F/O Hugh Harold Hirst Redux

Flying Officer Hugh Harold Hirst died in 1941 and he is not the one who owned the Irvin jacket.

7th May 1941. Catalina AH 536 of 240 Squadron crashed on Lough Erne near Gay Island.

Fl/Lt. Peter Cecil Thomas, F/O Hugh Harold Hirst, P/O Kenneth Bernard Fuller, P/O Denis William Hockey, F/Sgt. William Peebles, Sgt. Joseph Leslie Elwell, Sgt. John Sterling Hesk, Sgt. Henry Ernest Wilson, LAC Henry Atkin Cottam, LAC Leslie Roy Holmes. All RAF.


I did not know what was an Irvin jacket before I started reading a blog about Flight Lieutenant Jenkins who is in the middle of that group of New Zealanders.

magnificent seven

As I wrote last time this is my favourite blog, and I am not the one writing it.

Pablo found my blog about 23 Squadron, and he asked for my help.

How could I refuse? If you have been reading this blog, you know I am always happy to lend a helping hand.

So I got searching and searching for someone whose name on an Irvin jacket was Harry Hirst.

The only one I could find was this airman…


Iverach and Hirst in L/240 a Stranraer operating out of Lough Erne in March 1941. Hirst was to be killed in May 1941 when his Catalina crashed on the flarepath , he is one of the “missing”.

That’s Hugh Harold Hirst on the right. The other airman is Iverach a navigator.

I found the above picture on a WW II forum.

As a footnote to all this, click here for information on Iverach.


As battles intensified in the Atlantic in spring 1941, outdated Stanraers were traded for Consolidated Catalinas to face a new German threat to British supply lines – the enormous German flagship Bismarck.  At 823 feet and crewed by more than 2,000 men, the Bismarck was the largest battleship in European waters. It was up to 240 Squadron to track her down. One evening while returning to base, Iverach spotted the British flagship HMS Hood firing its cannons in the distance. “Having gunnery practice,” the crew figured. They later learned to their horror that they had witnessed the final battle of the Hood, which had been sunk by the Bismarck with all but three hands. The next day, 240 Squadron was shadowing the Bismarck from above the clouds, helping to coordinate an ambush with the Royal Navy.  Iverach tried to snap some pictures but, “… whenever we attempted to move in, the giant ship almost blew us out of the sky, so accurate was her gunnery.”

Within days, the Bismarck was swarmed by Swordfish torpedo bombers, which scored a lucky hit on the ships rudder, fixing her in a wide turn. British battleships sunk the Bismarck on May 27, 1941. John Iverach went on to complete nearly four tours of operation before he retired from the service in 1946 and returned to ‘’Civvy Street’’ as an accountant in Winnipeg. John Iverach, a long-time museum member and volunteer, passed away in 1992.

John Iverach went on to complete nearly four tours of operation!