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McCann Eric W

Page history last edited by Rachel Collishaw 12 years ago




Eric William McCann, the son of John McCann and Margaret McCann, was born on April 16, 1921.  He lived at 63 Belmont Avenue and he went to Hopewell Avenue Public School from 1926-1935.  He had a younger brother John Charles who was born in 1927. He attended Glebe Collegiate Institute from 1935-37 and then Nepean High School from 1937-39.  After high school he went to Sir George William’s College in Montreal, Quebec to study math and science for one year, then to Ontario Teacher’s College in Hamilton for a pilot observer course for 3 months. He participated in many sports: rugby, basketball, skiing, badminton, bowling, fishing, hunting, swimming, and riding.  His family did not seem to be suffering from the Depression – his father had a good job (Superintendant of Fire Alarms Ottawa), he participated in many sports and activities, and he also had a job. From 1939-41 he worked at Northern Electric (in both Ottawa and Montreal).


Personal Information:


Name: Eric William McCann

Birthdate: Born April 16, 1921

Age of enlistment: 20

Permanent address: 63 Belmont Ave, Ottawa, ON

Temporary address: 1858 Dorchester St. West, Apt. 2, Montreal, Quebec

Marital status: single

Physical characteristics: height (5’10”); weight (134 lbs); complexion (medium); eye colour (hazel); hair colour (black); physical assessment (satisfactory)

Personality: intelligent, “keen to fly”




Eric McCann enlisted in Hamilton Ontario on March 7th 1942. The reason for his enlistment was his loyalty to Canada and wanting to fight for his country. His interview report said that he was recommended for the jobs of pilot or observer. It also says that he is not ready for commission at the present time but that he was “keen to fly. excellent appearance. intelligent” He wanted to be a pilot but seeing as he had never flown a plan before it was off to the Manning Depot in Toronto, ON to be taught how to be a pilot, then he would be ready for commission. Victory in world war two depended on air power and so there was the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan the RCAF embarking on a massive aircrew production scheme. Teaching men to fly aircraft in battle is very expensive, and the cost is high in students’ and instructors’ blood as well as time, equipment and money, so it was critically important that only candidates with genuine potential be directed to flying schools.  Canada was seen as a natural training ground for airmen. In April 1943 Eric becomes a pilot and is pooled to England in June.




Eric William McCann was in the war for a short period of time, as he only went overseas near the end of the war. While Eric was overseas he would have been flying a plane called the Supermarine Spitfire, a small one person plane. He spent from May 1943 to March 1944 in the U.K. In March he was posted to Egypt in the city of Fayid until September 1944. Then in October he was taken on strength with squadron 92 and he stayed there for two months until his death on December 15 1944. During World War II, squadron 92 claimed the highest number of victories scored, 317. Although Eric wasn’t there long, his posting with squadron 92 showed that he was a very good pilot, good enough to be in squadron 92.


Rank: Flight Lieutenant/ Flight Officer

Trade: Pilot

Number: J26139


Eric William McCann died on December 15 1944 in Italy.  He was 23 years old. At 2:25am Eric (in a Spitfire) and five other aircrafts took off from Bellaria and headed on a strafing mission to an infantry position south of Bagna-Cavallo. At 2:40 am the aircrafts were over the target area, the visibility was bad, Flight officer Stevenson was following McCann. He saw McCann dive and then he saw McCann’s plane at approximately 500 feet and receiving considerable fire. McCann’s aircraft was emitting black smoke and then Stevenson saw a traffic flash. Eric did not speak over the radio nor did he return to base. It is believed that his plane crashed at 2:50am. The mission was overall successful. His body was later recovered.








In a letter addressed to Eric’s mother, Major Gasson says:

“From the forgoing report, there can be little doubt that McCann has met his end whilst carrying out his duty in the face of fierce enemy opposition. The mission was a dangerous one but necessary and vital to the operations which are taking place and it is some consolation to know that it was successfully accomplished and that this tragic sacrifice has not been in vain.


McCann joined 92 Squadron in October and very quickly established himself as a keen and capable pilot in whom his brother pilots had the very greatest confidence. As an individual he has been beloved by us all and his going is a sad loss to the officers’ mess where his lanky figure and dry Canadian humour were such outstanding features. His brother Canadians I know have felt his loss very deeply.”


Commemorated on Page 382 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance


Eric McCann was buried at Ravenna War Cemetery in Italy

Grave Reference: VI. A. 8.

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