Saskatchewan Bomber Pilot’s WWII Service Tag Returns Home After 79 Years

Flt. Lt. Frank Chad, fourth from the left, served in No. 410 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

In a remarkable discovery, a British metal detector enthusiast recently unearthed a Second World War service tag belonging to a Saskatchewan bomber pilot, Flt. Lt. Frank Chad. The tag, lost nearly 80 years ago, has now been returned to the pilot’s family in a touching reminder of the enduring legacy of wartime service.

The Discovery

Darren Rigby, who hails from Somerset, England, stumbled upon the gold-plated tag while combing a farmer’s field near the historic Zeals House in Wiltshire. This area, once requisitioned as RAF Zeals during the war, revealed its hidden treasure in the form of Chad’s service tag, complete with his name and the Royal Canadian Air Force emblem.

“It’s nice to know someone is sitting there smiling,” Rigby told CBC News, reflecting on his find.

A metal detector enthusiast searched a farmer’s field near this sprawling countryside manor, known as Zeals House, in southern England. According to a recent real estate listing, it was requisitioned as an air force base in the Second World War, while an airfield was created at a nearby farm. (Knight Frank)

The Pilot: Flt. Lt. Frank Chad

Frank Chad, a native of Prince Albert, Sask., joined the Royal Canadian Air Force when the Second World War broke out. He spent over three years flying missions across Europe in Mosquito fighter planes, serving with the No. 410 night fighter squadron. Chad’s service was marked by bravery and dedication, characteristics that defined his post-war life back in Saskatchewan, where he raised a family and remained actively involved in his community.

The Journey Home

Upon discovering the service tag, Rigby embarked on an internet search for Frank Chad, a quest that led him to Chad’s obituary and subsequently to his family. Frank Chad passed away in 2007 at the age of 86, but his legacy continues through his 13 children.

A British man used Frank Chad’s online obituary to track down his family and return a service tag discovered 79 years after it was likely lost. (Grey’s Funeral Home)

Frank’s son, Joe Chad, expressed surprise and gratitude upon receiving a call from the funeral home about Rigby’s discovery. “Dad, along with most veterans, didn’t really talk about their time in the service. So we didn’t learn a whole pile growing up,” Joe recounted to CBC News.

The Return

In a heartfelt gesture, Rigby mailed the service tag to the Chad family this fall, a move that humbly downplayed his role in preserving history. “It makes me feel like I’ve done something really special, which I haven’t. It’s not like I’ve saved someone’s life. I’ve just sent them a piece of something that belonged to them,” Rigby stated.

A British man with a metal detector discovered a WW II service tag in southern England in early 2023. He tracked down the bomber pilot’s family in Saskatchewan to return the long-lost item.

A Family’s Discovery

The return of the service tag has inspired Joe Chad to delve deeper into his father’s wartime experiences. He shared a poignant note written by his father upon returning from the war, a testament to Frank Chad’s gratitude and commitment to life.

Legacy and Remembrance

This extraordinary discovery and the ensuing return of the service tag not only reconnect a family with a tangible piece of their history but also serve as a reminder of the countless stories of bravery and sacrifice from the Second World War. Frank Chad’s story, brought back to light by Rigby’s discovery and generosity, continues to resonate with his family and the broader community, underscoring the lasting impact of those who served.

According to CBC News, the Chad family is now more motivated than ever to uncover and cherish the untold stories of their father and other veterans, a journey of remembrance and discovery sparked by a simple metal detector and a man’s willingness to connect the past with the present.