Reflecting on Charles Robertson Olmsted

I did not know until 15 days ago who was Charles Robertson Olmsted on a group photo taken on August 21, 1942, two days after the Dieppe raid.

21 August 1942

Then his nephew Ross found this blog and wrote me where his uncle was on the group photo…

Ross sent me another email last night. I told Ross I had to share what he wrote with my readers.

You are very patient to have read through that. Thank you.

I am sure many thousands of young men died because of mistakes and ineptitude during the war. And I can even bring myself to understand why senior officers could rationalize covering up the facts so as not to undermine morale and turn citizens against the war. It is human nature, and human nature is far from perfect.

Young men such as Charles (whose dream was to act on the stage, and to be with his bride) were suddenly swept up in the terrible whirlwind of Hitler’s war and transformed into fighter pilots. And other young men, who perhaps only wanted to be left alone to work on their farms and chase girls on a Saturday night, were rushed through courses to become aircraft mechanics and maintenance crew. Mistakes were certain to happen.

On the same microfilm reel as the one on which I found that accident report, there were dozens of similar reports on air accidents that took place during that same period on RCAF bases across Canada. There seemed to be one a week.

If there was ever a just war, the war against the Nazis certainly qualifies. Charles may have died as a result of negligence and human error, but he was proud to serve his country and he did so with honour.

My generation is just so damn lucky to have been spared what they went through.

Thank you again, Pierre.


So what did I read?

To be continued…

Remembering Charles Olmsted – Update

Thanks to his nephew Ross, Charles Robertson Olmsted will never be forgotten.

Pierre, the pilot seated in the front row on the right is my mother’s brother, Charles Olmsted of Ottawa. He died on May 1, 1944, while serving as an instructor in Bagotville, Quebec.


This search for who was who on this picture started a few years ago.

I only knew Wing Commander Sydney Ford. Last week Charles Robertson Olmsted was added.

This is now the latest version of the colorised photo done by Doug Banks last year. I have added one name.

New version

Four pilots are still waiting for identification. I have a few hints, but I want to check them first.

The pilots are seen here again with all the staff and the ground crew. The date could be also August 21, 1942, two days after the Dieppe raid where three pilots were killed: Walker, Gardiner, and Monchier.
BB2 - HR