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Lockheed Hudson, FH263, Bellmullet, Co. Mayo, 1942

The 15th of April, 1942, seen another of the many RAF Ferry Command aircraft forced to make an emergency landing on the shores of Ireland.

At about 09:30 hrs on that morning an aircraft was observed to have made a landing on the shore of Elly Bay, four miles north of the Irish Coastwatching Service Look Out Post (LOP) at Blacksod and 8 miles south of the town of Belmullet. The aircraft was reported to be a Hudson bomber with the serial number "F 4 263". The Hudson would be familiar to the Irish military as one such machine was in service with the Irish Air Corps having crash landed in Sligo the previous year. That particular aircraft was bought from the UK government and returned to flying condition.
The crew of the aircraft now stranded by Elly Bay, informed those members of the Irish military that went to their aid that they had left Montreal at 19:30 hrs the previous evening. At about 01:20 hrs GMT the starboard engine seized up. They we unable to obtain radio contact with the UK but were able to radio back to Canada the situation. They carried on until making landfall with Ireland and made a wheel up landing in a field. The Irish Air Corps officers who attended the scene described the aircraft and the damage to it. The were able to record its correct serial number, FH263, upon further investigation along with the engine serial numbers. They described its markings as standard British, which one can take to be upper surfaces painted with brown and Green camouflage. They were able to read the US Army Air Forces serial number of 41-37064 off the fuselage also and reported that the titles 'US ARMY' were painted on the bottom of the wings.
The aircraft had skidded 250 yards and gone through a fence with concrete posts caused damage to the wing flaps. The propellers were damaged and the fuselage was 'crushed'.

The crew of three gave their names to the Irish authorities as:

Pilot - C B Killops, Canadian, from Edmonton, Alberta

Navigator - A Lodge, British, from the The View, Alwoodly St, Leeds

Wireless Operator - G M Morrish, Canadian, from Regina, Sask.

The mens names were corrected with the aid of Canadian Air Force researcher, Hugh Halliday who confirmed that the two Canadians were in fact:

Sgt Clifford Burns KILLIPS R/76953 and Sgt George Marshall MORRISH R/85394

The third crew member, 'A Lodge' took a little more research but thanks to having given his address to the Army, it was possible for the library in Leeds to find that a Muriel Lodge was registered at that address in 1945, along with a Herbert and Mary Hardy. The 1939 register showed Muriel Hardy resident there with the same two names. The marriage indexes for 1940 show a marriage of a Muriel Hardy to a Eric O Lodge in Leeds. This name of Eric O Lodge led us to the following airman who was commissioned as an Officer in the RAF in 1943:
Sgt Eric Outram LODGE 1288028

In the Irish Army reports, almost no mention is made of the dealings with the three airmen after the landing. It is mentioned that they were bought to the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar but little else beyond that. It would be expected that they were brought to a border post late on the 15th April or perhaps given a change to rest and delivered the next day. All three airmen were subsequently promoted to Officer rank and all survived the war. From the Directorate of History and Heritage in Canada it was possible to determine that all three had returned to North America in August 1942 aboard the Queen Mary, then traveled back to Canada and formed the Ferry crew on Catalina FP191 to the UK. There after their wartime career brought them elsewhere.

The image below was provided by L. Burke in 2017 and he explained the provenence of the image as follows:
"Attached is a photograph of a plane that crash landed at Elly Bay, Binghamton, Blacksod I believe it is a Lockheed Hudson that crash landed on April 15, 1942. The photo was taken by my late uncle Sean Burke. He told me that sightseers were kept away by the army. He managed to talk his way into a nearby house and took the photo through a window while keeping the camera hidden"

Hudson FH263

It has not been possible thus far to learn any more about Sgt's Lodge and Morrish. Eric Lodge passed away in 1977 aged 62.

George Morrish appears to have passed away in Penticton in November 1975, aged 57.  He was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1918, the son of Agnes and Marshall Morrish.  The family moved to America in 1926, destined to Portland, Oregon.

Happily however, it was possible to make contact with the last survivor of FH263, Clifford Killips in 2008. Clifford, the pilot of this aircraft, was able to provide a wealth of information about the crew on this aircraft. He sent on this photo of the crew.

