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Prince George, Duke of Kent, (1902-1942) was killed in a plane crash during World War II at Eagle's Rock, near Dunbeath, Caithness. The Sunderland Flying Boat in which he was flying was officially heading to Iceland where the Duke was to meet senior members of the U.S. military. In this audio extract, Jim Henderson, former editor of the 'Northern Times', discusses some of the issues surrounding the event. The extract is from Moray Firth Radio's 'Recollections' series.
He [Duke of Kent] was the only member of the royal family in recent times to have died on active service, and it would appear as if the records had been closed as a result of this. For some reason an air of mystery has existed for all of fifty years and people who can still recall the crash on Eagle's Mount [Rock], near Dunbeath, in Caithness, still talk about it in rather hushed tones. They always seem to think that there is something sinister and there have been all sorts of theories. There's been the sabotage theory, the idea that because like the Duke of Windsor, the Duke of Kent may, in fact, have been a pro-German sympathizer to an extent. Someone may have decided to have him rubbed out. There's a suggestion that the instrumentation panel on the Sunderland flying boat may have been tampered with before it took off from Invergordon. There's the suggestion that because the wing commander, the officer commanding the squadron at Oban where the Sunderland flying boat was based, actually took controls of the aircraft, he was less able to fly the plane than the pilot who was an Australian; Flight Lieutenant Frank Goyen. Now it could well be that the young pilot was rather overawed by his senior officer and although he filed the flight plan it may well have been that the wing commander flew a different flight.
There's also the most incredible thing - out of the crew of eleven only one survived and he was the rear gunner, Andrew Jack. And it's said that he remembered quite distinctly, when the plane was still about ten miles out from the coast, he heard the captain, and we presume that would be the wing commander, saying something like, 'Let's go down and have look.' Now, what were they going to have a look at in low cloud conditions, flying out from Invergordon in the Cromarty Firth, heading for Iceland? It may well have been they decided to have a look at a ship. It could be that they wanted to have a look at Dunrobin Castle. And here's a very ironic twist. The body of the Duke of Kent after that crash was taken to Dunrobin Castle to lie in state until his remains were taken south to London for burial
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