Piecing It Together Piecing It Together for Norman C. Fleischman

In our PIT stop feature, we assemble additional pieces of the puzzle. Readers are able to learn more about the mill, its employees and the Hespeler community at large.

Norman was the first Dominion Woollens employee and first Hespelerite to be killed in the line of duty during WWII.


D. W. & W. News, October, 1941 (Soldiers’ Addresses)
D. W. & W. News, June, 1942 (In Memoriam)


Norman Fleischman
Norman Clifford Fleischman

Newspaper coverage

HALIFAX – May 7, Eight Royal Canadian Air Force fliers were killed Wednesday night in the crash of a Hudson Bomber at the R.C.A.F. station at Torbay, Nfld., the eastern air command announced today.

The plane crashed while taking off on a flight to Dartmouth, N.S., from the Torbay station, about ten air miles north of St. John’s. Cause of the crash was “obscure,” but a court of inquiry is being held. All personel of the plane were killed instantly.

Names of the men killed follow: Flt.-Lt. U.J. H. Leblanc, pilot, St. John N.B.

Flt-Lt. R. M. Ehrlichman, passenger, Santa Monica, Calif.

Flt-Sgt. W. F. F. Colville navigator, Bowmanville, Ont.: Sgt. H. F. Taylor, wireless operator, Harold, Ont.: Sgt. M. H. Brothers, passenger Wroxeter, Ont.: Cpl. C. F. Else, passenger, St. Thomas, Ont.; L/AC. M. C. Fleischman, passenger, Hespeler, Ont. and L/AC. S. E. Crymen, passenger, St. Thomas, Ont.

*external information

Lockheed Hudson 1941

Lockheed Hudson Mk. I. 1941. Serial 761 was the third aircraft in production run for the Mk. I. 28 were produced.

Norman Fleischman headstone


Crash Investigation Findings

Detachment from No. 11 (BR) Squadron,[241] …Lockheed Hudson, RAF N7346, c/n B14L-1742, diverted to RCAF and serialled 761, of a detachment from No. 11 (BR) Squadron, departs RCAF Station Torbay, Newfoundland, at either ~1500 hrs., or 1742 hrs., on a ferry flight to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with four crew and four passengers aboard.

On lift off one or both engines sputter and backfire and the aircraft sinks, but then the engines surge and the Hudson rises to 100 feet whereupon a left bank, characteristic of a side slip, develops and deepens, the plane sinks, drags the port wing tip, and cartwheels into a fiercely burning inverted pile of wreckage.

The Board of Inquiry cites four causes:
(i) the aircraft was overloaded
(ii) the load was incorrectly distributed
(iii) partial failure of starboard engine
(iv) misuse of controls by pilot.

Crew victims were: Flt. Lieut. Joseph Hyacinthe Ulysses “Hughie” Leblanc, a pre-war RCAF pilot, Flt. Sgt William Freeborne Colville, Navigator, and two Wireless Air Gunners, Sgts. Harold Fulford Taylor and Monty Holt Brothers. Two passengers were Flt. Lieut. Rudolph Irwin Ehrlichman, and Cpl. Charles Frederick Else.

Period records do not identify the third passenger, an airman from No. 1 Group, who hitched a last minute ride. This was the first, and, as it came to pass, the most serious fatal RCAF crash at Torbay.


Norman Fleischman was that last-minute passenger mentioned in the report. We can only assume he was trying to get home early when he made that fateful decision to board the Hudson.



Norman’s father was Edward Charles Fleischman (1885 – 1921), his mother was Isabella (née McConnell) Fleischman.

Sadly Norman never knew his father. Edward passed away at his home on David street in Hespeler on December 7, 1921. He was 35 years old – Norman was 3 months old.

Edward is buried in New Hope cemetery in Hespeler.


June Whorley

June Whorley

June Whorley was featured in our first edition of the D. W. & W News. Her photo went virus it was so popular at home and overseas. 

She was engaged to Norman Fleischman. Five days before her wedding, he was killed in a plane crash in Newfoundland. Due to the severity of the crash, Norman’s body was not returned to Hespeler.

After the tragedy, June stays in Hespeler a little while longer. However, she later moves to Toronto to pursue a career in modelling. We will lose touch with her until 1947 when she returns to the mill for a visit. While she was away, she marries a Toronto boy, George Patrick Akrey and the couple would move to California a few years later.

We sincerely hope that she found happiness after such tragedy and heartbreak.

June Akrey (Whorley) in 1947

D. W. & W. News, July, 1941 (Photo, PIT stop)

Co-worker Condolences

I was very sorry to read about Norman Fleischman’s death. Please convey my deepest sympathy to his family. He was a clean sportsman and I feel we have lost one of the best chaps I ever knew.

Petty Officer Thomas Davis