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Shorts Sunderland, Bluestack Mountains, January, 1944

On the morning of February 1st, 1944, Mrs Catherine McDermott, a widow and her five young children were surprised to find two strangers at their house door in rural Croleck (Crolack / Cruach Leac) townland seeking assistance.  It would transpire that they were two survivors of a tragic aircraft crash that had occured on the mountain top behind them the night before.

This page tells the story of the tragic crash of a Royal Air Force Sunderland Flying boat that crashed in County Donegal's Blue Stack mountains in January 1944.  It replaces a wonderful website created by Dyan Tucker, New Zealand, cousin of Maurice V Wareing who sadly died that night.  Dyan was the driving force behind the contacting of great number of the crew's relations and the gathering of photos of the men.   On her original website she had included the following acknowledgement:

I would like to thank all those involved who have helped piece together what has been a mystery to me for many years, particularly Dennis Burke for his research and photos and Joe O'Loughlin for his support and encouragement in my search, also members of the RAF Command Message Board who have been so helpful and to George Smith for his help also. To Paul Clarke from UTV who has helped keep the memory alive along with the people of the Blue Stack Mountains, the Ramblers and the good folk of Donegal. With special thanks to Gary Pentland and all his helpers for placing the Plaque in the Rock. Also to the family members who have shared their stories of their loved ones with us all and given us all extra information and insight about that awful night.
May God bless and keep you all.
Dyan Tucker - cousin of F/O M V Wareing.

The story of the crash of Sunderland DW110 was told in the 1990's by local retired Garda, Liam Briody in a book, The World War II Aeroplane Crash in the Blue Stack Mountains.
I have taken the liberty of linking a copy of this wonderful resource on the webpage as it contains brilliant memories recorded of witnesses to the crash who are now long since passed away.

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The map below has pointers placed at the crash site, McDermotts house, the Garda Station, Straboy and Glenties, all places mentioned in Liam's book above.

Many of those mentioned in the book above have passed away since it was written.

Joe McDermott, the teenager who cycled with Sgt Gowans to the Garda station passed away in 2010.

Gary Pentland passed away in 2013.

Liam Briody passed away in March of 2021 in Glenties, Donegal.

The aircraft crash site presented the survivors the unenviable task of having to trek down the mountain in the photo below to seek help.  IN the center of the photo is Croaghanard Lough, with the McDermott residence located at the small, dark patch of trees just off the right center of the image, just beyond the first plantation of trees.  The view below is looking north east from the crash site.

DW110 Crash
          site


This is a quote from John Quinn's 1999 book "Down in a Free State" which describes the events as described in the Irish Armies report on the incident.
" Six Mile Climb in Sleet
The route taken by the soldiers was reported to be approximately 6 miles of a climb on foot in foul weather of sleet.  It was early afternoon before the 15 man party, which included stretcher bearers and a Medical Officer arrived at the crash scene.  They found the aircraft had been broken up, not only by the impact of the crash but also by a depth charge, which had exploded.  The plane was still on fire and unexploded bombs and depth charges lay near the impact.
The survivors were dragged from the wreckage. The bodies of the two pilots, Flight Lieutenant Armstrong and Flight Lieutenant Gillingham, were still in the cockpit and these along with the other five fatalities were removed from the wreckage.  The injured men were taken by ambulance later that afternoon of the 1st February and handed over at Belleck at 18.00 hours to Wing Commander Costello RAF.
Four of the seven dead were taken down with the three badly injured survivors; leaving three more to be removed the following day.  On that night in the most awful weather conditions, two local men from the Croagh Valley, above which the aircraft crashed Jimmy Pete McLoone and Paraic Owen McLoone spent the night on the mountain beside the wreck of the ill fated aircraft "waking" the dead who still remained there.  They prayed, recited the rosary, smoked their pipes and chatted till daybreak, thereby ensuring, as is the custom in the area, that the dead would not be left alone.  These bodies were brought down the following morning 2nd February 1944.  The seven bodies were laid out at the McDermott cottage before being removed by ambulance, firstly to Finner Camp, were the formality of registering the death within the state took place and then to Belleck for the hand over ceremony.  In the usual manner, a military colour party under Commandant Morris passed the bodies to the RAF under Flight Lieutenant Quail.
Meanwhile on Mullaghnadress a number of depth charges and bombs were destroyed by Captain Gradie of the Ordnance Corp, based at Athlone.  One local man, one of many being kept back by Military guard, watched as the tail of the aircraft, which stood erect, was also blown up by a small charge.  The aircraft armament was dismantled and the Brownings handed over to Commandant Morris by Captain Teague of the Air Corp and later returned to the RAF by Captain Moore.
About ten nights after the crash, a group of card players returning home saw flares shooting up from the direction of the crash site.  Upon investigation they found a couple of young lads firing Verey lights with a substitute they had improvised in place of the normal pistol. The young buckos were quickly sent packing from the site."

A copy of a signal sent by 228 Squadron to various RAF and Air Ministry offices who dealt with casualties at 1346 hours on the 2nd of February gave next of kin details of every member of the crew as well as the survivors conditions and locations.    F/O Trull, W/O Richardson, Sgt Hobbs were all described as seriously injured and had been admitted to the US Armies 28th Station Hospital on the grounds of Necarne Castle near Irvinestown.  F/Sgt Gowens and Sgt Gilchrist are described as suffering from shock and they had been sent to the nearby RAF hospital in Necarne Castle itself.

At 10:45 on the morning of 31st January 1944, the twelve man crew of a Royal Air Force 228 Squadron Sunderland flying boat, serial number DW110, took off from the flying boat base at Pembroke Dock in the west of Wales.  The Squadron's Operational Record book recorded the flight as follows:
Anti-sub. special patrol, at 1815 a/c. acknowledged signal from Group diverting to Castle Archdale. At 2050 gave “ETA 2330”. Nothing further heard, a/c failed to arrive at Castle Archdale.

After some ten hours flying, the crew expected to be on the water at Castle Archdale on Lough Erne for the night.  Another aircraft from the Squadron had left Pembroke about 8 hours prior, and it's flight record provided the weather encountered and which were said to be same as those experienced by DW110:  Weather, cloudy, slight rain later, cloud 10/10 1000" falling 300'.  Vis.5-10 miles deteriorating 1-2 miles, wind DW, 10mph

The Royal Air Force in the immdiate aftermath of the crash put in place an investigation into the events.  This was not the kind of forensic, detailed investigation that one associates with a plane crash in the 2020's.  The survivors were interveiwed, and what records could be recovered from the wreckage were reviewed, along with the opeartional and maintenance records available at the aircraft's base at Pembroke Dock Form 765 report contained the following appended narrative report describing the crash:

The crash occurred on a very steep slope 200 feet below the top of a 2219 feet summit, the approximate position being lat. 54 45 15 North and long. 080430 West. The surface consisted mostly of granite and the aircraft was apparently on South Easterly course in level flight when it hit the mountain side bow on. It came to rest in little more than it's own length, the wings would appear to have carried on over the bow and the lower part of the hull. The subsequent explosion left very little worth salvaging.

The engine, propellors etc. were torn apart and scattered about the wreckage except upper part of the centre section which had carried forward with the wings. Some wireless equipment was found in the centre section and from what it can be gathered the fire had been kept from the centre section and the starboard wing on account of the strong wind prevailing, at the time.


The tail turret and the tail plane and fin had been damaged by fire but still held together. The guns of the turret were almost undamaged, the forward guns were seriously damaged, and probably the galley guns will be of no further use, these (the guns) together with the wireless equipment found in the centre section have been held by the Eire authorities for return eventually through normal channels.


The I.F.F. box, though damaged, was found clear of the fire area and this together with "GEE" set, which from external appearances, seemed to be in good condition, were taken back to R.A.F. Castle Archdale on the 1st February.


Various papers, including intelligence folder, navigation logs and navigation charts and W/T logs were found and brought back to Castle Archdale. They are considerably damaged by fire and water but most of the entries can be read.


Four D.C's were found, they were thrown clear or the fire area, and presumably the other D.C.'s exploded in the fire. Before leaving the scene of the crash these 4 D.C's were piled together with the remains of the ASV equipment and other pyrotechnics and all detonated.

As far as be ascertained the actual time of  the crash was between 2330 and 2340 hours on the 31st January 1944.  2 watches have been recovered unidentified and both these have stopped between 2330 and 2340 hours.

In the above text the following notes are provided:

 - I.F.F. refers to Identification Friend or Foe equipment
 - GEE refers to a radio navigation system used by the RAF during the second world war.
 - W/T refers to Wireless Telegraphy, in the context of the use of on board radio equipment for communications and navigation.

D.C. refers to Depth Charges

The crew this aircraft consisted of a core of men who had trained together at 4 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit sometime before being posted to 228 Squadron in the Autumn of 1943.  The first mission found with a majority of the DW110 crew was on 13 August 1943 but their captains name appears as early as mid July 1943 carrying out non operational tasks.

The back row consists of five sergeant aircrew. Cyril Greenwood, James Gilchrist, Frederick Copp, John Parsons and James Richardson.DW110 crew 4 C OTU

The men in the front row are all officers as evidenced by their lack of NCO shoulder stripes and the presence of sleeve cuff rank insignia stripes.  Their trade can be identified via the lapel badges of Pilot, observer and Air Gunner.

From left to right they are though to be:

1. A Pilot Officer (P/O) rank, Air Gunner.  Name unknown.
2. A Flying Officer (F/O) rank, Pilot.  This is thought to be M V Wareing. The 228 Sqn ORB refers to him as a P/O during August 1943 but thereafter as F/O.
3. A F/O rank, pilot.  The son of F/O Alfred Thomas HASELDINE, confirmed that his father is the officer pilot in the center of the front row.
4. A P/O rank, Observer, who likely is Frank Trull.
5. A P/O rank, Air Gunner, identity unknown.

The early missions in the first month were flown with two air gunner officers, P/O's A Gray and C Kelly and they are thought to be the two men sitting at the left and right outside positions.

F/Lt Howard Charles Sheffield ARMSTRONG DFC 42383

H C S
          ArmstrongHoward was born in 1919 in Tonbridge, Surrey, the son of Charles Sheffield Armstrong and Catherine Myfanwy Armstrong and he is buried in Dalston Road Cemetery, Carlisle, Cumberland.  It is not clear why he was interred there as he had grown up in the Chislehurst area.

Newspapers around the UK carried his name in December 1943 when he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the rescue described below, but also again in April when news of his death was reported.  The Times of April 10th, 1944 reported on his death:

Flight Lieutenant Howard Charles Sheffield Armstrong DFC killed in action, was born in 1919 in Tonbridge. His home was at Chislehurst, Kent. Educated at Repton School, he entered the RAF as a pupil in 1939 and was commissioned the same year. He received the DFC in December, 1943, in recognition of his fine operational record of a captain of aircraft with No. 228 Squadron. While on an anti-submarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay in the previous September he sighted two dinghies, containing survivors of an aircraft. He reported to his base, and, obtaining the necessary permission, landed successfully on the open sea and rescued 12 survivors. The occupants of the dinghies had tried to deter him from landing as there was a 30ft swell, but in spite of this he suceeded in taking off without incident. The whole operation was only made possible by his admirable coolness and skill.

His local newspaper, the Bromley and West Kent Mercury in similar articles describe him as the elder son of Mr and Mrs C S Armstrong, and that he had attended Carn Brae preparatory school, played for the Kent eleven and played for Bromley Cricket Club.

