Remembering a Local Hero – Lawrence John (LJ) Rainboth
Colonel (Retired) Paul Fleury
Born on May 24th, 1896, the son of Georgina and John Rainboth, Lawrence enlisted in 1917 into the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), as Canada did not have an Airforce at that time.
In 1917, due to a lack of space for aircrew training in the United Kingdom (UK), It was decided to create an air training organization in Canada, appropriately named the Royal Flying Corps Canada (RFCC). The RFCC Program grew quickly and eventually facilities were established in Hamilton (Armament School), Toronto (Aeronautics), and Camp Borden (Pilot Training) to name a few locations. As the winter of 1917/18 approached the RFCC with no experience in severe cold weather flying, relocated a large portion of the Program to Fort Worth, Texas, USA.
In the autumn of 1917, Lawrence was assigned to the School of Air Gunnery RFCC and travelled to Fort Worth to continue his training. At 3:20 PM on December 24th, 1917, Lawrence was flying a Curtiss JN-4 (Tail number C684) training aircraft at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. The aircraft’s fuel tank caught fire and he was killed in the subsequent crash. His crewmate Cadet Eric Douglas Manson from Vancouver suffered the same fate.
Lawrence and Eric were amongst 129 cadets and 20 instructors that were killed in RFCC training accidents during the war. The Program however was judged a success with more than 2,500 trained pilots sent overseas. A restored JN-4 training aircraft is on display at the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa.
For his service in the 1st World War, Second-Lieutenant Lawrence John (LJ) Rainboth received the British War and Victory Medals. He is buried in Aylmer (St. Paul’s) Jardin de Souvenir Cemetery, Section C Lot 3. He is commemorated on Page 580 of the First World War Book of Remembrance housed in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. His name can be found on the Canadian Memorial in Fort Worth (Greenwood) Memorial Park, Fort Worth.
Lest We Forget