• Galloway Air Crashes 1940 - 1979

    On the northern shore of Loch Enoch, lies a small memorial to Tommy Withers, an enthusiast hill walker from Ayrshire, who researched the history behind many of the air accidents. Tommy also kept a watchful eye on many of the aircraft wrecks in the area. He also helped construct a memorial to the F1-11 crash near the rocky summit of Craignaw in 1987. (Image 6).

    Galloway Air Crashes
    Image 6. Tommy Withers memorial at Loch Enoch.

    During our hill-walking excursions, my friend Scott films some of our adventures on a drone, if and when the weather allows. This footage was taken in the late summer of 2020 and after a night camped out on the lower slopes of the Merrick. It's beautifully filmed and allows you to gain an understanding of the terrain and also a glimpse of Loch Enoch.

    In recent years, the prolonged search for two aircraft - both Spitfires - caught the public's imagination and attracted widespread media interest locally and nationally. The Loch Doon Spitfire P7540, was eventually recovered from the murky depths of the loch, in 1982. I'll return to that story in my next article.

    Spitfire AD540 was known as the 'Blue Peter Spitfire' after funds were raised at Newmarket in 1941 to build the iconic aircraft, in commemoration of this generous gift. The Spitfire was named after the 1939 winner of the Derby Stakes. On the 23rd of May 1942 AD540 departed from RAF Heathfield on the Ayrshire coast before climbing out over the Firth of Clyde. Pilot Officer David Hunter-Blair was at the controls of the aircraft. 19 - year old David was a local man and a member of 242 Squadron. His family lived at Blairquhan Castle, fourteen miles from Ayr, surrounded by the river Girvan and the rolling Ayrshire countryside.

    Strong winds and driving rain lashed AD540 as he climbed above the Ayrshire coast. David's task was to provide top cover for the RMS Queen Mary, a troopship, crammed with American servicemen and women, who had just crossed the Atlantic. After the sortie was complete David's aircraft and another Spitfire were retasked inland over the Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway county border.

    At an altitude of 20,000 feet David's Spitfire started to behave erratically before dropping into a steep descent through the thick clouds. Pilot Officer Hunter Blair bailed out of the aircraft at a fairly low altitude, AD540 then struck a remote hillside, near the Cairnsmore of Carsphairn (797m). An oxygen system malfunction caused the accident. David was fatally wounded, and eventually buried with full military honours on the family estate.

    A Royal Air Force recovery team dismantled AD540 in the days after the accident, the wings were reputed to have been transported down the rugged hillside by horse to a local farm. Other sections of the Spitfire were buried at the location. Fifty-one years later, Ralph Davidson, a dedicated member of Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Society, rediscovered the remains of the Blue Peter Spitfire, on the heathery hillside, after many months of searching. (Image 7)

    Galloway Air Crashes
    Image 7. AD540 and members of Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Society.


    7 Comments
    1. AlyMac's Avatar
      AlyMac -
      Fantastic reading auld pal - thanks fur sharin :-)
    1. BarryDon's Avatar
      BarryDon -
      Thanks Aly. My pleasure
    1. sky44's Avatar
      sky44 -
      Very Interesting.
    1. BarryDon's Avatar
      BarryDon -
      Thank you.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Excellent article!

      Thank you for the time and effort you put into writing this. Your research is superb!

      W33
    1. BarryDon's Avatar
      BarryDon -
      My pleasure W33. Thank you for the kind comments!
    1. archangelmj12's Avatar
      archangelmj12 -
      Superior writing and accounts of history. Under the same pretense i was researching and saw an article about the missing aircraft that took off from Malaysia and was lost.
      From what the article said he had found the plane in a Vietnam jungle, well I went on to Google map and i located the wreckage and i measured it from satellite in meters, the measurements were off by two meters of the fuselage small break. I also located a small clearing with huts about from what im seeing at the most 3 to 10 miles. its a large makeshift clearing, near enough that anyone there would of heard the plane crash.
      Im surmising that the clearing with huts was a recovery by either legal or illegal operatives.
      What I did find interesting is the damage to the aircraft which showed wings rudder flaps all intact, the aircraft went down without power and there wasnt any fuel damage to vegatation anywhere in the surrounding area, no skid no downed trees, this aircraft did a freefall, and from the damages im seeing, there is sign of holes made by projectile and what appears to be damage from a missile of some sorts.
      What i found absurd is after the find Im not seeing anyone stepping up in Govt anywhere discussing what to do next.
      As you recall, the Soviets shot down an airliner over the Kamchtuk Peninnsula and strafed the water killing all passengers including a senator or congressmen from Georgia.
      Im also wondering if the reason they havent gone in is as to what they will find.
      Semper Fidelis
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