Short Sunderland 111 ML858 Crash – St Kilda – 7 June 1944 – A visit in May 2022.

The Sunderland aircraft crashed on a navigation exercise from a flight out of Oban.

I have been very fortunate to visit this sad Crash site on the remote Island of St Kilda on two occasions in 2014 and May 2020. On my first visit in 2014 I went down into the Gleann Mor to the crash site and was getting attacked by the birds.

That day the walking poles were handy that day as the Skuas dives bomb you. (The Skua a large brownish predatory seabird related to the gulls, they pursue other birds to make them disgorge fish they have caught)

Grid reference for Sunderland crash site .

On this visit 8 years later there were very few Skuas about; there is a problem with their numbers this year. This made it a lot easier to visit the site at grid reference NF 085 991 at 232 metres is the where the main wreckage just above the ridge. There is other aircraft wreckage scattered in the burn just below the ridge. It’s an amazing place the glen is wide open and one can only think of what happened here.  

The memorial at the Church on St Kilda

In these tragic places seeing the destruction of a big aircraft is a very sombre place to be. I always have a few thoughts for the young crews who died here. As always it’s a sad tale as all the crew were buried at sea due to the war. On this aircraft there were 10 crew sadly all who all died here on 7 June 1944 the day after D/Day. The story of the missing plane is told in the excellent Book “Lost to the Isles” and the recovery of all the crew. A harrowing experience for those involved.

The crew – Cecil Osbourne – Pilot

Richard Ferguson –

2nd pilot

Frank Robertson

David Roulston –

Australian Emigrate

Johnny Lloyd

Oliver Reed

William Thomson

Reference: Lost to the Isles Volume 3 David Earl & Peter Dobson.

There are three known wrecks on St Kilda one near the summit of Conachair

Bristol Beaufighter LX 798 St Kilda.

There is a propellor near the summit of Conachair and another down by the jetty (May 2022.)

During World War II, a long range night fighter, Bristol Beaufighter LX798 of 304 FTU based at Port Ellen, Islay, crashed on Hirta, St Kilda within 100 metres (328 ft) of the summit of Conachair on the night of June 3, 1943, with the loss of two crew. Most of the wreckage slid down the hillside and was lost over over the cliffs, and no bodies were ever found. The time of the event may explain why this wreck is also reported on June 4, 1943.

There is also the wreck of a Wellington on Soay which I visited in the late 70’s I have written about this in previous blogs. The crew have not been formally identified despite our efforts and others.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Corbetts and other hills, Sailing trips, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Short Sunderland 111 ML858 Crash – St Kilda – 7 June 1944 – A visit in May 2022.

  1. Nickie says:

    Fascinating to read your accounts of visiting the site of the Sunderland crash. My grandfather, David Roulston (who is a kiwi btw) was one of the crew who perished in this crash. Quite emotional to see photos of the wreckage.

    Liked by 1 person

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