We use cookies to track visitor statistics and personalise adverts. This info is shared with Google. Only use the site if you agree to this. OK, I agree

The Invergordon Archive

A Sunderland flying boat at its mooring.
The Invergordon Archive
A Sunderland flying boat at its mooring.

It is presumed that this is in the Cromarty Firth and perhaps details in the background can confirm this?
Open Document Open Document
Picture added on 13 May 2004
Flying boats continued to use the Firth up to the Fifties.They threw up spectacular spray when they landed or took off. When my family had picnics on the beach my father used to swim out to a seaplane, sit on the bouyancy tanks and wave to us.
Added by Bill Geddes on 24 December 2004
This appears to be a "civilianised" Sunderland with the CAA registration G-AGHV. You can get minimal info from the CAA site. However, they do not give prior details for delisted aircraft. This appears to be a Sunderland Mk III and may have had the serial number JM722. If anyone knows how to get the CAA history files, you will find out who owned it.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 01 June 2005
I cannot remember titles, but have seen publications, aimed at flight enthusiasts, on history of flying boat activity in the Firth. Perhaps contacting military flight enthusiasts could yield further info.
Added by Ronald Stewart on 28 September 2005
Can anyone from Invergordon or elsewhere remember the Lerwick seaplane similar to the Sunderland but only having two engines?
Added by Douglas Will on 16 January 2006
Here are a few links to sites with information about the Lerwick. The first one is a modeller's site but has a note about Lerwicks flying from Oban and a list of good book references. The other two have pictures.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 17 January 2006
Hi Ron - poke in the dark a bit - my Grandparents met up here in the war - my Grandfather Clifford Marshall used to fly Sunderlands out of the Firth. I know my Grandmother's side of the family (Salvesen) bought one after the war and use to fly to Risobanken in Norway - could be the same machine?
Added by Ali Wilkerson on 20 June 2007
Can anyone remember the Sunderland which crashed at the back of Saltburn? This seaplane seemed to have caught fire whilst taking off and to avoid killing civilians it took off and flew over Saltburn and crashed right next to the railway line causing some damage to the line. One of the engines was found almost half a mile from the wreckage. Needless to say there were no survivors.
Added by Doug Will on 21 June 2007
I lived at Kilmuir Easter in the 50s and heard about the bombing of the oil tanks but don't remember hearing about the Saltburn crash. I do remember reading somewhere about a Sunderland that sank at its mooring on the Cromarty Firth in a storm during the war. The skeleton crew on board all died and I believe may have been burried locally (Alness?). Anyone know more?
Added by Brian MacLeod on 25 June 2007
Brian, most of the aircrew who were buried locally usually went to Rosskeen Cemetery. Can’t remember a Sunderland sinking at its mooring but can remember that 5 Catalinas went down - somebody had left the blister canopies open and the storm did the rest. They were all taken ashore by the ferry slip and pulled up onto the piece of ground near the Ship Inn where they were cut up and taken away. This was the easiest place to beach these planes. They used to locate them and then one of the moorings ships would raise them and drop them off between the ferry slip and first pier (the RAF pier as it was known). They would then have been either floated up the beach or dragged up ready for cutting up.
Added by Doug Will on 26 June 2007
I'm am doubtless being really blonde here - wasn't it a seaplane that went down with the then Kings Brothers on board - around here - or was it near Golspie?
Aye, Ali
Added by Ali Wilkerson on 26 June 2007
Thanks Doug, I may take a look next time I'm in Easter Ross. My recollection of the description is that a new airman was posted to a Sunderland squadron and his first duty was burial escort or something similar for these people that drowned. A couple of weeks later he was sent to the squadron detachment in the isles (Orkney or Shetland) and within days had to perform the same storm duty. He was "a little corncerned" to say the least.
On Ali's question: Do you mean the Duke of Kent? He was killed in a Sunderland crash at Dunbeath in 1942.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 27 June 2007
Ali, it was Prince George, The Duke of Kent, Sunderland went down in Caithness.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 27 June 2007
Thanks Brian and Harry - why does this appear to have been swept under the carpet a bit?
Aye, Ali
Added by Ali on 28 June 2007
Ali, that's an interesting question. The Duke's papers are still under embargo and some critical documents are missing (the Sunderland flight plan for one).
The Duke was subject to some speculation surrounding the affair of Rudolph Hess. All sorts of fanciful theories have been put forward on this front. There has also been speculation that the Duke was at the controls and may have caused the accident due to inexperience. The biggest mystery is why the incredibly experienced crew broke standard procedure to fly over land, then descended in cloud over high ground.
Whatever the truth, there seems to have been some attempt to avoid tarnishing his reputation and that of the wider Royal family. In 2007, it is hard to remember how tightly-held socially-negative information was kept in those days. The whole panoply of State surrounding the Royal family was very rigid, formal and stifling - probably the reason for the abdication in 1937.