F/Lt Armstrong had seen much service prior to his final flight on DW110 in 1944.  In December 1940 he was posted to the newly formed G Flight of 119 Squadron, which had been formed to fly the three pre-war Shorts G Class flying boats, the Golden Fleece, Golden Hind and Golden Horn.  He served at that time with another officer, Thomas Allitt, who would be lost in similar circumstances in July 1943 when BOAC Sunderland G-AGES crashed on Mount Brandon, County Kerry.  His winter of 1940/1941 was spent on patrols in the Golden Fleece, S.26 X8274, and later on the other three also.  As the year progressed the flights ranged farther, with Howard flying as far as Gibraltar on transport missions with freight and passengers.  He was posted out of G Flight on a new posting to 413 (RCAF) Squadron.

He joined 413 Squadron on 6th September 1941 but is noted as posted to West Africa on the 27th of that same month.  He is next found listed as part of a crew of Lerwick L7265 from 4 (C) OTU on 31st December 1941 when they suffered a landing mishap at Invergorden, Scotland with the wing having suffered distortion when the aircraft hit the water too hard.    The then F/O Armstrong and the three airmen were injured but there were no fatalities.  The posting to west Africa must not have been a long one evidently.  His service from this point until his appearance in the diary of 228 Squadron in March 1943 is unknown.  he flew as second pilot to F/Lt G A Church that month before flying as a Captain in May.  It is June 1943 before Harry Holdsworth flies with him. During June 1943, his missions are flown with a G V Harris as co-pilot and this is discussed below in relation to the only known photos of Howard.

He received the DFC in December, 1943, in recognition of his fine operational record of a captain of aircraft with No. 228 Squadron. While on an anti-submarine patrol in the Bay of  Biscay on 6th September 1943 in Sunderland JM679, he sighted two dinghies, containing survivors of an aircraft. He reported to his base, and, obtaining the necessary permission, landed successfully on the open sea and rescued the 12 survivors. The occupants of the dinghies had tried to deter him from landing as there was a 30ft swell, but in spite of this he succeeded in taking off without incident. The whole operation was only made possible by his admirable coolness and skill.  The Squadron ORB also records the crew finding a third dinghy with more aircrew, and dropped them rations and markers.

This extract is taken from John Quinn's "Down in a Free State"

"The Skipper of the Sunderland DW110 was Howard Armstrong who had received his DFC for the rescue of a Canadian Air Crew in the Bay of Biscay on the 6th September 1943. The sea off the North Atlantic can be turbulent and as Jim Gilchrist, who was on Armstrong's crew that day stated "We landed in the trough of the huge rolling swell for which the Bay of  Biscay is renowned and managed to rescue all twelve young men, Our take off was breathtaking"

He paid tribute to Armstrong for skill and daring in an Epic rescue."


Another extract from the same book.

Don Wells from Canada one of the rescued that day tells about the rescue.

"A wing came up and we were afraid it was too tough to attempt a landing.  We tried to wave him off but the pilot found the right trough and dropped it like a real pro. We were all rather weak after three days of soaking in salt water and had to be helped into the aircraft.  I was given a cup of tea and place in the bomb bay with my back to the wall. The take-off was awesome, we were sure the aircraft would come apart but the pilot finally got it into the air and set course for home.

The flight was not entirely uneventful as we came a bit close to Brest (it was dark at that time) and the Anti-aircraft gunners had a go at us.  Not too long after we were landing at Pembroke Dock.  The aircraft was out of fuel and the tide was out as well.  After an interminable wait we were towed to the pier and managed to climb to the top of a lot of steps and walk a very long way to dry land."


The squadron ORB lists the crew on the day of the rescue as F/Lt. Armstrong, F/Lt Majendie, F/O Wareing, F/O Trull, F/O Kelly, F/S Richardson, Sgt Copp, Sgt Parsons, Sgt Greenwood, F/S Robey,W/O Holdsworth, Sgt Gilchrist.  Thus, eight of those on board were also on the final flight of DW110

In 1952, a newspaper memorial was published on 16 February:  ARMSTRONG, Howard C. S. Flt. Lt., D.F.C. - To the glorious memory on this his birthday.  per Ardua ad astra. - Mother, Father and John.

His brother, John Albert Sheffield Armstrong, died in September 2000 in Exeter but sadly his family records appear to have been lost.

The photo of F/Lt Armstrong comes from a photo printed in John Quinn's Down in a Free State.  It is credited as coming from Harry Holdsworth, who we found mentioned in Liam Briody's book and who hailed from Bangor in Northern Ireland.  The book only identifies F/Lt Armstrong (Back Row, second from left) and Harry (front row, first man at left).  The other nine men are not identified.  It is noted that there are three crew members with pilot wings, the man to the left of Howard Armstrong and the fourth man from the left at the front, a Sergeant pilot.  The man standing at the rear most right has the chest insignia of an Observer (navigator).  The uniform of the pilot next to Armstrong is darker than the others and indicates that he may have been Royal Australian Air Force.  Frustratingly, 228 Squadron's ORB does not identify Commonwealth airmen in the way many others do.  It was thought that this might be a photo of the crew of Sunderland XXXXX after the rescue of September 9, 1943 but on that occasion all the pilots were officers (F/Lt. Armstrong, F/Lt Majendie, F/O Wareing) and none were Australian.  By pure chance, it was possible to determine that the dark uniformed pilot in the photo is most likely Gifford Valmyn Harris AUS401505, who went onto captain his own crew in July 1943.  Similarly, the Sergeant Pilot in the front row, appears to be a Dutch man in the RAF, Antonius J Mussert.  One might reasonably time the photo as being in June 1943 based on this.

H C S
        Armstrong G V Harris 228 Sqn


F/O Maurice Vincent WAREING 129072
M V WareingMaurice was born in July 1916, the fifth son of Jane and Charles Wareing in Birmingham.   Maurice can be found residing with his parents and four of them at 192 Gravelly Hill in Birmingham in the 1939 register.  One brother, Gerard, died only a month later.

Vince as he was known to the family or Vic in the RAF was born in July of 1916, .   Prior to his enlisting he owned a Garage in Erdington with his brother Robert.  1939 he married Joyce Robertson and they had a daughter, Teresa, who was born in 1940.

