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Winston Churchill and the death of Prince George, Duke of Kent


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I can understand post incident trauma for his actions to some degree, but the fact that he didn't try to contact the RAF immediately is very confusing.

Adding to the confusion is the accuracy of various reports. If the Prince did have an attache case chained to his wrist, I seriously doubt that any competent aircrew (and the flight crew were definitely competent) would allow him at the controls in anything but the most benign situation (clear weather, high altitude, safe flight envelope, no threats).

I think this subject is going to take a lot more research to discover if what we have been told is correct or not.

Here is some extra information that should help you to solve this mystery.

(1) The usual route from the UK to Iceland was from Prestwick to Reykjavik. The RAF normally used a Liberator for this journey.

(2) If it was vitally important for a flying boat to be used the journey was from Oban to Iceland. This is where 228 Squadron was based. The reason for this was Oban was out of range of most German fighter-bombers. Yet the Duke of Kent travelled from Oban to Invergordon in order to catch the flight on 25th August 1942. The RAF or the government has never been able to explain why it was necessary for the Duke of Kent to take the far more dangerous journey from Invergordon.

(3) The reason why the flying boat crashed was that it had descended to 650 feet over land. According to the official report the pilot had gone off course. However, if the pilot knew he was flying over land the last thing he would have done was to descend. However, if he did not know he was off course, there would have been no need to descend.

(4) It is also impossible to believe that such an experienced team of pilots and navigators would have drifted 15 degrees off course. The official report states that the pilot descended to 650 feet in order to establish his position. However, that is the last thing the pilot would have done. It should also be pointed out that the flying boat was equipped with the latest air-to-ground radar. This enabled the navigator to accurately find the position of the coastline. There was also a radio beacon at RAF Wick that was used for pilots and navigators to establish their position. Therefore, there was no need to risk the lives of the people on board by flying low in order to take visual bearings.

(5) Goyen’s flight-plan has never been released. Is it possible that Goyen’s flight plan indicated that he intended to fly over land? If so, why did he need to take this route. Another possibility is that the flight-plan changed during the flight. Normally, Goyen would have had to radio back to base to get permission to do this. However, Thomas Lawton Mosley, the commanding officer of 228 Squadron, was on board. Did Mosley give permission or even order Goyen to change course? Does this explain why it was decided at the last moment for Mosley to travel on this flight?

(6) E. E. Fresson took an aerial photograph of the crash. This was initially censored and did not enter the public domain until 1987. The ground markings suggest that the Duke of Kent’s plane did not approach the hill directly from the south but was turning into Eagle’s Rock from a more westerly direction.

(7) The squadron record book states that the Sunderland took off at 13.10 and crashed at 14.00. However, the crash site is only 25 minutes from Invergordon. What was the aircraft doing in the other 25 minutes?

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Guest Gary Loughran

Hi John,

Do you subscribe to the Hess theories?

If so do you believe the plane landed in Loch More to pick up Hess during the unaccounted for 25 minutes. Perhaps a sluggish ascent into the West side of the mountain caused the crash. This would also be the rough route to Scandanavia.

IF, the above is true, what happened Hess?

IF the journey was a peacekeeping one then the Kroner would have some worth after a deal.

Lots of if's for me, but no conclusion. Then again if it were murder then perhaps after the Hess pick-up, West may have left the plane after performing some form of sabotage, hence his subsequent survival.

Have you a substantive next piece prepared yet, in this intriguing 'mystery'.

It also seems that at one time Andrew Mackinlay (Labour MP) had more than a passing interest in the case

See here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/c...xt/40513w04.htm...I've copied the relevant portions below.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether all official documents relating to Rudolf Hess are now in the public domain; and if he will make a statement. [170549]

Mr. Leslie: A search of the National Archives' electronic catalogue provides details of records relating to the career of Rudolf Hess originating from several Government Departments and now kept at Kew. All of this material appears to be available for public consultation. Since Mr. Hess did not die until 1987, it is quite possible that more material relating to him is still held in Government Departments, in accordance with the 30-year rule and other provisions of the Public Records Acts.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs which documents relating to the late Duke of Windsor are withheld from public inspection in the Public Records Office, broken down by category; and if he will make a statement. [170541]

Mr. Leslie: Many public records relating to the Duke of Windsor, including some concerning his career after the Abdication in December 1936, were made available to the public for the first time on 30 January 2003. Further information about these and other records relating to the Duke kept at the National Archives can be obtained from its electronic catalogue on the internet at http://catalogue.pro.gov.uk. A search of the catalogue has not revealed any reference to the Duke's career which is not available for public consultation.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether all the documents relating to the death of the late Duke of Kent in 1942, with particular reference to

13 May 2004 : Column 483W

the itinerary of his final projected journey, are now in the public domain and available for inspection; and if he will make a statement. [170544]

Mr. Leslie: The National Archives holds some correspondence and papers relating to the Duke of Kent's fatal air crash in Caithness in August 1942, mainly among the Air Ministry records. It is not aware of any significant body of material concerning this matter in other public archives.

