Obituary: Terry Bulloch, Second World War air ace

Terry Bulloch was credited with sinking more enemy submarines during the war than anyone else
Terry Bulloch was credited with sinking more enemy submarines during the war than anyone else

Terence Malcolm Bulloch was a remarkable World War Two air ace whose actions saved the lives of innumerable Allied seamen.

The Lisburn-born man died late last year, and had made his name first as a military pilot before settling into a life with civilian craft.

Though he is buried in England, one aircraft enthusiast now aims to put in motion plans for a permanent memorial at his birthplace.

He was born in the Belsize Road area in the north of Lisburn on February 16, 1916, the son of Samuel (a linen businessmen) and Elsie.

He attended Mourne Grange school just outside Kilkeel, and later went to Campbell College.

It was at the latter school that he made the life-changing choice to learn to fly, having listened to a talk from a recruiter from the 502 Ulster Special Reserve Squadron, based at Aldergrove.

He joined the RAF in 1936, as it was becoming obvious to many that war was on its way.

He flew Avro Anson aircraft in his early days, then moved on to flying Hudsons.

When the conflict broke out he was initially stationed in east Anglia, flying missions over the North Sea.

After an initial tour of operation he was dispatched to the USA to help fly heavy bombers across the Atlantic to the UK – B17 and B24s – during what was supposed to be a rest period for him.

His most outstanding actions, however, were against Axis submarines.

Ernie Cromie of the Ulster Aviation Society had repeatedly interviewed and written about Mr Bulloch, and said: “He had been officially credited with sinking more submarines than anyone else – four.

“One of the great attributes for which he was renowed was his eyesight – he had perfect eyesight.”

This gift allowed him to pick out the wakes of German craft amid the vast, heaving expanse of the Atlantic, even in bad weather.

By the end of the war he had won the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross – twice each.

After the war he settled in England and flew for British Overseas Airways, the forerunner of BA, before retiring from that at 55 (as was company policy) and going to fly for a Portuguese airline instead.

He had married just after the war but his wife Joan died, and he later married Linda – a union which lasted almost 40 years.

He did sometimes return to Northern Ireland, such as when he was filmed at Aldergrove for the TV documentary Atlantic Bridgehead.

His health until about the last 18 months of his life was “remarkably good” said Mr Cromie, and he had been playing golf into his 90s.

In the final part of his life he was hospitalised following a fall, and developed an infection.

His health was in gradual decline, and he died at home in Buckinghamshire on November 12.

He was cremated at the Chilterns Crematorium, Amersham, on November 26 following a religious service.

He was 98.

His siblings had predeceased him, but his widow Linda survives him.

Mr Cromie told the News Letter he intends to write to the occupants of the house in Lisburn where he was born, and to the Ulster History Circle, to explore whether a blue plaque can be installed there in his honour.