On this day in Irish history: Sunday, 9 July 1939

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,933
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
Let's start off-piste:

I'm seriously tempted to spell Foynes (which ought to be Faing) as foins. The fourteenth-century English word involves the use of a sword or spear in duelling, and apparently derives (as one would expect in a feudal context) from French, and so from the Latin fuscina — the trident waved around by Neptune and by gladiators. The word clutters up one of my memory-cells, because of Antonio's challenge in the last Act of Much Ado:
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me:
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
A piece of verbal litter, that sticks —like discarded chewing gum to a walking shoe — difficult to discard, and of no practical use. So a term I've been trying to use and dispose for decades. Which I have now done.

Foynes, though, appears on the RTÉ archive webpage, on the anniversary of Captain Harold Grey landing — or rather watering — Yankee Clipper NC18603 with the first commercial passenger flight from the US to Europe. That wasn't the start of flights into and out of Foynes (which would be Short S.23 flying boats, carrying mail, two years earlier) — but, in view of what transpired, this was more significant.

Yes, I know we've had Foynes in at least one previous thread. And properly so: it must qualify as the largest passenger airport across Europe for the duration of hostilities.

So this reminder concerns:
  • the remarkable contribution made by Ireland's geographical position to WW2 aviation. Pretty well any Allied leader of significance seems to have passed through Foynes. To which should be added the importance of the Donegal corridor (and so small matters like the Catalina of 209 Squadron sighting the Bismarck). Neutrality? Huh!
  • The quite remarkable Clipper captain Charlie F. Blair Jr., who should feature in any list of coincidences
    • for that astounding June 1942 non-stop flight from Foynes to New York,
    • for his 'retirement' round-the-world flight,
    • for his record-breaking 31 January 1951 flight from New York to London, 'to test the jet stream': 5,600km in 7hr48 — 446mph average, prop-driven,
    • for being Mr Maureen O'Hara #3 (both partners were serial monogamists).
Any nerdulence detected here is not open to apology.
 


Ireniall

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2011
Messages
8,869
I wonder if we might have been neutral if Hitler had won the war?
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,732
Let's start off-piste:

I'm seriously tempted to spell Foynes (which ought to be Faing) as foins. The fourteenth-century English word involves the use of a sword or spear in duelling, and apparently derives (as one would expect in a feudal context) from French, and so from the Latin fuscina — the trident waved around by Neptune and by gladiators. The word clutters up one of my memory-cells, because of Antonio's challenge in the last Act of Much Ado:
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me:
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
A piece of verbal litter, that sticks —like discarded chewing gum to a walking shoe — difficult to discard, and of no practical use. So a term I've been trying to use and dispose for decades. Which I have now done.

Foynes, though, appears on the RTÉ archive webpage, on the anniversary of Captain Harold Grey landing — or rather watering — Yankee Clipper NC18603 with the first commercial passenger flight from the US to Europe. That wasn't the start of flights into and out of Foynes (which would be Short S.23 flying boats, carrying mail, two years earlier) — but, in view of what transpired, this was more significant.

Yes, I know we've had Foynes in at least one previous thread. And properly so: it must qualify as the largest passenger airport across Europe for the duration of hostilities.

So this reminder concerns:
  • the remarkable contribution made by Ireland's geographical position to WW2 aviation. Pretty well any Allied leader of significance seems to have passed through Foynes. To which should be added the importance of the Donegal corridor (and so small matters like the Catalina of 209 Squadron sighting the Bismarck). Neutrality? Huh!
  • The quite remarkable Clipper captain Charlie F. Blair Jr., who should feature in any list of coincidences
    • for that astounding June 1942 non-stop flight from Foynes to New York,
    • for his 'retirement' round-the-world flight,
    • for his record-breaking 31 January 1951 flight from New York to London, 'to test the jet stream': 5,600km in 7hr48 — 446mph average, prop-driven,
    • for being Mr Maureen O'Hara #3 (both partners were serial monogamists).
Any nerdulence detected here is not open to apology.
Another one of your great threads Malcolm.

Perhaps it’s bad form to start off by picking holes but better that than see it slide away unnoticed.

Today doesn’t mark the anniversary of the first transatlantic commercial passenger flight. I think that honour goes to a Pan Am flight on the 28th on June 1939.

