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Consolidated Canso A, off Malin Head, Donegal, March, 1942

The Irish Military Archives file G2/X/0984 records the events that occurred off Malin Head on the 6th March 1942.

At about 11:40 in the morning, a plane was sighted off shore, half a mile out to sea, west of the look out post at Malin Head.  Volunteer McLoughlin at the post thought the aircraft was a Catalina and flares were observed coming from the aircraft.  A number of local men, including members of the Local Defense Forces, made an attempt to row out to the aircraft.  Due to terrible weather conditions including wind and snow, the attempt had to be called off.

The Irish military in their report commended the efforts of the men, reporting they were three hours at sea in a boat and included a Corneliius Bonner and seven other men.

Luckily, the diary of Western Approaches Command of the Royal Navy had the following entry which provides detail of the vessels involved:
06 March 1942 - 1115hrs SOS from Catalina aircraft in sea off Malin Head, Boadicea on passage and Partridge from Londonderry sent to her assistance. Tug Zwarte Zee from LD sent to assist. At 1340hrs Partridge reported aircraft located. All crew rescued, aircraft towed first by Partridge and later Zwarte Zee but sank at 2220hrs. 

The ships mentioned above were the destroyer HMS Partridge and dutch ocean going tug, Zwarte Zee.  HMS Partridge was a brand new vessel, delivered only the month before and was only undertaking service trials and working up at the time of this rescue.  It participated in convoy escort duties for the remainder of the year, deploying to the Mediterranean in April, then traveled back and forth from there and was engaged in heavy fighting during Malta resupply convoys.  it was heavily damaged in June, requiring repairs throughout July.  it took part in the invasion of North Africa but shortly after on the 18th December 1942, she was torpedoed by German U-Boat U-565 and sunk with the loss of thirty seven crew members west of Oran.

The details of the crew, remain something of a mystery due to the nature of the aircraft duty at the time of its loss.  The aircraft, a Consolidated Model 28-5MC, had been built for delivery to the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Catalina flying boat.  The CASPIR database explains the history of this batch of aircraft which were largely diverted to Royal Air Force operation to replace aircraft previously diverted to RCAF operations in 1941.  It is thought that it was probably carrying its original RCAF serial of 9721 at the time of the delivery flight.  It may have been provided with V9721 markings for its ferry flight from the factory to Canada.  Had it entered service, it would been operated as VA721.   The CASPIR database states that the all civilian crew were rescued after the bow broke off during attempted take off in heavy seas near Malin Head.

RAF records contain a Form 1180 crash record for this aircraft where it is identified as a Catalina and names the pilot as a Captain P T Miller.  The serial number is written as V9721, but with the V9 crossed out and the serial made out as VA721.  The accident summary is quite to the point and lays blame firmly on the Captain.
F.L. Weather & Viz. in sea.  Radio operator failed to decode & pass important weather report to Capt. of a/c.  The Capt's. airmanship & seamanship was not of high standard.  Continued to fly along unknown coastline in poor visibility.  Taxied into open sea against his better judgement.  An indecisive attempt to take off in heavy sea.  Strained & broke bow.  Allowed a/c to be towed improperly by tug.  Broke away & lost at sea.  Capt. inexp. on this type a/c.

paul Theodore
          MillerPaul Theodore Miller was a First Officer who served in the ATA from 12 August 1940 to 4 January 1941.   Their records indicate he transferred to the ATFERO organization in January of 1941.  Ferry Command records at the DHH in Canada show that he worked almost exclusively as a First Officer from September 1941 to March 1943.  He was born in October 1905 and, in March 1941, he registered for the US Government draft.  His draft registration card provides some useful information including:
He was born in Philadelphia and his mailing address was 340 South 16th Street in the city at that time.  He listed his employer as British Overseas Airways in Montreal, Canada and his next of kin was his father, James Theodore Miller at the address above.  His parents were Maud (nee Tate) and James T Miller.

The April 1940 census of the united States, records one Paul T Miller and wife, Irene, living in Fulton, Georgia where he records himself employed as an aviator in the "flying services".  The couple had married in Indiana in 1937 where newspaper marriage license lists named his wife as Irene Katherine Matthews of Anderson, Indiana.  They divorced in 1943 after adopting a baby in Canada.

He was named in August 1940 newspaper stories from Canada as being an early American to join the Ferrying operation from North America to the United Kingdom, his address being Anderson, Indiana.  The Anderson Herald of August 13th, 1940 published the following article:
Paul Miller, former Anderson flying instructor, is on his way to England to join the British flying forces.  He has been operating at a flying field in Dallas, Texas. He will fly planes purchased in the United States from ports at which they are reassembled to the front for the Royal Air Force.
Mrs Miller came to Anderson yesterday to be with her parents, Mr and Mrs Ralph Matthews, 1936 Walnut street, until she receives her passport to join her husband.  Miller left Sunday, by Clipper.
Miller operated the Miller Flying Service in Anderson in 1932 and 1933.  He signed for service in England with William Brooks, British agent, who is buying planes and engaging pilots. As soon as Mrs Miller receives her passports she will take a clipper to England where she plans to enroll in the auxiliary air force.

