RAF killadeas

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by skyhawk, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Came upon some pics of RAF Killadeas i had'nt seen before.
    RAF Killadeas was based at Gublusk Bay beside Castle Archdale on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. It was 131 (coastal) operational training unit flying catalinas.




    Also can anyone give the details of the following accident:-

    Flying Officer Frank Herbert Grainger
    16 October 1943
    131 Operational Training Unit, Royal Canadian Air Force
    Service Number J/12769
    Irvinestown, Church of Ireland Churchyard, County Fermanagh, Ireland. Age 20
    Son of Herbert and Amy Grainger.
    Husband of Joyce E. B. Grainger, New Westminster, B.C.
    After attending school in Rosedale and graduating from Chilliwack High School, Frank Grainger joined the R.C.A.F. His early flight training was conducted at Boundary Bay and at Claresholm, Alberta. In Claresholm he was awarded his pilot's wings and commissioned in July 1942. In September he married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Ker of Sardis and was posted to a Coastal Command Squadron located in Scotland. With this unit Frank flew Sunderland aircraft on anti-submarine patrols. He was transferred to Northern Ireland to serve with 131 Operational Training Unit. His Catalina aircraft crashed at the St. Angelo (VHF) receiving station in the county of Fermanagh. All crewmen and passengers were killed. A pair of candlesticks and plaque were donated in his memory to St. John the Baptist Anglican Church.

    dbf and James S like this.
  2. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    [FONT=&quot]16th October 1943[/FONT][FONT=&quot]. Catalina AH 551 of 210/202 Squadron 131 O.T.U. crashed into a hill near Ballinamallard.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Sqdn. Ldr. Patrick George Cooper, RAF. F/O David Leigh Sproule, RCAF. F/O Frank Herbert Grainger, RCAF. Sgt. John Harvey Hodgson, RCAF. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Sgt. James Millard Allen, RCAF. Sgt. Valentine Hinton Louis, RCAF.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] W/O Gerald Frederick Hardy, RAF. F/Sgt. Donald Mudd, RAF.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Hi Skyhawk.
    [FONT=&quot]Hope this is a help[/FONT]

  3. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Hi Peter. Thanks very much.
  4. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Further to Peters details on the crew.
    This aircraft was flown to Belfast the day before the crash - F/lt.Eddie Edwards flew her - Eddie found the handling of the aircraft to be odd , nothing he could put his finger on it just seemed wrong.
    He reported his concerns on his return and the ground crew checked her out - nothing out of the ordinary was found and she was confirmed as being airworthy.
    The next day she crashed - the aircraft was flown by Pat Cooper a very experienced pilot and instructor - he was demonstrating stall recovery to the "learners" on board - the aircraft went into a spin and was in the process of recovery "when she ran out of sky".
    Eddie , a close friend of Cooper's often pondered this crash as it was next to impossible to "spin" a Catalina and he often wondered if something had been overlooked.

    Sgt. Ray Hartshorn an NCO instructor at Killadeas flew with Cooper (202 Squadron at Gib. as far as I can recall) , according to Ray , "Squadron leader Cooper was a typical upperclass Englishman" , but he was a gifted and natural pilot , Ray told me that "he would have flown to Hell" with Pat. Cooper.

    Today the crash site is marked with a memorial stone.

    On the Wednesday I was down at the Erne Hospital (birth of my first grandchild!) and on the way back I stopped in Irvinestown and walked around the C of I plot as it was a brillant day and it photographs well on a good dry day - attached some photos of the crew who are buried adjacent to the cemetery marker.

    "Skyhawk" ( Robert) , these are great photos !
    The flooded photo I have seen before it dates from January 44.
    The other two are new to me as is the portrait photo of F/O Grainger as one who is well into this subject I am grateful and really delighted to see a photo of him - somewhere I have a phot of the lad buried next to him , (Sproule).
    For me it is always humbling to be able to put a face to a name, thank you - I really do appreciate your posting this up , also for the info on him , again very much appreciated. :poppy: :)




    These two lads are buried on the bottom right , adjacent to the cemetery marker.


    To the best of my knowledge both Grainger and Sproule had flown with 422 RCAF and were doing a Captains course with 131 OTU.

    Not all on board were killed , two survived although seriously injured.

    Sgts. R F Middaugh R/205589 RCAF and Sgt Green , 1606325. RAF.
    I had heard ( I can't remember exactly where) , that one of these men was trapped in a blister widow having been thrown there as the aircraft spun.

    The form 1180 extracts read.

