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The Wrongly Executed Airman (Hardback)

The RAF's Darkest Hour

Aviation > Royal Air Force Military P&S History > British History

By Alan Strachan
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 32 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399041034
Published: 24th April 2023



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Utilizing forensic evidence that was ignored by the police, and documents that have never before been released to the public, Alan Strachan has produced the horrific account of a man who was wrongfully executed for rape and murder -- even though it is quite possible that there was neither a rape nor a murder.

Both were capital crimes in Canada in 1942 and the accused was British -- a 21-year-old Royal Air Force sergeant whose wife and one-year-old daughter remained in Peterborough when he was sent to New Brunswick to help train Canadians for the war effort.

As soon as the trial ended, records were sealed, and anyone interested in documenting the proceedings was told that the transcript would not become available until 2042.

But Strachan pursued the matter in 2015 and became the first in more than fifty years to be given full access to that transcript. He then acquired an original copy of the preliminary-hearing transcript, believed to be the only one in existence.

Because freedom-of-information laws have been revised since 1942, he was also able to access the original Royal Canadian Mounted Police internal correspondence as well as the diplomatic communications between Canadian and English bureaucrats. Those letters and telegrams document the dereliction of duty by those in power: a Canadian justice minister who went on to become the nation’s prime minister; an ambassador who became governor-general; a member of the British royal family; and, of course, high-ranking RCMP officers.

The only truly innocent person in this saga is the one who was executed.

A really well researched book! Alan Strachan tells the story of Tom Hutchings an RAF Airman working in Canada who was wrongly accused of Rape & Murder based on circumstantial evidence.

It is so sad that this young man, who was a son, husband & father of a young child was let down so terribly by the authorities!

Given that the paperwork relating to this case was subject to access rights for such a long time, I cannot help but feel sorry for the family members who did not get to learn the truth about this case, it truly is heartbreaking!

I would not hesitate to recommend this book.

Air Force Webinar Series

"What Alan Strachan lays before the reader is a disturbing tale of investigative and judicial incompetence and indifference that resulted in the execution of an innocent man....the author should rightly be applauded for detailing this sad and disturbing event but also for the objective way, he has documented this saga."

Martin Willoughby, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

As featured in

Scramble 1940 - Official Newsletter of the Battle of Britain Historical Society, Autumn/Winter 2023, Issue 168

About Alan Strachan

Alan Strachan is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, radio and print in Canada and the United States since 1970. He has written ten books and for more than a decade, lived less than two blocks from the site of the courthouse in which the trial took place, the gaol in which the accused was imprisoned, and the site of the execution.

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