main banner

Lockheed Hudsons, FH376 and EW904, Donegal, 1942

During the summer of 1942, the Royal Air Force's 44 Group of Ferry Command expanded the operations that had been growing during the previous year, the never ending task of delivering multi engined bomber, patrol and transport aircraft from North American factories to the war zones in Europe and North Africa. At least ten these aircraft found themselves over Ireland or its seas during 1942 in some form of distress. This is the story of two of those aircraft that were able to fly away under their own power after their emergenncy landings.

On the 3rd of May, 1942, witnessed one of these aircraft landing at Pollan Strand, Ballyliffen in Donegal. The crew, lost and running low on fuel were sent on their way after refueling and rest. They consisted of two RAF officers and a Sergeant of the Royal Canadian Air Force.


S/Ldr Lionel Rees COHEN 39497


P/O Alexander MORE 103522 DFC


Sgt Eric Jackson GREENHALGH R/103618 RCAF

Lionel Rees COHEN was an Australian serving in the Royal Air Force. Having been commishioned in 1937 into the RAF, he held the rank of Squadron Leader at the time of the landing in Ireland. He married in England in 1939 and his son Mike was kind enough to supply the above photo. It is unclear what the purpose of his visit to Canada was but this flight in Hudson FH376 was hsi only flight with Ferry Command. He was posted to 150 Squadron and was sadly killed in action on the 30th of July 1942 with his crew of four when their aircraft, Wellington BJ881 was shot down over France on a raid on Saarbrueken in Germany. He is buried in France.

Alexander More was a young navigator from the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve born in Glasgow 1917.

His son recalled his fathers memories of the events leading up to and including the landing in Donegal: When my father landed at Ballyliffin they were of course very low on fuel, the prevailing tailwinds over the Atlantic had not been as strong as forecast. This strong tailwind was needed for the Hudson to make it non stop from Gander to Prestwick. After the landing my father persuaded the Pilot and crew to turn their RAF tunics inside out so that they could bluff the Irish authorities into thinking that they were a civilian ferry crew and not be interned for the rest of war. Also my father had a Glaswegian accent which he thought at time the authorities might be more sympathetic to as all the rest of the crew spoke with a pronounced English RAF accent.
At the end of 1941 he was posted to 31 Air Navigation School RAF Port Albert, Goderich, Ontario to train as a Navigator Instructor. Whilst in Canada he met and married my mother Helen Evans who lived in West Lorne. By giving his address as West Lorne he felt it would favour the crew's chances of being allowed to fly the Hudson on to Prestwick. What the deciding factor was in all the events I don't know but they were given several 5 Gall. jerry cans and were taken to a fuel store to fill them up and after many hours of going ' to and fro' they managed to put enough fuel onboard to get them to Eglinton near 'Derry in Northern Ireland and from there to Prestwick.
My Father and his crew were treated very kindly when they dropped in at Ballyliffin and he recalled the events of that time with a certain amount of fondness and amusement.

During a subsquent posting to Canada, F/Lt More was reported upon in the Fleet Aircraft Limited magazine, PLANE TALK. This was published during war time probably during his 31 ANS from 1942 to 1944 and is interesting in that it mentions the landing in Ireland and the avoidance of internment.

Alex More finished the war as Flt/Lt. Alexander More D.F.C. s/n 755331. He joined the V.R. in July 1939 with Navigator training at Perth and Prestwick, 1940 at the Wellington OTU Lossiemouth. There he was crewed up and in early 1941 was posted to 149 squadron at Mildenhall, Suffolk. He flew 34 bombing missions and it was during this time that the squadron were used for the filming of the motion picture, 'Target for Tonight". From 1942 to Oct. 1944 he was mostly in Port Albert, Canada doing Navigation training. Whilst at Port Albert he obtained his 'SPEC.N' qualification which was Specialized Air Navigator then late 1944 converted to Lancasters with 227 squadron at Balderton and Strubby and laterly on Mosquitos 608 squadron at Downham Market and 692 SQ. at Gransden Lodge. After the war he joined BSAA flying down to South America during which he trained as a pilot and he eventually retired from BOAC as a VC10 Captain in 1973. Alex passed away in Surrey in early 2001.