He went to the USA for flight training at the US Naval Air Station, Grosse Ile, in Michigan in 1941 - went via ship to Canada then flew from Toronto. He was involved in the rescue of the downed crew for which  F/Lt Armstrong got his D.F.C.

Vince joined the RAF at the outbreak of War, According to the accident report he had done just over 530 hours flying time in Sunderlands but only 9 hours Night flying, which would perhaps account for the fact that Armstrong and Gillingham who had greater night time hours were in control of the aircraft at the time of the crash.

Vince is buried with his two brothers, Charles and Robert, at Erdington Abbey, Birmingham.

F/Lt Maurice Leonard GILLINGHAM 104369
M L
          GillinghamSon of Frederick Morris Gillingham and Florence Matilda Gillingham of Surbiton, Surrey.  He was known within the family as Peter.

His name can be found in the Squadron records of 38 Squadron between January 1942 and February 1943.  At that time, 38 Squadron were based in Middle East flying Vickers Wellington Bombers on anti shipping missions and later returning to bombing raids on Axis targets.

His posting into 28 Squadron is not clear, it is not recorded in the Summary of Events but his name appears on operational flights with with the crew of F/O J Quinn on the 19th and 21st of January before joining F/Lt Armstrong for missions on the 29th and the fatal mission of the 31st January.  A clue perhaps is in the casualty telegrams found in F/Sgt Green's RCAF service file where M L Gillingham is labeled as "Unit 4(C) OTU" suggesting that perhaps he was on temporary posting to the Squadron or that paper work had not followed up with him, such that on paper he was still on the strength of No 4 Coastal Operational Training Unit. 

He was buried at Irvinestown Church of Ireland Churchyard, his father attended the funeral and his mother died a year later.

One of his sisters, Joan, was the principal Mezzo-soprano with D'Oyley Carte Opera Company from 1946 to 1958  and made several recordings.  Prior to joining D'Oyley Carte she was with the WAAF Concert Party.  She died at the age of 42 of cancer in 1958.

Another interesting fact came to light during research into the crew - Maurice Gillingham's father was born Frederick Morris Guggenheim, he changed his name by Deed Poll in June 1920 to Gillingham. In the London Gazette it states that Frederick Morris Guggenheim was a Watch and clock importer.

Peter and his parents in 1941 and in shorts in the middle east.
M L
          Gillingham ML Gillingham
 


F/O Joseph George TRULL 128117
J G TrullHe was the son of Gnr Joseph Charles Trull Royal Garrison Artillery (killed in action in France 9th April 1918) and Bessie Trull of Uley, Gloucestshire.

He survived the crash of DW110 but was killed, later that year on 11 December 1944 when flying in Sunderland ML878.  The crew were diverted to land at Mount Batton again, due to weather being so bad at Pembroke Dock.  He was 27. According to reports J.B. Richardson attended his funeral along with other members of 228 Squadron.


Obituary

FLT LIEUT. J. G. TRULL, R.A.F., AT ULEY.

Much sympathy has been aroused at Uley and Dursley by the death of Flight-Lieut. J. G. Trull, R.A.F., 228 Squadron, son of Mrs. J. Trull, South Street, Uley, who was killed on operational duties. Flt-Lieut. Trull was educated at Dursley Secondary School, on leaving which he was employed in the drawing office of Messers. R. A. Lister and Co., Ltd. He joined the Home Guard on its inception and in 1941 he volunteered for the Royal Air Force. After preliminary training in this country he went to Canada and the United States, where he was awarded his commission. He was the possessor of National Certificates in both electrical and mechanical engineering. Flt.-Lieut. Trull had arranged to Marry Miss H. P. Akers early next year, and the banns of their marriage were called on the Sunday previous to his death. His father died in the service of his country in the last war and his brother, Pilot Officer Trull, is also serving in the RAF.

There was a large attendance at the funeral, which took place at St. Giles Church, Uley, conducted by the Rev. T. C. Deakin, the choir leading the singing and Hymns.


His crossing of the border into the United States is found in October 1941 on his way to attend training at Maxwell Field, Alabama. 

 He was returned home and is buried in St Giles Churchyard, Uley, Gloucestershire


W/O John Bruce RICHARDSON 523921
J B
          Richardson John Bruce "Tubby" Richardson was born in 1915, the son of Ernest Albert and Marie Ernestine Richardson, of Saltash, Cornwall and came from a family of 5. His father was involved with the Devonport Naval Dockyard. One of his brothers, Sergeant Christopher Arthur Richardson, 51 Squadron,  was killed in the war and is buried in Holland, other family members also served in the Forces as described below.

Photo taken after the crash in 1944 he was a F/O by then.

John Bruce Richardson was a Flight Engineer who completed 3 tours of Operations on Sunderland Flying Boats and then flew 310 sorties during the Berlin Airlift.  His log books covering the period 12 October 1936 to 19 May 1958 record over 6,752 flying hours.

Flt Richardson was a pre war RAF regular LAC Engineer, he took his first flight on the 12 October 1936 with 204 Squadron.  He qualified as an Air Gunner and at the outbreak of WW2 was flying with 204 Squadron operating Sunderland Flying Boats with his first  anti Submarine patrol taking place on the 8th September 1939.  His log books record anti submarine patrols, convoy escorts, flights to Gibraltar etc. During 1943 he re-mustered to a Flight Engineer and returned to operations with Coastal Command on Sunderlands.  John returned to operations on the 20th June 1944. His last war flight was on the 10th May 1945 when on patrol they spotted and escorted a U Boat.  Remaining with the RAF he converted to the Avro York and took part in 310 sorties during the Berlin Air lift, his logs show a regular cargo of potatoes and coal. Various operational postings followed and in early 1952 he joined the Armament and Guided Weapons Flight at Farnborough and took part in Guided Missile and NBC Tests.  His last flights were with 24 Squadron during 1958.  Much of the above biography is taken from an old Bosleys Auctioneers Catalogue when his Log books, medals and uniform were auctioned in 2007.

