Alan Frederick Orchard

Sub-Lieutenant Alan Frederick Orchard died on 5th January 1944 when Stinson Reliant I FK914 crashed down in poor weather on Sawel Mountain, Co. Londonderry.


Alan Frederick Orchard

Sub-Lieutenant Alan Frederick Orchard served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. He was the son of Flight Lieutenant Frederick William Orchard and Eva Orchard (née Bearpark) of Lewes, Sussex, England.

In civilian life, Alan attended Lewes County Grammar school between 1933 and 1936. During the Second World War, he served with No. 893 Naval Air Squadron on H.M.S. Formidable and H.M.S. Illustrious.

Following his death, Orchard’s old school paid tribute to him in a number of publications.

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.

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.

Sub-Lieutenant Orchard died on 5th January 1944 aged 21 years old while serving at H.M.S. Landrail, R.N.A.S. Machrihanish, Argyll and Bute, Scotland with No. 878 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. Orchard was on Stinson Reliant I FK914 of Eglinton Station Flight when it took off from H.M.S. Gannet, R.N.A.S. Eglinton, Eglinton, Co. Londonderry. The plane came down in poor weather conditions near Glenerin on the north-east side of Sawel Mountain, Co. Londonderry. All on board died as a result of the incident and heavy snow meant their bodies were not recovered until 29th January 1944.

Sub-Lieutenant Orchard’s grave is in Grave 9 of St. Canice’s Church of Ireland Churchyard, Eglinton, Co. Londonderry. His headstone bears the inscription:

In ever loving memory of our heroic son Alan. There is dawn beyond the sunset, a harbour fair at last.

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