Unidentified Grave

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by archivist, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Hello Steve,

    I have had a little bit of advance information. The two bodies were picked up from a life raft. The detailed log is apparently too big to scan but I expect a typed copy of the detail soon. I will definitely keep you informed.
  2. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    This is the response I have received regarding the Holyhead Lifeboat recovery of the two bodies:

    Attached Files:

  3. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    I have just found out that a reward of £2.10s was paid for the recovery of the two bodies by the Lifeboat. Was that normal?
  4. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member


    Pre war the bulk of the RNLI crews were fulltime fishermen who would volunteer to go on rescues. As they were not earning by fishing when actively taking part in rescue the RNLI would pay a reward out of institute funds.

    At the advent of war the Institute took the farsighted and generous decision to reward all acts of rescue by anyone in a similar manner to that they would have paid RNLI crews.

    This was done with the knowledge that the number of rescues would be immense and was totally funded 1939 to 1945 from the Institution reserves and public donations.

    The Rescue Records are also a form of accounts and, although not published during the war years, they were kept on a daily basis.

    The portions I publish on web sites are taken from the Rescue Records.

    I have given the record of service for this rescue earlier but many are like this for Beaufort AW309

    Just after seven o’clock in the morning of 11th September, 1942, a British aeroplane crashed into the sea. A light S.W. wind was blowing, and the sea was smooth. She crashed near two boats which were fishing in Maidens Bay.

    They were owned by Mr. A. MrCrindle and Mr. T. Sloan. They went at once to the aeroplane, and Mr. MrCrindle rescued two airmen and Mr. Sloan one, before the R.A.F. launch from Girvan arrived. One airman was lost. - Rewards, letters of thanks to Mr. McCrindle and Mr. Sloan, who did not wish to have money rewards.

    and the final service by the RNLI crews during Dunkirk.

    This life-boat performed the final service to the men of Dunkirk.

    At 6.10 in the evening of the 10th of June, a message was received from the Royal Naval Shore Signal Station that three British soldiers had just rowed in a small boat to the lightship, and wished to be landed. A light, southwest breeze was blowing and the sea was smooth. It was foggy. At 6.19 the motor life-boat Charles Cooper Henderson was launched, went to the lightship, and took the men on board. They were soldiers who had escaped from France. They were only partly clothed and were very tired.

    The police were waiting with a taxi for them when the life-boat returned to her station at 8.20. - Rewards, £16 5s. 6d.
    Source RNLI Rescue Records 1939 - 45)

    You may like to consider this gesture by the RNLI during 1939 to 1945 next local flag day.

    Rich Payne likes this.
  5. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Thank you Ross,

    I find that fascinating and it was something about which I knew nothing. I can well understand the reasons behind it and I always do contribute to the RNLI. Perhaps I will dig a little deeper into the pocket next time.

    I was just a little surprised when I read the last sentence of a report on the recovery of two airmen's bodies in 1942: Reward £2.10s
  6. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    :poppy: Just to mark 73rd anniversary of Holyhead Coastguard signal to the minute :poppy:
    My main question at this point is who alerted them - I asked Holyhead Maritime Museum today but they couldn't tell me which RA units were watching out over South Stack at that or any other time during WW2.​
  7. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    The only information that I have is that the Coastguard alerted the Lifeboat Station who acted immediately on that call and put to sea very quickly to render whatever assistance they could. Sadly, it was only to pick up the bodies of the two pilots who had managed to get into a life raft but were both dead when the Lifeboat arrived - presumably they were very badly injured.

    I had assumed that the Coastguard had a standing watch or perhaps they were notified from the South Stack Lighthouse which was close at hand. The RNLI have no further records so I presume that the third body picked up that day was picked up by an independent boat. It was an ebb tide so he was unlikely to have drifted ashore.

    The remaining two were picked up about a week apart "near Trearaddur Bay" so I presume that they were picked up by other boats - fishing boats or naval vessels seem the most likely - or drifted ashore.
  8. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    As you may guess, the reason I'm asking is to get as close we may to an original eye-witness account - hopefully in a defensive Coast Artillery Regiment's ORB with the trouble being that the RA seemingly arbitrarily kept moving units no sooner than settled and I know of nobody having yet mapped them (most obviously from painstaking ORB analysis) for us to look up. Holyhead Coastguard is based down in the town - on the far side of Holyhead Mountain to South Stack - and the museum's permanent war exhibit expert didn't think it likely they'd have anyone on regular lookout. He also readily agreed with my supposition that the lighthouse staff were probably less than alert (maybe even asleep) at that time of day. I also theorised the Observer Corps but he didn't reckon to it - more inclined to suggest HG. As I understand it, the primary responsibility fell to the RA to man OPs on constant lookout for enemy invaders and, of those, the searchlight batteries would have been pretty much nocturnal, like the lighthouse, effectively leaving the ball in the gunners' court to organise & maintain watch through daylight hours - perhaps with HG help but I doubt any Welsh records survive to help us. Finally, BTW, the only examples I know of fishermen organising shore watches were huers.

    Coincidentally, but rather bizarrely as soon as I mentioned today happened to be the 73rd anniversary of the event, my informant miscalculated and thought I meant 20 Aug 1944 when he said a US bomber, nicknamed 'Gig's Up', also crashed off South Stack. But all I can easily find about that name online refers to US fighters coming to grief on other dates - FTR, not a red herring I intend chasing !

    While I'm posting, BTW, here's the latest version of my GE placemark set contrasting the RNLI's fix curiously 1.29m NNE of Coflein's (c/o Kevin) - View attachment Wellington Z1172.kmz (outdated - see post 130).

  9. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    The American B24 bomber "Jigs Up" ran out of fuel and crashed off the North Stack, Anglesey on 22nd December 1944. That is a red herring that I have already followed up and is very well documented. It ran out of fuel, trying to reach RAF Valley, and most of the crew bailed out into the sea and were lost. The pilot and co-pilot survived the crash. There is even a monument to commemorate this crash.

    I realised that today was the 73rd anniversary, a few days ago when I was talking to a friend about it and he said "That's my birthday" Sadly, he had nothing else to contribute!

    It was a nice thought of yours to note it on your last post.
  10. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Aha, just discovered a CHL radar station, not far from the lighthouse, where the operators may well have been tracking Z1172 and noticed its sudden disappearance without literally eyeballing the accident. Brief facts:
    * I fired up GE's 'Defence of Britain' Dynamic Data Layer and zoomed in
    * 'CHAIN HOME LOW STATION (removed): e25354' was the only thing plotted near the lighthouse
    * It's plotted 54 yards up behind the RSPB's Ellin's Tower viewpoint visitor centre
    * I copied it into my placemark set - View attachment Wellington Z1172.kmz
    * Tip: For far superior aerial imagery to GE, hereabouts in Wales, use Bing Maps
    * I believe isolated radar stations like these were operated by the RA to guide their guns ...

  11. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Hello Steve,

    This is a bit out of my depth as I am not technically minded! I had not realised that the Coastguard Station was out of the line of sight of the scene of the accident. However, the Chain Home Low station seems ideally placed to have tracked it and noticed it disappear from the radar. It seems to me that this is the most likely source of the Coastguard's information although, if that is the case, It would have been better to contact the Lifeboat Station directly - unless there was some sort of protocol..........chains of command etc.

  12. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    The A/SR organisation was ahead of you in catering for non technical minds - they used pictures to get the message over to aircrew.


    This is from a few years later (warwick era) but graphically shows the chain of command.

    All military routes would end up with local NLO (naval authority) request of launch. The authority is CoastGuard so I suspect it was immediate local action.

    Edit - what does the Particulars of Wreck Book at Anglesey Archives say on the matter?

    Final go/no go decision for any RNLI launch was always the local station - only they knew local conditions.

    Of note in the diagram is the Air Ministry - having no input or information needs - only sitting at desk with shorthand secretary in attendance.

  13. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Ross, I have to say that diagram with its quirky humour (love the Air Ministry in splendid isolation eyeing up the typist) is certainly bang on the money to get the attention of people who ordinarily don't read/absorb messages or other Notices....
    Thanks for posting and bringing waves of nostalgia for when gentle humour could get a life or death message across.
  14. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Thanks Ross,

    As the Coastguard Station could not see the site of the crash, I presume that Steve is right when he says the alert was probably raised by the CHL station. In the text of your message you say that the Authority is the Coastguard and that it was local action.

    In view of what you have told me and the diagram, it has become much clearer and the idea of local action explains how the Lifeboat reached the wreck so quickly. The two pilots had managed to get onto a life raft but were dead when the Lifeboat reached them. With injuries that severe it is unlikely that they could have been saved.

