The Second World War RAF Air Crash Disasters on The Collin Mountain

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Second World War RAF Air Crash Disasters on The Collin Mountain

Today we remember the 14 RAF airmen who were killed or injured during the Second World War in two tragic accidents on The Collin Mountain and take time to again thank local historian William Cobain for his tireless campaign to have a memorial erected at The Collin Mountain and in War Memorial Park, Ballyclare to recognise the ultimate sacrifice of these brave men.

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Ballyclare historian William Cobain at the site of one of the crashes on The Collin Mountain

On 31 October 1941 a crew of RAF Volunteer Reservists from No 5 Air Observers School, No 25 Group Training Command, stationed at RAF Jurby on the Isle of Man were on a cross-country navigational training exercise in a twin-engined RAF Bristol Blenheim light bomber, serial number Z6273.

At 12.30pm the plane developed engine trouble and crashed on the lower slopes of The Collin at Tildarg, killing all four men on board.

They were:

Sergeant William Amos Scott Doig RAFVR, Pilot

Leading Aircraftman Peter Ernest Coles RAFVR, Observer, under training

Leading Aircraftman Robert Desmond Connell RAFVR, Observer, under training

Leading Aircraftman Ivor John Unwin RAFVR, Observer, under training

On 16 February 1945, a crew from No 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit, No 17 Group Coastal Command, stationed at RAF Aldergrove was on a practice night-time radar homing exercise in a Consolidated Liberator bomber, serial number EV954. They were requested to circle the airfield but the aircraft flew out of the circuit while on automatic pilot and crashed into the eastern slopes of The Collin at 4.30am, killing seven of the ten-man crew.

The fatalities were:

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Douglas Faulkner RAFVR, DFC, Navigator

Flying Officer Ernest Reginald Matthews RAFVR, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Flying Officer Peter Gordon Sim RAFVR, MID, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Flying Officer Allan Floyd Whitney Royal Canadian Air Force, Navigator

Sergeant Henry Edward Benwell RAFVR, Air Gunner

Sergeant Albert Bladon RAFVR, Air Gunner

Sergeant John Edward Morgan RAFVR, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

The survivors were:

Flying Officer Peter Eustace Cox RAF, Pilot

Pilot Officer Garrett James Fenwick Royal Australian Air Force, Co-Pilot

Sergeant William Howden RAF Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

A memorial to the airmen was officially unveiled at a ceremony in War Memorial Park, Ballyclare on Thursday 27 November 2014, attended by Dr William McCrea MP; Ernie Cromie and Ray Burrows from the Ulster Aviation Society; Mayor Thomas Hogg; local historian William Cobain and Deputy Mayor Pat McCudden.

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The following poem recalls the February 1945 tragedy:


It was early here one morning

Before the break of day

A Yankee liberator crashed

Upon the Collin Brae.

It’s a heathered part of Ireland

Where you smell the heather bloom

A place we never want to see

Another bomber coming ‘doon’.

The people in the district

Got up, some ran half clad

To give first aid as Britons would

To these dying airforce lads.

We mourn the loss of these great men

That flew through thick and thin

To blast and bomb to pieces

That big city of Berlin.

With a ring of steel around them now

Every German town they’ll smash

They are getting soup made from cabbage

Hitler grew from human ash.

When this war is over

It’s up to our ‘Big Three’

To plant in the heart of Germany

A true Democracy.


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