Belfast Telegraph

Pilot who held record for U-boat sinkings passes away at age of 98

Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch in front of his Liberator aircraft
Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch in front of his Liberator aircraft
Terry Bullock

By Joanne Sweeney and Eddie McIlwaine

He was the eagle-eyed war hero who was the scourge of German U-boat captains in World War II.

When it came to hunting down the enemy at sea, no one did it better than legendary Ulster Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch.

Known as 'The Bull', the Royal Air Force officer sank more Nazi submarines than any other pilot in the conflict.

The airman - who had the reputation of being able to spot the vessels earlier than any other pilot - has died at the age of 98, leaving behind a wartime story of bravery and ingenuity that's worthy of a feature film.

Born in Lisburn and raised and educated in Belfast, Bulloch notched up a stellar record by the end of the war, having completed 350 sorties.

In his career he sank at least four subs (two more than any other pilot) and damaged several others in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Bay of Biscay.

He made headlines in the UK and Canada after he and his crew succeeded in destroying a German submarine on a convoy patrol on December 8, 1942.

One headline read 'The Bull gets a U-boat'.

Over a 16-hour period Bulloch attacked a wolf pack, forcing several U-boats to crash dive.

He reported a record 22 sightings of enemy submarines at various stages, and attacked 12 times in total.

He had taken off from Reykjavik in Iceland in his B-24 Liberator bomber and his actions that day helped to avert serious losses of allied ships to the deadly Nazi submarines.

Bulloch was a pilot in Coastal Command. His great skill was to spot the U-boats at a distance few of his peers could match, leading to a record number of successful attacks.

Serving with the RAF's 120 Squadron, he helped to develop new techniques of attacking enemy submarines out of the old Nutts Corner airfield in Co Antrim.

His innovations and approach helped to rewrite Coastal Command's operations manual.

He completed 350 missions and logged up 4,568 flying hours.

A total of 1,721 of those hours were on the mighty four-engined Liberator, some of these sorties out of the Ballykelly base in Co Londonderry.

Ernie Cromie of the Ulster Aviation Society said yesterday that Bulloch had been born and blessed with "perfect vision" - an essential tool for a pilot.

"He had perfect eyesight and he obviously used it to the Allied advantage," he explained.

"He could see submarines long before anyone else who spotted them with the naked eye."

Mr Cromie had actually met Bulloch when he took part in the filming of a documentary programme - Atlantic Bridgehead - at RAF Aldergrove in 1990.

He added: "I count it as a privilege to have known him.

"Even though, since leaving the RAF, he had lived in London, he was what I regard as a typical Ulsterman - forthright, honest and economical with words. 

"He was also inspirational, a man of integrity and much to be admired."

A former Campbell College student, he was the son of a linen trader in Lisburn.

He had a twin sister Yvonne, now deceased, who had lived in Bangor, as well as an elder brother Hugh, a flying officer who was killed in January 1940.

He was known to be a man of few words. But he had a great determination to attack the enemy and became an expert at understanding the Germans' tactics and capabilities during the crucial Battle of the Atlantic.

Earlier in the war he had enjoyed success with 206 Squadron, flying the two-engined Lockheed Hudson.

He shot down two German seaplanes on his first tour of operations, and also attacking enemy surface ships and ports.

After the war Bulloch joined British Overseas Airways and as a senior captain set more records including - at the time - the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, which in peace time he traversed on 1,113 flights.

Bulloch is survived by his second wife Linda. He was cremated at the Chiltern Crematorium in London.

Belfast Telegraph


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