Eric J Greenhalgh was born in Lancashire, England in 1909. He moved to Canada in 1921 with his family and they settled in Alberta, Canada. He enslisted in 1941 and trained as a Wireless Opeartor Air Gunner. The flight on FH376 was his only ferry flight and was his posting to Europe. His postings after this are unknown but some idea can be gathered from the newspaper cutting from the Lethbridge Herald Newspaper in 1944. A cutting from 1941 recorded his graduation from training also. He returned to Canada after the war and raised his family in Lethbridge, Alberta. He was a leading member of the Lethbridge Army, Navy and Air Force Association after the war and his name appears frequently in the lcoal newspapers in relation to this. He told his daughters little about his wartime service and left little more in terms of records. He passed away at the age of 92. A descendant of his in laws provided the photo above.













Alexander More's son Evan was kind enough to share a copy of the page of his fathers log book showing the landing in Donegal. The aircraft was flown to Eglinton just across the border in Northern Ireland and from there onto the RAF Ferry Command base at Prestwick in Scotland.


The aircraft, Lockheed Hudson Serial number FH376 was delivered to the Royal Air Force and is listed as having been assigned to 200 Squadron which was based at Jeswang, Gambia in Africa. In February 1943, this aircraft was transferred to the Free French Naval Air Arm in North Africa and was assigned the serial number 1BR-IV while flying with squadron 1BR alongside three other Hudson's. They served there until August 1943 when they were replaced with Vickers Wellingtons. It is not clear from available records what the ultimate fate of the aircraft was and if it served again with the RAF.

The map below compiled from the www.osi.ie website shows the two locations described on this page.


May 23rd, would see an altogether more tragic event when the crew of Hudson FH233 ditched in the sea off Sligo and were lost. Their sad story is told here on the website.


June 16th, 1942, Dunfanghy, Donegal

A few days later another of Lockheed's famous Hudson patrol bombers was forced to make an emergency landing on a beach near the town of Dunfanghy in the north of Donegal. On the 16 June 1942, at around 12:30 local time, an aircraft landed on "Hill Strand", near Dunfanaghy in Donegal Ireland. The crew of the aircraft consisted of four men in civilian attire who reported that they belonged to the 'British Ferry Command'. The local members of the Local Defense Force (LDF) made contact with the crew shortly after the landing and they placed a cordon around the aircraft. The crew refused to leave the aircraft at this time and insisted staying on the beach. Later members of the Irish Army arrived at the scene and took over the cordon. The Irish military recorded the aircraft as being a 'British Lockheed Hudson. Markings: "A 28 A. Air Corp Service 426613" Unarmed'.

The situation on the 16th of June was recorded on scraps of paper at head quarters in Dublin as the various military posts from Donegal to Athlone and on to Dublin, called in the events of the day. At 13:30 it was recorded: "Atlantic Ferry Command a/c has landed on strand at Dunfanaghy (N Donegal) at 12:30. L.D.F. have cordoned a/c. Crew of four, dressed in civilian attire are still on board and refuse to leave the plane. Mil(itary) Letterkennny are proceeding to Dunfanaghy"

The situation has clearly relaxed in the following hours as another report reads: 'Plane made a perfect landing, undamaged, expected that it is able to take off. Markings on a/c A28A - Air Corps Service - 426613'. Crew now in Hotel at Dunfanaghy with Lt. Galvin. Names - Capt. Leak
Mr. Ryan
Mr. Drinskonski
Mr. Cowieson
Some planes from N.I circled the position of the grounded plane and number of times after it landed. Two of those planes circled around Malin Hd Military Post and were fired on.'

These names were perhaps only written down phonetically and thus the third name was spelled wrong as was later discovered.

Later in the afternoon, the pilot was allowed by the miltary command to return to the aircraft to turn off some electrical fitting. This simple task however required a number of phone calls between headquarters in Dublin and the officers on the scene in order to get approval for the pilot to return to the aircraft. Finally, word was received from the Department of External Affairs that the crew and aircraft would be released and a lorry with fuel would be allowed across the border to top the Hudson up.

It seems that the four men stayed over night in a local hotel but it is not fully recorded. On the following day, the aircraft took off at 15:05 hrs after being refueled by a bowser sent from Northern Ireland. Karl Dzinkowski's flying log book shows that they flew on to Prestwick in Scotland.

The names of the crew were recorded as shown above and it has taken took some further research to try to confirm who the men were.

