Heritage Centre remembers Sunderland airmen

17 Nov

T9044 display 1115 (3)

After a successful first full visitor season, the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre will be closing for two winter months – December and January.

The Centre, in the Royal Dockyard Chapel, will close as from Monday November 30th. However, it will open especially for parties already pre-booked and also extends an invitation to organisations and groups who wish to visit during these winter months. Further information is available by contacting the Centre on 01646 684220 or enquiries@sunderlandtrust.com

The Sunderland Trust, which opened the Heritage Centre in 2014, is working with its terrific team of Volunteers to prepare for the 2016 season which will also highlight special milestones in the community’s history.

One moment in history this year was especially remembered on Armistice Day – last Wednesday 11th. It was 75 years ago this month – on the 12th – that a Mark I Sunderland flying boat, T9044, sank off the town, and this iconic aircraft has become central to the stories which are told at the Heritage Centre.

Two Sunderlands sank in an 80 mph gale that day. T9044 disappeared without trace, happily without any airmen on board. The other Sunderland, N6138, was washed ashore at Hobbs Point and tragically two airmen on board were drowned.

Those airmen – Sergeant Walter Duncan and Corporal Frederick John Henry Clarkson – were especially remembered when Volunteers and staff came together for the Two Minutes Silence on November 11th.

A special display, created by Eleanor Evans, remembers the 75th anniversary of the sinking of T9044. It includes a Sunderland suitcase filled with everyday items and RAF equipment which flying boat personnel carried on board – and a dressing gown.

The suitcase also recalls a mystery which one day may indeed be solved. One of T9044’s pilots, Pilot Officer Norman Chapman, lost his own suitcase when T9044 sank. This included a silk dressing gown, a wedding present from his wife. Maybe, divers who regularly visit the remains of T9044 off ‘PD’ will discover the remains of Norman’s suitcase.

Many parts of T9044 recovered by the Sunderland Trust Dive Group are on display at the Heritage Centre, splendidly conserved by Trust Volunteers as part of the flying boat workshop area.

Caption:

Eleanor Evans, who created the special display, is pictured with Volunteers from the Sunderland Trust team. Left to right: Steve Fletcher, Baz Clark and Steve Canton.

PICTURE: Martin Cavaney Photography.

 

From: John Evans, Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust, 01646 684220.