Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Sunderland P9623 Portugal

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Porthcawl
    Posts
    61
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Sunderland P9623 Portugal

    I have the following crew list for P9623 for 14th February 1941 when the aircraft made a forced landing off the coast of Portugal. The aircraft was impounded but the crew (with assistance) were released.
    For the life of me I cannot remember where I obtained this information,and was hoping that someone could help. The crew list is as follows:
    Sgt Jack Banfield
    RNZAF

    F/L Charles Ewan Wilding Evison mid (2)
    RNZAF 130736

    S/L Patrick Abercrombie Lombard
    RNZAF 37110

    F/O Bowie
    RNZAF

    Sgt Edward Edwards

    Sgt Joseph Tanner

    “Ginger” Ashcroft )
    )
    James Thomas ) Rank Unknown
    )
    Charles Fry )

    Roy Booth

    One Unknown
    I have seen the first four named on this site,but as to the rest ???

    regards Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Cornwall
    Posts
    2,749
    Thanks
    49
    Thanked 13 Times in 12 Posts

    Default

    Hello,
    From Ross's RAF Coastal Command losses vol 1
    Ross only gave four names , Lombard, Evison, Bowie and Banfield.

    I forget the address but there is a website of a/c landed in Portugal which from memory was quite detailed and some photographs too.
    The crew escaped with the help of the Royal Navy on 23rd March.

    Alex

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,956
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    From Colin Hanson’s By Such Deeds – Honours and awards in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1923 – 1999 :

    EVISON, Acting Wing Commander Charles Ewen Wilders, mid(2). 130736. Born Invercargill, 27 Mar 1916; RAF 17 Jan 1938 to Mar 1947, 40614; RNZAF/TAF 1 Jul 1949 to 8 Oct 1957. Res. to 7 Oct 1961. Pilot, then Air Traffic Control post-war.
    Citation Mention in Despatches (1) (1 Jan 1941) For distinguished service.
    Citation Mention in Despatches (2) (14 Jan 1944) For distinguished service.
    Interned in Portugal 14 Feb 1941 to 8 Apr 1941 whilst ferrying an aircraft from UK to West Africa.

    Note: although New Zealand born at the time of his internment, he was RAF, not RNZAF, at the time.

    Banfield, Lombard and Bowie were not RNZAF and to the best of my knowledge were not New Zealanders.

    Errol

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Cornwall
    Posts
    2,749
    Thanks
    49
    Thanked 13 Times in 12 Posts

    Default

    Hello,
    Found this -
    http://landinportugal.blogspot.co.uk...st-escape.html

    Seems that there were 11 on board and Lombard was a passenger .
    See here -

    The first “escape”
    The tugboat left the Leixões Harbour under the cover of the night e, about four miles from the Portuguese coast, she waited. The meeting – that she didn’t want to miss – had been arranged between two and four in the morning.

    On board were 13 passengers. Eleven were Royal Air Force (RAF) men expecting that they could finally reach home. That dawn of 26 march 1941 should be the last moments from one operation that involved diplomacy, secret services, people with no name and a planning… in the Portuguese way: few resources, but lots of good will.

    It had begun one month before. The night from 14 to 15 February turned the country upside down. A violent cyclone destroyed cultures, houses, ships and many other things. More than one hundred persons died and the wounded largely surpassed half thousand…

    It was one the biggest natural tragedies that hit the country in the last century.
    Caught by this phenomenon was also one Sunderland aircraft from the RAF, destined to Africa.

    The Sunderland in Setúbal, Portugal (Picture Olinda Couceiro)

    They had started just before midnight near Plymouth, expecting weak winds. About five in the morning the aircraft was being violently shacked. “The navigator, Jack Banfield, decided to measure the wind velocity and we could not believe the readings that showed wind speeds above 90 miles per hour”, explained Roy Booth, one of the crewmembers in 2001 in a interview to Neil Owen, involved in telling the stories of the men and aircraft that went through Oban - his hometown – during WWII.

    There where winds that sometimes blew at more than 150 miles per hour and it was impossible to stay airborne. They had to land also because flying against the wind they had almost finished the gas reserves.

    A fast look at the maps showed that Portugal was the nearest place they could reach.
    “The waves were 30 feet high and the pilot “Shorty” Evison made a real miracle landing the plane. We thought that the best he would achieve would be a landfall before the inevitable crash in the weather conditions”, explained Roy Booth that had a vivid image from the pilot’s face after the landing, when he “emerged from the cockpit, tears streaming from his face from the nervous tension”.

    The big mess

    The aircraft beached approximately midday, but they would not receive any help the rest of the day or during the night, because of the storm that was tearing the country apart. Only on the next morning they would be taken to Setúbal.

    They were the first allied crew to land in Portugal. The “Laws of War”, although not very clear, suggested the possibility that they could be interned for the duration of the war. It seems although that the Portuguese authorities were never very interested in that.

    Several British documents assure that they were lightly guarded. It was almost one invitation to evasion, but it found many obstacles on the way. The letters changed between several british services show a puzzling scenario.

