Mr. John Cronin MP and the HMS Hermes helicopter crash – 16 November 1962

Richard Maddox

THANKFULLY the deaths of sitting Members of the British Houses Parliament have been between since the Second World War.

On 16 November 1962, the Labour Member of Parliament and Shadow Aviation Minister John Cronin MP and Lord James Hennessy, 2nd Baron Windlesham were on the Royal Navy carrier HMS Hermes which was cruising off the Welsh coast.

They were part of a scheme that allowed parliamentarians to become acquainted with the work of the armed forces.

At the end of their visit they boarded a helicopter to fly to HMS Goldfinch more better known as Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Brawdy in Wales.

With them was a Squadron Leader Stott RAF – almost certainly 162273, Squadron Leader Alexander Haldane Stott RAF, MBE.

One mile west of South Bishop Island (also known as Emsger) the helicopter – flying at a height of 1000 feet above the sea and still approximately 12 miles from its destination – suffered a complete engine failure and made a controlled descent.

However the sea was rough, a wave caught the helicopter and it rolled over. It would took less than a minute to sink.

The two crew members, Mr Cronin and Squadron Leader Stott were picked up by a second helicopter and returned to HMS Hermes. (1) 

MR JOHN CRONIN, Labour Member of Parliament for Loughborough, Leicestershire, descending on the carrier's aircraft lift after landing back on board HMS Hermes following his rescue. On the left is Electrical Mechanic A Hughes RN, aircrewman of the crashed helicopter who was praised by Mr Cronin for his actions. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 34678. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205164670.

MR JOHN CRONIN, Labour Member of Parliament for Loughborough, Leicestershire, descending on the carrier’s aircraft lift after landing back on board HMS Hermes following his rescue. On the left is Electrical Mechanic A Hughes RN helicopter crewman who was praised by Mr Cronin for his actions. Image Copyright © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 34678. Original source https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205164670.

Squadron Leader Stott was unconscious and died later. Assuming that he is indeed Alexander Stott he is buried in Efford Cemetery, Plymouth, Devon. (2)

Sadly despite an intense search by aircraft from both HMS Hermes and Royal Naval Air Station Brawdy together with HM ships Berwick, Lowestoft, Scarborough and Duchess, Lord Windlesham was lost.

Sources

(1) https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1962/nov/20/naval-helicopter-crash – retrieved 8 April 2020.

(2) http://veterans.mod.uk/roll-of-honour.php?SerialNo=R6309 – retrieved 8 April 2020.


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