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Earth Angels Rising Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of Earth Angels Rising … Work in Progress
Mystery of the Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees (T9465) … solved

by Ted Beaudoin

This is the story of how a highly-publicized international aviation event in December, 1940, became something of an aviation mystery 46 years later,

if it looks like T9465, taxis like T9465, flies like T9465, then it IS T9465 … a re-built T9465

In the autumn of 1986, in the small mountain community of Sicamous, British Columbia, on Canada’s Pacific Ocean coast, word first surfaced of an airplane crash that had taken place at an airport thousands of miles away, on Canada’s Atlantic Ocean coast some 46 years earlier in Gander, Newfoundland, early in the night of Sunday, December 29th, 1940.
The crash was of an aircraft in the photo below from Lockheed Martin, christened the Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees, Serial Number T9465.Spirit Photo 1
Gander historian and Gander Beacon columnist, Frank Tibbo said that he remembered reading a brief news item about this crash. However, a thorough internet and a local library search of existing newspapers of the day did not produce any results. Nor were there any other media reports about it – seemingly nowhere. When a plane – big or small – crashes today, it usually makes traceable news somewhere: even more so during those fledgling years of military aviation.

Frank Tibbo Gander Beacon photo

Frank Tibbo
Gander Beacon photo

Yet three months later, in March, 1941, this same aircraft which crashed had been reported in the international media as having landed at Wick, Scotland, and not London, England – its original destination – all without a single word of why it had taken so long to arrive, or the fact that it had crashed on take-off.
There is no doubt that there was a crash on Runway 32 that night, as reported by Frank in a June 18th, 2009 column in the Gander Beacon:
Dec. 29: The airport experienced its first crash. A Capt. Smith crashed while taking off on Runway 32. The aircraft burned, but the pilot and crew were not hurt.
NB: The only official record of this crash, now known to exist, revealed that a Captain Harold Clifford Wesley Smith, a Canadian civilian pilot, aged 50, died on (Sunday) August 10th, 1941, according to the Royal Air Force commands web site: http://www.rafcommands.com/archive/08039.php
Captain Smith was killed in a return ferry organisation (RFO) crash on that day of Boeing B-24 Liberator AM261 (Atlantic Ferry Organisation) at Mullach Buidhe, near Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran, southwest of Glasgow, Scotland, killing 22 passengers and crew.

It’s been a puzzle ever since how a crashed airplane which had hurtled into a runway snowbank, only slightly injuring its three-man crew, could have reached anywhere, let alone Scotland. This puzzle remained fuzzy until the spring of 2014 when one more attempt at finding an answer had been made by adopting a Sherlock Holmes’ style of deductive reasoning: to heavily paraphrase Holmes’ author, Sir Conan Doyle. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and flies like a duck, it is a duck!

Time had come to draw the only conclusion available, reached by a final deep search …
● over the internet …
● through telephone interviews with the Royal Air Force and the Imperial War Museum in England …
● calls and e-mails to numerous aviation magazine editors and writers
● interviews with personnel in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and its Directorate of History and Heritage …
● calls to many aviation museums in Canada, and by
● contacting numerous other sources in Canada and the United States of America, including its manufacturer, now known as Lockheed Martin; and
● obtaining photographs of the original plane which crashed and comparing them to the airplane which arrived in Wick.
Linking all of this background data with reports obtained from two witnesses, and with memory of a local historian who said that he recalled hearing about a small news item in a local newspaper which reported this crash, naturally led to the only conclusion remaining: that one and only one thing could have happened to this airplane after it crashed late at night that Sunday night – it was not quickly replaced by another aircraft, but was re-built.

There is no known record of its flight nor of its arrival in any newspaper in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England of its actual arrival at any time in December 1940, nor at any time in the first three months of 1941, other than a plaque to this effect in London’s Imperial War Museum and some scant information from Wick, Scotland.
Given the excellent reputation of recording aircraft struck off the record as a result of an aircraft accident –
ground or air – by Lockheed … by Gander base personnel in Newfoundland … by the RCAF … by Canada’s
National Defence Department’s Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) … by the RAF … as well as key
airports in Ireland and Scotland (and only two airports at that) … it is little wonder that its crash only shows up
through quite thorough research.

Then who ordered the replacement?