“The big new Boeing B-314, NC 18605 Dixie Clipper left Port Washington on Long Island, bound for Lisbon and Marseilles by way of Horta, the Azores – via the so-called transatlantic “southern route.” Onboard were 22 paying passengers. Some had paid for the privilege years earlier.”

1st Transatlantic Pax Flight - Pan Am Historical Foundation

Also I doubt that Foynes would have been ‘the largest passenger airport across Europe’ during WW2. I am don’t know what the frequency of flights out of Foynes was during that time but my rough guess would be that it probably wasn’t 1 flight a day....perhaps 3 or 4 per week. Maybe someone here can clear that up? I think Lisbon may have been busier than that given that it probably also served South American and African routes. I guess that likewise Southhampton was also busier. Also I think that other limited commercial passenger services continued during the war by Imperial Airways and also by Deutsche Luft Hansa.
 
Last edited:

Lumpy Talbot

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 30, 2015
Messages
34,428
Twitter
No
Must have been scary stuff setting off across the Atlantic with only a loud propeller noise between you and a nose dive into a fairly empty briny. Guess the engine(s) would have looked very sophisticated back then but to us these days they'd probably look terrifying :)
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,732
@Malcolm

No numbers but it seems that Foynes was busier than I thought. Foynes didn’t just serve transatlantic flights......

Southampton’ West Africa flights via Lisbon were routed via Foynes in order to avoid interception by long range german interceptors(JU88s) operating over the Bay of Biscay.

The Flying Boats of Foynes

One of those flights crashed into Mount Bandon in July 1943, when Short Sunderland G-AGES from Lisbon with eighteen passengers, seven crew and 30,000 letters from POWs in Japanese prisons hit the mountain in bad weather. Ten of those on board lost their lives. 8 passengers were allied servicemen who had been held as internees in Portugal.

A brief account of one of the passengers....Alfred Brooker Dupree, a pilot of the Royal New Zealand Airforce....

DepreeABsm.jpg

"We took off from Lisbon at night, and I slept peacefully until we apparently arrived over Foynes in cloud in the early dawn and flew back out to sea to reduce height before returning below cloud level. My seat was immediately below the wing, and I climbed up on it to have a good look out the porthole but I could not even see the wing-tip float directly out from me - only solid mist rushing by. I was sure we were diving off height, an uncomfortable feeling when another pilot is doing it.


Suddenly there was a break in the mist and I not only saw the wing float but also, immediately below, the dark outline of land sloping the way we were going. At the same time the pilot put all four engines through the throttles gate, and I thought 'This is it!'. When I came to, I was lying half embedded in mud and slush with the aircraft burning around me in the misty murk and I slithered and crawled away from the wreckage”.

gages.jpg


Shorts Sunderland G-AGES, Dingle, Co. Kerry
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,732
It addition to the Shorts and the Boeings there were some other flying boat types that landed at Foynes. Probably the most unusual being the French Latécoère 521, named Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris. This six engined aircraft(4 puller engines and 2 rear mounted pushers) to me is the closest looking thing to a flying liner with its double row of porthole windows, stepped forward fuselage and sharply pointed bow. It landed at Foynes on the 15th July 1938, perhaps it’s only visit to Ireland?


The-Flying-Boats-of-Foynes-4.jpg


Another interesting visiting aircraft(with an interesting passenger) was the Sikorsky S44. These aircraft operated on a regular service through Foynes for a time during WW2 and they had a superior range to both the Shorts and the Boeing 314s. In fact one of these aircraft carried out the first non stop transatlantic commercial passenger flight from Europe to New York.

“One particularly famous flight from Foynes in June 1942 concerned Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, the commander-in-chief of the Royal Navy Mediterranean fleet. His pilot was Charles Blair, the chief pilot of American Export Airlines, which between April 1942 and 1945 operated 405 crossings from Foynes to New York on behalf of the US Navy Air Transport Service. The aircraft was a Vought-Sikorsky VS44A NC41880 Excalibur 1 which could carry sixteen passengers at 175 mph and had a range of 4,545 miles. It was given the designation JR2S-1 by USN but flew in civilian markings. The normal routine was to make a re-fuelling stop in Newfoundland but as there were a thousand gallons of fuel left, Blair, ‘began to toy with the idea of going the whole way’, and kept on flying. He landed in New York twenty-five hours and forty minutes after leaving Foynes, having made the first non-stop commercial flight from Europe to the US city—with ninety-five gallons of fuel left in the reserve tank, enough for another 100 miles. ‘Remarkable voyage’, commented Admiral Cunningham.”

