Douglas C47B KK194

Beinn Talaidh, Isle of Mull, Argyll

 
     
 
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PAGE 2: Accident Report Summary

 

BELOW: Flt Lt Vincent Thomas

 

Flt Lt Vincent Thomas in retirement

 

Many thanks to Quentin Thomas for the following information. Mr Thomas' late father, [Flt Lt] R H V Thomas,1 (above) a Halifax captain posted to RAF Dundonald...was appointed to the 44 Group board of inquiry on February 5th 1945... [Flt Lt] Thomas and other board members drew the following conclusions):

 

 

The aircraft initially came to rest some 200 feet below the summit after throwing S/L Alderton clear. Undoubtedly injured during the impact, he was crushed to death by the aircraft as it slid a further 500 feet down the mountain. When the aircraft eventually came to rest, F/L Auchinvole, who had sustained a serious back injury, crawled clear of the wreckage and fired off distress flares [which were seen in the valley below (ed.)]. He then went to the assistance of F/L Miller, who had been injured during the crash and also thrown clear of the aircraft. F/L Auchinvole dragged F/L Miller back to the aircraft fuselage, which offered some protection from the elements. He also attended to F/O Bishop who was badly injured and died later on in the night. Some accounts state that F/O Bishop was thrown clear at some stage during the crash. This would seem unlikely as he should surely have been strapped in to the captain's seat on the port side of the aircraft which escaped relatively unscathed from the ensuing damage.

 

It can be assumed that F/L Auchinvole was the least injured individual to emerge from the crash as it was he who set off down Glen Forsa to raise the alarm. He headed towards and was guided by a light showing from Rhoail Cottage where he met the first rescue party heading up the glen. F/L Auchinvole was able to give them the location of the crash site before passing out from his injuries and exhaustion.

 

A total of four combined Royal Navy, Police and civilian rescue parties made the climb to the crash site, in atrocious weather. However, they missed the crash site by a few hundred feet, and returned to their base. Subsequently, the bodies were recovered by Norwegian special forces troops who were training in the area.

 

As a result of the herculean efforts from all the rescuers, the following awards were made at a ceremony in Salen Village Hall on the 3rd November 1945:

 

 

 

 


Awards

 

MBE

  Dr Flora MacDonald

   

BEM

  Archibald Cattanach
Donald Ross
William Walker
     

Commendations

George Robert Beale
Thomas MacDonald
Donald MacLean
Dr Reginald MacDonald
John MacDougall
Rev Alexander MacRea
     

Letters of Thanks

  John Black
Dougal Carmichael
Neil MacKechnie
John Mac Quarrie
Mrs Margaret Fisher
Mrs Catherine MacLean
Mrs Mary MacNeilage
Officers and men of the Royal Navy at Tobermory
Argyll County Police

 

 

 

 

 

Footnote and Media Article

 

1  Flt Lt R H V Thomas: In February 1945, Flt Lt Vivian Thomas, who had been appointed to sit on the court of inquiry, visited the crash site at Beinn Talaidh on the Isle of Mull. Fifty-three years later, in 1998, Vivian Thomas decided to re-visit the site to view the remains of the aircraft and to pay his respects to the crew who died here. At this time, Mr. Thomas was 79 years old. Nevertheless, he succeeded in climbing the 2,500ft Beinn Talaidh and reaching the site of the accident. It was Vivian's desire that the memories of dead comrades should never be forgotten.

 

On making his way back down the mountain, Vivian stopped at a bothy to enter his name in the visitors' book. To his amazement, he found that the entry before his had been made by Victoria Honey, a 16-year-old from Cardiff. Victoria was the grandaughter of F/O Frank Bishop, the Dakota pilot who had perished in this accident.

 

[This information was kindly provided by Steven Spink from the media article reproduced below]

 

 

media article of 8 november 1998 describing vincent thomas' return to beinn talaidh

 

 

 


 

 

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