A HELENSBURGH man was one of the ship’s company declared ‘missing believed killed’ when the battlecruiser HMS Hood was shelled and sank on May 24 1941.

The sinking by the German battleship Bismarck was one of the largest World War Two losses of life for the Royal Navy, and it sparked a huge pursuit of the Bismarck, which was destroyed three days later.

THE CAPTAIN who ferried Consolidated Coronado JX470 to RAF Helensburgh in April 1943 had earned a place in aviation history.

Dana Gentry could have told test pilots at the officers mess in Rhu of his flying exploits crossing the Atlantic, if he had the mind to.

THE ‘Lend Lease’ Consolidated Catalina flying boats on the way to World War Two’s RAF Helensburgh for testing and modifications had to make a hazardous non-stop flight across the Atlantic.

Ferry pilots landed first at Greenock, the reception destination, descending through cloud into fields of mushroom-like barrage balloons.

“A pleasant surprise during the coronavirus lockdown. Please thank the people of Helensburgh.” So said nonagenarian Frances McLaren, who admits to now being frail of limb.

However, her mind seems as sharp as it was when she was on the scientific staff at RAF Helensburgh on Garelochside some 75 years ago.

CONSIDERABLE research has been undertaken into the parts played by Helensburgh and district men and women in both World Wars.

But there are still many gaps, including details of the huge contributions of two burgh families about which much more information is wanted.

ONE of the saddest events in the history of the Gareloch is the K13 submarine disaster, which took place on January 29 1917.

The vessel was taking part in its final sea trials when seawater entered its engine room, causing an explosion.

WHEN Charles Simmons wanted to know what his late father did at RAF Helensburgh during World War Two, he contacted Helensburgh Heritage Trust.

Charles said his father did not speak much about the war, so his knowledge was sketchy about the secret flying boat base RAF Helensburgh, a cover name for the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment.

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