Marie Calder is seeking help in finding the families of the 21 people who died in an airplane crash south of Estevan in 1946.
Calder is a local author who penned the Other Side series as well as a couple of children’s books. Her latest writing project is named Together Forever in the Clouds, a work of non-fiction that chronicles the lives and the experiences of the 21 airmen who died in a plane crash south of Estevan on Sept. 15, 1946.
She was part of the committee that worked on the Forever in the Clouds monument, carved by Alberta chainsaw sculptor Darren Jones, that currently stands south of Estevan.
Twenty pilots and one grounds crew member died in the crash.
“I have found eight of the families. I am still looking for 13 of them, and not having much luck,” said Calder. “I have decided to go ahead with the families (I have), because I have spent almost two years of research trying to find these families.”
She would like to know the personal side of the airmen. She has some hard facts, such as where they were from, their service number and the plot number where they are buried.
The soldiers whose families she would like to speak to are Flight Lieutenant Robert McRoberts of Winnipeg; Flight Officers Henry (Harry) Hugh Cowan of Ottawa; Flight-Lieutenant James Stewart Lees of Abbotsford, B.C.; Flight-Lieutenant Edward Chester Stewart of Holden, Alta.; Flight Officer (F.O.) Ned Jordan of Winnipeg; F.O. Robert James McIntyre of Carman, Man., F.O. Raymand Avard Brandser of Glen Bain, Sask.; F.O. Max Thomas of Rockglen; Flight Lt. Joseph Alphonse Camille Bouchard of Ste. Anne de Pocatiere, Que.; Flight Lt. Stanley Wright Proctor of Toronto; Flight Lt. Louis Eric John Murphy of Ottawa; Flight Lt. Morris Crosby Cuthbert of Ottawa; and Flight Lt. James Pyle Jesse of Lebanon, Virginia.
“We want their loved ones to know they have not been forgotten. That’s really why I’m writing the book. I wasn’t going to.”
Writing the book is going to be a long process, she said. She just began the writing, and her research has been going on for about two years.
“I’m beginning what I call the first chapter, which, of course, is about the squadron, which was the Ferry Squadron No. 124 out of Rockcliffe, Ontario, and then I’ll be going from there into the accident and so on.
She is hopeful that it can be released some time in 2020.
“When you get into the actual writing part of it, it’s much more time-consuming than one would think,” she said. “As was the research, by the way. I didn’t expect it to take me two years, and find a little better than a third of them.”
She spoke to the son of one of the plane crash victims, who sent several photos, including one of the the funeral procession through Estevan.
“At that point, they were still just names to me. I hadn’t tapped into the human side of the story yet. I understood the human side, but when he started speaking and telling me the human side, I realized … someone needs to go further. Someone needs to do something. So that’s when I made the decision to go ahead and continue with the research and try to put together something on paper.”