Register Free


No announcement yet.

WWII Flights To Lisbon

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Thank you for the colour photos, longshot. It would indeed be good to see more of them. My contribution is of much lower quality, I'm afraid, but may be of interest

    I found the picture below of Yankee Clipper at Southampton on 4 April 1939. It arrived at 2.30 pm from Marseilles. It was due to leave for Foynes at 7.00 am the following day. I believe that adverse weather delayed its departure. Pan Am was going to inspect Foynes as a possible landing place for Clipper flights.

    After my previous ’dig’ at American hyperbole, I feel duty-bound to quote Clipper Captain Gray upon his arrival in Britain: “It was another part of a routine flight. As on all our flights, we started when we said we would, flew over the ocean and landed. There is nothing interesting to report”. Obviously, this was a conscious attempt to reassure potential customers but, in its own way, is quite revealing.

    Almost half the article was about the transmission of the photographs. You may have noticed the credit to “Western Union Cablephoto”. There is an outline of the 4215-mile route to the WU office in Hudson Street, New York, of the revolving cylinder that allows the original to be “scanned” by a beam of light (“scanned”, presumably a new use of the word, is in inverted commas in the article) and of the role played by relay stations in boosting the signal along the route – by 15, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 times (yes, that’s a 15 followed by fifteen zeros). A 6” x 7” photo took 20 minutes to transmit by this method.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 31st May 2017, 22:41.


      Here's the Pan Am Clipper poster to which I referred earlier ("Wings To Europe"):
      Attached Files


        My contribution is of much lower quality, I'm afraid, but may be of interest
        ian................Do not sell yourself short, it is excellent interesting information.


          I meant the quality of the photograph, planemike. I appreciate your comment and I am pleased that you have found the thread of interest.

          This link will give a brief videoclip that includes a Clipper taking off at La Guardia:


            Earlier in this thread, questions were raised concerning OY-DEM (DDL's other Fw-200 - the one that did not end up on the British civil register) and I offered some comments. Since then, I have come across this, a 1957 letter from OY-DEM's captain that covers much the same ground but from the man who would know:
            Attached Files


              As sort-of promised in an earlier post, here's that photograph of a Pan Am Clipper over the Statue of Liberty. Seeing it again, it has an artificial 'look' to it. I can't spot the 'joins' but the shadow on NC18610 doesn't match the shadow on the statue. I strongly suspect that it's a put-together job. Genuine or fake, I'd be interested in your views. If fake, can anyone locate the original of the Clipper photo that was grafted on?
              Attached Files


                Ex G-AMCA, KN487 at the Aviodrome Lelystad Airport in the Netherlands (2007) in 1939/40 KLM wartime livery representing PH-ALR "Reiger" (Heron).
                For the past 5 years this aircraft has been in use in RAF camouflage livery as a prop in the musical "Soldaat van Oranje" (Soldier of Orange) in a converted hangar at the former Valkenburg airbase.



                  The link is to an article in FLIGHT headlined, "FROM PAN AM TO BOA" and the photograph above the headline is of Boeing 314A G-AGBZ "Bristol". I have seen several, slightly different, photographs of this scene.

                  EDIT - the image failed to upload - I'll try again


                  The following information may be known but, in case not, here are some bits and pieces gained from an internet trawl earlier today.

                  The photograph was taken on 16 May 1941 at La Guardia after G-AGBZ had been wheeled out of Pan Am's hangar.

                  On 8 April 1941, it had been flown from Seattle to New York, presumably as NC18607.

                  On 19 April 1941, at 2.30pm, it was flown to Port Washington (a 10-minute flight) to be handed over officially to Britain, possibly still as NC18607. At 4 pm the same day, it returned to La Guardia.

                  In the next roughly three weeks, it was in Pan Am's hangar at La Guardia, during which period the camouflage and British markings were applied.

                  On 16 May 1941, it emerged into the daylight wearing its 'warpaint', as above. One of the photographs taken on this day (a similar view to the one in the link) shows a lot of people in the foreground, including two mean wearing hats with pieces of white card in them - journalists. This was presumably press day.

