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Thread: ASR Rescue on Canadian Pilot, 16 March 1944

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    Default ASR Rescue on Canadian Pilot, 16 March 1944

    I am looking at an ASR patrol between 14:35 and 16:25 on 16 March 1944, in which 41 Squadron covered a Sea Otter that rescued a Canadian pilot off the French coast, near the Somme Estuary. 41 Sqn's ORB states this was a pilot of 401 Squadron, and that the ASR Sea Otter came under attack from German shore batteries.

    Other sources suggest this was more likely Fg. Off. T. M. Saunderson of 412 Squadron who was flying Spitfire IX, MJ149, when he suffered engine trouble over the Somme Estuary and ditched. He, too, was rescued from a location close to the French coast by an ASR aircraft and came under fire fro shore batteries.

    The pilot of the Sea Otter was Flt. Lt. (then Fg. Off.) Tom Fletcher DFC DFM* of 277 (ASR) Squadron, who was the most decorated ASR pilot in the RAF and was once recommended for the Victoria Cross. This particular rescue was mentioned in Fletcher’s Obituary in The Telegraph on 31 March 2010.

    Is anyone in possession of any evidence (e.g. 412/401/277 Sqn ORBs, etc.) to suggest this was the same ASR that 41 Squadron covered from the air? And further, what was Saunderson's forename, please?

    Thanks
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Hi Steve
    If it is any help Norman Franks in "Another Kind of Courage" has an incident that has strong resemblance to yours.He reports a Canadian pilot, F/O T M Saunderson of 412 Sqn, who baled out of Spitfire MJ419 and came down close to the French coast,no location given.The Sea Otter pilot was P/O T Fletcher,recorded as newly commissioned. The pilot was picked up and Fletcher took off under fire from shore batteries.In a quote from Fletcher it states that the Canadian had been ashore but German troops would not come down to the beach as it was mined..The beach was fired on by"our 2 escorting Spits"(no Sqn ID) and the Canadian put out to sea again and was picked up about 3-400 yards offshore. On the same day a second rescue is recorded ,this time recorded as in the Somme Estuary.The rescuee was a Walrus flown by a Naval pilot that could not take off under the load of a partial rescued crew of a B17.Fletcher landed and took the Americans allowing the Walrus to get airborne eventually with difficulty.There is no mention of Fighter escort in this incident.. There is no location for the 1st rescue and no fighters in the second but the 2 could have been confused later, although if there were no fighters in the one that specifies the Somme Estuary it is not easy to see it being mentioned in a Fighter Sqn ORB
    Regards
    Dick

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    Hi Dick

    Thanks for that. If it is the same rescue, you have certainly provided some additional information for me.

    Thanks
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Perhaps also of interest to know: Sea Otter was JM796, crew: P/O T. FLETCHER, F/O L.R. HEALEY and F/Sgt T. GREGORY. Rescue period 1430 - 1655 hrs.
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    Thanks Henk

    The timings are the same as 'my' ASR, so I think that pretty well clinches it; they were clearly the same ASR operation.

    I appreciate you posting this

    Regards
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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