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Griffin, David Francis (Flying Officer)

Killed in Action 1944-02-18

Birth Date: 1905-05-13 (age 39)

Son of Francis Joseph and Alice Griffin, of Hamilton, Ontario; husband of Margaret Lenore Griffin, of Toronto, Ontario.

Husband of Margaret Lenore Griffin, of Toronto, Ontario.

Home: Hamilton, Ontario

10 (BR) Sqn- Squadron
Flying Officer
Air Chief MarshalA/C/M
Air MarshalA/M
Air Vice MarshalA/V/M
Air CommodoreA/C
Group CaptainG/C
Wing CommanderW/C
Squadron LeaderS/L
Flight LieutenantF/L
Flying OfficerF/O
Pilot OfficerP/O
Warrant Officer 1st ClassWO1
Warrant Officer 2nd ClassWO2
Flight SergeantFS
Senior AircraftmanSAC
Leading AircraftmanLAC
Aircraftman 1st ClassAC1
Aircraftman 2nd ClassAC2
Service Numbers

10 (BR) Sqn. RCAF Liberator 586 "A" was returning to Gander after ferrying personnel of 162 (BR) Sqn RCAF to Iceland when it was diverted to Goose Bay by weather.

Before it could land it suffered 2 engine failures and a radio failure, and crash landed in the bush. Public relations officer Griffin was killed in the crash, Gilmour and Johns were injured, Campbell, Imrie and Harland were safe.

Although they were some 20 miles from the airport and saw several aircraft, they had difficulty attracting attention. On the second day they retrieved a .50 cal. machine gun from the wreck and armed it with a belt of tracer ammunition, but that night when they heard an aircraft the gun had frozen in the cold (-40 F) weather (Campbell).

This aircraft had sunk 2 U-boats in 1943. (Griffin was returning to Canada after having covered the voyages of the RCAF Vessels Eskimo [F/L J. Howell commanding] and Beaver [F/O A.K. Sonnichsen], tasked with taking urgently needed heavy equipment to Iceland from Canada for the deployment of 162 (BR) Squadron. The Marines-RCAF Style, Toronto Star Weekly, reprinted in Airforce, Vol. 12, 3, 1988

General Aviation safety Network

RCAF Liberator 586

Name: HARLAND, Garnet Robert, DFC
Nationality: Canadian
Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Service No.: J/9316
Date of Birth: 2 February 1914 - 1993

HARLAND, F/L Garnet Robert (J/9316) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.10 (BR) Squadron - Award effective 5 May 1944 as per London Gazette dated 5 May 1944, Canada Gazette dated 5 May 1944 and AFRO 1133/44 dated 26 May 1944. Born 2 February 1914. Home at Riverside, Ontario; enlisted in Winnipeg, 3 February 1941 and posted to No.1 Manning Depot. To No.1 SFTS (guard duty), 24 March 1941. To No.3 ITS, 15 May 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 7 July 1941; to No.9 AOS that date; to No.6 BGS, 27 September 1941; graduated and promoted Sergeant on 7 November 1941. Posted that date to No.2 ANS. Graduated and commissioned 9 December 1941. To Eastern Air Command, 20 December 1941; to No.10 (BR) Squadron, 30 December 1941. Posted elsewhere, 1 May 1942; Returned to No.10 (BR) Squadron, 6 April 1943. To Release Centre, 13 November 1945; released 17 November 1945. Governor General's Records (RG.7 Group 26, Volume 57, file 190-I) has citation; notes indicate that as of recommendation he had flown 1,175 hours, 752 of them operational (94 sorties).

This officer, as Navigation Leader of a VLR Liberator squadron, has been outstanding in the organization and administration of his section. His background and ability as a Navigator has been outstanding, under his understanding guidance and example, the Navigators of his squadron have reached a very high standard of efficiency and accuracy under difficult conditions, involving as it does navigation over the entire North Atlantic. To date none of the aircraft of this unit have been lost owing to navigational error.

RCAF Press Release 2912 issued 4 April 1944 tells of a crash on Saturday, 19 February 1944 (Liberator 586) and subsequent rescue. Pilot was S/L A.A T. Imrie, DFC. Warrant Officer A.C Johns was Mentioned in Despatches:

An RCAF Station in Newfoundland - Five survivors of an ice-burdened Liberator bomber which crashed in the Labrador wilds with three engines dead and a fourth in flames, came back to their home station here recently after a wee-long struggle with temperatures ranging as low as 55 degrees below zero.

