeral took place at the Regional Cemetery at Chester on the afternoon of May 4th at two o'clock. Full Service honours were accorded, the coffin being carried by Air Force personnel.  A firing party was present, and the coffin was covered with the Union Jack. The Last Post was sounded at the end.

Wreaths were sent from the Officers' and Sergeants' Messes, and I hope to send you shortly a photograph of the grave, the number of which is A.707.

You will wish to know that all war graves are cared for by the Imperial War Graves Commission, which will erect a temporary wood cross pending the provision of a permanent memorial by them. 

Your son's affects have been gathered together and sent to the Royal Air Force Central Depository, by which they will be forwarded to the Director of Estates, Ottawa, who will be writing to you in this regard in due course.

May I now express the great sympathy which all of us feel with you in the sad loss which you have sustained.  It is indeed tragic that seven young lives should be lost so near the end of what all free people have been so long waiting for. He had been on the Squadron only a few days, but his keenness and determination to complete his training were factors noted by all members of the Squadron. I am sure that your son and his crew would have helped to maintain the high reputation this Squadron has achieved. I should like also to assure you how much we all honour the gallant sacrifice he has made, so far from home, in the cause of freedom and in the service of democracy.

Yours faithfully,
M.W. Gall

Later investigation found that a faulty oxygen supply on  this Lancaster test flight 
caused all crew members to lose consciousness
leaving the plane to spin out of control and crash. 

The crash occurred in the closing days of the war -- a week before VE Day.
My family received a series of letters for many days after this funeral service 
from Uncle Bill expressing his joy that he would soon be home.

~ William G. Hillman








Royal Canadian Air Force
See the Blacon Military Cemetery near Chester England as it appears today:
Blacon 1 ~ Blacon 2

Read this Brandon Sun Newspaper Story HERE

Part I: The Home Front

Staging Area - Contents - Dedication
William G. Campbell Tribute Site
Wonders of the Internet: Sandon/Strathclair
Two Villages Meet
A Hometown Story:
Strathclair, Manitoba, Canada
Campbell Family Album: Early Years
Campbell Family Album: 1920s
Campbell Family Album: 1930s
Campbell Family Album: 1940s
Hope... and Despair
Lancaster Story & Links
RCAF Pilot's Flying Log Book
Greetings & Mementos from Canada I
Greetings & Mementos from Canada II
Brandon Sun FP Story: WWW.HEROES
MY FRIEND BILL by Mick Spack
Sandon Memorial & Fly-Past Photos:
Phill Barratt Photo Gallery
Final Tribute
May 4, 1945

Part II: Overseas
Day 1: Arrival Day 2: The Grand Tour ~ Sandon Church & Hall
Day 2: Sandon House Day 2: Sod Turning for the Stone
Day 3: Stone Village Tour I Day 3: Stone Village Tour II
Day 4: Blacon Cemetery I Day 4: Blacon Cemetery II - Memorials
Day 4: BBC Radio Interview Day 5: Chatsworth
Day 5: Banquet at the Crown Day 6: Memorial Dedication I
Day 6: Memorial Dedication II Day 6: Lancaster Fly Past
Day 6: Greyhound Inn Reception Day 6: F/S Graham Ward
Day 7: Goodbyes: Memorial Site
Burston & Purl Cottage & Sandon
Day 8: Return ~ Home Again
Bomber Boys: The Fighting Lancaster
4-Hour BCATP Film Documentary
Too Young to Fly
Old Enough to Die
Visit all the Hillman War Years Tribute Sites at:

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