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 men's 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 provenance 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"
Outram Lodge was born in Huddersfield in November 1914,
the son of Florence and Herbert Lodge. His father joined
the army during the first world war serving with the West
Yorkshire Regiment and was killed in action on 17th Sep 1918,
probably in the fighting for Holnon Village.
In the 1939 Register of September that year, Eric was registered as working in education. Following his marriage in 1940, he found himself in Montreal at the end of March, 1942 and ferrying Hudson FH263 to the UK via Presque Isle and Gander. His stay in the UK lasted until August 1942 it seems when he sailed to New York on the Queen Mary. His service then during the last quarter of the year appears to mimic that of Killips.
Eric served on operational missions with 119 Squadron from
January through to April 17th, 1943 when the Squadron was made
inoperative and all crew were posted on leave. His next
posting appears to have been to 210 Squadron, also flying on
Catalina's. He appears with the crew of P/O D H Clarke on
Jun 23rd 1943, flying from Hamworthy. In December of that
year, he is noted being sent on a bombing leaders course,
returning in mid January to Hamworthy with a note that he
achieved a 'B' rating in the course. The Squadron record
appendices then show that Eric was posted that January,
following the end of the training course, along with many 210
Sqn crews to 131 Coastal Operational Training unit based at
Killadeas, in Northern Ireland. He is found then again in
February 1944, being posted into 59 Squadron at Ballykelly as a
Navigator B until May of the same year.
Eric passed away at the age of 103 in St. Margaret's Bay, Kent
in May, 2018.
His family were kind enough to provide a number of photos of
Eric's including photos of Clifford and George.
Morrish 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 but the family did not
settle there it seems. His commission in July 1943 was
reported on by The Winnipeg Tribune, where he is listed as being
from Regina, Saskatchewan.
Sgt Morrish remained with 119 Sqn until at least March 1943
flying as a WO/AG with a F/Lt Goodyear. He is next found
arriving in 490 (RNZAF) Squadron on the 24th June 1943. He
had flown in P/O R M Grants crew in Catalina FP278 from the UK
to Madagascar, flying from Bathurst to Jui. Over the
following months he flew many missions with R M Grant, though
rather strangely his initials for most missions are typed as
"Morrish, P". He received his commission as an officer
during this time. He flew a mission with the Squadron on
Oct 1st, 1943 and does not appear in the ORB again until
December 1943 when he is found teamed up with various crews
through to at least April 1944. The 490 Sqn ORB is sparse
on details of postings and about this time they began to
transition to the Sunderland flying boat. His service
details show he returned to Canada in late March, 1945 and
indeed a F/O G M Morrish is found on the passenger manifest of
the SS Pasteur arriving in New York on 30 March 1945.
It has proved difficult to find out anything much else about George Morrish beyond his service details. It is unclear if and when he might have passed away, or where he lived post war. He passed away in Penticton in November 1975, aged 57.
Happily however, it was possible to make contact with the pilot of FH263, Clifford Burns Killips in 2008. Clifford, was able to provide a wealth of information about his recollections of the flight to Ireland and his subsequent wartime service. He sent on this photo of the crew.
The family of Eric Lodge were able to provide a digital copy of
the same image following Eric's death.
Clifford explained that he was assigned to 119 Squadron at
Lough Erne, Northern Ireland after his arrival from Ireland and
he is found in that units ORB assigned to special duty in August
1942. That task was for eleven crews to sail from Gourock
in Scotland to New York and thence forth to proceed to
Boucheville outside Montreal to collect new Catalina flying
boats and fly them to to Lough Erne and finally onto Beaumaris
in Scotland. This was undertaken on behalf of Ferry
Command due a shortage of ferry personnel. One of the
eleven crews consisted of F/Sgt Killips, Sgt Lodge, F/Sgt
Morrish and a Sgt Edwards, Flight Engineer. Following this
effort is was decided that the Squadron would convert to
Sunderland aircraft and Sgt Killips is recorded as posted to
Greenock for testing and ferrying on 25 Sep 1942.
The ORB for 202 Squadron based in Gibraltar reports the posting
in from 210 Squadron F/S Killips and Sgt Lodge with a Catalina
for temporary attachment on 10 Nov 1942, the day after the
Operation Torch landings in Morrocco. No mention of his
name is found thereafter in either the 202 or 210 Squadron ORB
but a group of personnel were dispatched back to the UK on
return posting to 119 Squadron before the end of the month.
Due to his posting to Gibraltar mentioned in his account below,
little other mention of him is found in 119 Squadron records
until January 1943 when he flies as third pilot with a P/O D B
Agate on a number Sunderland patrols and is finally posted to 4
(Coastal) Operational Training Unit on 14 Mar 1943.
Clifford's name appears in the summary of 265 Squadron's ORB in
March 1944, arriving with a new crew and aircraft from Mombasa
to Diego Suarez in Madagascar. He remained with the
Squadron in East Africa until February 1945.
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 remained for a few days waiting for favorable weather for the crossing. We left in the evening for the all night flight to Prestwick 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 approximately 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 course 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 a while.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 Erne 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 Erne. 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 dispatched on temporary duty with a Catalina to operate out of Gibraltar 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 returning 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 in Belmullet 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. Some of
this party consisted of No. 1 Salvage Team from 11 Repair and
Salvage Unit (RSU) based at Mallusk. The units Operations
Record Book recorded the dispatch of the team on April 19 and
its return from Eire on 2 May. It is thought that the
Fl/Lt Forde was one Fl/Lt Phineas William FORD 77221 and the
surname spelling of Forde is that used by the Irish Military in
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 unwieldy 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.