                  [On this day, BOA(C)'s second Boeing 314, according to the contemporary press, was in Bowery Bay, which is very close to La Guardia, and was destined to be called "Boston", but the third Boeing was still in Seattle]

                  On 22 May 1941, G-AGBZ arrived at Foynes, its opeartional base.

                  On 26 May 1941, she returned to Foynes following her inaugural trip to West Africa.

                  By 15 June 1941, her two sister ships (G-AGCA "Berwick" - not "Boston" - and G-AGCB "Bangor") were at Foynes, too.
                  Last edited by ianwoodward9; 11th May 2017, 18:41.


                    I am going to try to upload the previous link here, just in case:


                    If you opened the link in the above post, just ignore it here
                    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 11th May 2017, 18:42.


                      Finally today, another poor image but an usual one, I think. An American magazine in November 1941 carried an article to mark the two years since La Guardia Airport had opened on 6 December 1939. Spread across two pages was this image of the inside of Pan Am's hangar.
                      Attached Files


                        I wonder what Capt. Kierkegaarde mean by 'in secret understanding with the allies'? .I think OY-DEM must have been repainted from orange to a drab colour whilst flying to Germany and Austria


                          Yes, longshot, "in secret understanding" was an intriguing phrase to use but I have no idea what he meant. Were there any independent Danish 'authorities' with whom the allied authorities could reach an understanding?

                          As to the paint scheme, it does indeed seem odd that DDL should retain 'neutrality' colours after the German invasion but apparently it did so.

                          In their 2013 book on DDL's Fw-200s, Mulder and Ott are not definite as to the exact dates involved but suggest that OY-DEM wore the basic orange colour from early 1940 until late September 1945. For the last month or so of that period, a Danish flag (red with a white cross) was painted on the fin in pennant form (what they call a "!split flag") and a red and white roundel was painted on the side of the rear fuselage, just forward of the "OY-DEM". Along the top of the fuselage, above the cabin windows, the black "DANMARK", in the same large letters as before, was retained but moved slightly nearer the nose.


                            Click image for larger version

Name:	2017-05-11-23-11-07.png
Views:	1
Size:	647.6 KB
ID:	3674524
                            Lufthansa DC-3 and Ala Littoria Savoia-Marchetti at the new Portela Airport , probably early 1943

                            American Clipper passengers could initially change planes at Lisbon for The British Isles,Holland, Spain, France and Italy. As the war proceeded the options diminished but as late as autumn 1941 there were surprising numbers of Americans still in France as the Vichy government was recognized by the U.S. Government. The use of Lisbon by Allied , German and Italian airliners made possible the extraordinary visit of U.S. industrialist Myron Taylor to Pope Pius XII in Vatican City in September 1942 even though Italy and the U.S.A were at war.Taylor arrived in Lisbon by Clipper, then was flown from the old grass Sintra airfield to Spain then by Ala Littoria from Barcelona to Rome. He was driven to the Vatican City across wartime Rome in a limousine with blanked out windows. After several meetings with the Pope during which the latter was informed of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto,and assured of the Allies deternination to defeat Germany, Taylor was flown back to Barcelona by Ala Littoria, then onward to Lisbon via Madrid for a connection to Britain.
                            Last edited by longshot; 12th May 2017, 15:24.


                              That's an intriguing story about Myron Taylor visiting the Pope, longshot; if I have read it before, I had entirely forgotten about it. Just fascinating stuff.

                              I don't know the history but I think Vatican City was not occupied by the fascist forces in WWII (I seem to remember a Gregory Peck film for which that 'anomaly' underpinned the plot). If I am right, then Vatican City was neutral territory and, if the car from the airport in Rome to Vatican City carried diplomatic plates, then Mr Taylor may not, technically, have entered enemy territory - enemy airspace, for sure (but lots did that), and I am not certain of the status of the ground from the bottom of the aircraft's steps to the Vatican City car. Perhaps the car went right up to the aircraft's steps. Is there anything in the story about that?


