Operation: Formation training
Date: 16th January 1943 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 58 OTU (Operational Training Unit)
Type: Spitfire 1a
Serial: X4614 / AR254 / P8276
Base: RAF Grangemouth, Scotland.
Location: Kings Seat, North of Dollar, Clackmannan-shire
Pilot: Sgt. ‘Gordie’ Gordon Murray Duda R/128862 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Pilot: F/O. ‘Bud’ Hugh Gordon Reynolds J/9465 RCAF Age: 20. Killed (1)
Pilot: Sgt. ‘Vin’ Vincent Patrick Daly AUS/408634 RAAF Age 21. Badly Injured, survived. (2)
REASON FOR LOSS:
A triple training tragedy flying out of Grangemouth crashed in bad weather onto Kings Seat Hill above Dollar, killing 2 of the pilots and badly injuring the 3rd. The instructor, F/O. Reynolds was one of the fatalities.
The injured pilot Sgt. Vincent Daly was found 24 hours later, barely alive crawling in the snow by a shepherd. He was taken to Larbert Naval hospital.
Statement made by Sgt. Daly for the board of enquiry:
“I am a pupil attached to ‘C’ Flight 58 OTU. At 11:35 hrs on the 16th January I took off on a practice formation as Red 2 in a ‘Vic’ formation led by F/O. Reynolds. After about 10 minutes flying F/O. Reynolds led our formation into cloud. We were flying in cloud for approximately 5 minutes when F/O. Reynolds signalled us to climb and looking down I saw the ground about 100 ft below me and the hill looming in front. I pulled back the control column and endeavoured to climb, but was unable to clear the hill. I climbed from the wreckage and crawled to Sgt. Duda’s aircraft (X4614) and found him dead - the aircraft of F/O. Reynolds (AR254) was in flames and too far away for me to reach. I endeavored to crawl down the mountain and was eventually discovered by a shepherd 48 hours after the crash.”
Spitfire X4614 was one of 10 Presentation Spitfires funded by the Falkland Islands and bore the name 'Falkland Islands I' (see Addendum below for further details).
(Above courtesy Patricia Katherine Svinth Brammer)
Years later members of the 383 (Alloa) cadets ATC, the Ochil Mountain Rescue Team led by Major Brian Imrie of the REME built a memorial at the spot, on September 12th 2009 it was unveiled with a fly past from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The reverend Ray Gaston, who was the padre to 633 Alloa Squadron ATC, carried out the service of dedication. (Rev. Gaston contacted Aircrew Remembered in March 2016)
(1) The family lost three sons during the war, the other two, 23 year old W/O.II Arthur Mac Reynolds R/98064 RCAF killed just weeks later on the 31st January 1943, whilst with 227 Squadron - commemorated on the Malta Memorial. 20 year old P/O. Douglas Glen Reynolds J/38692 RCAF killed on the 15th April 1944 whilst with 31 OTU in Canada - commemorated on the Ottawa Memorial.
(2) Sgt. Vincent Patrick Daly born on 15th February 1921, of 129 Atherton Road, Oakleigh, Victoria, Australia. Injuries: Compound fracture of right tibia, Lacerations, severe bruising face, scalp and back, frostbite. Discharged from Halton hospital on the 15th June 1944. Repatriated to Australia in 1945. Sadly passed away on the 27th February 1969 of a heart condition, age just 48.
Sgt. Gordon Murray Duda. Grangemouth Cemetery (Grandsable). Sec I. Grave 30. Born in Edmonton Alberta, Canada the son of Janet Duda of Second Avenue, Seattle, Washington, USA.
F/O. Hugh Gordon Reynolds. Grangemouth Cemetery (Grandsable). Sec. 1. Grave 28. Born on the 11th July 1921 the son of Arthur T. Reynolds and Gertie E. Reynolds, of Chatham, Ontario, Canada.
Researched for relatives of the pilot. With thanks to the following for further information supplied by the 1333 (Grangemouth Spitfire) Squadron and the Grangemouth Spitfire Memorial Trust who provided me with so much information and assistance during my visit.
Graves visited by Aircrew Remembered in August 2012 and again in 2014. Patricia Katherine Svinth Brammer who's daughter found the photograph in her mothers possessions after she had passed away. Any relative who would like a high resolution photo of any of the graves in Grangemouth we would be happy to send you a copy.
Spitfire X4614 'Falkland Islands I'
THE FALKLAND ISLANDS SPITFIRES
In 1940 the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands voted a donation to Britain of over £70000, and expressly asked that £50000 of this amount be used for the purpose of the purchase of Spitfires. At the time the cost of a Spitfire was around £5000 so ten fighters were designated as 'Presentation Aircraft' and bore the name FALKLAND ISLANDS on each side of the fuselage beneath the cockpit. (Details courtesy Alan Tew, member of the Falkland Islands Philatelic Study Group and the Spitfire Society)
Spitfire Mk1a X4614, named Falkland Islands I, was taken on charge at 6 MU Brize Norton and allocated to 66 Squadron at Gravesend on 15 October 1940. Transferred to 92 (East India) Squadron at Biggin Hill on 13 November 1940 coded QJ-H. On 5 February 1941, based at RAF Manston in Thanet and flown by Sgt Hugh Bowen-Morris, credited with a 1/4 share in the destruction of a Ju87 Stuka* attacking shipping off the North Foreland near Ramsgate. Allocated to 53 OTU at Heston on 13 March 1941 suffering flight training damage. 39 MU Colerne on 8 April 1941 thence to 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron on 10 May 1941. Returned to 53 OTU on 17 June 1941 suffering further flight training damage. 8 MU Little Rissington 8 April 1942. 58 OTU Balado Bridge on 4 July 1942 suffering ground collision damage. 16 January 1943 crashed fatally into hills at Dollar Bank Farm, Kingseat Hill, Clackmannan with two other Spitfires. Pilot Sgt Duda RCAF killed.
*Ju87 Stuka J9 + BK, Werk No 5225, of 2./StG1, was shot down just outside Manston airfield on 5th February 1941. Pilot, Lt. Ernst Schimmelpfennig and wireless operator, OberGf. Hans Richard Kaden, were killed. Earlier, His Majesty's Coastal Patrol Tug 'Tourmaline' had been sunk near Ramsgate by Schimmelpfennig resulting in the loss of life of two of its crew members who have no known graves. Spitfire X4614 played its part in the destruction of J9+BK with pilot, Sgt Hugh Bowen-Morris, receiving a 1/4 share of the credit.
The pilots examining the wreckage of the Stuka (bottom right) are, left to right: P/O Cecil Henry Saunders, Sgt Thomas Edward John Ream, Sgt Hugh Bowen-Morris, P/O Ronald Henry Fokes (already commissioned per ORB data). Click on picture to enlarge it.
The above details, photo montage and pilot identifications, are the result of extensive investigations by Spitfire researcher Simon Gerrard in collaboration with the Falkland Islands National Museum; RAF Museum, Hendon; Dollar Museum, Clackmannanshire, Scotland; Mr Martin Johnston; Mr Russ Fahey; Roy Wilcock of Aircrew Remembered and The Tom Kracker Luftwaffe Archive http://aircrewremembered.com/KrackerDatabase/