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Thread: Denys Gillam's flight to Rathlin Island, February 1938 - aircraft ID?

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    Default Denys Gillam's flight to Rathlin Island, February 1938 - aircraft ID?

    Hello everyone

    I've got a query about the aircraft flown by Denys Gillam in February 1938 to Rathlin Island to deliver much-needed supplies. It was mentioned in many newspapers at the time, and in the Newcastle Journal of August 11th 1944 when it was reporting the award of the Bar to his D.S.O.

    Group Captain Denys Edgar Gillam first came into the public eye in 1938 when he was awarded the A.F.C. for flying foodstuffs to Rathlin Island, off County Antrim, which had been isolated by gale for three weeks.
    He made a successful landing in wild weather.


    There is a photo in the Illustrated London News of February 12th 1938 which shows an aircraft being loaded up with the supplies ready to be flown out. Newspaper reports at the time stated that he was flying a Wapiti, but it looks like a Wallace (it has an engine cowling) and the last three numbers are 074. I understand he was serving with the Met Flight at Aldergrove at the time.

    From the RAF Serials list on the Forum, it could be Wallace K6074, so could some kind soul please check the Air Britain K File and see what it has for K6074?

    Many thanks

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Denys Gillam's flight to Rathlin Island, February 1938 - aircraft ID?

    Hello,

    Westland Wallace I K5074.

    Ex-K2279;
    deld to 2 ASU 15.7.35.
    to 502 Sqn 6.10.35.
    to 2 ASU 2.3.36.
    to Armament Training Camp, RAF Aldergrove 8.4.36.
    to 3 BGS 1.12.39.
    SOC 15.2.40.

    The K-File/Halley,J J/Air-Britain/1995/p.392.

    37167 Denys Edgar GILLAM ...

    Met Flight Jan 1937, No.2 Armament Training Camp, R.A.F. Stn. Aldergrove, N. Ireland 1 Feb. 1937; F/O 16 Nov. 1937; A.F.C. LG: 9 Jun. 1938; the following article from Flight, 10 Feb. 1938 provides details for his A.F.C.: "An extraordinarily good piece of work was done on Wednesday last week by an R.A.F. pilot from Aldergrove when an SOS was received from the island of Rathlin, seven miles off the Co. Antrim coast. The island had been isolated by gales for three weeks, and the 350 inhabitants were in distress. F/O. D. E. Gillam, who knew the island, was selected for the duty of taking supplies. Carrying a load of 350 lb of foodstuffs and candles, he took off in a Westland Wallace of the Station Flight, and reached the island within half an hour. The islanders had been warned by telephone to light a smudge fire, and Gillam successfully put his machine down in a field measuring 200 yards by 300 yards and bounded by stone walls. He later took off and returned to the mainland."

    See: Companions of the Distinguished Service Order 1920-2006/Hearns, Doug V P/Naval & Military Press/2011/p.163.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 11th February 2021 at 15:03.

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    Default Re: Denys Gillam's flight to Rathlin Island, February 1938 - aircraft ID?

    Thanks Col

    That sounds like the one - right time and place. I was nearly right...!

    The flight took place on February 2nd 1938, and the caption to the photo reads:

    The inhabitants of Rathlin Island, cut off for three weeks, relieved by the R.A.F.: an aeroplane being loaded with provisions at Aldergrove.
    The inhabitants of Rathlin Island, who had been cut off from their supplies for three weeks by storms, sent out an S.O.S. on February 1st appealing for help. The Government of Northern Ireland then made arrangements with the R.A.F. aerodrome at Aldergrove to send a relief aeroplane. Supplies were brought and flown to the island by Flying-Officer D. E. Gillam, who made a successful landing on a stretch of 200 to 300 yards, pulling up within 25 yards. After unloading his "cargo," he flew back.


    Regards

    Simon
    Last edited by wwrsimon; 11th February 2021 at 13:55.
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Denys Gillam's flight to Rathlin Island, February 1938 - aircraft ID?

    No problem too big for the "Met"!!!!!
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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