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Captain Roger P Mollard's Page

Captain Roger P Mollard worked for Britain’s Imperial Airways (later BOAC) on the airways' Flying Boat service. The items on this page were found amongst his effects by his granddaughter Nicole White, who scanned the photos and transcribed the newspaper articles.
  Main Flying Boat Page.
Main Aviation Page.
Ceres
Picture courtesy Nicole White.

Captain Roger Mollard.

Ceres
Picture courtesy Nicole White.

Short S-23C Empire Class Flying Boat in Durban.

Name: Ceres
First flight: July 15, 1937.
Fate: Destroyed at her moorings, December 1, 1942, Durban.

Info source.

I'm always amazed when I realise just how recently sailing ships were used for transport and trade. There is a page on the subject here on this website.


Short Flying Boat
Picture courtesy Nicole White.

Short S-23 C (or G) Class Flying Boat in Durban.

Name: There has some some speculation about the identity of this aircraft. One theory is that it is Golden Hind. Another that it is the C-Class boat, Cleopatra (G-AFRA).

UPDATE 6/9/2012: I have been in touch with the brains trust at a the Poole Flying Boats Celebration which was set up to honour the fact that flying boats were based in Poole. Through the ever-helpful Aimee, they had the following to say about this picture:

The identification of the C-Class at Durban is proving quite a challenge to ‘us lot here’ !

I can understand why Cleopatra is in the frame…if my fading memory serves me right Captain Mollard with Cleopatra surveyed a route from Singapore to HK during WW2 - just before HK was overrun by the enemy.

When comparing the Cs with Golden Hind the fuselage differences are very apparent, yet with the S.23s, 30s + 33s it is a challenge !

Of course Cleopatra was well-photographed at Durban etc. before Congella closed, with Capt. Casper and dear Jim Peers as ICUS.

However, the thought is that the photo is likely prewar from the first batch of S.23 C-Class… Perhaps it had some particular significance for Capt. Mollard - after all he did survive the porpoise /crash of Cygnus at Brindisi on the 5th. Dec. 1937 with FO Ralph Mountain etc. !

Yet our maritime expert places the photo postwar according to the Liberty vessel behind. So discounting both Caledonia and Cambria with marginally different / modified profiles, suggestions from PFBC are narrowed down to the potential candidate of G-ADUW Castor!

ADDED 23-9-2013: Alert reader Tim Conroy spotted that the aircraft in the picture is the same as that in the two pictures below, ie Golden Hind. He wrote:

Look at the first and third of Nicole White's sequence of pictures. The first is the head-on one that there has been all the debate about. The ship above the port outer engine in the pic to the left is the same as that under the tail in two pictures down. Note the anchor is in the same place and the SAR wagons unmoved on the quay side. It all adds up for me.

I was looking at another flying boat site and it said G-AFCI (Golden Hind) flew from West Africa to Durban in 1947 and flew some services up the East Coast. So these pics must have been taken then, also born out by the Liberty ships in the first pic.

I see what Tim means and I note that the pictures show an identical dark rust mark (or whatever) on the bow of the ship confirming to me that it is the indeed the same vessel. Processing my In-box, I came across the following confirmation from informant Michael West, who wrote:

Hallo...The Flying Boat nose on in the Harbour with the Liberty Ship behind is G-AFCI Golden Hind....identified from the faired over gun turret below the fin which this had from about 1942 till its post-war rebuild when it got a new tail-cone at Shorts. See Nicole White's other photos of Golden Hind....M West (in the UK)


Golden Hind
Picture courtesy Nicole White.

Short S-23G Class Flying Boat in Durban.

Name: Golden Hind
First flight: July 21, 1939.
Fate: Destroyed 1954 - sources vary but may have been in a gale or while under tow to a new anchorage.

Info source.

Golden Hind
Picture courtesy Nicole White.

Short S-23G Class Flying Boat in Durban.

Name: Golden Hind
First flight: July 21, 1939.
Fate: Destroyed 1954 - sources vary but may have been in a gale or while under tow to a new anchorage.

Info source.

23-9-2013: The ship under the tail in this picture is the same as the one two up pictures up from this one.


Ceres
Picture courtesy Nicole White.

Short S-23C Empire Class Flying Boat in Durban.

Name: Canopus - G-ADHL
Delivered: October, 1936.
Fate: Scrapped October 1946.

Info source.

Canopus was the first Empire to be built and, unfortunately, the first to be scrapped. The picture above was taken in Durban shortly before Canopus flew back to the UK for the last time to be scrapped. Nicole typed up the following article on the subject from the Daily News:

FAREWELL TO CANOPUS

By The Daily News Correspondent

Early on Thursday morning, Durban people will hear the roar of four lusty aircraft engines from the direction of Congella. It will be Canopus, the oldest “C” Class flying boat of British Overseas Airways Corporation, saying good-bye to Durban Bay after an association of nine eventful years.