The Captain of the aircraft was recorded by Irish authorities as 'Captain Leak' only. It was assumed that he was an American civilian in the employ of what was then the RAF Ferry Command. The 1940 United States census was checked for any men named Leak or Leake who recorded their occupation as pilot or aviator. This is a feature made possible by ancestry.com's transcription of occupations in this valuable database. It would be assumed that most of the civilian contractors taken on by Ferry Command would be trained pilots in 1940, possibly flying with an airline. One possible name came up, an Ernest L Leak, aged 32 years and a pilot from Washington State, living in California and flying with an airline. This lead to the discovery that he had passed away in 1945 in California and was buried in his native state. By chance, the name of E L Leak was recorded on a passenger manifest of the SS Mosdale in March 1942, listed with a group of 'Ferry Pilots' travelling with the Air Ministry. Due to to sail from Glasgow to Halifax, his and two other names were struck off the manifest and must have continued their journey by other means. A query to the Directorate of History and Heritage in Canada who hold some of the personel records of RAF Ferry Command and Ferry Group confirmed that indeed Ernest Lloyd Leak was employed by that organisation during 1941 and the summer of 1942. A message on the findagrave.com website requesting a photograph of his grave brought forth the assistance of two generous Washington inhabitants, L Widing and J McClean. Both offered to travel to nearby libraries to obtain a copy of Ernest's 1945 obituary in The Tacoma News Tribune. Not only that but L Widing also tracked down none other than Ernest's grand daughter Jennifer. Her father David was Ernest's son, only 9 years of age when his father died. Among the first things that Jennifer was able to find among Ernest's remaining memoriabilia was the post card shown below:

This surprising find of a post of 'Killestrand' near Dunfanaghy in the belongings of a former RAF Ferry Command pilot would seem to confirm that Ernest Leak was indeed the pilot of Hudson EW904 during its short visit to Donegal. The post card was never posted or written on except for the following note, Yakima 4149 Ray of which more later. Also among his things was a certificate of flying hours signed by an officer of the RAF Ferry Command showing his last flight with them to have been a June 12th to June 16th ferry of a Hudson aircraft, from Montreal to Newfoundland and thence to the United Kingdom. Total flying time for this trip was, 5hrs 40mins from Montreal to Newfoundland annd 12 hrs 50 mins from there to the United Kingdom. While the certificate does not list the aircraft serial number, the flight durations and locations match up with the times shown in Sgt Dzinkowski's flight log shown below though the flights appear to start on the 9th of June in the log book.

Ernest Leak passed away at the young age of 37 and his native Tacoma newspaper carried the following obituary for him:

DEATH COMES TO FLIER AFTER LONG SERVICE

Earnest Lloyd Leak, 37, former Tacoma and Puyallup man, whose service as a pilot in the naval air reserve, as a commercial mail and passenger pilot, captain in the RAF ferrying command and lieutenant in the air transport service has mounted up to many years, died April 13 at Los Angeles. About a year ago he was released from the air transport service due to the illness which last week caused his death.

Puyallup was his birth place. A graduate of Lincoln high school in Tacoma where he was a letterman on the wrestling team, Leak entered the University of Washington. Alpha Sigma Phi was his fraternity. During his senior year he took his navy preflight training afterwards being sent to Sand Point naval air station in Seattle, where later he received his commission as ensign. At North Island, San Diego, and at sea on the aircraft carrier Lexington, Leak served two years, then entered the commercial field. He shared in the pioneering of airmail and passenger plane service. Leak was a charter member of the Air Line Pilots association.

A year and a half before the United States entered the war Leak flew bomber from Montreal to England. Also he flew Catalina flying boats between Bermuda and England, holding the rank of captain in the RAF ferrying command. While in Bermuda, he contracted malaria and dengue fever, which recurred frequently. Leak returned to the west coast upon United States entry into the war, re-entering the navy to serve as a lieutenant in the air transport service until his retirement about a year ago.

Surviving are his wife, Mildred; son, David; parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Leak, of Leak’s Place on the Seattle-Tacoma highway, and a sister, Gladys Swanberg, of Seattle. Private funeral services will be held Thursday or Friday afternoon at the Hill Funeral home in Puyallup; entombment in Woodlawn abbey mausoleum.

The Tacoma News Tribune, April 1945

The douments found by his grand daughter show that during 1943 Ernest was flying with the Us Navy as a transport pilot on routes in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. This may account for the hand written inscription on the back of the postcard, Yakima was an air base in Washington state that he may have been passing through or had a beacon to be homed in on. His earlier service record from RAF Ferry Command show at least four Catalina deliveries to the UK during 1941 and 1942. At least one of these would have positioned him in the UK for the shipping manifest in March 1942. It is noted that his early check pilot may have been the famed Ferry pilot Dana L Gentry who was one of the pilots on the first ever Ferry mission in November 1940.