    Time of crash 15.20 hours . (they had been airborne for 15 minutes).
    "Dual instruction on stalling , aircraft spun and only partially recovered before crashing into hill."
    Stn. CO No remarks pending Court of Inquiry. Aircraft on exercise to show recovery after a stall. Pilot lost control , aircraft spun and crashed. Pilot stalling at too low an altitude, Severe burnup / burnt out (?) during stallmay have been contributory.
    Orders have been issued prohiditing stalling instrustions on practices under 3000 feet.
    AOC notes passangers were not strapped in.
    AOC in C concurs with AOC".
  5. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Hi James. Thanks so much for your input. I was hoping you would reply and as always you have been an inspiration.
    Best regards skyhawk.
  6. James S

    James S Very Senior Member


    A 131 Catalina - Pat Cooper is at the controls , Eddie Edwards is in the Martinet.

    Another 131 Catalina - the skyline is unmistakenable.

    Eddie was Ted Jervis's co-pilot when they assisted in the capture of U570 , SE of Iceland.
    ( See Norman Franks "Search , Find and Kill".)
    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Great imput as always. Superb photos of the Catalinas.

  8. RJL

    RJL Senior Member

    On the Wednesday I was down at the Erne Hospital (birth of my first grandchild!).

    James, many congratulations on the new recruit.:lol:
  9. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Thanks RJL - I had best stay away - I just ruin them all , too much attention.


    The other crew member buried in this plot .
  10. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member


    Catalinas of 131 OTU, Killadeas, over Castle Archdale, June 1943.
  11. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Looking at the ground /shore lines that mad dog of ours know every inch of the place - as soon as I indicate to turn into Castle Archdale she goes ape sh1t.

    Below two crew which where lost in 1944

    First FP193 crew which crashed on a bombing exercise on 9/1/44.
    An uncle of mine saw they crash south of Boa Island.
    JX252 - they crashed at Ely Lodge on the night of 26/11/44.
    There were no survivors from either crew.

    The diagram sholws the bouy system from Killadeas upto castle Archdale - novice crewswere not allowed to land at Killadeas - they had to taxi up and operational aircraft had priority on the flare path.

    Murray Wettlaufer had a near escape in January 44 when a catalina almost collided with his Sunderland in poor visibility - near shaves -they happened - a look at 131 's losses confirms this - training aircrew was far from risk free , it was a hard , stressful and dangerous undertaking.

    Attached Files:

  12. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Nice photo Peter Thanks.

    James. came upon these photos of a squadron leader Eddy Edwards 1942 RAF Killadeas in charge of flight training. Is this the same as mentioned before.


    Eddy far left.

    Eddy on right.

  13. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    These are from Breege McCusker's book on CA ?
    Yes that is Eddy with the Hudson family from Irvinestown , they remained life long friends.
    ( His wife is seated on the door step ).
    He did a bit of sailing as well , one of a number of photos which he took at the time.
  14. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Yes James that is the book .Got a lend of it from a friend at the flying club. Didnt even know about it until he mentioned he had a copy. Im am really enjoying reading it.
    Regards skyhawk.
  15. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Been reading Breege McCuskers book some more tonight. Really great! Got it just after i made this post and i see the crash AH551 is in the book also an account of the accident. It never ceases to amazing me in research how these things come together. As you do, i flicked through as soon as i got it and saw the pictures of an eddy edwards and thought is this the same guy james was talking about, (different spelling in the name) Know i know it is this is really amazing. From reading onwards looks like he did a hell of a lot to promote the structure of the course at Killadeas and the safety of the pupils envolved. James do you have anything else on him?
    Regards skyhawk
  16. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    This is a fascinating thread lads, it never ceases to amaze me how many photos exist of Castle Archdale and the Coastal Command aircraft and how they get posted up here. This is becoming a "niche" of this site.
  17. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Robert , the content of Breege's book I know very well as we were both doing a lot of active work on the subject at the same time and we exchanged a great deal.
    Eddy was a man we had both written to at about the same time what I had researched I gave to her and some of this is reflected in her book along with some accounts from aircrew - Don Macfie who gave me his diary , Murray Wettlaufer from Bishop's crew , the account from Werner Lang came from myself .
    I also loaned Breege a fair bit of back ground reference material and put her in touch with a number of aircrew from Canada.
    Breege came at the subject as a social historian , my own approach was more of an operational nature although given the subject matter it is next to impossible to divorce one from the other.

    I do have some additional material from Eddy , the map posted erlier showing the approaches to Killadeas came from him , he gave me several accounts of some losses and his reactions to them as well as an insight into the major problems he encountered with OTU flying.

    As time went on some other ex instructors added to this adn I would have a fair bit on the base and its crews.
    Sadly the records for 131 are not very good and huge gaps exist in them , flights are poorly detailed and often crews which went missing are not recorded.
    A great deal of this had to be recopnstructed from logbook enteries which a number of gents were kind enough to share with me.

    Let me have a look over the next few days and I will add a little more.
    To close Eddy told me of being stopped late at night by a very self important police constable who commenced to lecture Eddy how passing German bomber would be able to navigate by his less than regulation dimmed /hooded headlights.
    Eddy told the constable that he was talking utter rubbish and that as an experienced pilot he knew what the pros and cons actually were.
    The "Con." refused to listen and continued to lecture.
    Eddy told him that he had better go back and black out the nice white police station in Ballinmallard as he could see it from the air at night.
    The Con refused to believe this and a less than happy EE told him that the next night he was "up" he would dive bomb his station.
    The next night Eddy took great pleasure in making several low and very noisy passes over the police station so the Constable knew who was doing it.
    dbf likes this.
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    This is a fascinating thread lads, it never ceases to amaze me how many photos exist of Castle Archdale and the Coastal Command aircraft and how they get posted up here. This is becoming a "niche" of this site.


    It is only by reading books on the Coastal Command and threads like this, that you learn to appreciate just how important the bases in Northern Ireland were.

    I have a soft spot for the Coastal Command and the Great work that they carried out.

    Threads like this make the history come alive and make very good reading.

  19. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The circle these men moved in was really very small so often you find that tour expired pilots turn up in the logbooks of "learners" - Peter Frizzell being one example - when with 4 OTU he sank a U-Boat ...( will have to look it up wne I go home).

    Eddy Edwards made no bones about it to me - when he left Killadeas hewas a nervous wreck - the continual grind of trying to keep a flying programme on track and get novice crews up to speed , making up for lost time when the weather was anything but accomadating took its toll - Eddy's operational flying before this - three years at war without a break must certainly have played a part.

    This was no easy option to operatioanl flying......anything but.

    I would have to say at this point that I found Eddy to be one of the most remarkable men I have had the pleasure to meet , he was a quite outstanding man even in his 80's - respect was given unconditionally - he was just one of that rare breed of men.

    He taught ocean navigation to boat owners - ocean yacthsmen , one owner asked him why would he need it ...."when he had state of the art electronics ?"

    When Eddy asked him what he would do if he had a fire or a major electrical failure or if his gear was damaged in a heavy sea - how would he find his position let alone rry and get home ...it is suffice to say that the penny dropped and the gent took advantage of Eddy's knowledge and experience.

    I will post on the loss figures for 131 OTU - they will more than Illustrate the dangerous natue of the work.
    the first course Eddy took all the crews failed and two were lost on their final exercise when the qweather conditions forecast unexpectedly collapsed.
  20. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Thanks James:)

    Here are a couple of personal accounts from instructors that were at RAF Killadeas.

    Walter Bagley:-


    I went to Northern Ireland to train to be an instructor on the Catalinas It was the OTU, OTU for all flying boat training for all of the British forces and that sort of thing.
    I suppose, there'd be 400 or 500 people at the school there, instructors and staff and all of that sort of thing, you know. It was a good spot and we quite enjoyed it.

    There were chaps that had done a couple of thousand hours or even more. Permanent RAF blokes from before the war and I think they were experts and they'd just give you little hints. They didn't tell you what to do. Just give you a little hint every now and then that you don't do it that way, do it some other way. It was very instructive.

    In coastal patrol work methods of flying were totally different to being on Bomber Command, for instance. You're more independent on the flying boats and away from the mob. Learning new methods of flying. so I think instructors who came up there were mainly people who came from ops on flying boats or wanted to go on to flying boats. It was virtually the same instructions they got for Catalinas as they did for

    Bruce Daymond DSO DFC:-


    I left England to do a captain's course at a place called Killadeas on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. It was an operational training unit. The course I think took from about April to July then quite a lot of qualified captains were coming through. They decided to turn this or part of this operational training unit into an operational squadron and we went out and did convoy escorts in the Atlantic. I remember it very clearly coming back from those Atlantic things was pretty dicey radar could fail just when you didnt want it to and we had a very narrow neutrality corridor five miles wide through the Republic of Ireland and into Killadeas. Well you know 18 hours out in the Atlantic and the fogs and the winds and the goodness knows what. I had one rather frightening experience there. Everything was wrong you know the the radar had gone flat, the petrol was getting low and there was fog and we had to come in and and I think I might have infringed the corridor cause I was hauled up on the mat the next morning. It was getting so dangerous, we couldn't use the wireless cause the radio operator couldn't get through to tell base our predicament because somebody else was jamming it

    I ordered a higher priority of signal which certainly got us through but it got me a big caning the next day but I thought that was better to have a caning than lose an aircraft and nine people. So we got down safely and then on to the lake at Lough Erne. It was a rough landing and along came the dinghy alongside to take the crew off and it wiped all the aerials off the side of the flying boat so you know I was on the mat the next morning for two reasons. Using this higher priority and for damaging the aeroplane although this was not my fault you had to "carry the can"

    One other thing about coming in from the Atlantic. If you were really stuck there was a system called "SANDRA" This put searchlights up through the fog and this made a glow and you knew that that was where you had to get to. It was a great help, one of those miraculous situations where we were wondering how are we going to get down and all this lack of petrol and suddenly there was the lake and a flare path down below. So that was one little episode.
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