Guy Nelson Wilkinson

Flying Officer Guy Nelson Wilkinson from the Enfield Borough of London was with RAF 201 Squadron at RAF Castle Archdale in Co. Fermanagh in August 1943.

Flying Officer

Guy Nelson Wilkinson

51121

Flying Officer Guy Nelson Wilkinson (51121) served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. He died on board Short Sunderland DD848 when it crashed on Mount Brandon, Co. Kerry.

Guy Wilkinson was born in the winter of 1920 in Edmonton, Enfield, London, England. He received his wings at Abu Sueir, Egypt in June 1936. Wilkinson then received a posting to RAF 201 Squadron on 3rd August 1943.

RAF 201 Squadron over the Atlantic

Imperial War Museum Photo: CH 11082 (Part of the Air Ministry Second World War Official Collection). The second pilot on board a Short Sunderland of No 201 Squadron RAF photographs a naval vessel from a hatchway using a hand-held Type F.24 aerial camera, during a patrol over the Atlantic from its base at Castle Archdale, Co. Fermanagh. Photo taken by Flying Officer H. Hensser Royal Air Force official photographer.

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.

Wilkinson was the 3rd pilot on board the plane and one of a crew of eleven men. He was 23 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 Guy Nelson Wilkinson

In recent years, Flying Officer Wilkinson’s daughter Mrs. Maureen Ingram and her son Steve Ingram visited the crash site. 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.

Flying Officer Guy Nelson Wilkinson’s grave is in Plot 1, Grave 11 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.

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