Personally, I doubt that there is any great scandal out there to be discovered. The biggest scandal may well have been that there was some kind of cover-up or suppression of details due to the perception of officials after the crash. If something like this happened, the people responsible may have been around for many decades in positions of power and may have acted to keep the details under wraps.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 29 June 2007
Ali, my understanding is that it was figured to have been a plot, or some sort of top secret mission. The Sunderland did take off from the Cromarty Firth...but you are correct about being swept under the carpet. You would think that some sort of memorial or record would have been kept...
Added by Harry O'Neill on 30 June 2007
Hi everyone - with reference to the crashed/sunk Sunderland - during the war, my Dad, Johnny Lennox retrieved a float from the lost aircraft and hid it in some bushes somewhere around Rosskeen. After the war when I was about 5 or 6 he retrieved it - cut the top off - fitted gunwales and a Johnson Seahorse outboard and we used it as a run-about/fishing boat from about 1950 to 1954.
In Australia several "civilianized" Sunderlands were used up until the 1980s. They were called "Sandringhams" - they were used on scheduled services from Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour out to various Pacific islands like Lord Howe.
Added by Doug Lennox on 30 June 2007
Ali, it was not hushed up but during war-time things like the loss of life are not broadcast as they may affect the morale of the civilian populace.
Added by Doug Will on 30 June 2007
There was more than one Sunderland crash in the Cromarty Firth - Lerwick and Catalina seaplanes also crashed or sunk. Other aeroplanes pulled up by the ferry slip included a Botha or Blenheim aircraft which was discovered whilst they were looking for another crashed plane; also a twin-winged seaplane Stranraer or London type was landed.
Added by Doug Will on 30 June 2007
Doug, I don't remember you but I definitely remember the float conversion, or another one, although I doubt there being another. The one I remember was always around the West (1st) Pier...
Added by Harry O'Neill on 30 June 2007
Cheers Brian and Harry - I understand he was trying to get to Carbisdale Castle - or had stayed there, as King Olaf of Norway spent a lot of time there during the war. Again that is family supposition - and Grandparents still keep schtum about it.
Added by Ali on 02 July 2007
Doug, I remember some wreckage being pointed out to me as being the crashed Blenheim. This was late 50s and at very low tide. I seem to remember that it was off Barbaraville on the Kildary side of the village about straight out from the last house (Gilfinnan's?). I was a little kid so distance did not mean much but suspect it was about a half mile out. I'm not sure if it was the whole aircraft of just some material left after the removal. Anyway, it looked like a plane to a wee kid.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 03 July 2007
Ali, the Duke of Kent crash occurred on a hush-hush trip to Iceland for some kind of meeting with Americans. Sunderlands were supposed to fly over water wherever possible so they were not supposed to cut off the tip of Scotland. Why they did this is part of the mystery. The missing flight plan compounds this mystery.
King Olaf and Norwegian forces do have lots of connections with the area. Mansfield House in Tain was at different times home to the Norwegians and some Polish forces. My grandmother's brother (Lt. Col. Andrew Sutherland - Seaforth Highlanders) was seconded from HQ Scottish Command to help reorganise parts of the Norwegian Army. I think they were at Muir-of-Ord at that time (1943?). He was honoured for his work at some fancy ceremony in London after the war that was hosted by King Olaf.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 03 July 2007
Ok - might have to try and get a bottle of gin into the old Grandmother - see if she will open up a bit. I know King Olaf and my Great Grandfather were firm friends after the war as they had used Carbisdale as a base. It was always a theory in the Salvesen clan that the Duke stayed there - alas - time fuddles the mind of the old - those who are still sharp will not talk about it.
Added by Ali on 04 July 2007
Brian the wrecked plane I was talking about was during the war. The wreckage you are talking about was most probably one of the Barracuda dive bombers which crashed into each other while practising in that area.
Added by Doug Will on 04 July 2007
Hi Brian, the wreckage, still visible from Barbaraville, was (according to my Dad who was in the RAF there during the war) a "Barracuda" out of Fearn - see picture #622 on this site.
Added by Doug Lennox on 05 July 2007
Mansfield House used to have lions on its gateposts but they were used for target practice by the Norwegians and are long gone! Dunbeath Heritage Centre has lots of information on the Duke of Kent crash and usually runs a guided walk to the crash site on the anniversary - mid August from memory.
Added by Estelle Quick on 05 July 2007
Hi Harry, I also remember the float in question..many a time I sailed about in it ..Tin Lizzie ..it was named as I recall..it also lay at the wee slipway at the old swimming pool for a time..all us "young boys" sailed in the Tin Lizzie at one time or another.
Added by Duncan Murray on 05 July 2007
Hi Doug, how do I get to photograph 622? The search feature does not help.

