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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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228 squadron
04.05.1942 228 Squadron, Sunderland II T9084, Flt Lt. Robert R. Briscoe

Operation: Training

Date: 4th May 1942 (Monday)

Unit No: 228 Squadron, 25 Group, Coastal Command

Type: Sunderland II

Serial No: T9084

Code: DQ:N

Location: Loch Boisdale (Lochboisdale), South Uist, Scotland

Base: RAF Oban, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Crew:

Pilot (Captain): Flt Lt. Robert Rowland Briscoe 42795 RAFO Age 31. Uninjured (1)

1st Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Frederick Undecimus Hollins AFC 70317 RAFO Age 30. KiA

2nd Pilot: Plt Off. Ronald Jones 67616 RAFVR Age 28. KiA

Flt Eng: Flt Sgt. David Thomas Williams 536819 RAFVR Age 29. Injured (2)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Edward Chadwick 1058225 RAFVR Age? Injured (3)

WElect Mech/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Kenneth Page Barber 572527 RAFVR Age 20. Injured (4)

Flt Mech Airframe: AC2. Thomas Edge 1214455 RAFVR Age? Injured (5)

Rigger: AC1. John Stanley Shide 1277327 RAFVR Age 28. Injured

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Joseph Eric Catherall 1000129 RAFVR Age? Injured (6)

Passengers:

Act Sqn Ldr. Ronald Dallas Brett 75693 RAFVR Age 41. Injured (7)

Act Sqn Ldr. John William Arthur Legge-Willis 72876 RAFVR Age 43. Seriously Injured (8)

Act Fg Off. Keith Leslie Oswald Jenner 63234 RAFVR Age 29. Seriously Injured (9)

AC2. William Haggart 1001870 RAFVR Age? Injured (10)

Lt. Marshall RNVR – Uninjured – No further information.

REASON FOR LOSS:

Sunderland II T9084 took off from RAF Oban on a training sortie Loch Boisdale via Fort William the 4th May 1942. The Sunderland crashed whilst attempting a landing on the Loch.

In response the sea transport officer of Loch Boisdale called out two herring drifters, each with a crew of 5 and boarded along with a party of 6 Sappers from the Royal Engineers Docks Group. The aircraft had disappeared behind an island in the middle of Loch Boisdale, and when the herring drifters reached it, 6 mins after the crash, they found 12 of the 14 persons on board (POB), some on the wings of the overturned Sunderland, some on the rocks close by and some in the water clinging to the rocks.

Note the island is named Gassaigh and is located to the SE of the entrance to Loch Boisdale (Lochboisdale).

Most of the men were injured and suffering from cold and shock. One of the herring drifters returned at once to harbour for blankets and brought out additional helpers. Two crofters, who had seen the accident, had also put out in their own open motor boat. The three boats quickly brought the 12 survivors ashore. When the tide fell, the bodies of the other 2 airmen were found in the wrecked flying boat.

Sqn Ldr. Hollins AFC and Plt Off. Jones both died of multiple injuries in the crash.

The OC at RAF Benbecula wrote that there could be no doubt that it was due to the speed with which the rescue had been organised and carried out that more lives had not been lost.

(1) Statement made by Flt Lt. Robert Rowland Briscoe:

I was ordered to fly from Oban to Loch Boisdale via Fort William on a training flight. At 13:15 hrs I took off from Fort William for Loch Boisdale and. Arrived over the Loch at 14:00 hrs. Wind 180/15-20 knots, Visibility Good, Cloud Nil, Sea Ruffled.

Plt Off. Jones flying, Fg Off Briscoe in 2nd Pilot’s seat. A right hand circuit was necessary owing to the high ground to the east of Loch Boisdale. The first attempt to land was unsuccessful as the aircraft was overshooting. On the second attempt a longer and lower approach was attempted with the object of alighting just south of the aircraft mooring buoys. An aircraft mooring buoy was in the alighting area so I instructed Plt Off. Jones to turn slightly Starboard which he did. My main concentration was on the landing of the aircraft. A quick glance at the airspeed showed between 80-85 knots I momentarily forgot that this particular aircraft had an error of 14½ knots because I had recently flown one with no error.