His return from the UK in January 1941 would see the printing of his story in many American newspapers, typically the same set of words but some papers went into greater detail of his exploits.  These article generally name his wife as Hortense.
Chicago Jan 25 (AP) Paul Miller veteran Chicago flier who has been ferrying combat airplanes in England is looking forward to a job he considers less dangerous flying US bombers across the Atlantic Miller has just put in six months in the air transport auxiliary a civil branch of the RA engaged in ferrying planes from factories and assembly points to fighting squadrons. Many of the 50 US pilots in the ATA he said are turning to ferrying bombers across the Atlantic be cause of the flying hazards in Eng land Miller who has been flying for 21 years said the danger came not from German air raiders but from British balloon barrages anti air craft gunners unable to see well in the haze and fog and almost continual bad weather would be a cinch to fly in England if the weather were like it is he said they have clouds and haze all the time The balloon barrages are terrific have to fly down corridors a mile wide These constantly are shifted and they vary from the maps when the wind Miller who has made two trans Atlantic ferrying trips said he hopes get settled down in a quiet routine flying bombers over the Atlantic.

The version published by the 31st January 1941 Anderson Daily Bulletin provided additional background information on Paul.
Paul T. Miller, age 37, experienced pilot, who has been in service of Great Britain for several months, flying planes for the R.A.F. service, and his wife, left here last week for Montreal, where Mrs Miller will reside to be near her husband as he resumes his flying career for the British. Mrs Miller remained with relatives here during the late fall and early' winter when her husband assumed his duties as pilot While here Miller talked before the Optimist Club on his hazardous work He stopped in Chicago last week to renew his license before re turning to Canada.
Miller, formerly a flyer for the Blue Bird Air Service, Chicago, joined the British flying service last fall. He flew two Lockheed Hudson twin engine bombers from Canada to England and for the hazardous trip received $1000 a month and a bonus of $500 a trip, according to information he disclosed.  He stated that he planned to continue in the service at the same rate of pay upon returning to Montreal. In an interview at Chicago Miller termed flying the Atlantic as "no excitement at all."  He said that he was accompanied on the two Atlantic crossings by a co-pilot and radio engineer and that they averaged about 11 1/2 hours for the crossing. Miller said that pilots engaged in flying bombers across the Atlantic had not lost a ship.  Miller said that ferrying planes from English factories to air fields was more exciting than crossing the Atlantic because of the danger of British protective methods. The pilot asserted that 250 pilots are in the Air Transport Auxiliary, sixty of whom are Americans.  While here, Miller described havoc wrought by Germans in London but praised pluck of the English people. He said that Britain does not need men but machines and ammunition.

The editor of the Anderson Herald in Indiana occasional mentioned Paul in his editorial notes and two in particular seem to confirm that he was indeed the P T Miller on V9721/VA721.  Strangely, this back-stage column was printed always in lower case with peculiar punctuation.

24 September 1942:
one anderson boy knows how it feels to be stranded on a life raft.  paul miller, my british ferry command pilot friend, made a forced landing in the atlantic in a catalina flying boat.  the seas were so rough, they knocked in his bomb bays.  the plane sank and paul was adrift for six hours before a british ship picked him up.

28 October 1942:
...... when I my thought was interrupted by a breath of adventure in the person of my friend Paul Miller, for two years and a half, a crack ferry pilot for the British government.  Just three days before Paul had been somewhere out over the south Atlantic. Not much more than a week before, he had been at Karachi, India.  Paul had taken a B-24 consolidated bomber from Nashvllle, Tenn to India and you can guess what for.  It was delivered there by him, then he returned as a passenger with other ferry pilots on a regular army transport line.  Paul saw the beginning of the latest offensive in Egypt, saw some amazing preparations by the allies elsewhere in Africa that I can't repeat and saw what we are doing in India.  It was all very encouraging.  He left here by car for Montreal where and by the time you read this he may be out over the north Atlantic delivering a flying fortress to Britain.  I asked him about the time he made a forced landing in the Atlantlc.  He said he thought his number was up so he just went to sleep in the flying boat as the best way to go out.

The tales perhaps were not always strictly true perhaps, but they made for very interesting reading.

20th September 1942:
Mrs Paul miller, wife of veteran in the British ferry command service, is back in Anderson for a few weeks. Paul, you may remember from my stories, joined up three years ago and it so happens that out of the 44 who went in at the same time, just four are left. The rest went down to the sea in their ships.  These and  hundreds of others won the battle of the Atlantic by flying over it.  Mrs Miller has been in the hospital for the last four months but looks fine now.  Paul, she tells me has been loaned to the U.S. Army to fly supplies to Egypt.  He is on his first trip now, flying one of those giant Curtiss planes with ammunition and medical supplies.  In the last three years Paul has flown the Atlantic scores of times, been three times across the pacific, flown the northern Siberian route to Russia as well the arctic ocean route.  This is the first time it has been told publicly, but Paul was the pilot of the plane that took Churchill to Moscow for the meetings with Stalin recently.   Paul and his gang think of the world in terms of hours.  For instance, the other day a knock came at the miller door in Montreal.  She answered it. It was a pilot friend who carried a bundle.  Here's Paul's laundry" the friend said "I picked it up in Australia for for him." Paul had simply sent his wash to the laundry there and instructed the proprietor to deliver it to the ferry command at the local field.  The boys have an agreement to bring each other's things back.  anyway, it is a great life. More about it later.

He passed away in April 1989, but it is not yet certain where he passed away and is laid to rest.

Compiled by Dennis Burke, 2024.