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BOAC Flight 777

Discussion in 'Codes, Cyphers & Spies' started by trevor999434, May 14, 2020.

  1. trevor999434

    trevor999434 New Member

    May 14, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Greetings. I hope you are all safe and well during the pandemic.

    On 1 June 1943 BOAC flight 777 was shot down over the Bay of Biscay while travelling back from Lisbon to the UK. All 17 souls on board perished, including the actor Leslie Howard (Ashley in 'Gone With the Wind'). Also included in the dead was the wife and two children of my first cousin (twice removed) Allan Grant Hutcheon.

    I know some of Allan's military history. He was a Canadian officer with the Royal Artillery (relating to siege artillery) in the First World War, and was captured. When WW2 started he was a captain, and was seconded to the Imperial General Staff. He was ultimately promoted to Lt. Col. There may be a file on him in the UK archives relating to SOE work, but the DOB on the file seem to be off.

    I also know that one didn't just hop on a flight to Lisbon from the UK in 1943 for a little "vayca". There was little telephonic or telegraphic communication from the UK for security reasons, and letters were being opened and censored. There had also been previous attacks on these flights.

    I also know that his wife's father (Geoffrey Rothe Clarke OBE) was rather well-to-do, and was intimately involved with designing PLUTO (the underwater pipeline to the invasion beaches).

    I also know that Lisbon was a hotbed of spying and intrigue during the war, as Portugal was neutral and was somewhat easier to access than Switzerland.

    So the questions I have are:
    1. What was his wife Rutha (nee Lettie) and their two young children (Petra and Caroline) doing in Portugal?
    2. Was the trip related to the war? A SOE operation? Dropping off or retrieving information?
    3. Why were seemingly more important people bumped off the flight, and not them?
    4. Was a woman alone with two young children a cover for something?
    5. How was this (or was this) related to Allan's job with CIGS?

    Can anyone point me in the right direction or recommend where I should look for records that may not be held by the UK Archives? Do the records even exist anymore? Is it pointless or futile to continue with trying to solve this mystery?

    Thanks for any help. Stay safe.

    Kind regards

    Trevor C.
    Kingston, ON Canada

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