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Thread: Air-Sea Rescue

  1. #1
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    Default Air-Sea Rescue

    I am researching a No. 35 Squadron aircraft which is presumed to have been lost at sea in 1941.

    My enquiring mind asked what trigger was used to start an air-sea rescue when an aircraft was reported as "Missing, nothing heard since leaving base"?. How did they know whether an aircraft was lost over the sea or over land?

    I am guessing that the answer is that they did not start a search, unless there was a wireless message and/or other reports that an aircraft had gone down in the sea but wondered if anyone could confirm this.

    Is it possible to determine if a search was started for a particular aircraft?

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Default

    Hi Pete,
    from my own experiences with No. 311 Sq I can confirm your guess if we are talking about service with Bomber Command. If there was last message from the aircraft with probable position, ASR operation can be launched (if weather permits). Without such a information it will be quite impracticable to start the search just with information of expected track to or back from the target as they can also differ. Also when they got a signal just before ditching there was some chance they the crew should survive.
    In case of service with Coastal Command I would say the practice was the same. Otherwise when some aircraft being missing without any trace or signal, the crew flying on the same patrol (which were fixed) would be for sure search also for their comrades in a dinghy (beyond U-boats).

    HTH

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    I think that if the a/c said it was ditching, or another a/c reported seeing it ditch, with a definite or approx. position then ASR could be sent after them, but otherwise not even a needle in a hay-stack, you'd be looking for the hay-stack...
    As a aside to this I was watching "The Sea Shall Not Have Them" last night, enjoyed it, as all the war films made within 20yrs or so of the war were realistic because the potential audience would have served in the war. Especially smiled at the Flt.Sgt,s comment about being addressed as sir "save your sir's for the skipper he's a officer, and knows nothing so's entitled to be called sir", then points to his stripes and says " see these, these indicate the most important rank in the airforce."

    regards,
    jack...

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    And he was, and is(?) right! Officers issue Orders. SNCOs ensure they are carried out to their (the SNCOs!!) satisfaction. Why was that black sticky tape called "Chiefy's Tape"? Find me the Station Commander who did not feel uneasy when his SWO wanted to see him???
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Pete,

    From my own research, l have found that if there was a chance of an aircraft down in the sea, they may have sent out aircraft to have a looksee but unless they had anything more positive, nothing else was put at risk.

    In my Fathers case, Blenheim's from a sister Squadron were sent out following a wireless transmission about ditching but it was only after a sighting from a returning bomber, which gave their location back to England by radio, that an ASR launch was sent out with air cover.

    Regards,

    Nick
    KenFentonsWar.com

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    Dear Pete
    In my own searching for a 5 Group a/c lost in 1941 which did send out SOS en route across the North Sea and broadcast last known fix at ditching, the ASR were launched according to letters written to families of the crew, however I have only found 2 air based ORBs that report any search, nothing listed in their own ORB. Neither of the closest surface ASR launched vessels.
    There were numerous searches launched my multiple squadrons looking for 2 separate Fighter Command aircraft lost at the same time.
    It all seemed a little pot luck in who was searched for and by whom.
    Best wishes
    James

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    Default

    Thanks as always for the feedback.

    As nothing was heard from this particular aircraft, I am working on the basis that a search was not initiated.

    Regards

    Pete

    Note: Since my initial post I have found a site which suggests that this aircraft came down close to Ostend so I have started a separate thread (Halifax L9600) on that matter to see if I can establish the source of this information.
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Hello Pete

    Searches were sometimes initiated and based on where the last D/F plots taken by two or more ground stations made a cut.

    Nothing heard in our ORB is not always reliable according to another post on this forum, because according to an Australian file relating to another lost aircraft, they did receive an SOS for that particular RAF bomber aircraft, but when the D/F position of their SOS was transmitted back to the aircraft, there was no reply. But this aircraft was too far out to be reached apparently.

    Also Distress Flares seen off IOW shortly before P5044 crashed is not recorded and also unexplained in the accident paperwork, but an SOS is recorded in two distress files, one stating unknown aircraft, but RAF Gosport did respond and ask Niton GPO to transmit a distress broadcast. Unfortunately, the Distress Forms although requested and the letter accompanying them is on file, the Distress Forms are missing on the 1940 file.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 26th September 2014 at 20:42.

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    Thanks Mark

    My enquiring mind is still mulling over this subject, but I think for the time being I will have to assume there was no search for this one (particularly as it appears to have come down close to the continental shore (Ostend)) ....... which got me thinking ..... would a search have been initiated by locals and/or occupying forces ..... but I think we had better leave that for another day!

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Dear Pete
    If you are in Kew I would check:
    The squadron's own ORB
    The Base ORB as this can often turn up items not listed by the squadron.
    Obviously you cannot check individual log books, but I have seen evidence of searches taking place that are listed in Log Books but not in ORBs
    The ORB for Folkestone and Dover would be worth a look at.
    There were about 10 squadrons at that time who operated aircraft on a designated ASR capability, particularly Lysanders. Again check these ORBs, but it is the proverbial needle in a haystack. Hours of searching could turn up only one search or even nothing.
    Let me know if you want some Kew references to any of the above.
    Best wishes
    James

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