The Ghosts of Montrose
(I am eternally grateful to the Montrose Review Press for permission to publish this article).
Lieutenant Desmond L. Arthur
Desmond Lucius Arthur was born on 31st March 1884 at O’Briens Bridge, County Clare, Ireland,
and was educated at Portora Royal School, Inniskillin. He joined the 5th Battalion Royal
Munster Fusiliers (Special Reserve), being gazetted on 27th May 1911. He joined No 2 Squadron
of the Royal Flying Corps on 17th April 1913, having gained his Flying Certificate, No 233,
on the 18th June 1912 flying a Bristol Monoplane at Brooklands.
On 27th May, 1913, Lt. Arthur, dressed in his officer’s khaki uniform over which he wore a
white Cavalry cover-all, climbed aboard BE2 No 205 for a normal practice flight from Upper
Dysart, south of Montrose on the coast road (now the A92). At 7 a.m. the 70hp Renault engine
of his aircraft roared into life, and he took to the air heading towards Lunan Bay. Around
30 minutes into the flight the machine was seen descending in a left hand spiral at about
2,500 feet, making a complete turn. The aircraft then banked to the right, and the top right
hand wing was seen to collapse from the tip towards the fuselage.
Spectators on the ground reported they heard the engine accelerating and a puff of smoke was
emitted from the exhausts. The aircraft pitched downwards throwing Lt. Arthur against his
seat strap, bursting the stitching on one side. Lt Arthur fell to his death hitting the
ground about 200 yards in front of Lunan Bay Station, his machine crashing about 160 yards away.
This early accident gave rise to the story of ‘The Montrose Ghost’ during the Great War, when
an enquiry accused Lt. Arthur of ‘Stunting’ his machine. His spectre was seen at the Officer’s
Quarters, until his name was cleared when the findings of the enquiry were overturned and he
was exonerated from all blame for the crash, the accident being due to a botched repair.
Lt Arthur is buried locally in Sleepyhillock cemetery……
Lt. Desmond Arthur whose death at Montrose gave rise to the legend of
“The Montrose Ghost” Over the years there have been many reported sightings of
ghosts at Montrose aerodrome.
An irresistible offer by the Montrose Air Station Museum to spend a night in there –
and live to tell the tale – reporters Julie Currie and Linda Marshall made sure
they were well prepared to deal with who or whatever might come on a snow
-filled night at the Waldron Road site.
It was snowing when they set off, which added to the perfect setting for a ‘spooktacular’
night. Taking enough food and drink to feed the two of them for a month, they readied themselves
for a face to face meeting with the ghost.
The notorious Montrose haunting dates to circa 1913, when Lieutenant Desmond Arthur’s
aircraft disintegrated over Lunan Bay, killing him instantly. Though his earthly remains lie
in the nearby Sleepyhillock cemetery, The locals believe that he haunts the Air Museum
wearing his WWII era uniform because he was was blamed for the very crash that
took his life. It should be noted that an inquest convened after the tragic accident completely
Another ghostly figure said to have walked the museum’s corridors is Lieutenant Fergie
Waldron. He died in battle in France but sightings of the airman’s ghost have become
Museum assistant Ian McIntosh said: “Be warned, the place has a very eerie atmosphere.
No-one has ever stayed the night in the museum since the second world war when there
had to be an officer on night duty. We keep hearing doors rattling as if someone is
trying to get in but there’s no-one there and footsteps can be heard pacing around.
“The last time I heard it was in July this year. It sounded like the door handle was
being forced by someone trying to get in but there was no-one there. People have tried
to stay the night but packed up and left when the noises began. I would never stay
The two reporters settled in for the night the Commanding Officer’s room, nervously waiting
for the acclaimed ghostly night show to begin. In an attempt to take their minds off their creeping fear,
they were reduced to regaling one another with the entire score of The Sound of
Music. The reporters began to believe that their musical rendition had warded off the ghost, because hour
after hour passed with no ghostly appearances. Maybe, they thought, the ghosts of Dezzie & Fergie hated show tunes….
Around 1am, Julie heard groans, excitedly thinking that the ghosts were finally making an appearance but
it turned out that it was just Julie mumbling in her sleep. Eventually Julie joined Linda in slumber
and both of them managed to sleep like logs. However Julie did remark, “I do not fancy doing it again.
The place does have a spooky atmosphere with its narrow corridors, old models and flags from the past
two world wars.”
Community education worker Craig Burness took a group of youngsters on a Halloween tour to the museum
as a special treat. He said: “We were there for the witching hour and set up the infra-red sensor in the museum room.
It went off and took us all by surprise. I like to keep an open mind and thought it was
just a flag fluttering but there was no draft at all in the museum and all bodies were
accounted for. I work at the museum at the weekends and hear a lot of unexplained noises in the building.
The eeriest part is along the corridor.”
As for Julie and Linda, the interview with the ghost was a bust and they left in morning, no worse for wear.
Oh well, so much for things that go bump in the night!