Consolidated Catalina II, Leitrim, March 1941
On the 21st March, 1941, seven airmen of the Royal Air Force
and one from the Royal Canadian Air Force took off on their very
first patrol mission from their new base on Lough Erne.
They had arrived on the Lough only the day before but sadly
would never return to its waters. Their new Consolifdated
Catalina Flying boat crashed into a hill side in the Kinlough
Valley in Leitrim killing all eight.
Such was the ferocity of the crash, of the eight men killed, Whitworth, Davidson, Chalk, Dunbar, Oldfield and Slack were all buried in Irvinestown Church of Ireland Churchyeard while Harry Newbury was buried in the nearby Irvinestown Roman Catholic cemetery.
Only Harold Seward's remains were returned to his family for
burial in Apuldram, outside Chichester, Sussex.
The local Irish registrar was able to record the deaths of Whitworth, Slack, Newbury and Seward, with the remaining four men entered on the death register as 'unidentified' airmen of the RAF.
The Squadron operations Record Book is rather sparse in names
for the months prior to the crash. Operational missions
are recorded with only the two pilots names. On the 13th
February 1941, it is noted in the ORB that P/O Harding and F.Lt
T A W Edwards proceeded with eleven airmen to Lough Erne to
establish an advanced based. The first of the Squadron
Stranraers proceeded there on the 20th February and flights were
carried out on the 24th February searching for mooring
sites. Beginning in March there is mention of the
appearance of Catalina's at the squadron, with 15th March being
the first observed mention of the ill fated AM265. On that date,
its compass was swung in Stranraer.
The names of non commishioned aircrew are rarely mentioned
unless they were unfortunate enough to be lost.
On the 20th March W/Cmd Watt and P/O Seward, F/O's Louw and
Whitworth, and P/O Davidson proceeded to Lough Erne. It is
not clearly stated but this would seem to be inferring that
three crews flew their aircraft to the new base in Northern
The following day of course would see Seward, Whitworth and
Davidson board AM265 with another two crews on two more
Catalina's. Only two of these would return from that
mission, and one of those had to land at RAF Bowmore.
The early RAF Form 765 filed for this crash and now found in
the AIR81 casualty pack only states that there was poor weather
at the time of the crash.
F/O Albert Edmond Whitworth 33555 appears in the 240
Squadron ORB for 1941 on 3rd January, flying a patrol in
Stranraer K7298 as co-pilot, flying almost 4 hours for a convoy
that never sailed. He fly's again with F/O Louw on Jan
6th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 24th, 29th, 30th, 31st,
Feb 7th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th. On the 3rd of
February is was recorded by the Squadron that he had completed
completed night training on the Stranraer. He co-piloted a
Stranraer to Greenock with F/O Louw on 19th February, and was
back on the 22 Feb to allow him go on leave the following
day. On the 6th of March he was part of a crew that
delivered Catalina AM267 to the base at Stranraer. He was
born in Manchester in May 1920. At the start of his RAF
career, FLight magazine printed in march 1939: " Viscount
Wakefield" scholarships, at the Royal Air Force College, of the
value of £75 each, have been awarded to Fit. Cadet R. H.
Clifford, and to Fit. Cadet A. E. Whitworth, an open competition
His local newspaper, recorded his death with the following
PILOT IS KILLED Flying-Officer A. E. Whitworth, son of the late Mr. G. H. Whitworth, Parkhills, Bury, and of Mrs. Whitworth, of Glasgow, has been killed on active service at the age of 20. Flying-Officer Whitworth was educated at Bury Secondary School and Cranwell.
His father had died in 1933, and at the time of his death his
mother lived at 182 Whitehill st, Glasgow. For this reason
he appears on the Scottish National War Memorial. He was
survived also by a brother named James Kay Whitworth.
Charles Peers Davidson J/3113 of the Royal Canadian Air
Force, is noted, without initials or mention of being RCAF, as
being posted into the Squadron at Stranraer on January 8th from
Uxbridge. He was in the base hospital for a number of
days, returning on the 1st of February. On the 12th March,
it appears that he accompanied F/O Louw of the Squadron to
Greenock and they brought Catalina AM268 to Stranraer.
Charles was the son of Campbell and Mary Davidson, of Qualicum
Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Lewis Seward 84330 was recorded on the Squadron as having
been posted in from the FBTS (Flying boat Training School) on
January 25th, 1941. He was posted on leave on the 7th of
February 1941`but was back on the unit by 21st February when he
is noted as as proceeding to Lough Erne with "secret
documents". Harold was the son of Percy Harold and Frances
Amelia Seward from Birdham Road in the Chichester.
Rodney Albert CHALK 534048 was the son of
son of David and Edith Dunbar, lived at Molesden Hough, Mitford,
Northumberland. He was born in Sunderland in February
1921. His nephew visited Irvinestown in March 2019 and
then travelled to Leitrim to visit the area of the crash.
He was very kindly able to provide a number of photos of his
The image below shows Henry standing on the rear fuselage of a Supermarine Stranraer flying boat, the type used by 240 Squadron in the months just prior to the arrival of the Catalina aircraft.
The image below shows Henry Dunbar behind three of his
comrades. Some of them may be members of the fatal Am265
crew, but at this time, it cannot be confirmed.
AC1 Ronald Henry OLDFIELD 940612 was the son of Father Henry William Oldfield, Mother Dorothy Mildred Oldfield (nee Young) residing Acton,Middlesex and was born on 21 Nov 1917. Ronald served as a Special Constable prior to joining the R.A.F."
Ronald was a Fitter Mechanic (A) on the aircraft and may nor
normaly have been a member of air crew. Around this time
the RAF had began to only allow aircrew hold the rank of
Sergeant or higher.
Sgt Gordon Henry SLACK 754693 was the son of Philip Arthur and Mabel Browne Slack of Elm Tree Hotel, Staveley near Chesterfield, Yorkshire.
Gordon was an airgunner on the crew of AM265.
Sgt Harry Harley NEWBURY 624214 +
Compiled by Dennis Burke, March 2019, Dublin and Sligo. Massive thanks to the niece and nephew of F R A Chalk, and Ronald Oldfields sister and brother in law, the family of H Dunbar and the family of H H Newbury, If you have information on any of the people listed above, please do contact me at email@example.com