Obviously some man with a big heart, and a lot of political and military clout, and sensitive of the vital public relations value had taken over the destiny of this aircraft and did the best he could so that it could be seen to have arrived.
What is reported as having happened to it is one powerful and wonderful example where perception often
becomes the reality. It certainly did in this case. This chapter it as much a tribute to this unknown man as it is to everyone else involved.
Of all the airplanes made during WW II before the big Boeings came into existence, this twin-engine airplane enjoyed enormous good-will publicity from the day it left the Burbank, California factory in front of tens of thousands of employees … then was flown across the USA, and into Canada from Detroit, Michigan to Windsor,
Ontario (definitely a political no-no) and arriving in St. Hubert airport just south of Montréal on Christmas Day –
and closely followed by the international news media of the day.

Lockheed Hudson bomber over Greenland

Lockheed Hudson bomber over Greenland

What showed up in Wick could only have been a re-built aircraft, as seen in a Royal Air Force photo at left, while on patrol over the coast of Greenland. The smaller photo – below right – shows the sawed-off propeller tip, removed from the wreck of the original aircraft the morning of Dec. 30th, 1940 by RCAF mechanic Ivan Harmann, who in 1986, through his son, Gerry, donated the propeller tip for this book. He did so after his father had read the first reports which had been written in the manuscript for an aviation biography in which this incident is recorded. The biography, published that same year – Walking on Air, re-issued in 2009 as an expanded book with a new title – Pilot of Fortune – is about the late Captain Sheldon Luck, the first Chief Pilot of Canadian Pacific Air Lines. Both books contain three chapters covering Sheldon’s experiences as a civilian captain within the RAFFC. One manuscript section in his biography describes the Spirit gift and its seemingly successful flight into England, but it did not contain any information about the crash.

Propeller tip sawed off by RCAF mechanic Ivan Harmann from the wreck of the original Spirit of Lockheed Vega Employees Hudson aircraft the morning of Dec. 30th, 1940 in Gander, Newfoundland

Propeller tip sawed off by RCAF mechanic Ivan Harmann from the wreck of the original Spirit of Lockheed Vega Employees Hudson aircraft the morning of Dec. 30th, 1940 in Gander, Newfoundland

Mr. Harmann was then 77-years old, and at the time lived in Westbank in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. He had been in Gander the night of the crash. When Gerry returned the manuscript he said that his dad wanted readers to know that the original Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees airplane could NOT have arrived in Scotland. Gerry added that his Dad told him that he had arrived in Gander on Saturday, November 10th, the day before the first four flights of seven aircraft each had been delivered to Gander and flew on to Great Britain to prove to naysayers that delivery flights over the North Atlantic Ocean could be made and would be made. And, stressed Gerry, his Dad had seen for himself the first, second and third groups of bombers leave for overseas, as well as this fourth flight in late December.
Gerry stressed that while his father told him that while he was out on the airfield that night, he saw the Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees lift from the runway, hit the snow-packed surface with its undercarriage, then cartwheel tail-over-nose into a crumpled wreck. The crew escaped without serious injury before it exploded. All other aircraft of this flight continued their take-offs and flew over the crashed bomber in orderly succession, finally arriving overseas the next morning. It wasn’t the lead aircraft either, according to Mr. Harman, but third in the line-up.
Mr. Harman said that he went out the next day with a tractor to haul the wreckage away. Before he did that, however, he took out a hacksaw and cut a tip from one of the two propellers, keeping it as a souvenir. Gerry said that his father had been so moved by reading about Sheldon’s recollections that he had asked Gerry to offer the broken propeller tip as a souvenir for the book.
Gerry also commented on the fact that his father appreciated why official records say nothing of this crash, even back in 1945 when the official documents were first published. The morale of Londoners, and of the Lockheed and Vega workers would have been hit a hard blow had they known of this, he suggested.
That the Hudson wasn’t the lead bomber in the flight, as described in other publications dealing with this flight, Mr. Harman simply said: “What the hell, it doesn’t matter now.”
Also of interest is another memory of Mr. Harman’s – the two other aircraft which the official publication says returned to Gander didn’t show up there; they may have gone elsewhere, but there was no such thing as an elsewhere at the time. Mr. Harman insists he would have known about their return because of his contacts at the base.
Gerry emphasized that his father was convinced that the descendants of the men and women who presented this gift to the people of Britain would not be overly upset about the new information coming to light more than half-a-century later. He added that in no way did the crash, or the suppression of the news about the crash undermine the value of the work and effort their ancestors put into it, and the massive contribution they and their co-workers made to the war effort in assembling these bombers.