(The link in Doug Lennox's comment should have been 'picture', not 'photograph' - sorry about that, but Brian is right, there is no photo 622 - Site Admin.)
Added by Brian MacLeod on 06 July 2007
Hi Ali, I mentioned Mansfield House to add information. I did not intend to give the impression that King Olaf never visited or used Carbsdale. Hope I did not put you off the scent.
However, the crash definitely occurred on the mission to Iceland.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 06 July 2007
Picture 622 of the barracuda is on the Cromarty Image Library.
Added by Alan Whiteford on 06 July 2007
Apologies - the picture is at www.black-isle.info/cromarty/imagelibrary/picture/number622.asp
Added by Doug Lennox on 06 July 2007
No no, not at all Harry - all good banter and it's interesting
Aye, Good weekend, Ali.
Added by Ali on 06 July 2007
That is correct there Duncan, it was the Tin Lizzy and yes we all had a turn about in her. There was also a small rowboat with a square bow around the same time and it was called "The Tot", could get two in it in a squeeze....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 06 July 2007
Think Ali's comment is for Brian?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 06 July 2007
Estelle, is there nothing along the sea-shore at Invergordon, recognising that there used to be a Sunderland base there? It would be a nice feature for the town?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 06 July 2007
Harry, the only thing "along the seashore at Invergordon" now is barbed wire fencing 3 metres high. Grrr!!!!
Added by R A Stewart on 07 July 2007
Harry, I believe the Jetty at Alness, Dalmore - and any remaining associated structures were the seaplane base - can't see a lot with Google earth from Oz.
Added by Doug Lennox on 08 July 2007
Oop sorry Harry - it was for Brian. I must have been a blonde morning that day!
Added by Ali on 09 July 2007
The Jetty at Dalmore (Yankee Pier) was used for the loading of mines for the Northern Barage and elsewhere. Sunderlands, although moored in the Dalmore Bay area, were not actually based at the Jetty, moorings were along the Black Isle shore from Balblair towards the west, plus others on the Invergordon side. There is a fine picture in the Publication "Sunderland at War" of the Dalmore Distillery area with some Sunderlands.
Added by Duncan Murray on 09 July 2007
The full story of the 812 Squadron Barracuda crash, in late 1944, is told on the Cromarty Image Library.


My Father wrote about it in his memiors of his service with the FAA during WW2.

"At Fearn I flew one night as Air Radio in the TAG's position when we were carrying out Night Torpedo Bombing. We had lost two aircraft in the previous night's exercise. The pilot was a South African and, I was told, had taken a drink before flying. We were fine until we were landing and instead of cutting the engine at less than 6 feet[sea landing on a heaving deck called for dropping the last bit and catching the tail hook on the Arrester wires] he did so at maybe 16 feet. Our undercarriage went and the radio at knee level broke loose and caught my left knee and my face bounced down on the Gun. I wasn't bad enough to be in Sick Bay but I was lame for almost a year and I re-injured the kneecap slipping on the metal foot rest as I climbed into a Barracuda on the rolling flight deck. It has given me trouble off and on for periods throughout my life.

I was friendly with a TAG, a Somerset farmers son, named Gee, who was a champion beer drinker and a very prosaic character. I could hardly finish a pint without feeling overfull. One evening in Fearn I asked him down to the canteen for a pint and he said" No Jock me tickets up". I told him not to be silly, for with all the losses we had many of the young men were twitchy and depressed.

Next day I was held on the ground in a Barracuda with a U/S radio, when most of the squadron were in the air carrying out close flying. I got the receiver working on the Squadron's operational band and heard the CO shouting on the other 5 planes to close up. They were flying at 1000 feet above the Cromarty Firth when the higher craft struck an air pocket and came down on the lower Barra. The two planes fell like stones to the sea. The crew of the bottom aircraft including my TAG friend were killed instantly. The top plane struck the sea and the Observer, Sub Lieutenant Sagg, a classical Cambridge scholar, staggered out on the sinking wing, inflated his Mae West and fell into the water.

He was picked up said to be black and blue and badly injured and we never saw him again. We presumed that he had died later for we buried the other men at Invergordon. I rediscovered their graves next to the lair for my brother in law in the 80's.

