Petty Officer Airman Royal Navy was born on 27 September 1924, the son of James R Crow and Annie Crow of 31 Dupplin Road, Perth. Before joining the Fleet Air Arm, James Crow was on the staff of John Dewar & Sons Limited, Whisky Distiller. He was also a member of the Perth Air Training Cadets.
James Crow did his initial training at Dartmouth and was sent to RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Station Hamilton, Ontario, Canada for flying training. Whilst in Canada he spent leave time in Boston, USA where he told his family he had met Corrinne, fallen in love and intended to marry her after the war. On return to Scotland he was posted to RAF Errol where he learned to fly the Miles Martinet.
After 250 hours of flying time experience he was posted to Fleet Air Arm (FAA) 772 Squadron at HMS Landrail at RNAS Machrihanish, near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula. Here he teamed up with his telegraphist/ air gunner.
On 17 January 1944, Crow was flying Miles Martinet M25, MS757, two-seat, target tug aircraft. The Martinet was towing a drogue when the aircraft crashed into the sea near the Iron Rock Ledges buoy just off the coast of Corriecravie on the Isle of Arran. Both on board were killed:
Petty Officer Airman James William Crow, Royal Navy (FAA/FX.95515), age 19.
Leading Airman John Millan Martin, Royal Navy (FAA/JX.401581), age 20.
The aircraft was seen by the crew of the escort-carrier HMS Activity to make a turn at the end of its run and then dive vertically into the sea. The cause of the crash appears to be that the tow-line fouled the tail-plane of the aircraft, causing an irrecoverable stall.
Today, just to the north of Corriecravie, on the Isle of Arran, at the top of a small rise stands a memorial to the two airmen. In August 1998, the memorial was set up, it reads “In Memory of James – ‘Scottie’ – From Winston and Corrinne Wood WV USA 1998”.
James Crow and John Martin are also remembered on the Royal Navy memorial at Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire.
Research by Ken Bruce with help from Donald Scott and Mike Hardie
Machrihanish at one time claimed to have the longest military runway in Europe at 3,059 metres (1.9 miles).
HMS Activity was built in 1940 at the Caledon Shipyards in Dundee. HMS Activity had just embarked 819 Naval Air Squadron on 12 January 1944, to began active service performing escort duties on 29 January as part of the Second Escort Group (Atlantic and Artic convoys). Along with No. 815 Squadron, 819 Squadron performed the successful night attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto on 11 November 1940.