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    On the 12 May 1944 a Catalina based at RAF Oban was on a routine combat patrol when she crashed into Heishaval Beag on the Isle of Vatersay. Of her 9-man crew, 3 were killed.

    The Catalina, JX273 had left Oban for a night flying exercise and was meant to turn at Barra Head but the navigator became worried they were off course. They were flying at 200 feet and knowing that there was high ground in the area he warned the pilot to climb to a safe height but this was not done.

    By the time the Pilot accepted they were off course it was too late, he began to climb but at a height of 700 feet they ploughed into the side of Heishavel Beag.

    The fact that 6 men survived the crash was a minor miracle, the Catalina had been carrying a full payload of fuel and depth charges when she had hit the hillside

    An RAF salvage team came and took away the engines, weapons, radio and radar. They dragged the Catalina down to the bottom of the hill were it can still be seen today. It is seen locally as war grave and should be accorded due respect.

    Written by Michael MacLeod

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    Castlebay: 4.8 miles
    Airport: 12.2 miles
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