John was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.), the announcement appeared in the London Gazette on the 27th July 1945 while he was still serving with 228 Squadron.   That notification did not carry a citation but the UK National Archives reveal that it was awarded for valuable services in the air with the following recommendation citation:  This officer has had an exceptionally long and arduous flying career. After completing two tours and also after being involved in a serious crash, he volunteered for a third tour of duty. As a flight engineer his coolness and resolution have been of great value to his crew, particularly during moments of stress. Flying Officer Richardson has always set an outstanding example.

The Cornish Guardian newspaper printed a longer article on 2nd August 1945.

SALTASH AIRMAN WINS D.F.C.
FAMILY'S FINE RECORD
Among West Country recipients of recent awards is John Bruce Richardson, R.A.F., second son of Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Richardson. of Mounty Tavy, Home Park Road, Saltash, who has been awarded the D.F.C. The citation states: "This officer has had an exceptionally long and arduous flying career. After completing two tours and being involved in a serious crash, he volunteered for a third tour of duty.  As a flight-engineer, his coolness and resolution have been of great value to his crew particularly in moments of stress. Flying Officer Richardson has always set an outstanding example."

Flyg-Off. Richardson, who is 30, was educated at the Corporation Grammar School, Hyde Park School, Plymouth and Tavistock Grammar School. He enlisted in 1935 and was commissioned in 1944.  He is a rugby enthusiast and played for Plymouth Albion Juniors. Richardson's family have a record to be proud of in the war effort. His elder brother. Com. Eric Nelson Richardson, R.N. is one of the youngest of his rank in the navy, and another brother, Peter George, is a captain in the Royal Engineers.

His eldest sister, Elizabeth, is serving with a Red Cross ambulance in Belgium, and his youngest sister, Christine Mary, has been in the Women's Land Army service since the beginning of the war.

Her twin brother, Sergt.-Navigator Christopher A. Richardson, R.A.F., was killed on May 26, 1943, while flying over Germany.

John died in April 1982 in Saltash, Devon.


Sgt Charles Stanley HOBBS 1644857
Charles Hobbs was the one crew that little was learned about.  His service number 1644857, indicated he enlisted sometime on or after October 1941 at Cardington (Bedfordhire).

He was listed on the crew list as FME/AG, a flight mechanic engines/air gunner.  His next of kin is listed as Ethel Hobbs at an address in Islington.  This address reveals Stanley was still resident there at the time of of the 1939 register and working as a General metal worker.  He and Ethel had married in 1934 in the Finbury district, their marriage certificate revealing his parents were Florence and Charles Alfred Hobbs.  His father is listed as a silversmith in 1934 and at the time of his death, his probate records listed Charles Stanley Hobbs, silversmith as his next of next of kin.

Charles is described as seriously injured in crash in casualty notices but survived and at this time there is no indication that he ever returned to active duty.

He passed away in Islington, London on 22nd November 1990.  His ashes were scattered in 1991 and in 1999, his second wife Bessie (nee Rowe)

Sgt Cyril Robinson GREENWOOD 1129218
C R GreenwoodSon of Frederick Robinson Greenwood and Winifred Greenwood of Irlams-O'-th-Height, Salford.

Cyril died on 1st of February from his injuries approximately 12 hours after the crash, he was 21.  He was known to his family as Pat and to his crew mates as "Paddy"

  His brother was serving in the Army in the Burma Campaign at the time and he wanted to transfer to be together.  His brother survived the war.

 
Buried at Pendlebury, St John Churchyard, Salford on 9 Feb 1944, his headstone was erected on Easter Sunday 1950.  As late as 1956, one can find that his family would publish a memorium notice in the Manchester Evening News.


Cyril Greenwood

 

F/Sgt Frederick George GREEN R/184005 RCAF
F G GreenFred Green was born in 1912 to Margaret and John Green in Billings, Ontario.  He worked vairous roles before the war, his last being as a miner.  he and Teresa married in July 1940.  He trained as a Wireless Operator and Air Gunner in the Bahama's and Quebec with the RCAF before going to the UK to join up with the RAF. This was his first flight with the "Armstrong Crew", he replaced W/O Harold Holdsworth who was hospitalized with a throat infection.  Indeed, he was only shown to be posted into 228 Squadron on 25 January 1944.

The commander of 228 Squadron wrote to Fred's mother after the crash to provide details of his funeral to her.  He confirmed that F/Sgt Gowens and Sgt . Gilchrist were in attendance at his funeral.  He was buried at Irvinestown Church of Ireland Churchyard.


Carol was able to provide the following photos of the funeral of her father and his two comrades, provided to her mother at the time by the air ministry.
DW110 Funerals

DW110 Funerals

DW110 Funerals

Sgt John Ernest PARSONS 1315937
J E ParsonsSon of Ernest and Ethel Parsons of Yatton and husband of Peggy Doreen Mary Parsons of Keynsham.  He was born on the 21st march 1921 and was married to Peggy in late 1942. 

He was Buried Keynsham Cemetry.

Peggy remarried after the war and her daughter very kindly provided the photos shown of John and Peggy.

The Wiltshire and Trowbridge Advertiser on February 12th 1944 carried the following death notice:

John E Parsons

SUTTON BENGER
DEATH ON ACTIVE SERVICE.
Flight-Sergt. J. Parsons.
The death has occurred on active service of Flight-Sergt. John Parsons, of Yatton, near Bristol. Flt.-Sergt. Parsons was closely connected with Sutton Benger, his grandparents being the late Mr. and Mrs. H. Parsons and Mr. W. Humphries and Mrs. Humphries. He was the elder son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Parsons, of Yatton. Mr. Parsons has for many years been employed the G.W.E. at Temple Meads Station, and he was until he joined the R.A.F. in the Clerical Dept, of the Company, as was also the young lady whom he married during last year—Miss Close, of Keynsham.
The funeral was at Keynsham on Tuesday afternoon, service being held the Chapel, conducted the Minister, Rev. E. F. Clutterbuck. It was a full military funeral, the coffin being covered with the Union Jack, and the bearers were three sergeants and three corporals of his own squadron under Sqdn.-Leader R. Hope, who had been on many operations with Flt.-Sergt. Parsons. The hymns sung were "O Heavenly Love Abiding and “Abide with me.” The chief mourners were Mr. and Mrs. Parsons, parents; Mr. Brian Parsons, brother; Mrs. Humphries, grandmother ; Miss Parsons, Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. Gough, aunts ; Mr. and Mrs. Close, father-in-law and mother-in-law, and many other relatives and friends. Mrs. Parsons, the widow, was unable to attend. There were many beautiful floral tributes, including one from the Squadron, also from the Fire-watchers and First Aid Department and the Clerical Department of the G.W.R. The G.W.R. was represented at the funeral Mr. May and Mr. Davis.

