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Thread: Maj. Kenneth Storey Morton (64114)

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    Default Maj. Kenneth Storey Morton (64114)

    The above was lost on 8/11/1943 whilst attached to HQ Coastal Command. Commemorated Brookwood Memorial so presume crew on Runnymede. F/O Harley George Waugh & crew?

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    Hi,

    F/O Waugh was lost piloting No.20 OTU Wellington DF544.

    Regards
    Ross
    The Intellectual Property contained in this message has been assigned specifically to this web site.
    Copyright Ross McNeill 2015/2018 - All rights reserved.

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    Thanks Ross.

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    Hello,

    John I don't know if you close this case, but I think your Morton was the British officer killed in the crash of the Canso 9384 of 116 Squadron RCAF at Botwood, Newfoundland. Here is what I have on the subject:

    On the afternoon of 8 November 1943, the twin engine Canso amphibious flying boat #9834, of 116 Squadron RCAF, Newfoundland, lifted off the waters of Botwood Harbour, and set course for Torbay airport. The aircraft carried a full war time crew of seven, under command of Pilot Officer Caines, assisted by co-pilot Hirst. Navigator Mills, Engineers Jones and Marsh, and Wireless Air Gunners Lowther and Epstien. A passenger, Pilot Officer Dalgelish, an operations officer at Botwood, and friend of the crew came along for the ride.

    This was a transportation flight to pick up a party of senior Officers from St John's, who were inspecting units in Newfoundland. The trip to Torbay would only take about ninety minutes and would be a welcome break from the long tiresome hours of anti submarine patrols over the North Atlantic. Everyone was looking forward to going downtown to St John's and take in the sights and sounds of the big city.

    It was after supper when the passengers arrived at the airport. The Command Senior Intelligence Officer, Wing Commander Ralph Ings was accompanied by Flt Lt Redmond from his own staff, and Major Morton a British Officer on loan from RAF Coastal Command. They were accompanied by Section Officer Irene Watson ,an Administrative Officer from 1 Group Hq in St Johns, who was headed to Grand Falls on Recruiting Duties.

    She had intended to travel by train, which meant a fourteen hour journey and arrival at Grand Falls in the middle of the night. When she learned of the Botwood aircraft trip she received permission to go to Botwood by air and then be taken by car to Grand Falls. That way she would avoid the long trip on the Newfie Bullet, arrive at her destination at a reasonable hour and get a good night's sleep in Grand Falls.

    There were only enough life preservers on the aircraft for the crew, so they volunteered to give theirs to any passengers who felt more secure wearing one. After becoming airborne from Torbay, Canines permitted Dalgelish who was a pilot, but not qualified on CANSO's, to take the co-pilot's seat, while Hirst joined the passengers in the "blisters", the tear shaped plexiglass ports at the back of the aircraft. Irene Watson stayed in the Navigators compartment and was given some lessons in navigation by Mills.

    As they approached Botwood, Canines sent word for the people at the back of the aircraft to move forward, to improve the aircraft trim for landing. They moved into the Navigators compartment and those without a seat braced themselves against the bulkheads and each other. Hirst asked if he should resume his co-pilot seat but was told it was not necessary.

    The Navigation compartment was crowded and Hirst was somewhat apprehensive, this would be his first landing on water at night, so he went to the crew's rest compartment, lay on the bunk and cushioned himself against the bulkhead with two sleeping bags. Engineer Jones remained in the blisters at the rear of the aircraft.

    It was about 8.00 PM as Caines circled the Botwood harbour at 1,000 feet while the Marine Section prepared a "flare path", a series of lighted buoys to mark a landing path. The winds were calm and the water surface reported to be "glassy" with light haze.

    After receiving a green flare indicating everything was ready, Caines lowered his wing tip floats, and reduced power to allow for a decent of 200 feet per minute at a speed of about 85 knots as he approached from the south, with the moon at his back. He knew it was impossible to judge height over calm water and so stopped looking ahead as he passed through 100 feet, and from that point concentrated on his instruments. The Marine section boat could have run up and down the landing area to break the water surface but this was not requested, nor was it done.