                                Don't know if Taylor's feet hit Italian soil but the Vatican visit caused trouble for Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano who had permitted it.
                                Last edited by longshot; 12th May 2017, 18:57.


                                  The photograph below was apparently taken at Whitchurch from just inside a hangar on the north side of the airfield, the one used by KLM in WWII. The aircraft parked across from the hangar is "Zilverreiger", presumably wearing its G-AGBE markings; the ex-PH-ARZ.
                                  Attached Files
                                  Last edited by ianwoodward9; 13th May 2017, 17:34.


                                    There has been discussion earlier of the location of the airports around Lisbon. Here I turn to the other end of the route - Whitchurch. If you look at a map today, Whitchurch seems to be the southern part of the Bristol city conurbation. What was the airport at Whitchurch is almost entirely built over, with little evidence of a previous existence.

                                    Although the map below is from a road map published in 1958, it is a reprint of the 1957 edition which was probably compiled in 1956. It is therefore about 10 years after the end of WWII and Whitchurch is still Bristol's airport. It is marked prominently on this map by the red circle enclosing a red cross. Bristol's current airport is not marked but was known as Lulsgate in my youth and you will find Lulsgate Bottom in the bottom left-hand corner of the map below.

                                    I have added the scale at the bottom of the map. Very approximately, 3 miles is about 5 Kms.
                                    Attached Files
                                    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 14th May 2017, 08:30.


                                      I've done a bit more digging and the following concerns KLM's 'escapees' but limited to1940.

                                      The brief background is that, on 3 September 1939, Britain and France had declared war on Germany following the latter's invasion of Poland but Holland and Belgium were neutral. In Britain, aircraft were dispersed from London and one of the dispersal bases was Whitchurch, just south of Bristol.

                                      These dates are in 1940 and I've included a few questions along the way

                                      10 May: German offensive against France started, including the invasion of neutral countries Holland and Belgium
                                      -------: six KLM aircraft (5 DC-3s and 1 DC-2) arrived at Shoreham from Amsterdam, Lisbon and Naples (precise dates?)
                                      ------ : at first they went to Whitchurch but were then relocated to Heston (date?)
                                      ------ : charter arrangements by KLM to BOAC agreed (date?)
                                      6 Jun : the Whitchurch-Lisbon service inaugurated by DH.91 G-AFDL "Fingal" (an intermediate stop made in France)
                                      ----- : when the stop in France was no longer possible, the greater range of the DC-3 was crucial
                                      24 Jul : G-AGBB registered (C of A issued on 25 July)
                                      25 Jul : G-AGBD registered (C of A issued on 29 July)
                                      26 Jul : a trial service was operated by KLM (presumably by G-AGBB, as the only KLM DC-3 with a C of A)
                                      1 Aug: DC-3s G-AGBC, G-AGBE and G-AGBI registered (C of A: 5 Aug, 25 Sep and 17 Aug respectively)
                                      DC-2 G-AGBH registered the same day (when was its C of A issued?)
                                      ----- : (was this when camouflage was first applied ?)
                                      ----- : the KLM aircraft flew to 10 degrees West, then turned south for Lisbon across the Bay of Biscay
                                      10 Aug: KLM assigned responsibility for Lisbon route (4 flights per week by DC-3; 1 flight per week by DC-2) from Heston
                                      20 Sep: KLM fleet, crew and ground staff reassigned to Whitchurch (when did they actually relocate?)
                                      21 Sep: G-AGBC (PH-ALR) crashed, Heston (landing in fog; hit anti-invasion pole; no passengers aboard; no crew injured)
                                      October: 40 return flights made, carrying:
                                      O/B: 154 passengers; 6408 kgs of mail; 3452 kgs of freight
                                      I/B: 118 passengers; 5302 kgs of mail; 4134 kgs of freight

                                      24 Nov: G-AGBI (PH-ARW) destroyed by an incendiary bomb at Whitchurch during a German daylight air raid on Bristol

                                      That's the extent of my notes. Please tell me if this information is already established and well-known.

                                      Also please tell me of any mistakes I've made or misleading information I've included (my shoulders are broad in this regard).

                                      And, of course, please post any additional information that could supplement the above.
                                      Last edited by ianwoodward9; 14th May 2017, 13:23.


                                        KLM became the first overseas operator of the DC-3 with the PH-ALI "Ibis" delivered in 1936. During WWII this aircraft was operated for BOAC with a Dutch crew under the registration G-AGBB. After having been attacked by Luftwaffe aircraft twice before, the aircraft was shot down June 1st 1943 over the Gulf of Biscay by a Junkers 88. Eventually all occupants were killed.


                                          As indicated in your link, Jur, "Ibis" (G-AGBB/PH-ALI) was something of an 'unlucky' aircraft.

                                          On 15 November 1942 (O/B, I believe), it was attacked by a lone German aircraft, escaping into cloud with only minor damage. Then, on 19 April 1943, it was attacked a second time, some 3.5 hours from Whitchurch O/B to Lisbon, this time by a number of Bf-110s. Piloted by Capt. Parmentier, "Ibis" headed for the deck and got away with punctured fuel tank, thankfully empty. Nobody was injured. The passengers included the Assistant Air Attache in Portugal and four Irish novice priests, who perhaps had flown from Ireland on BOAC's DH.91 service to Whitchurch.

                                          On 1 June 1943, it was a case of third time unlucky. "Ibis" left Portela at 0730 hours GMT and, three hours later, called Whitchurch to say it was under attack. It had encountered eight JU 88s and the outcome was never really in doubt. I have heard the stories about that flight and have never studied it but there are elements that cause me doubt. It would seem odd that the Ju 88s would patrol in a bunch of eight to 'catch' this plane; I would have expected them to spread out more in order to cover a wider area. Were these eight just part of a much larger force out on the hunt for Leslie Howard and the "secret pact" document? Likewise, if the 'secret pact' document was the principal target, what purpose would the shooting down of "Ibis" have served? It would have delayed matters, no doubt, but did it prevent the pact from going ahead?

                                          Anyway, after this tragedy, night flights were introduced and, since the KLM aircraft lacked both flame-damping exhaust covers and an astro-dome, they were unsuitable and therefore withdrawn for a while. In the three years from July/August 1940 to 26 July 1943, KLM made 1622 Lisbon flights, with a 94% regularity, and carried almost 10,000 passengers.

                                          BOAC then increased its frequency on the Lisbon Run to four per week, with the returning I/B flights timed to arrive around dawn, because Whitchurch lacked approach lights and had no proper flarepath. I presume that the Dutch crews were employed on these BOAC flights - again, can anyone confirm this?

                                          From 4 August 1943, BOAC resumed a twice-weekly Whitchurch-Gibraltar service. Also in the summer of 1943, the Lisbon flights were extended to Fez in Algeria, though, in September, this was changed to Rabat in Morocco. On 24 October 43, a weekly Whitchurch-Madrid-Lisbon service was started; in November, a service to Algiers via Gibraltar O/B and Rabat-Gibraltrar I/B, too. For these flights, the aircraft would usually stop elsewhere (Chivenor, St Mawgan and Portreath) to top up their fuel tanks before departing these shores. Commonly, these services were flown by BOAC crews in RAF uniforms and BOAC aircraft now bearing military roundels and service numbers. For a period, departures were from Lyneham and arrivals back at Whitchurch, though, from 31 December, Whitchurch again became the airport for both O/B and I/B flights.

                                          One report says that KLM did not resume the Whitchurch-Lisbon-Gibraltar service until 29 March 1944, which seems a long break. Perhaps someone else can help!

                                          On 18 April 1944, KLM made its 1000th return flight to Lisbon for BOAC , using "Buizard" (G-AGBD/PH-ARB)
                                          Last edited by ianwoodward9; 14th May 2017, 16:58.