Ernest's son David himself became a pilot and flew with the US Navy.


The second recorded occupant of the aircraft remains to be confirmed, having the surname Ryan. The same routes of investigation that were follwed for Ernest Leak may discover who Mr Ryan was. It is thought that he was a second pilot, however, a crew of four was not common on Hudson's which came down in Ireland. Indeed of the six Ferry Command Hudsons, only EW904 carried four men. The story of FH376 is told above, that of FH233 at this link, AM864 is described here, the loss of AE577 is told here and some details of FH263 are told on this page.

The 'Mr Drinkonski' turned out to be Sergeant "Karl Edward DZINKOWSKI" R101827. A 22 year old Canadian Radio Operator/Air Gunner from Winnipeg. After his training and graduation from 2 Bombing and Gunnery School his first posting was to Ferry Command and 31 Operational Training Unit. The delivery flight with Hudson EW904 was his first ferry flight. His return to America and Canada was on board the SS Vaalaren arriving in New York in July. Shortly after this Karl was seriously injured in an aircraft crash that earned him a British Empire Medal for bravery. The citation for his award was published in the London Gazette, Issue 35765, 30th October 1942. This and his service career are recorded on the Canadian Awards Website.


It is this event, the crash of a Ventura bomber that explains the burnt edges of Karl's flying log book shown below.

The above composite image from Karl's daughter shows the details of the flight, it having taken them thirteen hours to fly from Gander in Newfoundland to Donegal. Their subsquent flight from Donegal took them to prestwick in Scotand, their original destination. Karl recovered from his injuries and returned to flying with Ferry Command and its later replacement, 45 Group, Transport Command. He was promoted to Officer rank in 1944. Karl became a lawyer after the war and passed away in 1996.
The photo at left shows Karl Dzinkowski on a ship with other air force members. On the shipping record for July 1942 on the SS Vaaleren karl sailed with a group of 11 other airmen and there are eleven airmen in this group of thirteen men. The names of the 11 airmen on that shipping list are:
P/O Sammy Birch
P/O Murray M Young
Sgt. Arthur D Gavel
Obs Ernest Biss
Sgt Harold Bancroft
P/O Allan G McRae
P/O Warren V Miller
P/O Alfred H Waters
Sgt William E Bristow
Sgt Frank Bishop
Sgt Karl E Dzinkowski
Also with the group was a 50 year old marine surveyor named William H Dilworth. Of the men on that list, A D Gavel of the RCAF would be killed in an aircraft accident in 1944, detailed on this page with a photo. His photo on that page is at rank of Sergeant, whereas he ought to be an officer in the Dzinkowski photo.

The navigator on the aircraft was Pilot officer Peter Cowieson, 123885 of the RAF Volunteer Reserve. Born in Scotland in 1916, this flight on EW904 was the only Ferry Flight recorded on his Ferry Command assingment card. It is beleived that he married in 1942 to Jean MacKenzie Fortune in Scotland. It is most likely that he transferred to a combat unit. He remained in the RAF throughout the war and his promotion to Flight Lieutenant was published in 1947. He passed away in Huntingdon in early 1995 and his wife Jean just two years later. Contact has been made with his family and it is hoped to expand on his story in due course.


Seeking Photo.

The aircraft itself, a Lockheed Hudson Mark VI, went on to serve with 320 (Dutch) Squadron of the RAF and then to 279 Squadron in early 1943.  Local business man Brendan Rohan was the driving force in 2014 behind an effort to fully research and document the incident.  He self published a book in 2016 entitled:

In 2017 he was able to find, from the local community, the following two photos showing EW904 in all its splendor on the beach at Dunfanghy.ew904

EW904

Brendan was able to get these from Mrs Terry McGlade, (daughter of Mr Dermot Walsh who who entertained and accommodated the crew of the aircraft on 16 June 1942).

On the 16th June 2014, the local community in Dunfanaghy welcomed back to their village representatives of the British, Canadian and American Armed forces along with the Irish Defense Forces to hold a memorial to remember the members of the crew of Hudson EW904 and their lucky escape. They were joined by the daughter of Karl Dzinkowski who was guest of honour, unveiled a beautiful new memorial to the crew and their exploits. It is a timely reminder that not all the wartime landings were tragic occasions. The events were broadcast on the RTE national News and this is presented below from;bmkfkhkozmxdh;ddkomjtl,mgg

Compiled by Dennis Burke, 2013, Dublin and Sligo. If you have information on any of the people listed above, please do contact me at dp_burke@yahoo.com