A web site dedicated to the unique island of

Soqotra (Socotra)

Island of the Dragon’s Blood Tree

Soqotra during World War II.

The island was an important base for the Allies during World War II and these pages provide an historic record of those years where service men played their part from a remote island.

Newsletter No. 41

VAUGHAN HINDER update. (On the crash at Socotra)

The story as we left it in Newsletter 37 was that Vaughan was probably co-pilot with W/officer Miller RCAF, flying in a mixed Canadian/British crew compromising Kenneth Mooney RAF, David Jones RCAF, Marie Joseph Leduc RCAF and an as yet unidentified sixth crewman. They tragically died on August 24th 1944 in an event you had recalled when the plane crashed shortly after take-off. Also you thought that the sixth crewman was the Rear Gunner who had survived the initial impact but had died subsequently.

So far I've pieced together a bit more of the story, with a bit of old fashioned detective work and a great stroke of luck. The detective work was to go through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site on the Internet and search for all the airmen who sadly died on the days subsequent to Vaughan's death. The site forces you to narrow a surname down to two letters i.e. search for Aa, Ab, Ac etc. Eventually, I located Warrant Officer Class 1, W.Op/Air Gnr. John Keith Brown, another Canadian hailing from Ontario like the others. He had died only one day later and is also buried in Maala, Yemen with I am presuming the rest of his crew. It seems too much of a coincidence that we have an airman also from Ontario, also strangely commemorated as 21 Squadron, dying so close to the original crash date, in the same cemetery.

The stroke of luck was to pursue a long-shot with the RAF Museum in Hendon who I discovered hold an incomplete set of accident records from 1919 onwards. I wrote speculatively to them and incredibly they returned a photocopy of the same!

Date: 24th August 1944

Unit: 621 Squadron – that was a surprise.

Type: Wellington XIII No. JA835 or possibly JA535, the first digit is not clear.

Airfield: Ras Karma, Soqotra Island, Aden.

Pilot: Miller and 2nd Pilot Hinder.

Miller has his flying times, unfortunately not Hinder. Though Miller had 800 hours total solo, had 302 hours solo on type, the night solo come down to 76 and 53. Does that sound fair to say this seems a new crew who have only made a few flights together possibly?

Accident: 19:37, 5 minutes into flight, Night, Duty: Anti-submarine patrol.

"Propeller of aircraft heard to be running away on Take Off. Aircraft climbed to 100' and hit crest of hill at 150' when attempting to circuit on one engine or force land on top of hill. Pilot could not cope with aircraft after engine failure or starboard prop selector switch knocked into fixed or incorrect manipulation of switches by pilot. There is no evidence what caused the engine failure but aircraft had just completed a 9 hour trip with no signs of trouble". Then a Postscript: "CO - unlikely that prop selector switch was knocked across into fixed. Pilot would have noticed when he feathered. AOC — concurs".

It was just so incredible to hear this — the clinical crash investigator laying all options on the table including pilot error, then the CO and AOC moved to include comments that they thought this unlikely. The possible greenness of the crew. The fact that a plane that had just completed a 9 hour flight, should then be going up again. Five minutes from take-off to death.

RAF Hendon also enclosed a photocopy from "Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft", by John Rawlings which unfortunately doesn't have JA(5)35 against either 621 or 244 Squadron. Out of interest, the list provided for 244 Sqdn. for Wellington XIII is: February 1944 — May 1945

HZ658 W; HZ712 F; HZ897 C; HZ951 K; HZ979 M; JA149 W; JA182 B; JA627 N; JA406 G; JA482 B — recognise any of them?! I certainly do! (Edr).

Gary Tranter (Mem. No.353)

Jim Heslop (Secretary & Supplies)   W/Cdr Ron Rotherham (President)   Don James (Treasurer)

A Wellington bomber (designed by Barnes Wallis of the ‘bouncing bomb’ Dam Busters raid )

I was fortunate to receive some photographs of the funeral that took place after the crash

This is a copy of the Notice detailing the funeral.

Details of the crash of a Wellington on 24 August 1944