A final give-away which led to the only conclusion remaining lay in the fact that a number of photographs obtained over the years showed some of the interior panels of T9465, bearing the signatures of some of the men and women who had built it in 1940. This information came years later from Alex Scott Bradford, Benthall, Broseley, Shropshire, who had been posted to 269 Squadron at Wick in August 1940 as an engine fitter. He made note of this feature in a letter he wrote after following his squadron when it moved from Wick to Iceland in July, 1941, commenting:
“l enclose a photo of the Hudson which the Lockheed employees presented to the Royal Air Force and was allocated to 269 Squadron at Wick. The inside of the fuselage had the signature of all of the people who had built or helped in the construction of the plane.”

This “inside” could only have come from the original burned wreckage which Mr. Harmann had removed from the runway the morning of Dec. 30th, 1940, and used in re-building another Hudson, and outfitting it completely as an almost-identical look-alike to the original. (Mr. Bradford’s name re-appears at the end of this chapter as one of nine former members of the RAF 269 Squadron.)
Other photographs showed its RAF registry letters as being UAN on one side, and UA-N on the other side of the fuselage – something rarely done with military aircraft, pointing to a civilian version of a military identification, or a civilian unfamiliar with the application of aircraft identification protocols on both sides of an aircraft fuselage. And one more dead giveaway that the Spirit photographed on submarine patrol was not the same one that crashed surfaced on a scale-modellers’ web site, noting the differences in the camouflage pattern seen by some scale modeller’s – known to be almost fanatics about their accuracy in making scale models of aircraft – the web site is at http://omgili.com/thread/.0rSU5LtMgyhr1beBobOaolEL2wqttWR_NSC56iTmPsBOcTRlgMV_xZA_LHSOU6Q6f0631IfTEpvplh61Dv.dg

Two observations are reproduced below:
Thursday, May 08th, 2014, 02:04
Noticed differences in the camo pattern. Two separate aircraft or was T9465 repainted in Coastal Colours before issue to 269 SQ. http://***** regards Ed »
and later that same day, Thursday, May 08th , 2014, 15:15 hours later, this posting:
Ed: As far as I can see there was only one gift aircraft from the Vega factory staff. No idea why the paint patterns differ, but the one seen in USA was perhaps exchanged with another one? Cheers Stig »

Repeating what has been written earlier in this chapter, there are no known records in Canada nor are there any in England indicating that Hudson T9465 had crashed. There are no known records in either country of the three crew members who were on the original aircraft on Dec. 29th, 1940, nor of the three crew members who flew the re-built bomber into Wick in March, 1941. No records could be found in the vast on-line newspaper archives of England, Scotland, Canada and the USA revealing any such aircraft as having arrived in Great Britain any time before March 1941. Nowhere else in any of the information made public about what would become the Royal Air Force’s Ferry Command later in 1941 is there any hint that this airplane had crashed or was re-built, then forwarded, albeit late, to Scotland, and not London, England.

That folks in London knew that this gift of a bomber was coming can be seen in a brief one-column newspaper report from the Friday, Dec. 13th, 1940 edition of the Oakland Tribune, (California, USA) on Page 2:
BURBANK Dec 13 – (UP) – Lockheed Aircraft employees today received a cablegram from Lord Beaverbrook, British minister of aircraft production which expressed gratitude over the worker’s plan to give the British a Lockheed Hudson bomber as a Christmas present.
“I am deeply touched” the cablegram said, “to hear that the generous-hearted staff and workpeople of Lockheed and Vega are sending us the gift of a Hudson aircraft. Will you please accept and convey to all the immense gratitude we feel.” The cable was addressed to officers of the Employees Recreation Club Lockheed and Vega, a subsidiary company. Employees recently announced that they would deduct two hours pay from their checks and present a check for the sum to the English people with instructions to buy a Lockheed Hudson bomber to be called ‘Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees.
The presentation ceremony will be held here December 22.
That many were led to believe the gift had arrived as promised appeared in another American newspaper, the Reno Evening Gazette, in the state of Nevada, a newspaper which billed itself at that state’s Greatest Paper and in its 64th year of publication. The following one-column wide item showed up in the Gazette’s Mon., Dec. 30th, 1940 14-page edition, at the bottom half of the page, under the headline:

BURBANK, Calif., Dec. 30 (AP) – A giant bombing plane – the “flying Christmas gift” which employees of the Lockheed-Vega Aircraft Company presented to Great Britain Christmas day – received acknowledgment from the British minister of aircraft today.
Lord Beaverbrook, in a cablegram to the donors, said the gift airplane, Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees, was of “immense encouragement” to his nation. The ship left Burbank December 22 and was delivered at Montreal December 25. It landed safely “somewhere in England” December 29, Lord Beaverbrook said in the message.

There are many news stories about this aircraft after March, 1941, when it had been heavily publicized in its new role as a submarine hunter in May, 1941, and was working out of Iceland on submarine patrol over the North Atlantic Ocean, on missions carried out by the Royal Air Force’s 269 Squadron, which was headquartered in Wick, Scotland.
What made this particular aircraft – Hudson Mk IIa T9465 UA-N – so important that it is now part of this book?
The answer: thanks to the removal of the cloak of secrecy for the occasion, it obviously received much international media coverage of the fact that it was a gift, a big-time gift, christened the Spirit of Lockheed -Vega Employees.
The Lockheed and Vega aircraft manufacturing plants and their 18,000 employees in Burbank, California had decided months earlier to make this gift as a way of showing their support for England, and London, its biggest city under attack by a vicious aggressor in the third month of a nine-month long bombing campaign being carried out almost daily by Hitler’s air force, the dreaded Luftwaffe. The nightly air raids on London began on September 7th, 1940, and continued until Hitler ended them on May 11th, 1941 with his decision to re-direct his attacks onto his eastern front and go after Russia, having already conquered most of Europe, and winning, it seemed for an agonizingly long time, the Battle of the Atlantic in the process.
The night of Dec. 29th turned out to be one of the most difficult ones Londoners had to endure during this campaign to crush their will to defend themselves and their allies.
The decision to re-build the wreck had to have been made high-up within the embryonic group which later in 1941 had morphed into the RAF’s Ferry Command. This individual was most likely a civilian, not even an officer.
There was no real “military officer” in charge of the fledgling operation which was headquartered out of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Air Services Department based in the CPR railway station in the heart of downtown Montréal, QC, and which flew aircraft assigned to it for overseas flights out of Gander, Newfoundland.
This was a somebody unknown to this day. He had to have been a man with a big heart, however, and one who had a keen understanding of the immense value of good public relations and goodwill in wartime. He had obviously made the decision to re-build the wreck, allowing the gift of an airplane to continue its already highly-publicized flight overseas, proving once again that, more often than not, perception becomes the reality of the day.

Spirit Photo 6TedDorvalThe photo at right was taken at the Dorval Museum on Friday, May 11th, 2012, when I temporarily loaned the Spirit’s propeller tip to Ms. Beverly Rankin, Animator, Leisure and Culture, City of Dorval, on my left. Our group stands in front of a plaque commemorating the RAF’s Ferry Command, which used to be on display at what was then known as the Dorval Airport. From left are Jean-Guy Pelletier, a Director of the Dorval Historical Society (DHS) and Michel Hébert, President, DHS. To the left of Ms. Rankin are Alain Jarry, a Director of the DHS and Ken Watkins, member of the DHS and a WWII navigator. Ms. Rankin said that there are plans to open a special permanent section dedicated to the civilians and seconded military personnel of the RAF’s Ferry Command. In the spring of 2014, Ms Rankin kindly returned the propeller tip so that coloured copies could be made of it through the 3-D (additive manufacturing) process, with the original going to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, ON, Canada. The Dorval Museum will receive a ceramic reproduction as will any other aviation history society and / or museum who may request one. (Please see end of this chapter for details.) (Photo: Sébastien Gauthier, photographer, City of Dorval)
How the gift came to be and how it got to Gander, Newfoundland
Records indicate that the fourth and last group of the first three ferry flights in 1940 took off on December 29th. These same records say four of the seven made it safely, that one crashed on take-off, a second one returned with engine trouble and a third came back because of radio difficulties.
(NB: According to the two witnesses, the Spirit was the third in the take-off line-up.) More proof that T9465 did in fact crash came from Roderick Goff, (at left, below) who was the Gander weatherman on duty that night. When asked in a telephone interview in the summer of 2008 about his recollections of the accident, Roderick – then 92 years of age -said that he remembered that he was on night duty in the weather office when he heard of the crash. He would not learn which aircraft it was until later the next day, however.

