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Thread: Air Sea Rescue launches

  1. #11
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    Dear Jim
    Can I recommend "Shot Down and in the Drink" by Graham Pitchfork, Published by National Archives, ISBN 987-1-905615-05-6
    It is a very good read which explains the development of the service on both water and in the air. By its nature there are many stories of ditched aircraft but it follows the development of the service in the UK, Mediteranean and Far East.
    Happy reading
    James

  2. #12
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    Another good one here is Crash Boats of Gorleston by Tony Overill. Mainly to do with HSL 108, on which his Father served. HSL 108 was captured, with one casualty, on 1st July 1941 whilst trying to recover a Blenheim crew, one of whom was my Father. The Blenheim and launch crew spent the rest of the war as POW's and we believe the launch served the Germans well.

    This event was also covered in an article that Tony wrote in an early edition of Flypast.

    Regards,

    Nick

  3. #13
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    Jim,
    To get back to one of your original questions, HSLs were certainly the best known of the RAF's vessels, although the ASR service was only a part of the so-called "Marine Section" of that service. I presume that the ASR bases possessed a few small craft (dinghies, tow boats etc) in addition to their "glamour boats" but it has come to my notice that they also used other types of vessels as "HSLs" for rescue duties that strictly speaking were not true HSLs, and I don't mean th American "Miami" class boats. These were a broad-beam versions of the old 37 and a half foot general purpose launches (numbered in the RAF "200" series), these wider (and longer) boats being a wartime innovation I believe. There is an excellent photo of what I believe is one of these boats in "Coastal Command at War", page 127, with RAF number 2307 (2507?) on side. Can anybody confirm that this is indeed a broad beam (whatever it was called!) launch? It certainly looks too small to be a true HSL, which tended to be 60 to 70 feet long in their wartime permutations.
    David D

  4. #14
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    No 66ASR was based at Stornoway, Isle of Lewis covering aircraft based there plus the Minch and Atlantic areas. From some notes I have, they appeared to be skippered by officers (Pilot Officers,etc). I do not know how much navigational skill was required or as to whether the skippers were yachtsmen, etc., pre-war and engaged because of experience.

    Numbers 1231,1254, 2587 and 2590 were based there but there would have been more launches than that.

    No 62ASR was based at Lochboisdale, Isle of South Uist, covering Benbecula based aircraft, the Little Minch and Atlantic. These were the only locations in the Outer Hebrides.

    Tiree in the Inner Hebrides operated aircraft but I do not know Air Sea Rescue arrangements for that airfield.

    The 1950's film "The Sea Shall Not Have Them" covered a rescue in the English Channel by an Air Sea Rescue launch.

    Not much but every little bit helps.

    Malcolm Macdonald

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    I appear to have identified the "HSL" mentioned in my last post, would seem that this was HSL 2507 which, contrary to my interim identification was a 67 foot Thornycroft launch. Strangely enough this very boat is mentioned in the reference I consulted (An introduction to RAF 1936 - 45 Air Sea Rescue Launches), being involved in a very northerly rescue of a Catalina crew within the Arctic circle, and on further checking it would seem that this was the very incident depicted in the photograph in "Coastal Command at War", the "Catalina" in fact being the Canso of F/L D E Hornell, VC, in June 1944.
    David D

  6. #16
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    Hello Jim,

    Somewhere in my files I have a series of articles on RAF launches, if of interest send me a PM and I will try and dig them out.

    Ian

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    Thank you all for your suggestions.

    Thank you Ian, I've probably got enough to go through at the moment, but thanks for the offer.

  8. #18
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    Default RAF Air Sea Rescue Launches

    17th February 2011.
    Jim,
    Perhaps the best reference books are by Geoff Pilborough.
    There are 4 volumes : The History Of RAF Marine Craft 1918-1986.
    They include the HSLs and all the other ancilliary craft that flew the RAF ensign.
    The books are now out of print but mat be available fom your library oe even on the web.

    I hope that this helps.

    Chris

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    Reply to message # 9:
    ROY may have been Cpl W.G. FOY - 923640 - 344/26818
    Reply to message # 10:
    HARDING, PRIOR, McKINNON and MACKINNON but also AC1 Joseph McKINNEY - 540450 (Runnymede Panel 8) were 12th Balloon Centre and tasked "protection of Dieppe beaches from enemy attack".
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    Default LAC Hugh McKinnon

    Hello Chaps.
    Just discovered this thread whilst researching the above mentioned RAF casualty

    I am normally quite adapt at the bombercrew side of research... but from what I can gather LAC McKinnon was a member of the 12th Balloon Centre and tasked with protecting the beaches at Dieppe .... is there any further information that I might be able to uncover as to the actions he was involved in along with his colleagues who lie buired in OOSTDUINKERKE COMMUNAL CEMETERY.

    Many thanks Gary

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