    The CANSO touched down about 400 yards short of the first flare, but without a bounce in what Caines considered to a normal landing, but almost immediately things started to go wrong. The aircraft swung left, the nose dove into the water and Caines was thrown against the controls. The swing developed into a water loop, and the cockpit and navigation flooded almost immediately. The aircraft stopped with only one wing and the tail section sticking out of the water at a 45 degree angle.

    Marsh who was in the engineers seat under the wing, and Hirst managed to open a hatch and clamber unto the half submerged wing. In the rear, Jones first tried to open the blister, and then the escape hatch in the tail. Both were jammed shut and desperation gave him the strength to break the plexiglass blister with his fists and escape. Dalgelish managed to open the escape hatch in the cockpit and swam to the surface. Finally Caines who was injured, extricated himself with great difficulty and swam upwards through 15 feet of water before surfacing.

    When he was pulled up to the tail section the first thing he asked was "did the girl get out?". When told no, he attempted to enter the aircraft through the blister but was prevented from doing so by the other survivors. They shouted to their companions inside the aircraft but there was only silence.

    As they lay shivering on the partially submerged hull, and waiting for rescue they discovered that none was wearing a life preserver, and each said that escape from the aircraft would have been impossible if they had been wearing one. It was then that the terrible irony of their trapped companions dawned on them. Many of the seven in the crowded Navigation compartment had been wearing life preservers. When the aircraft suddenly filled with water, the life preservers would have floated them to the top of the compartment and away from the exit to the rear of the aircraft and safety. The life preservers, worn in the belief they would improve their chance of survival in an emergency had instead become death traps.

    The duty rescue boat was on the scene within minutes, and an officer attempted to enter the aircraft but found the blister awash and everything forward flooded. They put a rope around the aircraft's tail and attempted to tow it into shallower water, but it was sinking rapidly and there was danger it would capsize the boat.

    The water depth was known to be 200 feet and since the tow rope was only 100 feet long a crew member of the rescue boat cut the rope with an axe and the aircraft disappeared. Unfortunately no one had the presence of mind to tie a buoy or float to the line before it was cut.

    The five survivors were taken to the Botwood Hospital where they were treated for injuries. Caines had a broken knee and all were suffering from exposure, abrasions and cuts. Dragging operations , by military and civilians,to try and locate the wreckage started the next day, but without success, and two teams of Navy divers were brought in to assist. When these efforts failed an Officer and Petty Officer arrived with secret equipment, and they joined the search.

    The secret equipment was "asdic", now know as "sonar", and hopes were high that it would produce results. Unfortunately, it proved ineffective which the operators attributed to the presence of iron ore in the rocks on the bottom . The search continued for ten days but all efforts failed and it was officially ended on 18 November.

    A Board of Inquiry was convened to investigate the accident, but without aircraft wreckage it could only base its findings on survivors testimony. One possible causes was that the nose wheel door had not closed completely when they left Torbay, allowing water to enter the compartment and break the cockpit bulkhead. It was also possible the port wing tip float had struck the water first, digging in and causing the aircraft to water loop. There was also the possibility it may have struck a partially submerged object.

    The Board could only conclude the cause was "obscure" but they were critical of a number of Caines' actions and suggested disciplinary action. He had not been using his seat harness and was not wearing his Mae West. Furthermore he permitted an unqualified person to occupy the co pilots seat during landing. Finally the Board felt the number of persons in the front portion of the aircraft while landing may have contributed to the accident as there was too much weight forward of the aircraft's centre of gravity.

    A senior Officer who reviewed the file at Headquarters felt the most likely cause of the accident was the wing tip float digging into the water. In reviewing the files no evidence was found of any disciplinary action being taken against Caines.

    A rumour was started that the officer who cut the hawser did so because he was afraid that depth charges might explode as the aircraft sank but this was not true. The Marine section knew the aircraft was on a transportation flight and was unarmed, and in any event the Canso carried its Depth Charges under the wings and they would have been visible on the wing that was above the water.

    The location of the wreckage and its entombed seven occupants remains a secret of the Bay of Exploits to this day, and the names of the victims are inscribed on a war Memorial, located at the junction of the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers in Ottawa. The memorial contains the names of over seven hundred servicemen and women with no known graves, who died in and around North America during the second world war.