In 1997 812 held a reunion and I was walking across to the hotel to join the others and passed a car with a man emerging. He said " From your walk are you ex-812. Can I join you My name is Sagg". I almost said - you're dead but shook hands and we chatted. He had recovered unfit for flying and, as he had studied Hebrew ended up as an interpreter with the Services in Palestine before returning to Cambridge where he had just retired as a Don."
Added by Calum Davidson on 20 December 2003.
Added by Calum Davidson on 10 August 2007
Doug (Will) and others, I have probably got this all wrong but I'm sure that there are others who will correct me. A short Sunderland flying boat went down on the 15th August 1944. All crew men were Canadian except for two British and one Australian. All were buried in a massed grave at Rosskeen Churchyard.
Added by Rosalie Samaroo on 18 August 2007
Rosalie, not sure if the flying boat you mention was the one that crashed near the railway line at the back of Saltburn. I do know that all the crew were killed. The date I can't remember but maybe somebody else has some info on it or could do some research on the crash.
Added by Doug Will on 19 August 2007
Greetings from Canada, I just happened across this site and noted several references to the Sunderland crash near Saltburn. It happened early on November 26, 1944 shortly after Sunderland DD851 left on a North Sea U-boat patrol. A connecting rod on the starboard inner engine broke soon after take-off when they were over the land. The aircraft caught fire, the engine fell off, and the aircraft crashed on the rail line two miles north-east of the railway station at Invergordon, as they were unable to reach the Firth and land on the water. There was no time to jettison fuel or the six 250 pound depth charges so there was a large explosion and fire which woke up many of the local residents including airmen at RAF Alness. The Canadian crew of eleven men is buried in the Air Force section of Stonefall Cemetery at Harrogate, Yorkshire.
My father was the tail gunner. My wife and I visited Alness and Invergordon in May 2006 and were very impressed with the hospitality of the local people, particular the Rosses who volunteer at the Heritage Centre at Alness. They have a great little museum with two rooms dedicated to RAF Alness and there is a fine memorial which was unveiled in 2001 to "All Who Served Here" at Alness Point. The scotch at the Dalmore Distillery was excellent.
Added by David Kinton on 22 August 2007
Any information available on a Sunderland Flying Boat that crashed at Clare Island, Co Mayo Ireland in the mid 1940s with the loss of twelve Canadian crew?
Added by Jack O 'Grady on 05 February 2008
The following information may be of interest to Jack O'Grady:

JOE O'LOUGHALIN'S Roll of Honour for the crew members who died in crashes from 1941 to 1944. List of SUNDERLAND flying boats based at RAF Castle Archdale during World War 11 that crashed with loss of life. "localdial.com/users/airforce/Joe-R-o-H-ca.html"

He records many Sunderland crashes but eleven RCAF crew members killed in the crash off Clare Island. The basic information he provides is:

"25th May 1943. DD846. 422 Squadron based at Oban, Scotland. It was instructed to terminate this particular patrol at Castle Archdale. Crashed off Clare Island, Co. Mayo. Four Crew members are buried in Irvinestown Cemetery. The crew members killed were: E.F. Paige, F/O J.W. Clarke, Sgt. W.G. Hoops, Sgt. R.B. Bryers, Sgt. D.A. O'Dowd, Sgt. D.H. Richardson, Sgt. R. Sherwood, Sgt.J. Rowe, Sgt. J. Hird, Sgt. D. Purvis and W/O. W.R. Thompson.

Two other websites may also be of interest.

George Smith’s Roll of Honour: "localdial.com/users/airforce/R-o-H.html"

Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland 1939 - 1946
Added by David Kinton on 06 February 2008
From my knowledge of the area, virually certain this is Invergordon. I had visited the area many times as I was a search and rescue navigator in the Fleet Air Arm, 1970 to 1983. I am writing a book regards the Suspect Operations of Mi6 since 1905 through to 1953, after Stalins death.
I have uncovered some startling information regards a 228 crash off Tiree in September 1942, in which Fred Nancarrow died, after investigating the crash of W4026 at Eagles Nest in August of the same year.
Added by Jim Evans on 08 April 2008
Hello there Jack O'Grady, I'm the owner of the website: Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland 1939 - 1946 (www.skynet.ie/~dan/war/crashes.htm)