On turning back to port to get back into wind, speed was lost, with the result that the aircraft stalled striking the water heavily on the Port wing. The float was carried away. Sqn Ldr. Hollins, standing between the two pilots, immediately on impact, opened up full throttle and the aircraft staggered into the air again. At about 100-150 ft the aircraft stalled once more and crashed off the South East point of Gasay [Gassaigh] island.

There was no mechanical failure whatsoever.

Above: Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviator certificate and photograph for Robert Rowland Briscoe.

Above Courtesy of The Daily Telegraph, dated 10th February1995

Robert Rowland Briscoe 15th March 1911 - 7th February 1995

(2) Statement by Flt Sgt. David Thomas Williams:

Sunderland aircraft T9084 crashed on landing and I was standing behind the 1st Pilot. On landing the Port float main strut broke in half. We turned to take off again and went crashing on a rock on the water edge.

After we had crashed I found myself about half under water with the wreckage all round me and managed to get my head above the water. Then Flt Lt. Briscoe came to my aid and released me. Later taken away in a fishing boat.

Flt Sgt. Williams suffered multiple abrasions to his head, hands and right leg. He was admitted to RAF Benbecula Sick Quarters.

(3) Statement by Sgt. Edward Chadwick:

Sunderland a/c T9084 crashed on landing. I was sitting in the W/Ops desk when I felt a bump, so I stood and looked out and saw we had taken off again but were wobbling badly. I resumed my seat and then the a/c crashed.

I felt myself being crushed in the middle, and the next thing I knew I was under water held by the wreckage. I struggle out and eventually found myself on the underside of the Starboard mainplane (the aircraft being upside down), from which position I was rescued by a fishing boat.

Sgt. Chadwick suffered a strained upper back. He was admitted to RAF Benbecula Sick Quarters.

(4) Statement by Flt Sgt. Kenneth Page Barber:

Sunderland aircraft T9084. Crashed on landing whilst I was standing behind the 1st Pilot. The machine struck a rock smashing the portion of the aircraft beyond the leading edge and turned over on its back. I was caught in the wreckage in the water and was released after some time by Army personnel.

Flt Sgt. Barber suffered abrasions to head and neck and a fractured right rib. He was admitted to RAF Benbecula Sick Quarters.

On the 5th September 1942 Flt Sgt. Barber was KiA when Sunderland III, W4032 from 228 Sqn, crashed in a forced landing on Vaul Bay, on the NE of the Isle of Tiree. The aircraft was returning from a Convoy Escort mission and ran out of fuel. Flt Sgt. Barber drowned after abandoning the aircraft, (9 KiA, 2 survived)

(5) Statement by Aircraftman Class 2 (AC2) Thomas Edge:

I was a member of the crew of Sunderland aircraft No. T9084 (under training). The aircraft was being trained but I do not know for certain its destination.

The aircraft had landed and was, I believe, taking off again. I felt a considerable impact which appeared to have damaged the Port wing tip float. The aircraft subsequently crashed and I found myself submerged in the water. I remember being forced to the surface after which I can remember nothing further of the accident. I was in the Cottage, Oban, when I regained consciousness.

AC2. Edge had suffered partial asphyxiation due to drowning. He was transferred by air to RAF Oban Sick Quarters.

(6) Statement by Sgt. Joseph Eric Catherall:

Crash of Sunderland T9084. Finding that we were about to land, I left the rear turret, and sat down on the Starboard bunk in the bomb room. Immediately afterwards there was a violent bump, and after revving up the aircraft began to wobble and eventually crashed on a rock, turning over on its back. Recovering my wits, I found that I was sitting in water in the midships gun position. After making my way outside I was taken off the mainplane by Army personnel.