    Crew and passengers:
    Plt Off Bill Caines (pilot)
    Hirst (co-pilot)
    Sgt Eric John Mills (navigator) KIFA
    Jones (flight engineer)
    LAC Marsh (flight engineer)
    Plt Off Robert Flemming Lowther (wireless operator/air gunner) KIFA
    Wt Off Mandel Max Epstein (wireless operator/air gunner) KIFA
    Plt Off Jim Dalgelish (passenger, operations officer at Botwood)
    Wing Commander Ralph Royden Ings (passenger, Eastern Air Command Senior Intelligence Officer) KIFA
    Flt Lt Joseph Coates Redmond (passenger, Eastern Air Command) KIFA
    Major Kenneth Storey Morton (passenger, British Officer on loan from RAF Coastal Command) KIFA
    Section Officer Irene Watson (passenger, administrative officer from 1 Group Hq in St Johns) KIFA

    John Dyment, Leading Air Craftsman with B group, 102 Marine Squadron, was there that night:
    "When I got out to the crash, just beyond Killick Island and to the right of it, they had a line. This was the duty boat and the control officer, they were all aboard and they were towing the aircraft and what happened was the aircraft had come down. Instead of landing nice and flat and smooth she was over on her side to the left and she dug in the port pontoon. She spun around and that's why she went in. I guess it must have torn the wing off. I never saw that but when we got out there, all you could see was about 15 or 20 feet of the starboard wing straight up in the air. We were going over to help, just going slow when the control officer that was on the crash boat took the axe and cut her adrift without even thinking to tie a moor, tie a bower, a donut or a life preserver, something onto that thing. Then we could have found where it was but he just cut her adrift. He was scared, I guess, that the depth charges were going to explode because they have to fuse them first' They throw a master switch before the things that were released were exposed, so they're dead until you do that, but he got scared thinking they might blow up. But anyway that didn't happen."

    Morton, an armament expert, was sent from London to discuss with aircrew the latest tactics of German submarines. Instead of diving immediately on seeing a patrol aircraft, the subs were now armed with deck guns and were shooting back. Several patrol aircraft had been shot down. All available crew from the three Torbay squadrons were called together for a talk by the Major, who spent most of his time raving about the Hurricanes armed with depth charges that he had seen on the flight line. In all my travels to squadrons around the worId, he said, I have never seen such a deadly combination. The Number One aircraft could clear the deck of all living things with one burst from his twelve machine guns, and Number Two could drop his depth charges at leisure. Its marvelous! After his talks, the Major visited 128 Sqn RCAF and talked with the pilots. He left an Air Ministry address with Sqn Ldr Cannon, the CO, and made him promise to forward to him the results of any encounters a Hurricane might have with a German submarine. No matter where I am in the world, Ill get the message. There was no message to pass on to the Major for two reasons. Firstly, the Hurricanes never did get to attack a German sub, and secondly, the same day as his visit, he was killed in the crash at Botwood.

    Note: depending of the sources, this crash occured on 3, 6 or 8 November 1943. The latter date is the one registered by the CWGC for all casualties and is also given by the local history website, so was chosen.

    Source:
    http://www.iosphere.net/~sullivan/botwood.htm
    http://rwrwalker.ca/RCAF_9801_9844_detailed.html
    http://rcafassociation.ca/uploads/ai.../ALPHA-II.html
    http://botwood.tripod.com/aviation.html
    http://rcafno128squadron.wordpress.com/page/2/
    http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botwood
    http://www.maplandia.com/canada/newf...-no-6/botwood/

    The last part about what Morton was doing from Canada is from the 128 Sqn site. Morton name is not given, but it was certainly the gut described.

    Please note that there are three possible dates for this loss:
    _ 3 November 1943 (source rcafassociation.ca)
    _ 6 November 1943 (source http://www.iosphere.net/~sullivan/botwood.htm and http://rwrwalker.ca/RCAF_9801_9844_detailed.html)
    _ 8 November 1943 (source CWGC and http://botwood.tripod.com/aviation.html)

    I would like a confirmation of the date of the loss.

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    Laurent

    Thank you for your reply. It was in connection with the war memorial at Bamburgh in Northumberland. Just shows the RAF Commands site never rests!

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