If you drop me an email I have some various records that might be of interest to you. Five of the eleven men on board were Canadian, the rest were RAF men, though the Squadron was RCAF.
Do drop a line to me to see what you want to learn about this crew.
Added by Dennis Burke on 17 April 2008
As a Fitter 2E on 4OTU at Invergordon from Jan -April 1942 I was on crew of Sunderland E doing engine panel while pilots were converting from land planes to flying boats.
Added by Bill Hills on 10 July 2008
Hello, can anybody please help me regards the Sunderland crash on 5th September 1942, off Tiree, in which Fred Nancarrow a respected Glasgow Journalist was killed, believed to be w4032?
Added by Jim Evans on 14 July 2008
Check this link.
Found from a google search.
Added by Dennis Burke on 14 July 2008
Hi Douglas. While I was at Invorgordon Dec 1941-April 1942 they had 2 Lerwick Flying Boats.
Added by Bill Hills on 19 July 2008
Hi Bill, were you one of the RAF fitters who worked behind the flight control office on Shore Road?
Added by Doug Will on 18 August 2008
Hi Doug. I was not one of the Fitters behind the flight control office, I was 2nd Fitter on Sunderland E for the time I was at Invergordon. We had 2 Fitter ‘E’s who did the Flight Engineer’s job; also 2 Fitter ‘A’s on crew to do mooring up.
Added by Bill Hills on 21 August 2008
Ok Bill, thanks for that. One of the RAF people working there made a Sunderland out of solid brass and gave it to my younger brother Leslie. Sad to say he died just shortly afterwards.
Added by Doug Will on 22 August 2008
My father was in the Royal Observer Corps during the time the Sunderland crashed in Saltburn and was on duty at the post at the end of the Yankee pier at the time it took off. It was reported at that time that the plane was over-loaded with fuel and ammunition and the crew reported unable to climb due to this and was trying to get back when it struck the power lines and exploded.
Added by George Macdonald on 04 October 2008
To Ali: I've just found this web page concerning S/L Clifford George Marshall - I take it he would be the same man? www.emedals.ca/catalog.asp?item=BAG116#bigPic
In the group photos, he is seated in the centre of the photograph, with my father (also a Sunderland captain) standing next to him.
You may be interested in this new website www.95squadron.webs.com which is rapidly developing a goldmine of photographs and information about 95 Squadron at Bathurst. I'm sure that Lindsay, who has set up this wonderful site, would love to hear from you and to find out more about your Grandfather.
Added by Chris Gardner on 18 February 2009
Ref the photo at the top of Sunderland G-AGHV, CAA records confirm it as the former JM722. They also show that BOAC was its only operator, and that it crashed on 10 March 1946. It was formally written off on 4 May 1946.
Added by Chris Gardner on 18 February 2009
Chris, does this mean that it is unlikely that the photo above was taken at Invergordon given that this Sunderland was only ever operated by BOAC and never by the military?
Added by Alan Whiteford on 19 February 2009
I couldn't say, Alan, I'm sorry. The CAA record (www.caa.co.uk/docs/HistoricalMaterial/G-AGHV.pdf) shows that it was registered as a civil aircraft in July 1943 and so I presume that it was never operated in a military capacity. Perhaps, though, BOAC crews trained in Scotland alongside RAF pilots?
'Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2' by Jon Lake lists JM722 as one of a number of JM-prefixed Sunderlands apparently delivered straight to BOAC, including 660-665. (However, my father flew JM671 on occasions in RAF service).
JM719 is on show at the 'Solent Sky' Museum in its last operating guise as a passenger airliner: material on display (from memory) lists it as one of several held in reserve and which never entered military service.
Added by Chris Gardner on 22 February 2009
I remember there were two Lerwicks in the Cromarty Firth. One was flying when the starboard engine cut out and it flew on with the one engine only. This was something it was not supposed to be able to do so the same pilot decided he was going to try the next time out to fly on one engine. Unfortunately it fell from the sky and crashed into the Firth; the crew were drowned.
Your Sunderland with royalty was the only one painted silver in the Firth during the visit when they all stayed in Dalmore House - the officers mess - for the night. They had quite a party that night before flying off next morning to crash shortly afterwards into the hill. The person who served the party that night was an LAC Parker and came from Wellingborough. I do not know if he is still alive but had visited my parents since the war in Alness.
I, as a 14 year old, worked in the camp cinema which, during the day, was the gymnasium and got to know many of the aircrews and heard lots of interesting stories as any boy of my age would enjoy hearing.
Added by George Macdonald on 23 February 2009
Someone mentions the Northern Barrage in WWI above. There are a couple of downloadable books online about this, one with quite a number of photographs around the Moray and Cromarty Firths.

The Northern barrage, Mine force, United States Atlantic Fleet, the North Sea, 1918 (1919)
Subject: United States. Navy
Publisher: Annapolis, Md., The U.S. Naval Institute

The northern barrage and other mining activities (1920)

Author: United States. Office of Naval Records and Library; Fullinwider, Simon Peter, 1871-
Subject: World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval operations Submarine; World War, 1914-1918 -- United States
Publisher: Washington, Govt. Print. Off.
Added by Martin Briscoe on 02 May 2009
Anyone have any idea how I would trace Norwegian servicemen stationed in Scotland during World war II? My father was based at RAF Corsewall, near Stranraer, and worked on motor boats servicing the flying boats. He is keen to trace a Norwegian he met during this time. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Added by Simon on 21 May 2009
Am looking for any information of my father, Otto Martin (Australian) who was stationed at Alness as 'Instructor'in 1944 from RAAF 461 Sunderland Squadron Pembroke Dock. Was a navigator. Would be very pleased if anyone has any information or comments re this.
Added by Carol Shacklady on 08 July 2009
Having just heard the news that Rudolph Hess' body has been exhumed and cremated my interest in the crash of W4026, with the Duke of Kent on board, was re-kindled and I have come across this site.

I originally read of the conspiracy theory when researching the war record of my late father. My father died in 1954 but my mother, who lived until a few years ago, remembers my father asserting that he had been originally picked to be on the flight but that Andrew Jacks was chosen instead.
Added by Brian Williams on 21 July 2011
Doug Will, you are correct regarding the Short Sunderland that crashed about 2 miles east of Invergordon on the railway line.
Here is the story:

#4 Operational training unit. The crew of the Sunderland aircraft DD851 were leaving on an anti-sub patrol when a connecting rod on the starboard inner engine broke. The aircraft caught fire, the engine fell off, and the aircraft crashed on the rail line two miles north-east of the railway station at Invergordon, Ross-shire, Scotland.
The RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) crew of 11 were killed when the full load of fuel and depth charges exploded and burned. The crew is buried in the Stonefall Cemetery, Wetherby Road, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.
Everyone of them was Canadian, the majority of them in their 20s.
The accident happened at 06.43 on Nov 26 1944 on its initial climb.

Douglas, do you remember the exact location?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 10 February 2012
There was another Sunderland crash on August 15, 1944 when DP197 crashed into a hill during a radar exercise and exploded near Helmsdale, Sutherlandshire . Fourteen crewmen, mostly Canadian are buried in the Rosskeen Cemetery, near Invergordon. A photograph of the funeral parade appears to show my father as the "right marker" marching in column behind a truck carrying several coffins.

I have photographs of most of the Roskeen gravestones but I believe that a Jewish member of the crew was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Edinburgh.

I will check the information in my copy of "They Shall Not Grow Old" which commemorates the 18,000 Canadian airmen killed in service during WW2.

David Kinton
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Added by David Kinton on 11 February 2012
Harry, not the exact point but can remember it was almost up to the railway line. As far as I remember they had to replace a section of the line as it was damaged during the explosion.
Added by Doug Will on 12 February 2012
Gentlemen, on reviewing "They Shall Not Grow Old" and my photographs of gravestones at the Roskeen Cemetery, Sunderland DP197's crew consisted of fifteen airmen, twelve RCAF, two RAAF and one RAF.
The crewmen were as follows:
UNSER, Anton Nicholas, 23, F/O(P) of Hazenmore, Saskatchewan
SARGENT, William Benedict, 30, F/L(N) of Belleville, Ontario
ROWSON, Ronald Shaw, 27, F/O(P) of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
WOOD, Thomas Benedict, 21, F/O(WAG) of Douglastown, New Brunswick
MERCER, Robert Lyall, 27, F/L(P) of Freeman, Ontario
WHYTE, Percy Alexander, 26, P/O(FE) of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
FULTON, Roderick William, 23, F/O(WAG) of Dauphin, Manitoba
STORDY, Vernon Cleveland, 23, P/O(WAG) of Vancouver, British Columbia
LUDINGTON, Leroy Hart, 29, WO1(WAG) of Vancouver, British Columbia
DI PESA, , Arthur, 29, FS(WAG) of Montreal, Quebec
DLUSY, Nathan, 23, FS(WAG) of Montreal, Quebec. He was born in Berlin, Germany, escaped the Nazis in 1938 and is buried in the Glenduffhill Jewish Cemetery in Glasgow.
KOMER, Walter, 20, SGT(AG) of Hamilton, Ontario
TRASK, D.R., 20, AG RAF of Newfoundland (which was not a Province of Canada at that time.)
Added by David Kinton on 12 February 2012
Receiving notification of the latest comments caused me to do a search for any new information on G-AGHV/JM722. She seems to have been in the second release of Sunderlands to BOAC in 1943.

The book "Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2" by Jon Lake states: " By September 1943, BOAC had received six more Sunderlands (G-AGHV/JM722 and G-AGHW,X,Y and G-AGIA and B-ML725 to ML729)". The book states they were used on the "West Africa route" and later on to Karachi. The aircraft were painted all white after the war and made more comfortable.

The colour scheme in the photo suggests this was during the war or shortly after.

Finally, there is some discussion in the Aviation Safety Network website that G-AGHV was in an accident in Egypt in 1946 with no fatalities. The aircraft is said to have broken moorings and capsized in a sandstorm at Rod-el-Farag.

