Mr Michael Clarke

Meeting of Wednesday 17th April 2019
Speaker: Mr Michael Clarke. Topic: Lough Erne – Catilina Flying Boats

[L-R] Probus Vice-President, Michael Cooney, Michael Clarke, President, Oliver Loughran
 Mr Clarke is the Admiral of Lough Erne Yacht Club located at Gublusk Bay, Killeadeas on the site where a squadron of Catilina Flying Boats was based during World War II. His talk embraced not just the history of the site, but the contribution made to the war effort by Catalinas in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theatres. Deigned and built in America the Catilina Flying boat was the most advanced aircraft of its type when war broke out in 1939. It was a true flying boat with the hull of a speed boat supporting a wing high above the fuselage to prevent water from being sucked into the engines. Catilinas were ideal for patrolling the Western Atlantic where in 1940 U-boats were harassing the allied mercantile fleet. Initially they operated from bases on the Solway Firth but once a secret deal had been done with the “Free State” that allowed them to overfly Donegal a squadron was posted to Lough Erne in 1941. Along with Sunderland Flying Boats operating out of Castle Archdale they helped win the Battle of the Atlantic and played a prominent role in tracking and sinking the Bismarck. In the far East they were successfully deployed in the Battle of Mid-way which re-established US naval supremacy in the Pacific following Pearl Harbour.   Michael was thanked for a thoroughly engaging talk by retired Naval Officer and club member, John Robson.