Flight Lieutenant Louis Romeo Dubuc (10982) served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two. Born on 10th June 1907, he was the son of William Dubuc and Evelyn Dubuc of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada.
From 19th August 1931, he served with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Canada remembers Louis Romeo Dubuc as the first licensed pilot from Fort Saskatchewan. After two years as a regular constable, he took a role as an air observer in the Preventive Service Patrols in 1933. In 1937, he became one of the first members of the new RCMP Aviation Section.
He served in D, K, C, and G divisions of the RCMP and was a pilot in the Air Section. On 28th November 1939, the outbreak of war saw Dubuc transfer Royal Canadian Air Force Ferry Command to move planes across the Atlantic.
In early 1939, before the outbreak of World War Two, Dubuc married Margaret Hewson in Quebec, Canada. Details of his early life and career appear in the 2005 book ‘Fort Saskatchewan’s First Pilot: Louis Romeo Dubuc, June 10, 1907, to September 27, 1941’ by Denise Callender.
Crash of Lockheed Hudson AE577
On 27th September 1941, Lockheed Hudson AE577 crashed in Aghameen, Jenkinstown, Co. Louth en route from Canada. Dubuc was the pilot on board the plane with Royal Air Force 44 Group Ferry Command.
At 0835hrs that Saturday morning, the Mark V plane entered Irish airspace at Fethard on Sea, Co. Wexford. It continued north over Glin, Borris, Carlow, Baltinglass, and Ballymore Eustace. At 0924hrs, after circling the airfield, the plane landed at Baldonnel, near Dublin as the crew reported a fuel shortage.
The unarmed plane landed in neutral Ireland before leaving for RAF Aldergrove, Co. Antrim. After a wash, a meal and a few hours rest, the crew prepared to travel northwards again and took off from Baldonnel at 1320hrs. The plane refuelled with another 75 gallons of fuel to enable onward travel to RAF Aldergrove, Crumlin, Co. Antrim.
The 34-year-old Flight Lieutenant Louis Romeo Dubuc was keen to travel onwards despite having had a bad, storm-ridden flight so far. Permission for the onward journey came from the Department of External Affairs of the Irish Government and the Irish Air Corps. Captain Devoy of the Irish Air Corps had gone over the proposed route with both Dubuc and Goodwin. The crew had permission to use their wireless in Irish airspace to check the weather from Prestwick.
Irish military and Garda tracked the plane’s movements. Archives confirm the plane over Ardee at 1342hrs, Castlebellingham at 1347hrs, and Cullaville at 1357hrs. Witnesses report hearing a plane circle over Dundalk Bay and Bellurgan, Co. Louth. Around half an hour after take off – at 1410hrs – it crashed in thick fog around 800ft above sea level in hills north of Aghameen, Jenkinstown, Co. Louth All three crew members died.
The aircraft crashed at Aughameen (sic) which is situated approx. 2 ½ miles NE of Belurgan Station on the road to Omeath from Dundalk, Bellurgan Station being on the north Shore of Dundalk Bay on the road from Dundalk to Greenore. The crash was on the side of a hill at about 800′ above sea level.
Irish Army Accident Report.
|Last Name||First Name(s)||Rank||Role||Information|
|Dubuc||Louis Romeo||Flight Lieutenant||Pilot||Royal Canadian Air Force C/1520. Resided at Elmwood Apartments, 7 South Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Aged 34-years-old.|
|Goodwin||Frederick James||Sergeant||Navigator||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 1162826. Resided at 61 Poplar Street, Smethwick, Staffordshire, United Kingdom. Aged 20-years-old.|
|Kenny||Samuel Raymond||Radio Operator||Civilian. Resided at Grand Parade, Nova Scotia, Canada. Aged 22-years-old.|
Helps arrives at the crash site
A local Garda TS McDonagh arrived on the scene at around 1600hrs. He aided firefighters in tackling the blazing wreckage and went to fetch a medical doctor.
Local men Patrick McGeown, Hugh Duffy, and James Duffy of Jenkinstown, Co. Louth saw and heard the crash. Patrick and Hugh found two men in the wreckage but saw they were already dead. James Duffy returned to the road, wary of the potential threat of exploding ammunition and bombs. A call went out to fetch the local priest, Father Callan.
McGeown’s statement records he was out in the fields and had rarely seen thicker fog on the hills. He heard the roar of the plane and saw it hit the mountain.
As I was standing looking in the direction from which the noise of the plane was coming I saw a red flash in the fog. It was coming straight for me and when I saw that there was something wrong I ran a few perches out of the way. I ran west the plane passed me about 10 feet off the ground. I could see all the plane as she passed me. She was all red in front, flames were leaving the sides, smoke was coming out of her all over. I would swear that the red appearance on the front of the planes was fire and that the plane was all afire before she hit the mountain.
Remembering Louis Romeo Dubuc
After consulting the Department of External Affairs, the Irish Army removed the bodies to Dundalk Army Barracks. Also handed over the British military were any surviving effects or records. The bodies arrived by 2000hrs that night.
On Sunday 28th September 1941, the Royal Air Force accepted handover of the bodies at the Irish border. Flight Lieutenant Day from Belfast and Lieutenant Ray from Newry left Dundalk in an ambulance carrying the deceased at 1630hrs. A local Garda superintendent accompanied them to the Irish border. The men received a full military guard of honour from the local army garrison.
An Irish Air Corps party under Lieutenant Teague completed salvage of the wreck of Hudson AE577 on Tuesday 30th September 1941.
On 1st October 1941, Flying Officer L Keraher and an escort party of 40 airmen and non-commissioned officers arrived in Newry, Co. Down. They went to the barracks where 5th Welsh Division of the British Army had their base. There, funeral plans took shape and the funeral commenced at 1500hrs from Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, Co. Down. The funeral party consisted of members of the British Army, Royal Air Force, and the local Royal Ulster Constabulary. Both Dubuc and Kenny received full military honours on their final journey.
Louis Romeo Dubuc’s grave is in New Ground, Section J, Grave 16 of Newry Old Chapel (St. Mary’s) Cemetery, Newry, Co. Down. He lies next to Samuel Raymond Kenny who died in the same incident.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed their respect for Dubuc in 1941. They published an obituary in their quarterly magazine. At RCMP Depot Division, Regina, Saskatchewan, a street named Dubuc Crescent pays tribute to the airman.
On 9th November 2005, the Guelph Mercury Canadian newspaper reported of the visit to Ireland of Louis’ nephew Bill Dubuc. Bill visited his uncle’s grave in Newry, Co. Down and left a personal memorial. Royal Canadian Mounted Police veteran Jack Hickman visited Dubuc’s grave in Newry, Co. Down in May 2009.
Flight Lieutenant Louis Romeo Dubuc’s name is on Page 28 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance and Page 69 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Honour Roll Book.