vs-44a_nx-41880_-_1942.jpg


Sikorsky Archives | The Sikorsky VS-44A Flying Boat

Admiral “ABC” Cunningham was one of the best naval commanders of WW2, probably the best British admiral. He was born and lived his early years in Dublin(Rathmines). Some of his achievements...Tarranto(the precursor to the Pearl Harbour attack), Battle of Cape Matapan, the evacuation of Crete (“It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue.”) He also successfully avoided hostilities against the French navy at Alexandria in 1940. How about putting up a statue to honour him?
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,933
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
Full credit and kudos to Nebuchadnezzar for leading the thread in the paths of righteousness and enlightenment.

I just about recall my mother taking me to Tower Bridge and Tower Wharf to see the Short Sunderland moored in the Upper Pool of London —

1dd32edfc6874231a77e82a3a22bb946--short-sunderland-flying-boat.jpg


Very mid-century. Behind those cranes on Butler's Wharf you'd find Shad Thames — a notorious hell-hole where nobody decent dare venture. The coppers out of Tower Bridge nick went mob-handed. Today the site of mega-million penthouses, a fleecery of estate agents, decent restaurants and much more.

That grey bulk was probably as close as I had yet been to a large aircraft. There's a gussied-up Sunderland in the RAF museum at Hendon: still impressive even with glossy lippy.

I suspect, too, I was not entirely happy with the view that day. As now, I would have the lurking wish that all seaplanes were as elegant as the Boeing 314 — now, I probably define that as an art-deco elegance (which is why, unfairly in proportion to their actual numbers, they feature so regularly in all types of depiction). And any seaplane takes off, and 'lands' in line with the wind direction, without the crabbing of land-planes and fixed runways.

Where Nebuchadnezzar particularly scores is with the Sikorsky S44: bigger, faster, longer-range than the Boeing.

With these planes, flights of 24 hours was (not quite) the norm — though what Robert Ford and crew managed (December 1941-January 1942) is something else. [One of my favourite tweeters, @garius, introduced me to that story — as weird and wonderful as his account of how the Knights Hospitaller became a major European air power. Oh, and he's sound on railways.] Fully land, the Boeing was 84,000 lbs.; the Sikorsky a mere 57,5000 lbs And only manual controls (the ginormous Saunders-Roe SR.45 Princess seems to have innovated hydraulics).

Notice the unfair comparison above: the Short Sunderland was intended as a war-plane — and bristled with defensive guns. The 314 and S44 were for very up-market civilian use.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,732
Full credit and kudos to Nebuchadnezzar for leading the thread in the paths of righteousness and enlightenment.

I just about recall my mother taking me to Tower Bridge and Tower Wharf to see the Short Sunderland moored in the Upper Pool of London —

View attachment 26196

Very mid-century. Behind those cranes on Butler's Wharf you'd find Shad Thames — a notorious hell-hole where nobody decent dare venture. The coppers out of Tower Bridge nick went mob-handed. Today the site of mega-million penthouses, a fleecery of estate agents, decent restaurants and much more.

That grey bulk was probably as close as I had yet been to a large aircraft. There's a gussied-up Sunderland in the RAF museum at Hendon: still impressive even with glossy lippy.

I suspect, too, I was not entirely happy with the view that day. As now, I would have the lurking wish that all seaplanes were as elegant as the Boeing 314 — now, I probably define that as an art-deco elegance (which is why, unfairly in proportion to their actual numbers, they feature so regularly in all types of depiction). And any seaplane takes off, and 'lands' in line with the wind direction, without the crabbing of land-planes and fixed runways.

Where Nebuchadnezzar particularly scores is with the Sikorsky S44: bigger, faster, longer-range than the Boeing.

With these planes, flights of 24 hours was (not quite) the norm — though what Robert Ford and crew managed (December 1941-January 1942) is something else. [One of my favourite tweeters, @garius, introduced me to that story — as weird and wonderful as his account of how the Knights Hospitaller became a major European air power. Oh, and he's sound on railways.] Fully land, the Boeing was 84,000 lbs.; the Sikorsky a mere 57,5000 lbs And only manual controls (the ginormous Saunders-Roe SR.45 Princess seems to have innovated hydraulics).