This photo shows John and Peggy on the day of their wedding:
Peggy and John
          Parsons

Sgt Frederick Tom COPP 614970 +
F J CoppSon of George and Rose Ellen Copp of Starcross Devon.

He is buried at Irvinestown Church of Ireland Churchyard.

  Relatives of Fred provided the following biography of his life:

To give you a brief outline of Fred's history he was born on 26 Sept 1919 in a village near Exeter in Devon.  He was one of eleven children and the second youngest of eight brothers.  On leaving school he trained as a carpenter and after finishing his apprenticeship in June 1938 he enlisted into the RAF on 5 July 1938 to train as an Aircraft Rigger - this involved the repair and maintenance of aircraft structures.

On completion of 'Rigger' training he was posted to 204 (Flying Boat) Squadron at RAF Mountbatten in Plymouth, Devon, where he worked on the Mk I Sunderland Flying Boats. He initially flew with 204 Sqn from 1 Oct 1939 to 1 Jan 1940 - as an AC I Rigger/ Air Gunner.  Promoted to Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) in March 1940 he moved with 204 Sqn to Sullom Voe in April and in May was temporarily promoted to Sergeant as an Airgunner.  Subsequently reverting to groundcrew duties in Aug 1940 he re-mustered to 'Fitter IIA' and spent sometime on 86 Maintenance Unit where he was promoted to Corporal.  Re-mustering to Flight Engineer in August 1942,  Fred completed part of his formal aircrew training at 4(C)OTU - along with Jim Gilchrist - and on 17 July 1943 joined 228 Sqn at Pembroke Dock as a 'Flight Engineer'.

Fred flew a number of convoy-escort and U-boat search missions with 204 Sqn and with Sgt Jim Gilchrist and Sgt Cyril Robson Greenwood completed 20 missions with 228 Sqn.  This included the rescue of the downed RCAF crew on 9 Sep 1943 for which F/Lt HC Armstrong was awarded the DFC.  F/O MV Wareing, F/O J Trull, Sgt J Parsons and F/Sgt J Richardson also took part in this event.   Fred's papers show that he was promoted to F/Sgt on 31 Jan 1944 - but this is not recorded on his head stone.

For his service Fred was awarded the 1939-45 Star, The Atlantic Star, 1939-45 Defence medal and the 1939-45 War Medal.

I am not 100% sure why Fred was not brought home to Devon but I understand (from my mother) that while my great grandparents were heartbroken by the loss of their youngest (but one) son, my great grandfather, George Copp, being an old soldier from the Boer and First World War, felt that it was right for a soldier to be laid where he fell.  Fred's name is on the village memorial and I have certainly made my children aware of the sacrifice that he and many others made.


He goes on to state

By chance I had, within the last few weeks, been trying to find his address (Jim Gilchrists)  amongst my notes etc, as my mother recently uncovered a group-photograph of Fred + others (unfortunately no names recorded), at the Operational Training Unit (OTU) in Mar 1943.  Jim had told me that he and "Freddie" were very good friends, having initially met at the OTU .  He said they had shared accommodation in the Sergeants Mess, used to socialise together and how they both went on to join 228 Sqn at Pembroke Dock.  From official records I know that Jim and Fred crewed together for 20 Operational sorties - the 20th very sadly, being their last.

The Devon and Exeter Gazette of Februry 18th 1944 published the following notice upon Freds' death

Broadclyst Man Killed
Sergt. Fred T. Copp, R.A.F., was killed on the night of January 31st when the 'plane in which he was flight engineer crashed in Northern Ireland while returning from anti-submarine patrol.
Fred was a very popular member of a big family at 4. Heath Hill, Broadclyst. There have been Copps in Broadclyst for over 300 years, and the present family strongly represented in H.M. Forces. Two of Fred's brothers are in the R.A.F.. another is a R.S.M. in the Coldstreams, a fourth is a sergeant in the Grenadiers, and fifth a private serving with the Duke of Wellingtons. In addition, two brothers are employed, one on munitions and the other on Government work. A sister is serving with the W.R.N.S.
Mr. George Copp, the father of this patriotic family, saw active service with the Royal Artillery during the occupation of Crete in 1897, and again in the Boer War, subsequently fighting throughout four years in the first world war.
Fred was employed by Messrs. Sleeman and Sons, but left to join the R.A.F in July, 1938, at the age of 18. He is buried at a R.A.F. station in Northern Ireland.

Sgt 'Jim' James Kenneth GILCHRIST 1338328
J K GilchristJames was the son of James and Ivy Gilchrist, of Kingsbury, Middelsex and was born in early 1923.

His younger brother, Private Neil Gilchrist, of the General Service Corps, passed away in Cheshire on the 2nd of April 1944.

Jim provided the following recollection of the crash in a letter to Liam briody in 1996 and it is copied here from Liam's book, linked above:

 "I found myself lying on my back on the maintain with explosions and fire all around.  I don't know how long I had been lying there but it was raining quite hard and my face and clothes were very wet.  I don't know how I came out of the aricraft but I was lucky to have only wounds to the head and hands.  I was still in my leather flying jacket and flying boots but both my leather flying helmet and gloves were missing, which wouldn't have been the case had everything been normal.

