Flying Officer Arthur Peter Buckley Holmes was a navigator in RAF 502 (Ulster) Squadron. He had joined 502 Squadron on 5th May 1935. On 1st July 1937, 502 Squadron converted from Special Reserve to Auxiliary Air Force Squadron.
At the time, he was a Pliot Officer and Holmes is one of the men mentioned in the ranks in the London Gazette.
Flying Officer Holmes was the son of Buckley Holmes and Ethel Maud Holmes (née Wensley). He had married Dorothy Margaret Probert Holmes (née Newman) in Belfast during his time in the RAF.
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley P5041
The Whitley two-engined bomber was a medium-heavy, metal bodied monoplane. The Mark IV, which predated P5041, was the first Whitley fitted with Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. These bombers served between 1937 – 1945 before being replaced with more powerful four-engined planes.
The Mark V, as navigated by Holmes, featured improvements over earlier Whitley models. A tail turret held four Nash and Thomson 7.7mm machine guns. The tail-gunner’s view was improved dur to an extended rear fuselage. As the Whitleys flew Coastal Command in their latter years, de-icing equipment was also included.
Holmes’ plane could hold 7,000lbs of bombs in the bomb bay and wing racks. It was able to fly up to 1,650 miles at a maximum speed of 222mph.
Mull Of Kintyre Crash
Arthur Peter Buckley Holmes was the navigator in the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V P5041. The plane was coded YG-C and flew with RAF 502 (Ulster) Squadron. The crew took off from RAF Aldergrove on 23rd January 1941 at 1222hrs.
Their role was to provide escort cover for Convoy HG50 sailing from Gibraltar to Liverpool. On the return journey, becoming disoriented in bad weather, they veered off course. Their altered route took them too far to the east and the Whitley crashed on high ground.
The crash site lies near an abandoned township called Balmavicar on the Mull of Kintyre. Also onboard, were airmen Sergeant David John Peter Bradley, Sergeant Alec Raymond Hooker, Sergeant Herbert Pilling, and Flight Lieutenant Philip Leslie Billing. All five men in the aircrew died in the incident.
Flying Officer Holmes’ grave is in Section F, Grave 12 of St. Patrick Church of Ireland Churchyard in Drumbeg, Co. Down.