Roderick Goff, Courtesy Gander Beacon

Roderick Goff, Courtesy Gander Beacon

Since publication of the original Walking on Air in 1986, and its expanded re-make in 2009 as Pilot of Fortune, and through to the final manuscript for these two volumes, new information had surfaced, thanks to the incredible resources now available through the internet and its phenomenal search engines – information which was not available until recent years and thanks to many others who provided what information they could.

That it was a gift, there is no doubt, as evidenced by the following brief Time magazine article of Monday, Dec. 9th, 1940. The article is reproduced below:
Short, blond, athletic-looking, 21-year-old Burton Griffin works by night in the stock room of Vega’s Burbank (Calif.) plant, goes to bed with the dawn. One morning last week young Griffin couldn’t sleep; a wild idea chased through his mind.
Finally it drove him to put on his clothes, hustle off to the plant to tell his boss. Soon 1,500 questioned employees of Lockheed-Vega voted to put it in practice. The idea: “I got to thinkin’ about Christmas and about all those bombers we’re making for the British. . . . And I got this idea about making them a Christmas present of one of the bombers.”
Lockheed Hudson bombers cost $90,000, take 24,000 man-hours apiece to build. From its 20,000 employees (average pay: 75¢ an hour) Lockheed-Vega solicited voluntary pledges of two or more hours of pay per man, planned to make up the difference itself (expected to be almost 50% of the cost, despite an estimated 100% subscription). Proclaimed the Brothers Gross (Robert E., president of Lockheed, and Courtland S., president of Vega) after querying the State Department on procedure: “We will be very glad to transfer the funds so raised … to Lord Lothian with the employees’ instructions that the Ambassador use this money toward the purchase of a Lockheed Hudson for the people of England. . . .”
Three days before Christmas, at Burbank’s Union Air Terminal, workers will trundle out the plane, done up in cellophane and red ribbons. They will be disappointed if Lord Lothian is not there to see their gift christened The Spirit of Lockheed-Vega with two bottles of champagne (one for Lockheed, one for Vega).
*Under the Neutrality Act, implements of war cannot be donated directly to a belligerent.

The two photos below – of the airfield where the Hudson bomber rolled out – are from the California State Military Department, California State Military Museum, focusing on historic California posts, such as the Lockheed air terminal.Spirit Photo 8Lockheedplant
ABOVE: This airport, in the northwest corner of Burbank, was built in 1930. By 1934 the airport had become Los Angeles’ primary airport known as Union Air Terminal. During the1930’s Lockheed Aircraft Company, adjacent to the field, evolved into one the nation’s largest aircraft manufacturers, and in 1940 Lockheed purchased the airport. It was then renamed Lockheed Air Terminal and used to test and deliver Lockheed aircraft. It also remained Los Angeles’ primary civil airport and remained the area’s only civil airport throughout the war.

Spirit Photo 9 Lockheedplant
ABOVE: During the war Lockheed built P-38 fighters, Hudson and B-17 bombers. The Royal Air Force’s Air Technical Services Command and US Army Air Forces Western Technical Training Command had operations at the field. The airport and the Lockheed plant were extensively camouflaged during the war. The main Lockheed plant and runways were made to appear as grain fields and houses, and the parking lot was covered over with netting to appear as alfalfa fields. In addition, an extensive smoke screen system was installed to hide the plant under smoke. In 1947, when Mines Field was expanded to become Los Angeles’ primary airport, this facility became a secondary airport. In 1975 the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena bought the airport and renamed it Burbank Glendale-Pasadena Airport. Lockheed continued in operation at the field for many years.
And who attended this ceremony?

According to the web log of No. 269 Squadron, dated December 22nd, 1940:

An estimated crowd of 20,000 people was present at the Union Air Terminal, Burbank, California to witness the presentation of the Hudson aircraft Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees to the people of Great Britain. This gift was made possible by the spontaneous and voluntary donation of two hours or more time on the part of each of some 18,000 of the Lockheed and Vega employees.