I was a bit confused but it soon dawned on me what had happened.  I was able to get to my feet but couldn't get near the aircraft because of the fire.  I called out, and from the darkness some distance away (but could not see) came the voice of Gowens asking if I was from the crash.  He asked if I was injured and told me to remain in position and that he would come towards me. Gowens had been in the upper turret at the time of the crash and was conscious throughout the impact luckily suffering nothing worse than slight bruising and a nicked ankle as he evacuated the turret and tumbled to the ground. Considering that his turret was almost central above the bomb bay, with explosions and fire all around him, his escape was a miracle.

I asked what had happened and whether he knew the fate of the other crew members. He told me that he had been as near to the aircraft as possible and that there was no sign of life.  He was able to say that he could see bodies int he fire but no survivors.  I was feeling pretty shocked by this time and we managed to find shelter from the wind and rain and away from the fire by a large rock.  We decided that the only thing to do was to rest and look at the situation at first light.  I managed to find some cigarettes (I don't smoke now) and matches and we sat against the rock to gather our scattered wits.  I still had my Mae West, but Gowens had lost his.  I was able, therefore, to inflate mine and we both sat on it in an attempt to keep off the wet ground.  Some time later I must have drifted off to sleep and awoke to find the dawn casting a cold light on the mountain.

We were very stiff and my wounds were a bit painful and as we were getting to our feet, we heard a groaning noise and saw Tubby Richardson, the Flight Engineer, crawling around some rocks towards us.  I couldn't believe my eyes nor my ears when he said that there were two other survivors: Joe Trull, the Navigator and Hobbs another Flight Engineer.  Tubby confirmed that all others were dead.  I gave Tubby the signal cartridges from my Mae West (2 Star Reds) and we told him not to move and we would attempt to contact help.  I told Tubby to fire a cartridge if he saw anyone, as a guide to the crash site"


 
Jim was returned to operations on the 13th Mar 1944 and continued patrols until posted to 4 (C) OTU in 4 January 1945.  He remained in the RAF after the war, transferred to the Air Traffic Control branch and retired as a XXX in XXX.

In a poignant twist of fate, Jim took ill on the night of January 31st, 2008 and passed away the following day, February 1st, St. Bridgit's Day in Sussex.  Many of his friends from Ireland attended his funeral and in May of that year, his family returned to the Blue Stack mountains to remember him and his deceased crew mates.

Jim had become a welcome visitor to the Blue Stacks and visited on a number of occasions.  One of those he met often was Paul Clark, a presenter from Ulster Television (UTV)


F/Sgt Arthur GOWENS 1055929
A GowensArthur was born in 1921 to James and Eliza Gowens.   He and Jim Gilchrist went down the mountain to get help. He went back to active service with the RAF until the end of the War.  His son understood that he had been involved in a ditching some time before the crash of DW110 and later on in his wartime duties an aircraft he was on was forced to land on a golf course near RAF Squires Gate.  Details of these are not yet known but it seems likely that the stories are mixed up as Botha L6321 of No 3 School of General Reconnaissance crash landed on 31 October 1941 near Squires Gate with a Sgt A Gowens on board.  Arthur appears in the 228 Squadron ORB as early as June 1943, flying with variety of crews.  The flight of DW110 on 31st January 1944, was his first time to fly with F/Lt Armstrong.

He died aged 54 on 3rd December 1975 in Leatherhead in Surrey where he had lived since 1950.  He was a Civil Servant working in the Department of Education and Science in London when he died.

His son was able to visit Donegal in June 2009 and visited the crash site.





The men were recorded on Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 369 published among other places in Flight magazine, dated  13th April 1944.
The dead are all listed as Killed in Action, with the exception of Cyril Greenwood who was categorised as "Died of wounds or injuries received in action.".  The names of Act. Sgt C S Hobbs, W/O J B Richardson and F/O Trull were all listed as "Wounded or injured in action", leaving just Gowens and Gilchrist not listed indicating that their wounds must have been considered lighter. 

Following on from the Form 765 mentioned further up this article, the RAF held a court of inquiry between the 4th and 12th of February 1944.  The conclusions of the inquiry were:

(a) Brief description of the accident and its attendant circumstances
(b) Diagnosis of cause or causes including all contributory factors
(c) Recommendations, if called for by the convening authority.

(a) Sunderland aircraft DW.110 captained by F/Lt Armstrong was airborne from Pembroke Dock on 31st January 1944 at 1042 on a special A/S Patrol. At 1812 a signal was received to land at Castle Archdale on completion of sortie. Good navigation brought them just off Donegal Bay. A Third Class fix had confirmed their approximate D.R. position which was further confirmed by a range from the Castle Archdale it's S.E. Beacon. From this point the captain decided to continue on the same course which he did for a further 13 minutes before turning to starboard and holding on the beacon. The aircraft climbed to a reading of 2600 feet on the navigators altimeter. This altimeter had not been checked with the pilots altimeter at this time. The captain had asked and had been given the highest land in the vicinity as being 2500 feet. The aircraft flew on a course of approximately 140 deg compass and crashed into a mountain 2219 ft high about 200 feet below the summit in Cloud. Seven members including the captain of the aircraft were killed and the remainder were seriously and slightly injured the aircraft caught fire and became a total wreck.

(b) The primary cause of the accident was (1) to the failure of the captain to allow sufficient margin to clear the highest land on the route.  (2) The failure to obtain a Q.F.E. particularly after so long a flight. the captain F/Lt Armstrong was careless and overconfident and must be held to be guilty of culpable negligence. Contributory causes of the accident were (1) the Failure of the Navigator and the apparent failure of the captain to consult topographical maps of the Lough Erne area.  (2) The Navigator should not have been satisfied to allow his captain to fly at an altimeter reading of 2600 feet whether a Q.F.E. was obtained or not.

(c) It is strongly recommended that after the normal long sorties of these aircraft particularly when landing at night barometric pressure should be obtained at about 100 miles from base.


