Flight Lieutenant Arthur Charles Griffin (62311) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He died on board Short Sunderland DD848 when it crashed on Mount Brandon, Co. Kerry.
Griffin was born in 1916 in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England. He was the son of Charles Henry Griffin and Emma Griffin.
At that time, RAF 201 Squadron was at RAF Castle Archdale, Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh. From there, it flew Short Sunderland Flying Boats patrolling the North Atlantic. The RAF supported shipping convoys and hunted German U-Boats.
Most of the crew of DD848 came together that summer and flew several missions under Flight Lieutenant Grossey. Crews in 201 Squadron often swapped crews but they were still experienced.
Crash of Sunderland DD848
Short Sunderland DD848 came down at approximately 0600hrs on Mount Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry on 22nd August 1943. The crew were on a maritime reconnaissance flight over the Atlantic and returning to their Fermanagh airfield.
Griffin was the 2nd pilot on board the plane and one of a crew of eleven men. He was 27 years old. Eight of the crew, all from England, died in the crash. Rather than bodies returning to England, Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh was the final resting place of six of the airmen. Those six are:
- 1st Pilot Flight Lieutenant Charles Seymour Grossey (45199).
- 2nd Pilot Flight Lieutenant Arthur Charles Griffin (62311).
- 3rd Pilot Flying Officer Guy Nelson Wilkinson (51121).
- Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Flight Sergeant John Robert Coster (1259732).
- Navigator Flight Sergeant Norman Baron Pickford (657043).
- Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Sergeant George Frederick Walter Tilt (1338702).
Two more men died in the crash in Co. Kerry.
- Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Flight Sergeant Joseph William Burton (1287499).
- Flight Mechanic / Air Gunner Flight Sergeant Walter Noel Pitts (749904).
Three men survived the wreck of DD848.
- Air Gunner Flight Sergeant William McLean DFM (996639).
- Flight Mechanic / Air Gunner Sergeant John Sidney Applegate (647007).
- Flight Engineer Sergeant George William Davies (952226).
A record card held at the RAF Museum in Hendon holds the findings of the crash. In scrawled handwriting, it gives details of the disaster. Sunderland DD848 flew off-course too far south-east of its intended path. In darkness and low cloud, it crashed on the Irish hillside. The crash destroyed the Sunderland and as the incident occurred in neutral territory, there was no real investigation.
Remembering Arthur Charles Griffin
Some remains of the plane remain from 1943 although authorities listed it as damaged beyond repair. All four engines still lie in the heather on the hillside.
The crash of DD848 came less than a month after a British Overseas Airways Corporation Sunderland G-AGES crashed in the same range of hills. This incident made headline news while censorship and Ireland’s neutrality meant the story of DD848 was little known.
Flight Lieutenant Arthur Charles Griffin’s grave is in Plot 1, Grave 12 of Irvinestown Church of Ireland, Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh. A memorial plaque to the men graces the wall of O’Connor’s Bar in Cloghane, Co. Kerry.