Notice the unfair comparison above: the Short Sunderland was intended as a war-plane — and bristled with defensive guns. The 314 and S44 were for very up-market civilian use.
I love that aside about the Airforce of the Knights Hospitallers, a great curiosity. How about this for incongruity, do you know about the Ryanair Sunderland?........

A Shorts Sandringham(a civilianised Sunderland) at Killaloe in 1989....

234F988A-733B-4790-A698-5823AA4AC1EE.jpeg



The occasion, I think, was the opening of the flying boat museum at Foynes. Ryanair had a sponsorship deal with the owners of the aircraft. It was to be based at Foynes as a static display and occasionally fly to various air shows etc. The deal fell through almost immediately, I think the aircraft departed from Foynes only a day or so after having arrived.

On flying boat museums.....I have never managed to make it to Southampton so far but perhaps less well known is the Musee Hydravions at Lac de Biscarrosse, south of Bordeaux. This is the site of the old Latecoérè assembly and test centre. It’s well worth a visit for those with a particular interest.

Accueil | museehydro

Here’s good footage from the 1930s showing the site and the Latecoérè 521, Foynes biggest and IMO most exotic visitor.



Our references to the “Shorts” and our photos of Sunderlands neglects the history of the related but separate Empire Boats. These were the Shorts C and G classes. They were a parallel development alongside the Sunderlands but they had a different nose profile and lower power engines. All the C class aircraft were given individual names all starting with the letter c. There was Canopus, Clare and Corsair for example. The Corsair had a particularly interesting story. In the early years of the war it became lost due to its radio direction finding being faulty. Running low on fuel the crew put it down on a short stretch of straight water. However, there wasn’t enough distance for it to subsequently take off. Normally in such a case the aircraft would probably have been stripped for spares in situ but Imperial Airways/BOAC were so short of aircraft at that time that it was decided to mount a major salvage operation to get it out of there. The river was dammed and dredged and the climb out path cleared of trees and the aircraft was stripped of all non essential equipment. Unfortunately it hit a submerged rock during its taxi out for takeoff. It’s was repaired and further deepening of the water and clearing carried out and it then finally managed to return to the skies. AFAIR the rescue operation took about 18 months to complete and during that time a temporary town grew up around the aircraft which came to be known as Corsairville.

I strongly recommend the associated book

Corsairville

One little anecdote within it concerns one legendary Imperial Airways Captain with a penchant for Bullseye sweets. It was the First Officers responsibility to ensure the adequate supply of these. On one particular flight, following the after takeoff checklist this captain discovered that this task had been neglected. He turned the aircraft around, landed back where they had just departed from and dispatched the first officer ashore to resolve the matter.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,933
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
I've just had Charles Woodley's Flying Boats, Air Travel in the Golden Age dropped on me (electronically). Chapter 4, Wartime Interlude, looks distinctly relevant to Nebuchadnezzar's post #4 above:
During the period August 1942–July 1943 more than 1,400 flying boat movements, carrying around 1,500 passengers, passed through Foynes, and the facilities there were being expanded to cope with the volume of traffic. Between April 1942 and 1945 American Export Airlines alone completed 405 crossings from Foynes to New York on behalf of the US Navy Air Transport Service, and on 18 August 1945 Foynes handled a record number of passengers in a single day. The Pan American Boeing 314s NC18604 Atlantic Clipper and NC18605 Dixie Clipper both arrived from New York and returned there the same night, with a total of 101 passengers passing through the terminal on that date. However, this proved to be the swansong of the flying boat base. That autumn Pan American discontinued operations through Foynes, with the final service being operated by NC18609 Pacific Clipper under the command of Captain Wallace Cuthbertson. Since 1939 the Pan American fleet had made 2,097 Atlantic crossings via Foynes. BOAC was to continue transatlantic flying boat services for a few months longer. Its Boeing 314As maintained a weekly frequency to the USA until 7 March 1946, when G-AGCA Berwick with Captain B.C. Frost in command departed Poole for Baltimore. The airline’s three Boeings were then transferred to the Baltimore–Bermuda route. Bristol had completed 203 Atlantic crossings, Berwick 201, and Bangor 196.