Canopus will be the first of the B.O.A.C. boats to leave Durban for good under the scheme by which the size of the fleet in Durban will be reduced by one each time an aircraft reaches its allotted number of flying hours. Most of the passengers will be B.O.A.C. contract staff, on transfer to stations in other parts of the world. The last boat in line will take off on the morning of December 31, and after that Durban will see these proud aircraft no more.

Rightly or wrongly, the flying-boat service from Calcutta to Durban – which is linked with the United Kingdom at Cairo – is going to stop, and Durban is going to be poorer by £600,000 a year, apart from the inconvenience of losing the service. If the Union Government intervened, it could probably save the flying boats, or at least prolong their use, but its reluctance to do so indicates that the matter affects the Union’s civil aviation policy in some way which has yet to become apparent.

The only official statement that I have been able to trace was by Mr. F.C. Sturrock, Minister of Transport, who in April of this year said in effect that flying boats were too slow and that landplanes were just as comfortable and were, of course, faster.

Mr Sturrock seemed to have forgotten that the “C” Class flying boats were built in 1936-1937 and would naturally be slower than the modern aircraft now being used on the Springbok (landplane) service. Later models of British flying boats, such as the Solent whose cruising speed is of the order of 190 m.p.h., could easily replace the “C” Class.

In any case, slow or not, it would seem that if there are 11,000 people in the United Kingdom who want to come to the Union by air, now would be the worst time to abolish one of the only two airlines connecting the two countries.

People who have traveled on both the Springbok Service and the flying boats will tell you that they prefer the flying boats, even though the journey lasts longer. Travelling conditions are far more pleasant; there is more room in the flying boats, the landing places are more interesting, and the journey is less tiring. Aircraft authorities in all parts of the world agree that the future of the big airliner lies in flying boats, especially when gas turbine engines start being produced commercially.

The “C” Class flying boats which one by one will disappear from the marine airport at Congella have a shining and honourable history – they were the most reliable, most successful, and best-liked airliners ever built. This year they completed 20,000,000 miles in the air.

Canopus, which in 1936 was the first flying boat to go into service with Imperial Airways, was followed by 42 sisters, all of whose names began with a “C”. Before the war they carried the main burden of the mail and passenger services on the chief Empire routes via India to Australia, and to South Africa.

With refueling in flight, the “C” Class boats pioneered a regular Atlantic service in 1939. Then the war came. Many of the boats were pressed into service with Coastal Command of the R.A.F. Fitted with gun turrets, armed with depth charges, and flown by R.A.F. crews, they sank many a marauding U-boat, guarded many a convoy. Several were lost. Cabot and Caribou in the Norwegian campaign; Cassiopeia, Corio, Circe, Corinna, Centaurus and Calypso in the Far east.

Meanwhile in Africa, the “C” Class boats that stayed in civilian paint were used to maintain the vital connections on the “horse-shoe route” from Calcutta across India, and then through Egypt down the East Coast to Durban. This route connected with another across Africa to Lagos, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, thus avoiding the battle area of the Mediterranean. Durban was the base for the African routes.

While the Battle of Britain was at its fiercest, modified “C” Class boats, Clare and Clyde, resumed Atlantic flights. When New Yorkers read 24-hours-old London newspapers describing raids of the previous day, they started to realize that, in spite of what Lord Haw-Haw said, Britain was doing all right.

NOTE:

The above transcript is from an undated newspaper cutting, however also on the page is the small section “This Day Fifty Years Ago” which indicates a date October 15, 1896. So I believe this article is dated October 15, 1946. I think that it is from The Daily News, Durban S.Africa. Nicole White.


This is a transcript of an undated newspaper cutting:

Name of Newspaper unknown

B.O.A.C. Farewell Dinner And Dance

“They will carry with them our profound admiration and gratitude, and if every time they wander this way again they may be quite sure they are among friends.”

This tribute was paid last night by the Mayor of Durban, Mr. Rupert Ellis Brown, to the members of the British Overseas Airways Corporation on the occasion of their farewell dinner-dance at Athlone.

Flags representative of all the countries covered by Airways decorated the hall, and menus with the Zulu inscription “Sala Kahle . . . Inhlanhla Engle” (Good-bye . . . good luck in England) were souvenirs of the happy association which has existed  for the past six years between Airways and their South African colleagues.

Members of the Family

Mr. George Baldwin, Regional Manager for Southern Africa, said: “Our affection for Durban goes much beyond citizenship because many of us who came here as guests in past years find ourselves leaving as members of the family.”

Among the 300 guests were the Deputy Mayoress, Mrs J. Ellis Brown, Mrs. G. Baldwin, Captain R. Mollard, Line Manager, and Mrs. Mollard, Mr. And Mrs. W.B.A. Ritchie, Major D. du Toit, D.F.C., and Mrs. du Toit, Mr. R.R. Allen, Line Engineer, recently awarded the B.E.M., and Mrs. Allen, Mr. Alec Barker, Captain and Mrs. F. Perkins and Captain N.R. Cook, D.S.C.

The entertainment committee were Miss E. Pascoe, Miss R. Hutcheson, Mr. F.W. Vickers, Mr. J. Grimmer, Mr. D. Harmer and Mr. W. Holt.

 


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