Thomas Norman McConnell

Belfast man Thomas Norman McConnell was training with the Royal Air Force on 10th October 1941 when he died in an aviation accident in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Leading Aircraftman Thomas Norman McConnell (1147130) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was the son of John McConnell and Annie McConnell of Knock, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

He died on 10th October 1941. McConnell was one of two Observers Under Training onboard Airspeed Oxford Mark I T1287. The plane from No. 4 Air Observer School flew into Shalloch on Minnoch, Ayrshire. Also on board was Pilot Sergeant Dick Tester and another Observer Under Training Sergeant Edward O’Grady. All three men died in the accident.

The plane took off on a training flight from RAF West Freugh near Stranraer, Wigtownshire. Shalloch on Minnoch is at the northern end of a range of gills known as The Awful Hand. They rise in Dumfries and Galloway to the north-east of the airfield and extend into South Ayrshire. The ground rises to between 2,000 and 2,800 feet.

At a height of around 2,000 feet, the Oxford Airspeed struck the hillside. Wreckage from the incident still remains on the hillside. Parts of engines and the fuselage remain visible, some still showing signs of yellow paint. Royal Air Force personnel from RAF West Freugh recovered the bodies of the three men.

Thomas Norman McConnell’s grave is in Section ZZ, Grave 88 of Carnmoney Cemetery, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim.