Short Sunderland DD848, Mount Brandon, Kerry, August 1943
On the 22th August 1943, less than a month after the tragic
crash of the British Overseas Airways Corporation Sunderland
flying boat, G-AGES, another Sunderland
flying boat crashed into the same piece of sloping ground on
Slieveglass, next to Mount Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula,
Kerry. This second crash involved a front line Royal Air Force
Sunderland flying boat from 201 Squadron based at Pembroke Dock
The Irish Army's 15th Infantry Battalion filed a report on the
24th August 1943 that began with the following information.
A British Sunderland Flying Boat (Shortt Type) of the R.A.F. crashed at Mount Brandon (0337-1143) at 05:45 hrs on the 22/8/'43. There was a crew of 11 (eleven) of which 8 (eight) were killed and 3 (three) received slight injuries. The injured were removed to Tralee District Hospital.
The report went on to name the men on board where they could be
identified from effects found on them or directly from the
survivors. Three of the men could not be firmly identified
by the Irish Army from available evidence but the survivors were
able to provide names.
It ends with a description of the disposition of the
remains: The bodies were removed
from Brandon by lorries en route for Northern Ireland at
09:10 hrs on the 23rd instant. The officer in charge
of the party conveying bodies had with him for hand-over,
Certificates of death, and the personnel effects of each
identified body in a sealed envelope. Each envelope
bore on the outside, Number, Rank and name of the owner and
a list of its contents.
At the same time, it was reported that eight machine guns were
recovered from the wreckage, the four from the tail turret being
described as undamaged.
On the 20 September 1943 the Irish Air Corps filed a summary
report of events. Among the recorded items were:
Condition of Aircraft:
Completely burned out. Tail and Tail Turret
remain but are unserviceable. One engine was
burned out. 3 remaining are unserviceable, owing to
distance they were flung from the fuselage.
Probable Mission: On
Rescue work from base in Northern Ireland
The land where the Aircraft
crashed is boggy, and treacherous, salvage
of remains of aircraft is not feasible.
While it is not
mentioned in the above summary, some burned out ordnance was
recovered from the site.
The following year, the land owner wrote to the Irish Defense Forces to complain about the amount of wreckage that still remained at the site, but he was told to deal with it himself.
The Operations Record Book for 201 Squadron is sparse on
information about the crash. It does record the mission, a
Sea Slug mission that would take the aircraft out into the bay
of Biscay to search for U-Boats running on the water surface.
The aircraft carried a crew of eleven men of which eight were killed in the crash. And while the crash of the civilian Sunderland G-AGES a month before made the headlines all over Ireland, the UK and further afield, the eleven military personnel on Sunderland DD848 would receive no attention save for the lonely death notices published by family and friends. With the eight men being from England it might have been expected that they would have been returned to their families for burial, however today, one can find that six, F/Lt Grossey, F/Lt Griffin, F/O Wilkinson, F/Sgt Coster, F/Sgt Pickford and Sgt Tilt are actually buried in adjacent graves in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Irvinestown, Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
The British Air Ministry crash record card held by RAF museum
in Hendon provides the RAF findings on the crash. While the
handwriting on the report is difficult to read, the RAF
concluded that the aircraft was flying to the south east of its
intended track in darkness with low cloud. The text reads:
A/C (FLT) crashes into hillside & catches fire. Cause obscure. A/C flying to the east of intended track. Weather dark with low cloud. AOC ?????. AOC in C Concurs. A/C off course. Flying below minimum safety height. Error of navigation due to? error of navigation. S.E. operator boobed. ??? Competent SE operator ???? regard to height
CO Poor crew co-op. Met underestimated W/V
AOC Faulty navigation
AOC in C - Concurs
SE in the text below refers to Special Equipment
Given that the crash occurred in neutral Ireland and the aircraft was completely destroyed, there was no investigation as people might understand nowadays. There were however three survivors, Sgt's. Mclean, Applegate and Davies.
F/Lt Charles Seymour GROSSEY 45199, 1st Pilot, Captain, - Seeking photo of C S Grossey
F/Lt Arthur Charles GRIFFIN 62311, 2nd Pilot
F/O Guy Nelson WILKINSON 51121, 3rd Pilot
F/Sgt Norman Baron PICKFORD 657043, Navigator
Sgt George William DAVIES 952226, Flight Engineer
F/Sgt John Robert COSTER 1259732, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
F/Sgt William MCLEAN 996639 DFM, Air Gunner
Sgt John Sidney APPLEGATE 647007, Flight Mechanic Engines/Air Gunner
Sgt George Frederick Walter TILT 1338702, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner - Seeking photo
F/Sgt Joseph William BURTON 1287499, Wireless Operator Mechanic/Air Gunner - of Essendonbury Cottage, Essendon Hill, Hatfield
F/Sgt Walter Noel PITTS 749904, Flight Mechanic Airframe/Air Gunner.
Compiled by Dennis Burke, 2022, Dublin and Sligo. If you have information on any of the people listed above, please do contact me at email@example.com