The sixth man aboard, Flying Officer David Griffin, RCAF public relations officer, died in the crash and was buried in a flag-draped casket at Goose Bay cemetery. With his comrades trudging behind on snowshoes, his body was taken to Goose Bay by dog teams of the U.S. Army Air Force, flown in to aid in the rescue and driven by veterans of Admiral Byrd's expedition to the South Pole.

The survivors were:

  1. Squadron Leader A.A.T. "Al" Imrie, DFC, veteran U-boat patrol pilot and former backfielder with Calgary Bronks, McMaster University, and Balmy Beach (2001 Bloor Street Wrest, Toronto).
  2. Flight Lieutenant G.R. "Gar" Harland (formerly of Trehearne, Manitoba and whose wife lives at 113 Villaire Avenue, Riverside, Ontario) - navigator.
  3. Flying Officer J.D.L. "Doug" Campbell (Cobourg resident, whose wife lives as 55 Marmore Road, Trenton), co-pilot.
  4. Pilot Officer M.J. "Gil" Gilmour (Gravenhurst, Ontario), wireless air gunner, and
  5. WO1 A.C. "Johnny" Johns (R.R.1, Harrow, Ontario), wireless air gunner.

Word they had been found reached Goose Bay four days after they failed to reach the Labrador airport after a flight from Iceland in the teeth of the most sudden and vicious storm to lash the Atlantic coast this winter. The report of their finding came from two sources almost simultaneously - one a Labrador trapper who had heard them chopping wood and trekked all day on snowshoes to deliver a letter from S/L Imrie; the second, a U.S. search aircraft which spotted their smoke signals and a huge "SOS" tramped out with home-made snowshoes on the surface of a nearby lake. Circling low, the pilot dropped them by parachute large supplies of "K-type" emergency rations, Arctic clothing, snowshoes, sleeping bags, and cigarettes. "Stuff showered down like manna from Heaven - and it was just as welcome", said Flying Officer Campbell.

The crew brought back a detailed record of their experiences in the treacherous icing conditions which had trapped them in its deadly grip over the Straits of Belle Isle and brought them down one hour and 40 minutes later in the trees near a lonely lake 13 miles from safety at Goose Bay, just six minutes flying time away. Even while the ice was choking off their carburetors and piling several inches deep on the underside of the wings and engine cowlings, the pilots kept exact tab on the aircraft's reaction which may cast considerable light on previous disappearance of other long-range aircraft. Imrie's logbook and the accurate navigation records of F/L Harland contain careful records of each development up to a minute of the crash. Other crews of missing Liberators may have noted similar happenings - but they didn't live to bring them back.

From their messmates of the famed "Dumbo" squadron of submarine hunters stationed here in Newfoundland, Imrie's crew received a warm welcome when they were flown back from Goose Bay. In the mess that night they were piled with questions.

They told how F/L Harland had charted a "spot on" course for Goose which found them, after the crash, within a quarter-mile of their estimated position at the time they were forced down.

They told how iced up aerials and snow static rendered their radio useless, how the pilots had wrestled to keep the plunging, wallowing Liberator on course when both starboard motors went dead; how they had peered anxiously through the blizzard's white pall for high hills ahead when visibility went down to half-a-mile.

S/L Imrie was faced with the choice of landing on a lake or in the trees. Realizing the treacherous weakness of the thin ice which tops the spring-fed waters of Labrador lakes, he decided to take his chances of setting down the 27 tons of flying metal in the trees.

F/O Campbell and S/L Imrie looked over two possible spots, warned all aboard to take up their crash positions, and S/L Imrie headed for the one with the sparsest growth of scrub spruce and balsam.

With a crash of splintering wood and rending metal, the giant aircraft struck. Because the two starboard motors were dead, the pilot came in with his right wing low. Striking a tree 18 inches in diameter, the Liberator spun completely around. The tail thudded against another large tree and broke off, hurling out Griffin and Johns.

Unbuckling their safety belts, Imrie and Campbell dived through the holes where their perspex side windows had been. Lunging through snow up to their armpits, they struggled to reach the fire extinguishers carried on the outside of the aircraft. It wasn't necessary, however. The snow had put out the engine flames and S/L Imrie had cut his switch just before landing. They helped to haul F/L Harland through a gash in the roof after he had taken off his ice-encrusted flying suit. They found P/O Gilmour trapped against his radio installation by the heavy top gun turret which had broken loose and struck him a heavy blow on the shoulder.

