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Lockheed R3O-2, BuNo 02947; Rehins, County Mayo 1945

On July 29th, 1945 an aircraft made an abrupt landing in a field near Rehins just south of Ballina in County Mayo in the west of Ireland. The war was but months over in Europe and Ireland had seen its fair share of crashes as can be seen on this site. The kind help of a number of researchers and viewing of the files at the Irish Military Archives however, have allowed some what of a picture to be built up.

Lockheed 1287-4 The photo at left was scanned from the book 'Landfall Ireland' by D MacCarron. In this book the photo is incorrectly titled as a Lockheed Ventura from another incident. The photo in that book was credited to Mrs Ursula Teague who kindly gave permission for it use here. The two bladed propellers on the aircraft in the photo are a give away that this is a lighter aircraft than the Ventura bomber.

Research found details of the aircraft's July 29th 1945 flight from the local Ballina Herald newspaper. This local newspaper told that the Lockheed was en route from Collinstown to Lough Erne when it force-landed in a field at the rear of Mr Frank Trimble's farmhouse at Rehins, 1.5 miles south of Ballina, County Mayo, and hit a wall, damaging the undercarriage. On board were "Flt/Lt Charles Dold", from New York, "Flt/Sgt Hale", from Texas, and two un-named civilians, an Englishman and a Norwegian. No one was hurt. The aircraft had run short of fuel and was off course. To further report from the article, it went on to make a landing in a field which the reporter told was the only suitable field in the area. The only damage caused to the aircraft was reported to be "an engine cowl, a wheel and one arm of the retractable undercarriage". The article goes to dramatically describe how "Having over run a hill, the plane was rolling fast towards" an outhouse adjoining Mr. Trimbles house when "the pilot in an endeavor to 'avoid what would have been a disastrous crash, swung the machine around almost at a right angle". The article continues: "One wheel then hit the top of the wall a glancing blow and the aircraft came to a rest astride the wall. Word was immediately sent to the military in Castlebar and within a short time a number of Army men arrived to guard the machine. In its sombre green and brown camouflage paint, the plane was quickly surrounded by a large crowd of sightseers".

The Irish Press and Irish Independant, on the Monday, July 30th, published the following short article:
An American Lockheed twin-engined transport plane which left Collinstown aerodrome yesterday for Lough Erne made a forced landing at Rehins, 1 1/2 miles south of Ballina, yesterday evening. It carried, in addition to the American pilot and sergeant, two English civilians. The undercarriage of the plane suffered damage when it struck a wall 30 yards behind the farmhouse of Mr. Frank Trimble. None of the occupants suffered any injury.

Ballina Map

In contacting Mr. Trimble's son Wesley in 2008, he confirmed that no items or memories of the crash were retained by the family. Franks son was born after the event and he records that his parents never mentioned the crash much in the ensuing years. He does recall that they said that they provided food to the soldiers that were stationed at the aircraft. The site of the crash is now covered by a cattle shed but the field that they landed in was a large field and as such would have seemed a good choice for landing in. A shorter news story in the July 31st, Cork Examiner lists those on board as, "Wing Commander T. S. Cotton (London), First A/C Charles C Dodd (American), Sgt. Hale (Texas) and Mr. Janessen (Norwegian, London)."

During a visit to the Irish Military Archives in 2007 it was possible to view the Irish Military's files on this crash, G2/X/1426 & ACF-S-260. The reports contain running log entries concerning the outcome of the aircraft incident. The file is handwritten but the military authorities recorded the people on board as follows:

1st Lt. Charles C Dold
Sgt. Hale
Mr. Cotton
Mr. Jonasses

The men stayed in a Guest house in Ballina on the night of the crash. Recollections printed in the Western People in late 2011, reported that this was the former Hurst Hotel in the town.  An entry on the 30th July by the Western Command G2 officer notes that the aircraft carried no markings except for the "American star". No aircraft serial number or markings were recorded in the Irish Military files. On the 31st July permission was granted and customs permits arranged to allow the crew to have parts for the aircraft sent over the border in order that the Lockheed be repaired on site and flown out. It was noted that both the 'Army' men on board were in uniform, referring presumably to Dold and Hale.

The August 1st entries then mention that all but Sgt. Hale had left the area on the previous day and crossed into Northern Ireland and the replacement parts had not arrived. By the 2nd of August, it had been decided that the aircraft was to be salvaged and a party was to be escorted from the border to the aircraft to carry out this work. The report mentions at this point that Sgt. Hale, after four days, "remains behind on rations with the 1st Btn". Troops from the Irish Army 1st Battalion having provided the guard for the aircraft.
The log for August 5th records that a call had been received by Western Command that the aircraft was prepared for transfer across the border in two low loader loads. One was scheduled to pass over at 17:00 on that day while another, larger load would pass through Monaghan the day after.