There's also appendix 1: Foynes Flying Boat Movement During September 1943. As rehearsed here, it covers only the period 1 September - 20 September, so barely three weeks. It shows three dozen arrivals and departures in that period, all registered under civil markings for BOAC, Pan Am, or American Export. That, of course, is the great misleader. All 'commercial' air movements would be at military discretion and permission: from August 1941 (note date) Pan Am was under contract to the US War Department; BOAC routes were determined by the UK War Office (and aircraft were stripped back to Austerity Standard interior configuration and capacity for thirty passengers).
 

neiphin

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2009
Messages
6,146
 

cozzy121

Well-known member
Joined
May 26, 2009
Messages
5,453
Must have been scary stuff setting off across the Atlantic with only a loud propeller noise between you and a nose dive into a fairly empty briny. Guess the engine(s) would have looked very sophisticated back then but to us these days they'd probably look terrifying :)
Imagine flying Westward, AGAINST the prevailing wind. back then, To fly above the weather they had to go high, but the accumulation of ice on the wngs would force them to dive low until (hopefully) the ice came off.
Rinse and repeat.

 

cozzy121

Well-known member
Joined
May 26, 2009
Messages
5,453
It addition to .......... Admiral “ABC” Cunningham was one of the best naval commanders of WW2, probably the best British admiral. He was born and lived his early years in Dublin(Rathmines). Some of his achievements...Tarranto(the precursor to the Pearl Harbour attack), Battle of Cape Matapan, the evacuation of Crete (“It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue.”) He also successfully avoided hostilities against the French navy at Alexandria in 1940. How about putting up a statue to honour him?
You're addressing the RN with that request?
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,933
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
Imagine flying Westward, AGAINST the prevailing wind. back then, To fly above the weather they had to go high, but the accumulation of ice on the wngs would force them to dive low until (hopefully) the ice came off.
Rinse and repeat.

Both Boeing 314s and Sikorsky S44 had de-icing 'boots'. The Shorts didn't.

Sandringham G-BJHS (it remained registered as a Sunderland Mk5 while serving with RAF at Lough Erne, with the New Zealanders and then Australians) that Nebuchadnezzar has visiting in post #8 must have made a return trip. The one still lives, at the Fantasy of Flight in Florida. She got to Miami (c. 1992) by leap-frogging across the Atlantic, including a stop-over in Ireland.
 

Ireniall

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 7, 2011
Messages
8,869
If Hitler had won, Ireland would have become a massive concentration camp. full of Gaels
My point is though that while it's all very gratifying to see how much Ireland helped the Allied cause during the war-I'm wondering that if the Germans had won the war would we be desperately emphasising our neutrality-assuming , of course , that we have done nothing to actually help the Nazis. Am I right in that assumption?
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,732
Both Boeing 314s and Sikorsky S44 had de-icing 'boots'. The Shorts didn't.

Sandringham G-BJHS (it remained registered as a Sunderland Mk5 while serving with RAF at Lough Erne, with the New Zealanders and then Australians) that Nebuchadnezzar has visiting in post #8 must have made a return trip. The one still lives, at the Fantasy of Flight in Florida. She got to Miami (c. 1992) by leap-frogging across the Atlantic, including a stop-over in Ireland.
Shorts de-icing equipment....

Almost all of the Sunderland’s were equipped with pneumatic boots on the leading edge of the wings. The Shorts S23 Empire boats weren’t originally fitted with anti de-icing equipment but some were subsequently fitted a de-icing system for the propellers. This involved a slow flow of de- icing fluid(an alcohol gel) from a supply tank to a nozzle at the front of the engine. The nozzle directed the fluid into the slinger ring which was fixed to the rear of the propellor spinner hub. A pipe led from the spinner ring to the leading edge at the base of each blade. Centrifugal force sent the fluid from the slinger ring to the base of the airscrew blade and up the length of the blade.

Many moons ago I used to fly turboprops(BAe ATPs) around Scotland. The de-icing equipment was pneumatic boots on the wings and electrically heated prop blades. Occasionally, in the event of encountering sudden heavy icing and selecting the prop heating on, the ice would shed from the from props and hit the fuselage at high speed, causing a kind of staccato machine gun effect in the passenger cabin. Several of my colleagues had instances of severe in flight icing were the boots were unable to cope with the conditions and they were for a time unable to maintain level cruising altitude with the deterioration of the aerodynamics of the wing and the additional weight. Always resolved within a few minutes of gradual forced descent to lower altitude but still it’s a very uncomfortable feeling to be unable to maintain level flight with all engines running at full power.
 