Was that the end of her or was she repaired?

From the above book, it is clear that the BOAC aircraft operated from Poole. I wonder if that is the location of the photo rather than the Cromarty Firth?
Added by Brian MacLeod on 13 February 2012
One more reference on G-AGHV. The Air-Britain website has a list of BOAC aircraft from 1945. It has the entry:

G-AGHV In fleet 31/12/45 based Poole. Damaged Cairo 9/3/46. WO 30/4/46.

WO stands for written off so the capsize in the dust storm was the end.
Added by Brian MacLeod on 15 February 2012
Does anybody know the facts behind 63 RAR Maintenance Squadron - the one that recovered the Duke of Kent's aircraft at Eagle Rock 25th August 1942 Scotland?
Added by Jim Evans on 15 February 2012
I've added an "Open Document" - see Picture description above - which is a pdf document provided by David Kinton. It is a copy of an article which appeared in the Alness Times and gives a personal account of the crash of Sunderland DD851.
Added by Malcolm McKean on 16 February 2012
Well done Malcolm. DD851, what an incredible story. They almost made it, perfect landing but ran out of room. Just bad luck all around for the Johnson crew.
Thanks to David Kinton for sharing.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 17 February 2012
The all RCAF crew of Sunderland DD851 which crashed near Invergordon and were killed On November 26, 1944 (see details above) are buried In the Stonefall Cemetery, Wetherby Road, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England with 1600 other Commonwealth airmen.

The crewmen were as follows:

SHAND, John Hodgson F/O (WAG) J18733//R92682. From Lethbridge, Alberta
BEATTIE, Donald Charles FS(AG) R257841. From North Bay, Ontario
COSGRAVE, Francis William George FS(FE) R94795. From Whitewood, Saskatchewan
FEDORUK, William F/L(WAG) J43270. From Brighouse, British Columbia
HILL, Milton Lynn SGT (AG) R197558. From Quesnel, British Columbia
JOHNSON, Garth Borland F/O(P) J27083//R166333. From Birtle, Manitoba
JOHNSON, John Alfred F/L(P) J6940. From Ottawa, Ontario
KENDALL, Charles Marland F/O(NB) J38581. From Windsor, Ontario
KINTON, Clare W01 (WAG) R83542. From Calgary, Alberta
PETERS, Frederick John WO2 (WAG) R172885. From Winnipeg, Manitoba
PORRET, James Edward WO1 (FE) R50873. From Edmonton, Alberta
Added by David Kinton on 28 February 2012
A link with Sunderlands and Alness - The crew of a Sunderland who did their final training at Alness were posted to the Isle of Islay to join 246 Squadron in October 1942. On the night of Sunday 24th January 1943, returning to Islay late in the evening on a very stormy night, they landed on the shore instead of the sea. While rescuing a comrade who was trapped, nine of the crew returned to the plane. The depth charges exploded and all were lost. Three crew members, including the captain, who were already a distance from the plane, survived. The second pilot was from Canada and the others were from England. Just recently a monument in their memory was erected by the sea on the spot where they perished.
Added by Margaret Reid on 14 May 2012
Dear editor, I made a mistake with the above entry for picture no. 346. Instead of "and the others were from England" I should have put "The second pilot was from Canada and two of the crew were Australian and all three are buried in the cemetery at Bowmore, Islay."
Added by Margaret Reid on 05 June 2012
George "Tiny" Cosgrave, a cousin of my grandfather, was the flight engineer on the Sunderland that crashed near Invergordon station.
Added by Trevor Whittley on 29 September 2012
W 4026 - all the stories about this are what the Government wants, so as to engulf the accident in theories. It however is a study in cover-ups, and typical of the RAF’s response to such incidents.
To cover up a majority of the incident the Pilot was always blamed, (part of the class aristocracy of the time), the "I’m an Officer Brigade" that was rife in the Armed Forces and still is.
The accident needs to be reversed to obtain the truth - it crashed heading in a south easterly direction - and the flight was related to what Germany was developing at the time?
Untold information leads the investigation to a major injustice to the pilot - he was obeying orders, and the most senior Air Marshall of the time and certain politicians had all the papers including the Flight Plan destroyed.

(HRH Duke of Kent was on board Sunderland W4026 ‘DQ-M’ of 228 Squadron which crashed in Caithness in August 1942 killing all those on board - Site Admin.)
Added by Jim Evans on 01 October 2012
Surprised nobody mentioned the fact that the Sunderland from the 'Duke' crash was actually based in Oban ?? not to mention the base there ?
Added by Jamie Young on 09 October 2014
My Father Cpl Tiny Charman was an Engine Fitter on Sunderland based at RAF Alness from 1943 to D Day at least, Anyone remember him? I have his memoirs of his time there!
Added by Geoff Charman on 24 April 2015
Geoff - do his memoirs mention anything about the Sunderland crash on November 26, 1944?
Added by David Kinton on 24 April 2015
W4026 here is a link to an interview from 2005 with the niece of Andrew Jack, the only survivor.

