The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

It was a wet Sunday afternoon in the far south west of Ireland. Feeling pretty bedraggled and miserable and clutching our dripping umbrellas our party trudged slowly up the hill from the coach park knowing our hopes of seeing the famous gardens of Bantry House were fading fast. After a quick reviving cup of tea and a cake in the rather primitive tea-room it was time to escape the rain and have a guided tour of the house. Whilst walking round to the side entrance I was very surprised and intrigued to see a memorial plaque on the wall relating to an RAF crew killed in the war. The lady who guided us around the house made no reference to it but since returning home I have found reference to the memorial on the Internet.

The memorial lists the six crew members of a Whitley bomber of 58 Squadron lost whilst on an anti-UBoat patrol over the Atlantic on 20 April 1942. The plane took off from St Eval in Cornwall but suffered engine failure and crashed into the sea 120 miles from the Fastnet Rock. There were no survivors. Five weeks later a body was washed up on the shore close to Bantry House. It was later identified as a Canadian airman, Flt Sgt Douglas Newlove, the pilot of the plane. His body was carried up to the house to lay there overnight prior to burial in Abbey Cemetery in Bantry on 29 May. No more bodies were recovered so the remaining crew are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial to the Missing.

 The Bantry memorial names all crew members: Flt Sgt D.O. Newlove RCAF, Sgt R.J. Leahy RAF, Sgt K.L. McAdam RNZAF, Sgt R.J. Harwood RAF, Sgt A.T. Gough RAF, Sgt J. McClelland RAF.

Sgt Newlove who was unmarried came from Islington Ontario and is commemorated in the local church there St Georges-on-the Hill. Underneath this memorial a second memorial relates to another Canadian Sgt Douglas Albert Woodman who died October 24 1941. No other details are given.

He was in fact the navigator of a Blenheim bomber of 236 Squadron based at RAF Cheriton in North Devon. All 3 crew members were Canadians. The plane was on convoy patrol off SW Ireland when the starboard engine failed but the pilot was able to ditch in the sea. All three men survived and managed to scramble into a rubber dinghy. Sgt Woodman was however seriously injured. As navigator he had been sitting in the nose of the aircraft but had not strapped himself in. As a result he was flung through the fuselage sustaining severe injuries to his leg and chest. The dinghy drifted all night for 7 hours until a motor boat from Bantry rescued them the following morning. Sgt Woodman died in hospital in Mallow the following day. He was later buried with full military honours in Gould Hills cemetery in Mallow. Sgt Paul Webster (pilot) and Sgt Charles Brady (air gunner) were both interned at the Curragh Camp. But a few months later Sgt Webster escaped into Northern Ireland. He resumed flying only to be killed on 26 July 1942 over Dieppe. Sgt Brady remained in internment until the end of the war.

John Symonds

Christmas & New Year 2015/6

RAF Memorial, Bantry House, County Cork