Clifford Killips gave this information about his wartime service: The following are more details of the ferry flight which ended in Ireland as well as a short history of the crew as I recall.
We the crew actually left Montreal for Gander Newfoundland where we reemained for a few days waiting for favourable weather for the crossing. We left in the evening for the all night flight to Prestwich Scotland. About 3 hours into the flight and at 25000 feet we had an engine stop account carburetor ice. As we lost altitude due to the failed engine I recalled a more experienced airline pilot telling me that back firing the engine will sometimes clear the ice. George radioed the RAF to advise of our problems and their reply was - Good Luck. At approximatly 12000 feet the remaining engine seized with a broken oil line. At this point the navigator asked if he should set a course for the nearest land but I remember saying "don't bother we've lost the other engine" As a last chance I decided to try the backfire solution on the first engine by closing the throttle and then reopening it with ignition on. The engine backfired and started to run. We were now down to 7000 feet and I managed to stop the descent at 3000. We set couse for the nearest point of land in Ireland. When morning came we decided to descend to locate the water and look for land as our fuel supply was at a minimum and at 50 feet under a fog bank we spotted a large island rock, circled it to find a sheltered spot for ditching. We then saw more land and went in and landed in farmer's field out of gas.

We were dead tired and got out and rested on the ground until military members took us to the hotel to sleep for awhile.We were well cared for by the army who entertained us on the roof garden pub and the Hotel dining room. After three days WE were contacted and told to go down to the front entrance where a driver was waiting . I asked where we were going and he said he would tell us later. We were driven to the border of north Ireland he advised that he was RAF and taking us to Belfast for interview and travel to Bournemouth in England awaiting orders. On a leave later in London I met a pilot from Belfast who mentioned that the Hudson Bomber he was flying now had a funny history - having arrived at the squadron by lorry. I guess we finally arrived.

From Bournemouth we were sent to train on Catalina flying boats in Lough Earne in N.Ireland . After training we were sent by ship to New York and train to Montreal where new Catalinas were waiting to be flown to the U.K. This trip was long but uneventful back to Lough Eirne. Our crew was directed to fly this aircraft to Beaumairas in Northern Wales, leave it there and train to Pembroke Dock, S.Wales. where the squadron was to be equipped with Short Sunderland flying boats and operate out of there. I was despatched on temporary duty win a Catalina to operate out of Gibralter to cover the departure of the French Fleet if they left harbour. They didn't and the Germans took control. Later we were sent out into the Atlantic to cover the American landing in North Africa where the American merchant ship shot down one of our aircraft by mistake. After returnig to our Squadron in Wales I was ordered to a O.T.U in Scotland to train new crews on Catalinas. I asked the commander if he could transfer me to a squadron somewhere and he advised that pilot had been killed practicing night landings and they needed a pilot for this crew in Lough Erne Ireland I accepted this offer, finished their training and left for 265 Squadron based in Madagascar off East Africa operating through Indian ocean and over most of Africa. After about 2 years I was flown back to the U.K and finally by ship to Canada where I was discharged.

After the war I joined Air Canada where I was based in Toronto and flew for 1946 to 1984 then retired. After retirement I became an investment broker and trust company executive and retired again and live in Florida.

George Morrish, last I heard was living in Penticton, British Columbia as a government employee. I never had contact with Eric Lodge after we were separated to different squadrons.

The aftermath of this particular incident provides a little humour in an otherwise dark subject. Hudson FH263 was unable to make its way out of Ireland under its own power and the Irish Air Corps did not undertake the salvage of the wreck. To the rescue came an RAF party from Northern Ireland under a Fl/Lt Forde and a Sqn/Ldr Kemp from RAF Sydenham.

The story of the salvage operation of FH263 is told in a wonderful fashion by an Irish Army Officer who accompanied the RAF party over the six days from April 25th to 30th. The officers dislike for the actions of the RAF officers is very apparent in reading report. To sumarise his multipage report, F/Lt Forde arrived on the 24th April with the main party, S/Ldr Kemp later arrived along with F/Lt Forde's wife. ON the Sunday, 26th of April they attended mass except S/ldr Kemp who "not to enthuiastic about religion in any form". On the monday the convoy left Elly Bay and stopped for the night at Beltra in Sligo. The unweildy vehicles made transporting the disasembled parts of FH263 extremely difficult. The convoy stayed the night at Hazelwood House in Dromohair, Sligo. Procedings were held up on the morning of the 29th when F/Lt Forde and his wife "indulged in an orgy of shopping" thus delaying departure of the convoy. The vehicles finally reached the border at Garrison at 17:10 on the 30th of April.

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