Added by Brian Williams on 24 April 2015
Hi David, thanks for your enquiry. Dad mentions the Duke of Kent crash saying he took off from Alness. He also says there were two Sunderlands on an Radar Exercise, one low and one high, the lower one flew into the same mountain very near the D of K site (memory could be a bit vague here). He also says he was leaving his hut one day in 1944 when there was a huge explosion about 3 miles away that blew him back in! It was a Sunderland that crashed with a full load of Depth Charges, there was a huge crater and very little else left, just small pieces over a large area. Those were the only serious crashes whilst he was there. He does say that the Engines were very tough and could lose several Cylinders and still run and get the plane back home so it’s a bit surprising that your father's A/C crashed because it threw a con rod, still had three and a bit engines and not really time for an Engine fire to burn away the wing section in the short distance. I think it was something a bit more catastrophic than that or maybe my idea of the distance flown is wrong. He also mentions the “Wrens Nest” a large house where the WRENS were billeted as being of considerable interest to the Erks!
Best Regards
Geoff Charman ( ex Air Training Corp then Royal Navy)
Added by Geoff Charman on 27 April 2015
My stepfather flew from Invergorden in WW2, he did a gunnery course on Sunderlands; i think it was in 1943. His name was Edward Mellor. He had a seagull fly into the front turret and the crew thought he had been shot. They also had a crew man killed when the gun was taken out of the front turret as they had to get out the front; he died in the boat getting back to the shore. He ended up being a rear gunner on Lancasters. He survived the war and went into farming and was a great stepfather.
Added by Martin Ford on 02 June 2016
Can anyone tell me about a film I saw, maybe in the 1990's, called 'Subterranean Blues'. It was about flying boats in a cave or hangar, somewhere in the region of Invergordon/Cromarty. It was shown at the Printmakers Workshop, on Bank Street, Inverness. Thank you.
Added by Jeanne on 24 July 2016
Just came by this site by accident when looking for info on moorings for Catalina for a model I am making. Re Sunderland crashes, my mother was an ATS radar operator on a Heavy Ack Ack battery (446?) and they at one stage were stationed at Invergordon/HMS Flora and from here list of gunsites and the chronology of her list it was before they went to London as part of the V1 barrage and they were in the South at D Day so I guess between 1943 and early 1944. She said They were ordered to "take post" to help in a coastal search after a Sunderland had come to grief in the firth. It was dark, cold and from other tales of Invergordon and their coming across Norwegians definitely depth of winter with snow on the ground. I don't know if this is of any interest or use to anyone. Needless to say all these tales and full details died with her in the 1980s.
Added by Alastair Armitstead on 06 March 2017
Hello, I don't know if anyone can help me on this website. My father Sgt Charles J.A. Taylor, was based at RAF Alness in 1943-46, and flew as crew in the Sunderland Flying Boats. He told me and my siblings that he was in a Sunderland when it ditched into the Atlantic. He survived by inflating his emergency dinghy. He received a letter in June 1944 making him a lifelong member of The Goldfish Club. I would like to try and find out more information on the actual incident if possible as part of the Family Research I'm doing, including a date when this may have happened. I have spent time looking at records through The National Archives without success. I have just come across this website and wondered if anybody may be able to point me in the right direction. Thank you, Denise.
Added by Denise Rogan on 31 March 2018
I live on the Currane Peninsula over looking Clare Island to the Southwest, and where DD846 of 422 Squadron Tragically crashed. would anyone have a picture of DD846 to share or worst case a picture of Sunderland S.25 MK3 as we are in the process of erecting a sign near the watch tower area on the Currane Peninsula.sign will be publicly displayed, so one or two pictures without copyright if possible.
To the crew of DD846 may you rest in peace.

FYI: On the 25th of MAY 2023, it will be 80 years since the Tragic crash of DD846.
Added by Mike Duggan on 17 May 2019
Please add your comments about this picture using the form below.


Your Name

Your email address - this will be shown on the page and will allow the system to notify you of further comments added to this picture.

The Sea

QE2 in the Cromarty FirthQE2 at InvergordonUndergoing Speed Trials off InvergordonHMS Queen Elizabeth back in InvergordonHMS Queen Elizabeth at InvergordonCaptain Frederic BoothNew sign at Natal GardenLoch Fyne SkiffThe Sinking of SS Sterlina in 1910Elf, Ulva and Muriel