Uncovering Banting’s Last Moments

Sir Frederick Banting is known for saving the lives of countless diabetes patients through his discovery of insulin. However, the mystery which surrounds his death challenges the story of his medical work as the most riveting portion of his elaborate narrative. This is a tale of cutting edge top-secret research, wartime military service, and possible aviation sabotage. During the winter of 1941, Major Sir Frederick Banting was asked to undertake a mission on behalf of the Canadian military. He was ordered to travel to Britain so that he could coordinate Allied military research at a time when the future of Britain was very much in question. Banting departed on this mission in a state of the art Hudson Bomber. Tragically, contact with his plane was lost shortly after takeoff. Days later the wreckage would be found in the remote wilderness of Newfoundland.

Historians have had to overcome a wide range of limitations to piece together the story of Banting’s last moments. The geographical inconvenience of the crash site and sealed government records both contribute to the difficulty of this research. However, we have pieced together this thrilling tale as told though Banting’s own journal entries, period photographs and newspaper reports. Beginning on February 10 Banting House National Historic Site of Canada will be sharing this story through our social media outlets. Week by week on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BantingHouseNHS) and day by day on Twitter (@BantingHouse) we will provide the narrative as it unfolded 75 years ago.

We hope that you will follow along and get a taste for the mystery and intrigue which surrounds these events. Was it an accident? Was is sabotage? Did he jump? Was the reaction of the public and press what you would have expected? We also encourage you to share your own thoughts as the story reveals itself. To this day many conflicting theories exist and we welcome your take on this mysterious piece of Canadian history.

This post was written by Thomas Van Dewark. When he is not volunteering at Banting House NHSC, Tom is completing his undergraduate degrees at The University of Western Ontario.


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