The recovery work was completed by Irish personnel assisted by some from the Royal Air Force's 226 Maintenance Unit based at Mallusk.  In that units Operations Record Book (ORB), there are two mentions of the aircraft, namely:
August 21st:  Congratulatory message received from H.Q. R.A.F. N.I. regarding salvage of Lockhead 02947 at Ballina, Co. Mayo.
In the monthly summary, it is the sole American aircraft salvaged, under the following entry:  American aircraft salvaged X for X-ray Lockhead 12A.

In 2003, a query arose on the Air Britain Information Exchange AB-IX forum concerning a British Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) contract to Short and Harland to cover the repair of a "US Navy R30-2947". John Gregory identified the aircraft as 02947 and Vic Smith was able to supply further information confirming the repair.

The subject aircraft, Lockheed 12A, construction number 1287 was delivered in August 1941 and assigned the US civilian registration NC33615. The original log books are not known to exist but sources record that the aircraft was ordered by Sky Kraft (or Skycraft) Corporation of Mobile, Alabama. It is suggested that the aircraft was bought by the famous Astor family or by the Guggenheim Foundation but this is unconfirmed. With the subsequent entry of the US into the war, the aircraft, like many others, was impressed for military use and passed on to the US Navy command where it gained the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics serial Number 02947. It seems to have flown for some months in the United States, based at NAS Quonset Point, before being sent to England. The archives of the Commander United States Naval Forces in Europe (COMNAVEU) in April 1942 contain the following statement, which may relate to 02947: A letter of April 18, 1942, from Commander United States Naval Forces in Europe to U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, stated that, beginning April 23, 1942, the Lockheed aircraft attached to the Embassy Air Unit at Hendon will maintain frequent flights between London, Belfast and Londonderry. for the purposes of transporting Army and Navy passengers, mail and light freight.

In US Navy service the aircraft, constructors number (c/n) 1287, was designated as Lockheed R3O-2. At around this time seven new production Lockheed 12A's were purchased and designated Lockheed JO. Other Lockheed 12A's in US Army Air Force service were designated as C-40 and later UC-40. George Kernahan was able to provide details from the aircraft's navy history card:

R3O-2 BuNo 02947
Accepted: 23 August 1941
August 1941 to November 1943 NAS Quonset Point
November 1943 to September 1944 Naval Attache London
Stricken: 30 September 1944

The war diary of Fleet Air Wing 7 records three small administrative records for the aircraft, all from 1944:
May 31, 1944: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe transferred one (1) JRF, one (1) R3O and two (2) Oxford aircraft to headquarters Squadron Seven for administration and directed that a service unit be established at the Royal Air Force Station Harrowbeer to maintain these aircraft.
July 4th, 1944 R3O aircraft bureau number 02947 was detached from Headquarters Squadron SEVEN by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe.
December 28th, 1944 R3O-2 aircraft bureau number 02947 was assigned to Headquarters Squadron SEVEN after having been received from Naval Attache's Office in London.

In its last service with the Naval Attache it served with the HQ Squadron (HEDRON) of Fleet Air Wing 7 based at Dunkeswell in Devon. An old website dedicated to Dunkeswell airbase used to list the aircraft present thus:

Type Lockheed 12A Bu No/Serial Assigned or arrival Departure, Strike etc Notes
R-30 Make 02947 31-5-44 7-45 Detached 4-7-44 Reassigned 28-12-44

(The site is no longer in operation however)

The US Navy online archive of "Location of U.S. Naval Aircraft" records, does show the solitary R30-2 as assigned to HEDRON FAW-7 in the report dated 28 July 1945, but also, strangely, the following report dated 4 Aug 1945.  It does not appear in the final report presented online dated September 7th but by then the base at Dunkeswell had been vacated.

The US Navy Utility Squadron was based at RAF Hendon north of London. The then Commanding Officer of both the Dunkeswell and Hendon squadrons, Lt/Cdr. Clair W. Waterbury was contacted by John Gregory and was able to give details of the aircraft's service with his squadron. It was kept in civil configuration and, at war's end, used very much as an executive transport, carrying military and civil dignitaries around the recently liberated Europe. John was able to trace flights it had made far and wide to Paris, Naples and Copenhagen, sometimes with London Embassy staff.

Lockheed 10 G-AGTL

Some discussion of the names of those recorded as being on board the aircraft outside Ballina is required as the various sources above, do not go into great detail.

The Cork Examiner printed that it was one "Wing Commander T. S. Cotten", this may well have been the next owner of the aircraft, Frederick Sydney Cotton. 

F Sidney
          CottonHe held the rank of Wing Commander during the war with the RAF.  If this is the case, Mr. Cotton was quite a famous personality during the war.  A short biography of him is presented on this page from the A.E.G. group, and contains the following interesting paragraph about his post war activities.

