Sub-Lieutenant Alan Frederick Orchard was a pilot. He served with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, flying with 878 Squadron. This squadron was part of the Fleet Air Arm. Orchard's base in 1944 was HMS Landrail.
Orchard was the son of Flight Lieutenant Frederick William Orchard and Eva Orchard (née Bearpark). He was also survived by his sister Margaret C Orchard of Forest Row, Sussex, United Kingdom.
Alan Frederick Orchard came from strong flying stock. His father, Flight Lieutenant Frederick William Orchard, was a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force. In World War One, he served with 1/12th (County of London) Regiment – The Rangers.
Orchard Family At War
The Imperial War Museum contains a collection of 214 letters from Frederick to his family written during the 1914-1918 conflict. They provide a glimpse of what life was like on the front lines. The writings also mention that he met his wife Eva, Alan’s mother, through her charity work. The couple married in Hull, UK the day after he returned from the front.
Alan Orchard at Lewes County Grammar
Alan attended Lewes County Grammar School in Sussex, UK between 1933-1936. In a wartime issue of their school magazine, they paid tribute to him.
One hardly knew which to admire most, the father a veteran of the last var, who had again taken up arms, or Alan, the embodiment of that debonair spirit so characteristic of our Naval Forces, no matter which branch. Underneath this gaiety one sensed a certain determined pugnacity which would evince itself in a tight corner.
Old Lewesians Barbican – No. 20
Even while at school, Orchard was a well-travelled young man. He had traveled to Stuttgart and the Black Forest. While training with the Royal Navy, he saw parts of Canada and the USA including New York City.
Had he lived he would undoubtedly have gone far, whether in the Services or in civilian life. He had distinct artistic gifts and a passion for seeing the world.
Old Lewesians Barbican – No. 20
Alan Orchard's Navy Career
Alan Orchard served with 893 Squadron from HMS Formidable / HMS Illustrious. During his time on this vessel, he saw action in Salerno and Naples. At the time of his death, he was based in Northern Ireland with 878 Squadron.
Stinson Reliant FK914 Crash
On 5th January 1944, Alan Orchard was a passenger onboard Stinson Reliant FK914. The plane took off from RNAS Eglinton Airfield. Sub-Lieutenant Alan Albert Pollock was the pilot. The other passenger was Sub-Lieutenant John Bernard Johnson.
In bad weather, the plane crashed on the north-eastern side of Sawel Mountain in the Sperrins. The three men onboard were killed. Their bodies were not recovered until 29th January 1944 because of more bad weather and deep snow in the area.
Sub-Lieutenant Orchard’s grave is in plot 9 of St. Canice’s Church of Ireland Churchyard in Faughanvale, Co. Londonderry.
Stinson Reliant FK914 crash on Sawel Mountain, Co. Londonderry
5th January 2016
On 5th January 1944, Stinson Reliant FK914 took off from RNAS Eglinton in Co. Londonderry before coming down on the north-eastern slope of Sawel Mountain.
Alan Albert Pollock
Sub-Lieutenant Alan Albert Pollock was a pilot with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. Flying of 878 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm when he was killed in NI.
John Bernard Johnson
Sub-Lieutenant John Bernard Johnson served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. By 1944 he was based at HMS Landrail with 878 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm.