It has been kindly brought to my attention that a piece of information I included in one of my books, concerning the disappearance of British actor Leslie Howard, was in error. Mr. Howard was aboard a civilian aircraft that was shot down by German Junkers over the Bay of Biscay in 1943 during WW2. Author Derek Partridge sent me feedback on this site, correcting part of my story, for which I am most grateful. Here is his message in full. I am sure you will find it most interesting and informative. Derek, you see, was a boy at the time and was briefly on board the doomed aircraft!
‘Dear Mr. Royle… this passage is from one of your books; ‘The teenage sons of Cornelia Vanderbilt, George and William Cecil, were recalled to London from their Swiss boarding school, but were ‘bumped’ from the flight to enable Howard and his manager to take it.’ Unfortunately, this is not true. I was seated on Flight 777, with my adult companion Dora Rowe, when we were ‘bumped’ for Howard and Alfred Chenhalls to take our seats. Howard was booked to fly the next day, but was in a hurry to get back to see a girlfriend and actually delayed takeoff by a few minutes to buy nylons for the girl. This was to prove fatal, as they then crossed paths with the squadron of Junkers. Check out my website www.derekpartridge.com and our films: ‘Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave A Damn’ and ‘Leslie Howard and the Mystery of Flight 777′. My father, Major Fred Partridge OBE, was in MI6 and was one of the first to learn of the attack and later that I had been taken off. Derek.’
I cannot thank you enough, Derek, for this fascinating first-hand insight into that tragic day. I shall most certainly visit your website and watch your films, as I feel sure many readers of this site will do after reading your note. I recall finding the Vanderbilt story in at least three publications and assumed it must be correct. My mistake. Thanks again for sharing the true story.
APOLOGY: The ‘feedback’ hook on this site used to have a ‘reply’ button for me to respond to readers’ questions, but for some reason the technological people have recently removed it. If you have any questions please use the ‘comments’ button. That should still enable me to respond.