Last edited:

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,732
Let's start off-piste:

I'm seriously tempted to spell Foynes (which ought to be Faing) as foins. The fourteenth-century English word involves the use of a sword or spear in duelling, and apparently derives (as one would expect in a feudal context) from French, and so from the Latin fuscina — the trident waved around by Neptune and by gladiators. The word clutters up one of my memory-cells, because of Antonio's challenge in the last Act of Much Ado:
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me:
Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
A piece of verbal litter, that sticks —like discarded chewing gum to a walking shoe — difficult to discard, and of no practical use. So a term I've been trying to use and dispose for decades. Which I have now done.

Foynes, though, appears on the RTÉ archive webpage, on the anniversary of Captain Harold Grey landing — or rather watering — Yankee Clipper NC18603 with the first commercial passenger flight from the US to Europe. That wasn't the start of flights into and out of Foynes (which would be Short S.23 flying boats, carrying mail, two years earlier) — but, in view of what transpired, this was more significant.

Yes, I know we've had Foynes in at least one previous thread. And properly so: it must qualify as the largest passenger airport across Europe for the duration of hostilities.

So this reminder concerns:
  • the remarkable contribution made by Ireland's geographical position to WW2 aviation. Pretty well any Allied leader of significance seems to have passed through Foynes. To which should be added the importance of the Donegal corridor (and so small matters like the Catalina of 209 Squadron sighting the Bismarck). Neutrality? Huh!
  • The quite remarkable Clipper captain Charlie F. Blair Jr., who should feature in any list of coincidences
    • for that astounding June 1942 non-stop flight from Foynes to New York,
    • for his 'retirement' round-the-world flight,
    • for his record-breaking 31 January 1951 flight from New York to London, 'to test the jet stream': 5,600km in 7hr48 — 446mph average, prop-driven,
    • for being Mr Maureen O'Hara #3 (both partners were serial monogamists).
Any nerdulence detected here is not open to apology.
With more direct relevance back to Malcolm’s OP....

Foynes also played a part in the pioneering development of in-flight refuelling.

The-Flying-Boats-of-Foynes-3.jpg


This image shows a Handley Page Harrow Bomber refuelling Shorts S23 “Caribou” 5 August 1939. The Shorts was routing Southampton-Foynes-Botwood-Montreal-New York. The tanker was based at Rineanna(or Shannon as we now know it, at that point still only a grass airfield) and two others, waited across the Atlantic at Hatties Camp (later named Gander). It took twelve minutes to transfer 800 gallons of fuel between the aircraft flying at 125 mph at a surprisingly low 1000’ altitudewith a snaking hose connecting the receiver and the tanker in formation above and ahead. Some sixteen successful flights were completed before being discontinued when hostilities commenced. The method for connecting the aircraft was very rudimentary. A cable was extended from each aircraft. A grappling hook attached by a line to its cable would then be fired from a hand held gun(a Greener Cavalry Gun of 1880 vintage) to snag the Shorts cable which was then wound in and fuel was then fed via gravity to the Shorts. Captain Rogers commented that whilst the operation was technically feasible, fuel leaks on five occasions into the hull of the flying boat had been a safety hazard which rather limited passenger appeal. It’s surprising that no practical use of in flight refuelling seems to have been made by anyone during WW2. It was initially considered for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo but the use of a carrier was decided to be more dependable. The first operational aerial refueling unit wasn’t formed until June 1948 when two squadrons of USAF B29 tankers went active.

Back to Foynes, August 1939, the commander of that Shorts, Captain John Kelly Rogers was an Irishman with a very impressive aviation history. Born in Dunlaoghaire, served in the Royal Navy, then the RAF, Imperial Airways, BOAC, Aer Lingus. He is described as Churchill’s favourite pilot, he piloted several of WSCs transatlantic flights and with WSC sometimes at the controls under Kelly’s supervision. He also was involved in the salvage operation on the “Corsair” stranded in the Congo which I referred to in an above post. He was BOAC’s chief pilot North Atlantic, manager BOAC Atlantic Division, in 1947 he returned to Ireland and was a senior manager in Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta until the 1970s.


1594725211057.png


Dictionary of Irish Biography - Cambridge University Press
 
Last edited:

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,933
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
Nebuchadnezzar, post 18:

Now that's an informative and revealing post. Alan Cobham must have been a quite remarkable (even piratical) guy. Ditto John Kelly Rogers. Boys' Own Paper stuff!

