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St Kilda RAF Memorial

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Propeller laid at chapel
Propeller laid at chapel
© Carl Rogerson

Although St Kilda took no part in World War II, an RAF memorial on the island of Hirta marks the loss of three RAF aircraft and their crews on the hills of the archipelago, which was used as a waypoint for navigation exercises (NAVEX). Often carried out at night, these operations could become increasingly hazardous due to the extreme weather conditions.

A Beaufighter, based at Port Ellen on Islay, crashed on Conachair during a night flight in June 1943. Most of the wrecked fuselage plunged over the cliffs and no bodies were ever found. A Sunderland flying boat and her crew of six New Zealanders, an Australian, and three Britons, crashed in Gleann Mor in June 1944, while on a night operational flight from Oban. All crew members died in the crash and the wreckage was later dismantled and buried by the RAF in the summer of 1944. A Wellington bomber crashed on Soay during the war, later identified as an aircraft lost out of Stornoway in February 1943, carrying a crew of six, all lost.

Known lost aircraft:

Memorial plaque

Memorial plaque in chapel
Memorial plaque in chapel
© Carl Rogerson

The memorial takes the form of a small wood and metal plaque which lies within a small chapel, with the remains of a three bladed propeller placed outside, and records the names of the RAF crew who lost their lives in the crashes.

The inscription reads:

IN MEMORY OF
Royal Air Force personnel who lost their lives on St Kilda
Sgt William DUXBURY RAFVR
Sgt Stanley THORNTON RAFVR

Crew of Beaufighter LX798
which crashed on Conachair
4 June 1943
WO Cecil OSBORNE RNZAF
F/O Richard FERGUSON RNZAF
F/O William THOMPSON RNZAF
W/O John LLOYD RNZAF
F/Sgt Bryan BOWKER RAF
Sgt Roy LEWIS RAFVR
Sgt Scoular THOMSON RAFVR
Sgt Francis ROBERTSON RNZAF
Sgt David ROULSON RNZAF
F/Sgt Oliver REED RNZAF

Crew of Sunderland ML858
which crashed on Gleann Mhor
8 June 1944
The crew of the unidentified aircraft
believed to be a Wellington
which crashed on Soay
Greater love no man hath than this
that a man lay down his life for his friends

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