How the Spirit got to Newfoundland

Spirit Photo 11YouTubeclipLEFT is a still from a YouTube 2-minute, 11-second clip from Lockheed Martin showing a small part of the crowd which assembled in Burbank, California, to see the Spirit wrapped in cellophane, and then watch as famous American pilot Jimmie Mattern began his flight of the Spirit on Sunday, December 22nd, 1940, heading to St. Hubert airport in Québec.
He flew the Spirit across North America. This had been Jimmie’s second flight of historical interest where what became the RFC FC was concerned. As noted in a previous chapter of Earth Angels Rising, twelve months earlier, in mid-January 1940, Jimmie had been one of five pilots who had flown Hudson bombers into Pembina, North Dakota, where they were then hitched to a Canadian farm-horse team for a three-horsepower tow job north into Emerson, Manitoba, making them the first known Hudson bombers ever to enter Canada under tow.
The Spirit’s flight out of California attracted great newspaper, magazine, radio and movie news film coverage, despite the great amount of secrecy wished for by Canada, England and the United States of America, and their the armed forces of the day. Three days later, Jimmie left Detroit, Michigan, and flew the Spirit across the Canadian / American border, over Windsor, Ontario, landing in the afternoon at what was then known as St. Hubert (today’s St-Hubert) airport, south of Montréal, Quebec, on Christmas Day, Wed., Dec. 25th, 1940. Four days later it had arrived in Gander, Newfoundland, ready for delivery into England.

Undated Bill Kirchner photo: Jimmie Mattern, at left, with his friend Will Rogers Courtesy of the University of Dallas at Texas, Eugene McDermott Library, Richardson, TX.

Undated Bill Kirchner photo: Jimmie Mattern, at left, with his friend Will Rogers
Courtesy of the University of Dallas at Texas, Eugene McDermott Library, Richardson, TX.

That everyone thought it had arrived in England on December 30th, can be seen from the following brief item, published at the Lockheed Martin web site at – http://www.lockheedmartin.ca/us/100years/stories/spirit-vega.html
By December 25, the special Hudson, inscribed with the moniker the Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees, flew from California with a stop in Detroit to St. Hubert Airport in Montreal, where it was handed over to British forces.
A week later, upon its arrival in Great Britain, Lord Beaverbrook, the minister of aircraft in Britain, called the gift, “a message of immense encouragement” and swiftly put it into service under the RAF’s Coastal Command.

That “a week later” above can only mean Jan. 1st, 1941. Lord Beaverbrook had to have had knowledge of its crash, and obviously went along with the fanfare in trying not to bring down the morale of the Londoners who had survived the overnight bombings of Dec. 29th, and 30th by raiding German aircraft. That he did so is evident by the appearance of a small number of newspaper reports in the UK.

On January  4th, 2010, Christian Halgar, at the British Library Newspaper archives in London, England, wrote, stating that he had tried to help by conducting a an archival search of newspaper archives to try and find reports of anything to do with this “gift” and its alleged arrival:
I have been able to look through a few days’ issues of several of the most prominent UK national newspapers, the London Evening Press, and the specialist periodical The Aeroplane. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information and most titles seem not to have reported it. Details of the search are:
Daily Express, December 30, 1940, p1, ‘U.S. plane builders give us a bomber’ transcribed: “A Hudson bomber named The Spirit of Lockheed & Vega has arrived in Britain from America. It has been presented by the builders of the plane – managers and employees of the Lockheed Aircraft Company and the Vega Aeroplane Company.
“Daily Mail, Dec 30, 1940, p.5, ‘U.S. Workers Send a Bomber’ transcribed: ‘A Hudson Bomber named The Spirit of Lockheed & Vega, a gift to Britain by the management and employees of the Lockheed Aircraft and Vega Aeroplane Companies has arrived in this country from the U.S.’
The Times, Dec 28, 1940, p.3, ‘U.S. Aircraft Workers’ Gift of Bomber’, transcribed: ‘FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT, OTTAWA, Dec. 27 – A new Lockheed Hudson Bomber, named The Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees, has been delivered to Lord Beaverbrook’s by a well-known American airman. He also handed over a plaque, to be fixed to the aircraft, bearing the inscription: ‘Presented to the people of Great Britain by the employees of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and Vega Aeroplane Company.’”
He also noted that there were no reports of its “arrival” in the following newspapers:
”Daily Mirror, Dec. 27 – 31, 1940 – no report … Daily Herald, Dec 27, 1940 – Jan 5, 1941 – no trace. … News Chronicle, Dec 27 – 31 Dec, 1940 – no record. … Daily Sketch, Dec 27 – 31 Dec, 1940 – no coverage … The Sphere (The Empire’s Illustrated Weekly), Dec 27 – Jan 11- no coverage …The Star, Dec 26, 1940 – 31 Dec, 1940 – no report and The Evening Standard, Dec 26, 1940 – 31 Dec, 1940 – no report.
Of interest – those few news reports which Christian found make no mention of the actual arrival date, nor where the aircraft was reported as having arrived.