I hadn't appreciated the Boeings had to be serviced back in the US, which explains their very odd routing patterns — sometimes all the way down to Dakar, then back to Foynes, then the transAtlantic crossing.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,732
I've just had Charles Woodley's Flying Boats, Air Travel in the Golden Age dropped on me (electronically). Chapter 4, Wartime Interlude, looks distinctly relevant to Nebuchadnezzar's post #4 above:
During the period August 1942–July 1943 more than 1,400 flying boat movements, carrying around 1,500 passengers, passed through Foynes, and the facilities there were being expanded to cope with the volume of traffic. Between April 1942 and 1945 American Export Airlines alone completed 405 crossings from Foynes to New York on behalf of the US Navy Air Transport Service, and on 18 August 1945 Foynes handled a record number of passengers in a single day. The Pan American Boeing 314s NC18604 Atlantic Clipper and NC18605 Dixie Clipper both arrived from New York and returned there the same night, with a total of 101 passengers passing through the terminal on that date. However, this proved to be the swansong of the flying boat base. That autumn Pan American discontinued operations through Foynes, with the final service being operated by NC18609 Pacific Clipper under the command of Captain Wallace Cuthbertson. Since 1939 the Pan American fleet had made 2,097 Atlantic crossings via Foynes. BOAC was to continue transatlantic flying boat services for a few months longer. Its Boeing 314As maintained a weekly frequency to the USA until 7 March 1946, when G-AGCA Berwick with Captain B.C. Frost in command departed Poole for Baltimore. The airline’s three Boeings were then transferred to the Baltimore–Bermuda route. Bristol had completed 203 Atlantic crossings, Berwick 201, and Bangor 196.

There's also appendix 1: Foynes Flying Boat Movement During September 1943. As rehearsed here, it covers only the period 1 September - 20 September, so barely three weeks. It shows three dozen arrivals and departures in that period, all registered under civil markings for BOAC, Pan Am, or American Export. That, of course, is the great misleader. All 'commercial' air movements would be at military discretion and permission: from August 1941 (note date) Pan Am was under contract to the US War Department; BOAC routes were determined by the UK War Office (and aircraft were stripped back to Austerity Standard interior configuration and capacity for thirty passengers).
Ref Lisbon versus Foynes and also the risk from the Luftwaffe....some photos here of Lisbon Airport, specifically I think it’s Portela Airport(LPPT) opened October 1942.

The first photo shows at least 8 aircraft parked on the apron, all seem to be BOAC DC-3s and Liberators(all having British civil registrations)

1594894344208.png


This photo is particularly interesting. Left to right, a Aero Portugusa Lockhead Lodestar, a Deutche Luft Hansa DC-3, and a Spanish DC-2. The German DC-3 was one of a few such American aircraft operated by Germany, a number of them being ‘inherited’ from previous Czech, Belgian and Dutch owners. This particular aircraft was destroyed during an air in Germany in 1943.

1594893556656.png


The BOAC DC-3s(a BOAC service contracted to KLM, dutch aircraft and crew) operated a service from Bristol to Lisbon and on to Gibraltar and North Africa. During the course of 1942/43 the Luftwaffe intercepted three of these flights, strangely enough all against the same aircraft “Ibis”. On the first and second instances, being attacked by a single Me 110 in Nov 42 and then latterly by six of them in April 43, it survived with moderate damage and was repaired in Lisbon. On the 1st June 1943 its luck ran out. 200 miles north west of the coast of Spain it was attacked by eight Ju-88 long range fighters. The port engine and wing were set ablaze and three parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft before it crashed into the ocean. The German flight leader Oberleutnant Hintze reported that he called off the attack once he realised that it was a civilian aircraft. He also said that he was “rather angry" for not being briefed that civilian aircraft were operating in the zone. The final radio broadcasts from the Dutch crew according to Time(perhaps with some licence).......

“I am being followed by strange aircraft. Putting in best speed.....we are being attacked. Cannon shells and tracers are going through the fuselage. Wave hopping and doing my best.”

There were no survivors. One of the passengers was the actor Leslie Howard, the other man in Gone with the Wind.

The following day a Sunderland undertook a search in the area. It was attacked by 8 JU 88s of the same unit. It shot down three of its attackers and then limped home, landing close to Penzance.
 
Last edited:


New Threads

Most Replies

Top Bottom