Of Griffin and Johns, there was no sign. Just as they started to attack the twisted turret with an axe, they heard a faint tapping, as of wood against the metal fuselage.

Outside, beside the broken tail, they found a pair of flying boots upside down in the snow, feebly pressing a balsam branch which, in turn, had rattled on the fuselage. They pulled at the boots, but nothing gave. Dropping to their knees, all three burrowed like gophers with their gloved hands to claw away the snow. They rescued "Johnny" Johns. "I couldn't have lasted another minute", said Johnny. Then they returned to free "Gil" from the fallen turret. Griffin, however, was beyond help.

They prepared to spend the night beside the plane. The temperature was falling to 41 below zero and Al and Doug each gave "Johnny" a flying glove to warm his frost-bitten hands. Johns had taken off his mitts to change over fuel when the crash came and was flung into the snow in his bare hands.

They spread a red-and-white parachute beside the wreck to attract search planes, then built a fire.

Under an up-tilted wing they tramped out a sleeping place and laid a layer of balsam boughs, a half-dozen spare suits of flying clothing, three layers of silk parachutes, and greatcoats. They covered Gilmour and Johns, the two casualties, and huddled about them. Afraid the flames might ignite the fuel tanks, still laden with 800 gallons of high-octane gasoline, they let the fire go out the first night. The temperature fell to 45 degrees and all were too cold and miserable to sleep.

The spent the next day improving their shelter by carpeting it with flight maps and small sheepskin rugs they were bringing as souvenirs from Iceland.

F/O Campbell chopped wood and salvaged necessities from the aircraft. From metal covers of life raft canisters they made cooking tins, to melt snow water and to heat food. From twisted metal bomb doors they made a base for the wood fire.

All took turns searching for the "Gibson Girl" portable radio, which would have enabled them to communicate with Goose Bay or sent out a continuous "SOS" in Morse but it was never found, though they dug in the snow with wood and bits of metal. They rationed their meager supplies sparingly, for three of the six emergency ration kits had been lost in the wreck. Each man was allotted three-quarters of a tin of corned beef, three squares of chocolate, and three or four hardtack biscuits daily, this slender ration permitting a piece of meat about the size of a condensed beef cube for each of two meals.

Saturday night the mercury dropped to 55 below and only "Johnny" was able to sleep. Watch was kept all night to stoke up the fire and pull covers over anyone who might doze off with an arm or a leg outside.

Sunday [20 February] they tried to make snowshoes from the "catwalk" and cartridge belts but failed. "Johnny's" idea of making them, Indian-fashion, from evergreen boughs and parachute cord, was successful and plans were made to make snowshoes for all later.

They saw aircraft directly overhead Sunday, but it was so cold the Very pistol and marine signals failed to go off until the searchers had passed out of sight. A brisk wind whisked away smoke signals as soon as they topped the trees. Cold jammed their machine gun after two shots.

On Monday morning [21 February] they were found by a trapper, Jim Goudie, who heard them chopping wood while touring his trap lines. Carrying a letter from Imrie setting forth their position and the state of the crew, he set out on snowshoes for Goose Bay. He arrived there about the same time that an American DC-3 sighted their smoke signals and immense "SOS" on the nearby lake.

Soon Group Captain Hanchett-Taylor and S/L Ross Robertson, medical officer, landed in a ski-equipped Norseman with food, sleeping bags and six thermos jugs of steaming coffee. The skiis dug into the treacherous, soggy snow, and the rescuers, too, were marooned. But all knew rescue was just a matter of time. A Piper Cub flown by Americans was mired a day later, though it eventually got off with Gilmour and Johnson. [sic - Johns].

Imrie, Campbell and Harland were all strong enough to make the journey to Goose Bay on foot and Friday morning [25 February] the little party set off on snow with U.S. Army dog teams in charge of Captain Ed Goodale of Ispwich, Massachusetts, and Master Sergeant Dick Moulton of Wonalancet, New Hampshire, both of whom had been with Admiral Byrd at the South Pole. Making camp in mid-afternoon, the party reached Goose Bay at noon Saturday.

SOURCE: Air Force Association of Canada website & Hugh Halliday (August 10, 2010).