    Thank you for your explanation.

  15. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    I'm wary of declaring that a point on the map cannot see them. The point on the map was a local centre for a network of individual outlying lookouts.

    It was the job of these lookouts to give visual/aural confirmation regardless of the functioning of the seaward distance looking remote sensing device.

    Once the target passed the lobes of CHL it was the visual lookouts that provided the inland tracking and if possible identification.

    All that a CHL station could say was that a plot it was watching had faded, it needed the filter room to check the MLS system and decide Friendly/Hostile or Unknown. If the plot was being tracked then it is a Chain of Command response to it fading.

    A coastwatcher could say crashed, exploded or continued in flight on x course but if the visual watch is from the CHL station it will report sightings via the secure landline to the filter room rather than to the local coastguard station.

    CHL Station 76A South Stack was one of the West Coast Expansion triple service stations of the 1941 design type with Plan Position Indicator so had a function to report aircraft, vessels and invasion targets to RAF, RN and Army.

  16. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Thanks Ross,

    I assumed that the CHL tracked them and was responsible for reporting them to the Coastguard. I did not know that the Coastguard had outlying posts in the manner you have described. The whole system appears to have been very much more organised than I had previously thought. In any event, it worked very quickly indeed on this occasion.

    Thanks again.
  17. RAFCommands

    RAFCommands Senior Member

    Too many unknowns at the moment to say one way or another.

    Sometimes the individuals beat the system.

    B-17G Miss Lollipop #42-97883 was flying parallel to the south coast at 2,500 ft - on fire with two engines out and remaining running rough.

    Coastwatchers reported and crash call issued to RAF HSLs on watch moored at bouy in mid channel and at Dover Harbour.

    Also instructed by telephone Walmer Naval Liasion Officer to request lifeboat launch. Aircraft was still in the air.

    NLO walked out of harbour office to fire maroon to call crew and request launch from Hon Sec only to see the motor lifeboat fully manned leaving dock entrance.

    Exceptional case as the aircraft had not yet issued Mayday or crashed but due to war service of younger men the lifeboat crew were all over 60 and in most cases in their 70s.

    But this crew were the men who had manned the prewar pulling lifeboat and did not wait to be asked to carry out rescue they had seen the aircraft and launched. They picked up the badly injured pilot. Neither RAFHSL managed to reach the crash in time to save any.

  18. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

  19. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    In an effort to short-list ORBs for investigation as most likely relevant, just to report inadequate TNA indexing leaving me with far too many (i.e. 81) candidates - View attachment 1942-08 candidate coastal RA ORBs at TNA.pdf . I'll maybe keep searching for web accounts - if only to identify and weed out more wrong 'uns ...

    FWIW, I also found references to a recent potentially-useful-but-expensive 'coffee table' hardback:
    * Defending Anglesey (Book, 2013) [WorldCat.org] (lists copies at Bangor & Cardiff Unis but not British Library !?)
    * Defending Anglesey (publisher's page)
    * DEFENDING ANGLESEY - YouTube (complete 6'22" page-by-page preview slide show)
    Near the end, at the highest available quality, I can blurrily make out half-a-dozen TNA WO references but none of them apparently WO 166 ORBs - so Mark Dalton's research apparently leaves a lot to be desired. Besides that, his limited objective ("to discover and record what remains today on Anglesey") may well distort the picture by overlooking anything, like the CHL station, already removed. A conventional readable sample chapter would have been more useful for assessing the quality & completeness of his research but it looks like they're not pitching it as a serious reference work. Nice eye candy though !

    And for background reading, while posting, I also turned up:
    * BBC - WW2 People's War - My Experiences of Radar Installation twice mentioning Holyhead
    * War Memories: Growing up in Holyhead in World War Two - Daily Post for a kid's perspective

    Finally, BTW, I was wrong about no Welsh HG records surviving - 2nd Bn Anglesey HG | The National Archives being so frustratingly-close yet so far in representing Menai Bridge's 2nd rather than Holyhead's 1st island battalion !

  20. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Hello Steve,

    Sorry I have not replied earlier. Unfortunately I have had a little liaison with a nasty little bug which has kept me in bed for three days!

    I will go through the links you have listed and read them all. As for the coffee table book, they are all beautifully presented but rarely have the depth of information needed by researchers. It is a shallow form of history.


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