Beachcombers actor 'Relic' in earlier tragic Boundary Bay military crash

The story below was originally posted by Michael DesMazes, RCAF historian for Boundary Bay and Abbotsford, on the RCAF Boundary Bay 1941-1945 Facebook page. It’s reposted here with permission


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On Dec 23rd 1944, B25 Mitchell HD315 crashed seconds after taking off from No. 5 O.T.U. Boundary Bay.

The cause of the accident was a loss of power to the port engine causing the aircraft to crash into a deep ditch only 250 yards from the end of the runway at Boundary Bay. The aircraft was performing a "compass swing" and on board were two RCAF Navigator students, a staff pilot and an RCAF instrument maker.

The two NAVs were Flying Officers Walmsley and Spencer. Walmsley age 30, was from Toronto and married. He had been in the RCAF since late 1942 but commissioned an officer only one year before the crash.

Spencer, age 29, from Hamilton, Ont. was also married and had received his commission about the same time as Walmsley. Corporal Dutton, age 22, single, was the son of a farmer from Manitoba.

Joining the RCAF in Feb 1942 Dutton had only arrived at his new posting at 5 O.T.U. Boundary Bay 13 days before the crash.


Dutton had initially survived the crash but seriously injured he soon died while in hospital. Only the pilot would survive the crash. F/L Robert Clothier, Distinguished Flying Cross. Clothier earned his DFC while flying bombers with the RCAFs No. 408 Squadron overseas.

After his tour of ops he was returned to Canada where he became an instructor at 5 O.T.U. Boundary Bay. Robert's brother was killed flying for the RCAF overseas in March 1945. Clothier survived the crash with a broken back.


Clothier, a film and stage actor, on the set of The Beachcombers with Bruno Gerussi. The show ran from 1972 to 1990.


Clothier lay paralyzed from the waist down for two years.

After the war, he studied Architecture at the University of British Columbia followed by a stay in England studying theatre.

Clothier returned to British Columbia, eventually settling in the Capilano Highlands area of North Vancouver and became well known in the Vancouver area as a stage actor as well as an accomplished sculptor and painter.

He will likely always be remembered locally as Relic from the long running CBC TV show, The Beachcombers.


DesMazes also has a Facebook page RCAF Abbotsford 1942 - 1946

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