"Knowing that the RAF still had a number of Lockheeds he persuaded an American with dollars to buy them all and sell them on.  Both Sidney and his co-dealer made money from the deal and each kept a Lockheed 12 and a stack of spares.  Now with Caprice, which he named his own plane, he could widen his sphere of activity."

The second passenger, Mr. Jonasses or Janessen was said to be from Norway by  Nothing firm is known about this person at this time.  Norwegian historians have advised that neither spelling are common Norwegian surnames.  The names published by the Cork Examiner in the case of Dold and Cotton have proved to be most accurate, so it is thought Janessen will be the surname.

Charles C DoldThe pilot of the aircraft was revealed after some searching as being Charles C. Dold from Erie County, New York.  He  enlisted with the US Army in 1942 in Ohio.

He wrote to me in 2008 to say that he was at that time assigned to the Mission for Economic Affairs in London, the successor body to the Harriman Mission. That US government body was linked to the US Embassy in London. Mr. Dold, who went on to study business said how he and Sgt. Hale stayed over night in a Dublin hotel. He did not however remember much of his passengers or of the purpose of the flight.  His letter read:

The reason I crashed in Balina was that I ran out of gas - a stupid thing to do. I did not know how to buy gas in Dublin.

I believe the pictures you sent were probably of my plane.

I presume the passenger Mr Cotton may have been the Australian but I really don't know.

As I remember Mr. Jonasses was the Norwegian but I am not sure of the name.

Sargeant Hale and I stayed the night before the crash in some hotel in Dublin.

I  don't remember the mission of that flight. Nor was the aircraft assigned to the U.S. Embassy. At that time I was. My role at the economic Mission was as pilot. I stayed there for another year before being sent back to the states and discharged.

The photo below shows Charles C Dold with his wartime bomber crew from the 34th Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the US Army Air Forces. He flew the Boeing B-17 bomber on missions over Europe and is the second from the left, standing at the rear of the group. This photo came from the website of the late Gary Ferrell on the 34th Bomb Group Valor to Victory. The portrait image comes from his prewar Oberline University magazine.
Dold Crew

The names above are written on the reverse as:
Merk, "Me", Erick, Buck, Mathe,
HIGIE Robie, Lester, Toby

Charles Dold

Charles passed away on 9 December 2011 in Ramona, San Diego, California.

The military report and the paper articles say that the aircraft had flown from Hendon, London to Collinstown (Dublin Airport) on 28 July 1945, which was a Saturday. The passengers are described as being 'guests of Senator Quirke over the weekend". There was a Senator Bill Quirke in the Irish Senate at that time. He hailed from Fethard in Tipperary.  His family were of the opinion that while his wife and children may have been holidaying in Cong, Co. Mayo, it is possible that Senator Quirke himself would have been in Dublin .

Lockheed 02947 did not end its days dismantled in a Mayo field. Peter J Marson' s book "The Lockheed Twins" gives the following history of c/n 1287, BuNo 02947:

Details of a contract to Short and Harland to cover the repair of a "US Navy R30-2947" was posted on the Air Britain Information Exchange Forum in 2003. John Gregory identified the aircraft as 02947 and Vic Smith was able to supply further information confirming the repair. However, the contract was dated after the aircraft was registered to Sidney Cotton on 19th September, 1945.

Subsequently (from the  book, Lockheed Twins), the aircraft was sold on to K. McAlpine in May 1957 and used by Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd. Sold in France in Jan 1961, it became F-BJJY on 15 March 1963 with 'Escadrille Mercure'. Despite a series of landing accidents, it remained with them until its C. of A. expired on 08 June 1981. It was then sold to Paul Boucher & Phillippe Denis and delivered April 1982 to La Mole. Its C. of A. expired July 1989. the registration was cancelled 29 August 1996 and it was withdrawn from use. It was sold to Jean-Luc Langeard and re-registered F-AZLL in which marks it appeared at the Paris Air Show in 2003 looking better than new! The aircraft now sports three bladed propellers.

Lockheed 1287-4 Lockheed 1287-5

Many photos of the aircraft are available on, and on the internet in general, just search for F-AZLL. The Lockheed 12A pilot reports are available on

In 2018, the aircraft was repainted to resemble Lockheed 10, registration NR16020 as flown by Amelia Earhart on her doomed round the world flight attempt in 1937.   Photos from May 2023 can be seen here.

And so a little more information is added to the history of Irish Wartime crashes. The above story was put together from work carried out by Antoin Daltun, John Gregory, George Kernahan and Vic Smith with input's from various books and from Clair Waterbury, a wartime pilot of the subject aircraft. Many thanks must go to the four gentlemen for passing the information to myself and allowing its use. They are all members and users of the AB-IX Air Britain Information Exchange. Thanks also go to the Irish Military Archives for the use of their files.

Other links of interest: