Banting Saga




Banting's Mysterious Death part III

by Frank Tibbo

The Military Report `Vanished'

A three-member military enquiry, chaired by Air Commodore George Walsh of the RCAF met in Gander in early March, 1941 and concluded their work on March 22. The military ensured right from the start that only innocuous bits of information would be released. An excerpt from the minutes of the meeting of the Commission of Government of Newfoundland dated April 2, 1941, stated: "The Commissioner will issue a Press Communique stating that the report has been received and that its findings relate to purely technical matters which it is not in the public interest to make public." That statement was, no doubt, dictated by the military brass.

The military enquiry's official dispatch was printed in the Evening Telegram: "The report of the Court Inquiry has been received and examined. It has been decided by this Government that publication of the contents of the report would not be in the public interest. The findings of the court deal exclusively with purely technical considerations affecting the immediate and underlying cause of the accident."

Researchers from England to Toronto have searched for the past 60 years but have been unable to find a copy of the military report. Four official copies of the report were made, two for the Canadian Government, one for the Newfoundland Government and the fourth to Canadian Pacific Railways. This conjures up all kinds of questions. What happened to the reports? Does the report contain something sinister? How did all four copies become lost? How many copies did the military keep for themselves besides the original? Did the military lose their copies also? Did they destroy the reports? Were they stolen? Nonsense!! The four copies that the military acknowledged passing out did not become lost - nor did the military lose their copies. Maybe an ordinary report could get lost by three different entities. But a report concerning the death of a Nobel Prize winner - one of the world's leading scientists did not get lost. Nobody is gullible enough to believe that! The "missing" report leads one to subscribe to the sabotage theory - one the military were not going to acknowledge.

The Case of Mechanical Failure

Innocuous bits and pieces of the military report were released stating that the port engine failed due to mechanical failure while the starboard quit due to carburetor icing.

There was one report of grass and rocks and a piece of cloth an inch wide inside the cylinder. The Globe and Mail on March 23, 1941 reported that sand and grass was placed in the oil supply.

Dr. Patrick McTaggart-Cowan the renown chief meteorologist stationed at Gander had a theory about the oil coolers. He said that new square oil coolers were being put into the Hudsons, replacing the older, rounder ones. According to McTaggart-Cowan the new coolers were too weak for cold weather starts and were rupturing. Bob Banting, grand-nephew of the great scientist, is the manager of information technology security at Atomic Energy of Canada. He has spent years accumulating data about the crash. He calls the oil-cooler theory "utter nonsense". Banting's research found that Lockheed never changed its round coolers to round ones. He did discover that engineers replaced the air induction units that sucked air into the engines. He thinks Mc-Taggart got the two confused.

Bob Banting also takes issue with the mechanical failure cited by the military. In short he has demolished the reasoning the military gave for the port engine failure. Banting also disagrees with the military theory that the starboard engine failed due to carbureter icing.

The Hudson could not get across the North Atlantic unless an extra fuel tank was installed in the cabin. All of the fuel flowed to the engines through a single pipe, there was no alternative route. If that small pipe clogged, it was game over. Someone intent on having the aircraft come down over the Atlantic could introduce sufficient dirt into the fuel tank to eventually clog the fuel filter. Military documents in the National Archives of Canada indicate that one method used by saboteurs was to put sugar into the fuel tanks. Eventually it would mix with the fuel, get into the engines and seize the cylinders. Bob Banting thinks the Hudson was a victim of sabotage. He thinks the most likely method used, and one used quite often by saboteurs, was placing sand in the oil. The sand would jam the oil cooler, inhibiting oil intake to the engines.


It was a tragic, costly and unnecessary loss. It makes one question why Dr. Banting's trip was not kept secret. The lack of security is surely reprehensible and not at all indicative of what should have been done. The military would be most irresponsible to release a report that would indicate a lack of security during the war. However, 55 years after the war is over would seem to be a fairly safe time to "find" the military report.

Canada's Most Famous Scientist

In 1999 Canadian scientists named Sir Frederick Banting as the greatest scientist of the twentieth century.

As published in the Gander Beacon and written by Frank Tibbo


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