Remarks
Attention is drawn to the fact that the Navigator stopped plotting when the captain took over at 2308 when still 70 miles from base. The spot heights shown on the 1.1,000,000 plotting chart NW 48/18do not appear in all cases to be the highest point of land in the area. For example: A spot height given in posn. as 54 44 N 07 57 as 547 meters (1794.16 feet)) is within 5 miles of the crash where the sopt [sic] height is 2219 feet as shown on the 1 inch to 1 mile sheet. 311.

Evidence shows that on this particular night there was a large variation in Barometric pressure.


The site of the crash was marked by locals for many years, originally with a painted memorial on nearby rocks.
DW110 first memorial


This was supplanted in 1988 by a metal plaque put in place by Gary Pentland and a group of assistants.
DW110 memorial 

Events in May 2008.
The following is a report I prepared on the 31st May 2008 and sent to the families of relatives not present on the day.

The local organizers will be documenting the events in due course but here is my little report.  The group met at the car park at Killymard church after 10:00am.  A convoy of vehicles set off then shortly before 11am for a parking area above Lough Eske.  I'm not sure of the numbers but there was I think over 60 walkers in the group today including the 5 daughters and sons of Jim Gilchrist as well as two of his nephews and nieces.  Also with the group were a number of Blue Stacks Ramblers members who expertly guided the group over what was a very interesting climb.  There were young and old among the walkers.  The UTV reporter, Paul Clarke accompanied the group all the way and the walk was filmed for UTV programming.

DW110 memorial walk
            2008
 

The weather played its part by being superbly sunny and bright, perhaps a little too hot for the task at hand, I was glad I brought my additional water with
me.  We were guided up the mountain side by the ramblers to the rocky top of the hill.  Just before reaching the crash site everyone had their lunch and
thereafter we moved on down to the crash site.  The crash site still contains many parts from the aircraft, small riveted assembles, some forgings and a
number of exploded machine gun rounds were found.  After all these years it is surprising how much still exists at the site.


DW110 memorial
              walk 2008  


DW110 memorial
              walk 2008

DW110 memorial walk
            2008

DW110 memorial walk
            2008

DW110 memorial walk
            2008

After a few moments everyone moved down to the site of the plaque which was installed onto the rock face some years ago. 


DW110 memorial
              walk 2008
There the main ceremony began, and
I may have mixed up the running order.  Two members of the local clergy began the ceremony with some opening prayers.  The five members of the Gilchrist family then laid a wreath at the base of the rock and each of them then said a few words to commemorate their father.  Other speakers included Liam Briody, one time local Garda (Policeman) who helped arrange some of the earliest memorials at the site.  He spoke for a moment then read out a detailed poem about the history of the crash.  Paul Clarke then read out your poem Dyan and while he was able to compose himself, I actually had to move aside myself for a
moment to gather my thoughts, having swapped emails with you for the last few weeks.  One of the Blue Stacks Ramblers members then read two poems
commemorating the fallen airmen.  Martin Gallagher then spoke for a few moments about his memories of meeting with Jim on his visits.  Martin's son Adrian
was killed the 1998 Omagh bombing and is also rememebred with a name plaque at the site.  Martin had been part of the team which installed the plaque.  I was then asked to say a few short words about those of you whom we have found in the last few weeks.  Having not prepared anything I simply mentioned that each of you had passed on your sincere thanks to the local people for their efforts over the years.  I kept it short and sweet and since it was a day for the
Gilchrist family to remember their father, we shall have another day sometime to recall all the men of DW110.  The clergy then finished off the ceremony with
final prayers.


DW110 memorial
              walk 2008 
The weather had cooled down just as we reached the site of the crash and memorial but the rain stayed off.  Following this, everyone was gathered up and we
were guided back down the mountain again.  The area of the crash is at the head of a beautiful lake valley.  As with many such crashes, had the aircraft had
those few extra feet of altitude we probably would not have been there today.  We were back at our cars at about 4pm but I was not checking my watch
properly.



Why does Nana cry?

 

As you come together on this special day,

My thoughts are with you from far way.

 

Thanks go to all for remembering the crew,

Who into this mountain in bad weather flew.

 

The Crew came from countrywide and over the Atlantic too

They were the ones Churchill called “those brave few”

 

They were from two two eight squadron, Coastal Command,

That kept us safe, as they flew over sea and land.

 

Some rest now in foreign fields, others in their homeland

But they will always be known as the crew of THE Sunder-land

 

Their families will always be grateful to one and all,

Who remember their men folk here on the Mountain in Donegal.

 

From my family came Flying Officer Vince Wareing,

He was dark and handsome and oh so caring.

 

His picture sat on the dresser, in a frame.

The family waited for him to come back, but he never came.

 

When the news came in forty four,

All there was, was a knock at the door.

 

Grandpa gasped and Nana cried,

All we knew was that Vince had died.

 

I never knew, where or how or when,

But I was only very little then.

 

Vince was young, just twenty eight,

Grandpa, Uncle, and Dad lost their best mate.

 

His family never got over the shock,

They never knew about the plaque in the rock

 

I often watched my Nan look to the sky,

And wondered, Why does my Nana cry?

 

Now the crew is finally complete,

Jim Gilchrist has taken the last seat.

 

The engines start up and all systems are go,

For the very last mission of DW one one oh

 

The radio crackles and a voice is heard, “DW110 calling Heavens Gate

Permission to land sir, sorry we’re late.”

 

Let us thank god that they lived, not that they died

For now I know, why my Nana cried.

 

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

 From “Ode to the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon
 

Dedicated to the Crew of Sunderland DW110

and my Nana, Hannah Ann Kelly, Vince’s godmother.

Dyan Tucker

Paeroa New Zealand.


DW110 memorial
                walk 2008

Compiled by Dennis Burke, 2023.  This page was created to replace a great website created by Dyan Tucker, New Zealand as a memorial for her cousin Maurice V WAREING and his crew mates.  Relatives of almost all crew members were contacted during the period 2008 - 2023.