Reported in the News Letter on October 10, 1936: Wife’s joy as missing airman is rescued from coral reef


After being missing for three days the four British airmen, crew of the Monospar Croydon, have been been rescued from a coral reef on the coast of Timor.

One of them is the Belfastman, Mr Charles Gilroy, radio operator of the party, and his wife received news of his safety by telephone yesterday morning.

The machine had got off its course and run out of fuel, and the pilot, Flying-Officer H Wood, performed a feat of great courage and skill in landing on a reef.

A fishing boat took the crew off and later they were transferred to the steamer Nimoda.

Mr Gilroy’s wife, who, with her baby girl, lives with her mother-in-law at Rose Cottage, Holywood, Co Down, was so anxious that she did not retire to bed on Thursday night [October 8].

“In the early hours of yesterday morning,” she said, “I had a feeling that my husband was safe. The good news of his safety came to me about 9.30. I was called to a telephone a few yards away from the house, and a member of the staff of the General Aircraft Company told me that the crew of the missing aeroplane had been picked up by a steamer and were being taken to Durban. He said that none of them was injured and that as the ship would not reach Durban for about three weeks I should not see my husband for at least six weeks.

“I am glad the terrible suspense is over,” added Mrs Gilroy.

The airman’s mother was equally overjoyed at the good news, and several neighbours called to congratulate the household.

The spot where the machine lies abandoned on the Seringapatam Reef is about 450 miles west of Darwin, in the Timor Sea.

The Monospar Croydon was on a demonstration flight from England to Australia and back. On Tuesday morning the machine took off from Melbourne and reached Darwin in 13 hours. Nothing was heard afterwards of the machine, except for one wireless message, which gave their position as 68 miles from Koepang in Java.

The steamer Nimoda (4,700 tons) is owned by the Hain Line, which belongs to the P and O group. The vessel was built by Harland and Wolff, Greenock, in 1927, and her engines were built in Belfast. She is on a voyage from Queensland to London.