Canada Source Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canada Primary Source Library and Archives Canada Service Files (may not exist)

Consolidated Liberator B-24 / F-7

(DND Photos via James Craik) (Source Harold A Skaarup Web Page)
Consolidated Liberator G.R. Mk. VIII, RCAF (Serial No. 11130) ex-USAAF Consolidated (Vultee) B-24L Liberator USAAF (44-50154)
ex-RAF (Serial No. 5009), ex-Indian Air Force (Serial No. HE773).
Currently preserved in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum Ottawa Ontario.

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber flown by the RCAF during the Second Word War. It was designed with a shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing which gave the Liberator a high cruise speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load. Early RAF Liberators were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of routine. In comparison with its contemporaries the B-24 was relatively difficult to fly and had poor low speed performance; it also had a lower ceiling compared with the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Of the roughly 18,500 B-24s built in the USA during the war, 148 were flown by the RCAF on long range anti-submarine patrols, with the B-24 serving an instrumental role in closing the Mid-Atlantic gap in the Battle of the Atlantic. The RCAF also flew a few B-24s post war as transports.

Roughly half of all (RAF) Liberator crews in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre were Canadian by the end of the war. John Muir of Vancouver flew the longest mission of the war: 24hrs, 10mins from Ceylon to Burma and back. (Kyle Hood) Harold Skaarup web page

YouTube Liberator bomber

Wkikpedia Wikipedia Liberator bomber

General Harold A Skaarup Web Page

CASPIR Aircraft Groups:
RCAF On Strength (148), RCAF 400 Squadron (19), Canadian Aircraft Losses (145), Canadian Ferried (1)
last update: 2021-09-18 19:06:22

Liberator Mk. III/V 586

Ex USAAF B-24D-65-CO s/n 42-40526, ex RAF BZ732. Also known as G.R. Mk. V/Can. At RCAF Station Dorval, Quebec, for crew training on 14 April 1943. Still carrying RAF serial for this training. Coded "A" of No. 10 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron at Gander, Newfoundland, to this station via Dartmouth, NS on 22 April 1943. On 19 September 1943, flown by Flight Lieutenant R.F. Fisher and crew, sank U-341 at 58-40N 25-30W. Slight damage to wing tip from u-boat guns. The aircraft was returning to Gander from Goose Bay after escorting Prime Minister Winston Churchill in HMS Renown from the Quebec Conference. Aircraft was one of 3 detached to RCAF Station Goose Bay at this time. First confirmed sinking by an RCAF Liberator. On 26 October 1943, flown by Flight Lieutenant R.M. Aldwinkle and crew, attacked u-boat at 50-49N 41-0W after an hour-long engagement. The aircraft had been on convoy escort when the U-boat was sighted. Initially believed to have sank U-420, this attack is now believed to have damaged U-91. This was EAC's sixth, and last, kill.
1943-04-15 Taken on Strength 2019-08-20
1944-02-18 Accident Crash Crashed in Labrador, while returning from transport flight to Iceland, in support of 162 Squadron. 1 fatality, 5 survivors rescued 4 days later. 2019-08-20
1944-February-19 Accident: 10 Squadron Loc: Names: Campbell | Gilmour | Griffin | Harland | Imrie | Johns
1944-09-15 Struck off Strength 2022-02-07

10 (BR) Sqn- Squadron

Battle honours

The Second World War



Authorized as ‘No.10 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron’ 1 April 1938.Footnote1

Redesignated 'No.10 (Bomber) Squadron' 28 August 1939.Footnote2

Redesignated 'No.10 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron' 1 September 1939.Footnote3

Disbanded 13 August 1945.Footnote4


No lineal connection with '10 Experimental Squadron', of 1967-70. See 10 Experimental Squadron.

Operational history

The Second World War

The squadron flew on anti-submarine operations on the Atlantic Coast under 'Eastern Air Command'.Footnote5


Footnote 1

GO 48/38. Authorized but not formed (AFGO 19/39)

Footnote 2

AFGO 41/39

Footnote 3

AFGO 57/39\

Footnote 4

Secret Organization Order 279, 4 August 1945, file S.17-10-1 (DOE), Kardex 181.009 (D5432)

Footnote 5

AFGO 25/40; Statement and Organization Charts for the Home and Overseas War and BCATP Organization, 15 April 1942, file S.8202, Kardex 181.002 (D421); Memorandum, Notes for CAS, Appendix A, 12 September 1939, Document Collection 77/543

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