(My emphasis)

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However, if he did not know he was off course, there would have been no need to descend.

Slight correction there.

I said in an earlier post they would have been using manual air plot (MAP). Upon further reading, it seems they would have been using manual track plot (MTP) for this stage. A small lesson in air navigation is necessary here.

MAP is a basic system that will take you practically anywhere. It works like this. You start from a known point (the airfield). From that point you plot your heading and airspeed for a set time (normally 30 mins). This gives you an 'air position' (a position if there were no outside effects on the aircraft). At that time (30 mins) you also plot a navigation fix (derived from navigation aids, radar, visual fix, etc). This gives you your actual position, allowing for the effects of wind. The difference between your air position and actual position is the vector (bearing) and magnitude (distance) of wind for a 30 min period. Double the wind magnitude (distance) gives you the wind velocity for 1 hour.

This now gives you a fairly accurate wind.

You then apply that wind velocity (W/V) to your heading and airspeed from the navigation fix for a three minute period, and it will give you a pretty accurate position of where you are at that time (departure + 30 mins + 3 mins). Using that information of where you actually are, plus a fairly accurate wind, you plot a course to regain your original planned course within a set period (normally 30 mins). At that time (departure + 30 mins + 3 mins) you turn onto your corrected heading.

This system will get you anywhere you want to go - almost. It relies upon an accurate navigation fix. If you dont have the ability to get an accurate fix, then you'd revert to a system called manual air plot (MAP).

Once again, you start from a known point. With this method, you do not rely upon a position fix; you base your calculations upon your estimates of the wind affecting the aircraft. You start from a known point, and applying the W/V you have calculated, work out where you should be. This system relies upon constant updates of the wind velocity (W/V), normally done at no more than 15 minute (at MOST! We used to use 6 minutes) intervals.

You determined the wind through several methods. One was to look at the sea and simply estimate the wind direction and strength. This could be very inaccurate, depending upon the observer. Another was to observe the drift on set headings, 30 degrees apart. You'd fly your base course, and looking at your track over the sea, estimate your drift (x degrees left / right). You'd then turn 30 degree left of base course and fly that heading for one minute, again estimating the drift. After one minute, you'd turn 60 degrees right (and thus 30 degrees left of base course) for two minutes, again estimating drift.

After the set two minutes, you'd return to your base course (the one minute left / two minute right effectively canceling each other out). Plotting the drifts encountered on your Mk4 speed / time / distance calculator (the 'wheel of fortune'), it would give you a new W/V. You'd apply this to your plot, and update your position.

Naturally, every time you could get a solid navigation fix (radar, navaid, landmark, etc) you'd update your plot. MAP wasn't very accurate after an hour or two, but was the only thing available to aircraft that flew off of aircraft carriers of the day. It was also used by aircraft that would fly low level over the sea that were not taking astronavigation shots (not that great at the best of times).

So they could have well thought they were somewhere they were not if the estimates were off, but IIRC they had only been airborne about 30 minutes so the nav error should not have been that great - unless conditions were considerably different from that of forecast.

This leads me back to my questioning of weather conditions.

If they thought they were over ocean, then they would descend through cloud in order to determine the W/V by looking at the sea. If, however, the conditions were clear then I question why they seemingly flew into the ground.

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John (Simkin)

This site gives a very different explanation of the incident.

http://www.rafoban.co.uk/page9.htm

Can you document any of your various claims (i.e. the weather was fine). Some seem dubious to begin with i.e. unsubstantied claims made decades after the fact

Len

To quote the website:

"The subsequent Court of Enquiry under the chairmanship of Wing Commander Warren Kay, apportioned blame for the accident upon the captain of the aircraft, Frank Goyen. They specified poor airmanship in failing to follow the course given to him in the flight plan and failing to make height to ensure a sufficient safety margin to clear anticipated high ground on the specified track. Weather conditions were not gauged to be so adverse that a pilot of Goyen's experience should encounter any difficulty in coping with them. The aircraft's engines were examined after the crash and found to be set at full throttle with propellers at coarse pitch, thus indicating that the aircraft was still climbing when it hit the obstruction and not in cruising configuration. This fact was not made clear at the enquiry but was noted by members of the 63rd Maintenance Unit whilst clearing the debris."

It was Captain E. E. Fresson, who piloted an aircraft over the same area and at around the same time as the crashed Flying Boat, who said the weather was fine. Even so, the Court of Enquiry admitted: "Weather conditions were not gauged to be so adverse that a pilot of Goyen's experience should encounter any difficulty in coping with them."

There are a lot of misleading information on this website. I will be dealing with that later when dealing with the motive for the killing.