Sgt. Catherall suffered abrasions to his right leg. He was admitted to RAF Benbecula Sick Quarters.

(7) Statement by Act Sqn Ldr. Ronald Dallas Brett:

I was on board Sunderland N/ 228, which crashed whilst attempting to land at Loch Boisdale. I was on board with the consent of my Commanding Officer, together with my assistant controller Fg Off. Jenner, for the general purpose of obtaining further air experience on flying boats and, in particular, to examine the topographical features of the approaches to Loch Boisdale and the facilities there, as this place was used by operational aircraft from Oban as an emergency landing area on occasions.

Act Sqn Ldr. Brett had suffered extensive lacerations to his right calf. He was admitted to RAF Benbecula Sick Quarters.

(8) Statement by Act Sqn Ldr. John William Arthur Legge-Willis:

Whilst on duty proceeding from Oban to Benbecula on signals duty. Crashed on landing at Benbecula [sic]

Act Sqn Ldr. Legge-Willis had suffered serious injuries in the crash. Fractured right radius, fractured right knee-cap and bones in his right foot. He was admitted to the Orthopaedic Unit at Larbert Base hospital in Stirling and discharged on the 16th November 1942.

(9) Statement by Act Fg Off. Keith Leslie Oswald Jenner:

I was granted permission to fly in Sunderland N /228 as a passenger. I was off duty from watch keeping in the operations room. This was to familiarise myself with aircraft procedure for general liaison & flying difficulties from the operational room point of view. The aircraft crashed on landing. I was in the Ward Room and have no further recollection of the accident.

Act Fg Off. Jenner had suffered serious injuries in the crash. Deep laceration to the back of his right upper arm damaging his radial nerve, rupture of ligaments to a knee with attendant damage to knee joint, fractured left clavicle and multiple lacerations to both legs and his face. He was admitted to the Orthopaedic Unit at Larbert Base hospital in Stirling and discharged on the 22nd November 1942.

(10) Statement by Aircraftman Class 2 (AC2) William Haggart:

Sunderland flying boat T9084 crashed when landing. I was standing on platform on Port side looking out of the gun hatch. On landing the Port float went straight up towards the mainplane, as if it had struck a submerged object. We seemed to take off again and ultimately turn over on our back and went crashing into the rocks on the waters edge.

After the crash I found myself up to the neck in water and in a dazed condition. I was still inside the aircraft. After crawling through debris I eventually found I was standing on the underside of the Starboard wing. With the rest of the crew I was taken off in a fishing boat. Later we left the scene of the crash.

AC2. Haggart had suffered contusions and abrasions to his face. He was admitted to RAF Benbecula Sick Quarters.

The Court of Enquiry considered that the contributary causes to this accident was firstly, the confusion in the mind of Plt Off. Jones by the opening of throttles by Sqn Ldr. Hollins and secondly the possibility that after flying a Sunderland aircraft with no position [sic] error, that Plt Off. Jones forgot the fact that T9084 and a position [sic] error of 14½ knots.

Burial Details:

Sqn Ldr. Frederick Undecimus Hollins AFC. Oban (Pennyfuir) Cemetery Section I. Grave 27.

Born on the 11th May 1911 in Pleasley, Nottingham. Son of William and Mary (née Seely) Hollins. His father predeceased him in Nov 1918. Husband to Daphne Myddleton (née Jackson) Hollins of Great Posbrook, Titchfield, Fareham, Hampshire, England.

Awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC) when a Flt Lt. London Gazette 1st July 1941.

Plt Off. Ronald Jones. Sefton (St. Helen) Churchyard Section N. Grave 7. Inscription: ‘KILLED ON ACTIVE SERVICE AT LOCH BOISDALE’. Son of Samuel and Isabella Jones, of Liverpool; husband of Maud Ophelia Jones, of Hightown, Liverpool, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to Brian Williams, the son of Flt Sgt. Williams, for his father’s DoB (Feb 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 23.02.2023 - Initial upload

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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