What RAF Squadron 269, recipient of the Spirit meant to the men, women and children of Wick, Scotland:
From Wings Over Wick … a collection of memories on RAF Wick – World War Two, compiled by Primary 7 Hillhead School (first published in 1993). Only one item in this collection singles out the Spirit of Lockheed -Vega Employees; the others deal mainly with the RAF Squadron 269, to which Hudson T9465 was but a number.

The following appears at the bottom of this web page … http://www.caithness.org/wings/

These memories of wartime in Caithness cover many people from Scotland, England, Wales, Canada, USA and others. These memories of Wick will help to show the huge commitment to the second World War that was made in the far north. Many different types of people and employment and the work done by women will begin to unfold through this marvellous collection that Hillhead School could never have expected to be so successful. Only 1,000 copies of the book were produced and it went out of print almost immediately. We are delighted to be able to share these memories collected by the school with you all.
Probably the aeroplane which flew from Wick more than any other during the first three years of World War Two was the Lockheed Hudson. This plane was involved in reconnaissance, anti-submarine patrols, convoy escort and strikes against the enemy in Norway and Norwegian waters. The following letters were received from those who helped perform and support such activities with Lockheed Hudsons in squadrons 269, 48 & 608 and 220.
NOTE: for those interested, the web site for each short letter is posted under the name provided for Squadron 269, to which T9465 had been assigned.

The only letter below citing T9465 is that of Alex Scott Bradford, the last name on the list.
Ex-Wing Commander T.R.N. Wheatley Smith – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269smith.htm
Kenny Martin, Glasgow – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269kennymartin.htm
W. LeRay, Ramsgate, Kent – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269leray.htm
J. Owen-King, Worthing, West Sussex – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269owenking.htm
E Preston, Forfar, Angus – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269preston.htm
David Stirling, Ardrossan, Ayrshire – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269stirling.htm
Jim Robertson, Newmill, Keith – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269robertson.htm
M. Saunders, Renfrew – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269saunders.htm
Alex Scott Bradford, Wyke, Bradford – http://www.caithness.org/wings/269scott.htm

What happened to the Spirit after it gave yeoman service out of Iceland, and was later transferred to the Sahara Desert? An accident ended its illustrious career when an incoming aircraft crashed into it while the Spirit was on the ground. This is the final terse report of what happened to the Spirit– dated Tuesday, March 10th, 1942, on the following web site: http://www.oca.269squadron.btinternet.co.uk/history/squadron_history/chronology/1942.htm

The Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees crash-landed in bad weather at SuðurfjörutAngi

by Höfn (Iceland).
Aircraft was dismantled, laboriously transported to England and re-built. Later assigned to No 161 Squadron at RAF Tempsford and used by SOE for taking agents into and out of France and subsequently destroyed on the ground in an aircraft accident in North Africa.

Original Spirit propeller tip to go on permanent display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, ON, Canada
The original intent had been to donate the propeller tip to a suitable aviation museum where it could receive the widest-possible exposure to the public. Once these two books are published, coloured 3-D copies of this propeller tip will be made from composite materials, and donated to any aviation museums wishing to display it, along with a plaque describing its history.
The museum which will house the sawed-off propeller tip from the Spirit of Lockheed -Vega Employees is the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
Known locally as the warbird museum, this museum is the Canadian home of one of the last two operational Lancaster bombers from WW II. It is located almost in the middle of a 160-km (110-m) wide area with a population base of nearly 10,000,000 Canadians and Americans. It is believed that the Spirit’s propeller tip has the best chance of being viewed frequently in this popular museum.