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John,

Reference the comment about being equipped with the latest air-to-ground radar: do you have more details? I'm aware that Sunderlands of that time were equipped with ASV but this was not a navigational radar. The ASV sets gave a vertical readout, not usable for navigation.

asv_trace.jpg

The traditional PPI (Plan Position Indicator) radar we know of today came about with the development of centimetric radar through the klystron and magnatron. This was still in development during mid-1942, and didn't see operational service until late 1942 / early 1943 (IIRC). This system was known in the RAF as the H2S radar, and could be used for navigation. They were fitted initially to Bomber Command Halifaxes, Stirlings, and Lancasters, and to Coastal Command Wellingtons.

I'm unsure if they were ever fitted to Sunderlands.

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I'm also curious about the apparent disparity between the accident board's findings that he "... descended through cloud without ensuring he was over water..." and the engines being at full throttle, indicating the aircraft was in a climb configuration. It is possible they were descending, realised they were heading for rising terrain, then went full throttle in order to climb away but still...

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I thought this might be of interest, from the Met Office: "I had a look at the plotted charts for 25th Aug. 1942 and conclude the following for Scotland: A cloudy day with rain at times, except in the far north. Fog along the southeast coast. A moderate to fresh East wind, cool in the east but warmer in the west. If you require more detailed information about specific stations, the original paper records for Scottish stations are held at our Archive in Edinburgh."

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John,

Reference the comment about being equipped with the latest air-to-ground radar: do you have more details? I'm aware that Sunderlands of that time were equipped with ASV but this was not a navigational radar. The ASV sets gave a vertical readout, not usable for navigation.

The Sunderland was fitted with Mark II anti-surface vessel radar. Although primarily designed for detecting enemy ships, it was also routinely used by flight navigators to find the coastline.

"I had a look at the plotted charts for 25th Aug. 1942 and conclude the following for Scotland: A cloudy day with rain at times, except in the far north.

This fits in with E. E. Fresson's account who said it became clearer the further you went north. He said that there was no cloud on the northern coast as he approached Pentland Firth. This is no doubt why this chapter of his book was censored.

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Guest Gary Loughran

Hi John,

Are/were you aware of what Andrew Mackinlays seeming interest in the case was as I highlighted in one of my previous posts. I haven't found an awful lot on the web to indicate a direct research involvement.

Gary

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Hi John,

Are/were you aware of what Andrew Mackinlays seeming interest in the case was as I highlighted in one of my previous posts. I haven't found an awful lot on the web to indicate a direct research involvement.

Gary

I will address this point and others you have made later. My plan is to take you through the evidence concerning the crash itself. Then I want to tackle the possibility of the extra passenger. Then I will go on to look at the motive which is connected to the extra passenger and their real destination. This will then lead us to looking at the actions of Churchill between 1930 and 1947. This will I believe result in a completely new way of looking at the Second World War and the establishment of the Cold War.

I also plan to try to get Norman Baker involved in this investigation. He will be in a position contact to Andrew Mackinlay and Rhodri Morgan, who have both asked questions in the House of Commons about this story.

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Guest Gary Loughran
Hi John,

Are/were you aware of what Andrew Mackinlays seeming interest in the case was as I highlighted in one of my previous posts. I haven't found an awful lot on the web to indicate a direct research involvement.

Gary

I will address this point and others you have made later. My plan is to take you through the evidence concerning the crash itself. Then I want to tackle the possibility of the extra passenger. Then I will go on to look at the motive which is connected to the extra passenger and their real destination. This will then lead us to looking at the actions of Churchill between 1930 and 1947. This will I believe result in a completely new way of looking at the Second World War and the establishment of the Cold War.

I also plan to try to get Norman Baker involved in this investigation. He will be in a position contact to Andrew Mackinlay and Rhodri Morgan, who have both asked questions in the House of Commons about this story.

Thanks John, I thought you were ignoring me :)

I'm continuing my own 'research' into this in the meantime. David Guyatt also has a very informative webpage I found, this gives a nice overview for someonw like me of the relationships at this time http://www.whale.to/b/guyatt32.html

Gary

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"I had a look at the plotted charts for 25th Aug. 1942 and conclude the following for Scotland: A cloudy day with rain at times, except in the far north.

This fits in with E. E. Fresson's account who said it became clearer the further you went north. He said that there was no cloud on the northern coast as he approached Pentland Firth. This is no doubt why this chapter of his book was censored.

John can you provide a link to and/or a direct quote of Fresson's account. Did he give it during his lifetime or was this as reported by his son?

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Thanks John, I thought you were ignoring me :)

I'm continuing my own 'research' into this in the meantime. David Guyatt also has a very informative webpage I found, this gives a nice overview for someonw like me of the relationships at this time http://www.whale.to/b/guyatt32.html

Yes, I am sure David Guyatt will get involved in the debate when we get onto people like Prince Bernhard.

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