    The secret services proposed a rescue operation using the fact that the crew – already in Figueira da Foz – was lightly guarded. They would be transported by car to one of the ships that patrolled the Portuguese coast.

    They even suggest that the operation should take place in the Algarve, a more deserted area when we talk about boat traffic.

    The British Embassy in Lisbon does not disagree, but does not want to know anything about the operation. They fear the reaction of Salazar – Portuguese ruler and also a fascist – and the implications in the relationship with the Portuguese government. If they know nothing they would not need to lie latter.

    The Foreign Office does not want any operation to take place. They don’t even want to make a official request to free them. It would open a precedent that could be used latter in other neutral countries by the enemy.

    There is also a note pointing out that it was not advisable to involve any national in the operation, but it would be a Portuguese officer to take care of everything.

    A help request

    Major António Dias Leite, from the Portuguese Aeronáutica Militar (army air arm), was known to be one enthusiast “of the allied cause”, so he was not surprised to receive one invitation from the British Embassy for a cocktail. Between the persons at the party was someone he knew from somewhere, but he could not locate where.

    That man went over and talked to him. It was Squadron Leader Lombard, commander of 95 Squadron, to wish the Sunderland belonged, and one of the internees himself, as he had been a passenger on the flight.

    The crew from the Sunderland in the house of Dr. Augusto Cunha in Aveiro. Ten members of the crew are in the back- I was not able to identify them. In the front, on the left, is the owner of the house, his mother and S/Ldr Lombard. On the right is Major Dias Leite and Olinda Couceiro. (Picture Olinda Couceiro)

    They had met in 1938 in one RAF advanced instructor course in the United Kingdom. Lombard asked him to find a way out.

    A German crew from a FW200 that had landed in Alentejo had already escaped through the Spanish border. That was not a solution for them as Spain was not a friend of the british.

    Dias Leite understood the problem but he explained him that he couldn’t do much. He was just a Major in the Aeronáutica Militar. They talked a little, but nothing further was discussed. A few days later he was contacted again by Embassy people. He decided to try something…

    In a four page document, preserved by the family of Dias Leite, he recount’s some of the details. He contacted “Someone” (the capital letter is so in the original) to explain the problem. It was certainly “Someone” high ranked in the government, because he got a green light for the operation under some rules: the authorities would look to the other side, but if something went wrong the Major had to assume all responsibilities.

    Dias Leite agreed. He contacted some friends that had boats and they prepared a plan. One of the British ships based in Gibraltar would guarantee a “rendezvous” with the Portuguese.

    The evasion

    Some days before the date the airmen escaped from Figueira da Foz to Aveiro. In his interview Roy Booth reports a car chase and shootings conducted by local Gestapo members.

    António Dias Leite on the other hand assures that everything went as planned and the men arrived in groups to the house of a friendly doctor, Augusto da Cunha.
    “My uncle warned my mother and my grandmother that some British airmen would arrive, but that nobody could know about it. My grandmother was appalled when he told her that the Germans would cut our throats if this became public”, explains Olinda Couceiro laughing, niece from the house owner.

    Olinda Couceira remembers many stories related with the presence of those men in the house, especially the fact that fear was always present. “The backer started to make questions, because suddenly we were buying bread for more eleven persons, and there was also someone playing the piano”.

    On the evening of the 25 March the group went to Leixões and during the night they jumped into the tugboat. Besides the eleven RAF men, Dias Leite and Augusto da Cunha were also on board.

    Around four in the morning one British ship enlighten himself right in front of the tugboat. The first “escape” – a word used many times in documents and newspapers of the time – had taken place.

    This ceremonial dagger was offered to Major Dias Leite by one of the crewmembers.
    (Picture Maria Leite)

    There was still time for a glass of Port Wine. One unlucky bottle fell into the floor and broke itself. A “big loss” everybody agreed, although the times they were living.

    Alex
    Last edited by Alex Smart; 26th March 2017 at 00:04.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Porthcawl
    Posts
    61
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Many thanks Errol and Alex,
    At least I have confirmation of another crew member- Roy Booth. Still unable to find the remaining 5.
    thanks again MIke

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Porthcawl
    Posts
    61
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Further to my original post,I now have a crew list from RAF Air Historical branch as follows:

    37110 Squadron Leader Patrick Abercrombie Lombard SSC.
    [40614] Flight Lieutenant Charles [Ewen] [Willders] Evison SSC.
    Flying Officer [John Graham] Bowie SSC.
    [Sergeant] [William John] Ashcroft. Not known if he was called “Ginger”.
    Sergeant [John Decent] Banfield. Not known if he was called “Jack”.
    Sergeant Roy [Cedric] Booth.
    Sergeant John Ellis Stevens. Presumably the ‘one unknown’ on your list.
    [Sergeant[ [Leonard] James Thomas.
    Leading Aircraftman [Evan] [Thomas] Edwards.
    [Leading Aircraftman] [Henry] [Leonard] Fry.
    [Leading Aircraftman] [William] [Eric]Tanner.

    According to information from HQ Coastal Command they arrived at Gibraltar on 27th March 1941.
    regards Mike

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •