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Thread: Air Sea Rescue ops in the SEAC area?

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    Default Air Sea Rescue ops in the SEAC area?

    Hello

    I've come across three of my local airmen serving on A.S.R. Warwicks and Liberators with 292 Squadron in the SEAC. One in particular, 87457 Sidney Joseph Pollock won the D.F.C., which was reported in the Sunderland Echo of July 21st 1945:

    Wearside Airmen Decorated
    Among Wearsiders who attended a recent investiture at Buckingham Palace was...Acting Squadron Leader Sidney Joseph Pollock, who received the D.F.C. for outstanding gallantry in flying operations against the enemy.
    Squadron-Leader Pollock displayed great courage in effecting the speedy rescue of a crew shot down in the Nundarbans [sic Sundarbans].
    He was born in Hendon in 1917, but now lives in Blackpool. He enlisted in September, 1939, and was commissioned in November, 1940.

    I have Richard Franks' two volumes 'Another Kind of Courage' and 'Beyond Courage' covering UK-based A.S.R. and Mediterranean-based A.S.R. respectively, but I'm struggling to find any useful references for A.S.R. ops in the Far East. As for photos of 292 Sqn aircraft, they seem to be pretty rare...

    If anyone has any pointers for useful reading matter on the subject, I'd be grateful.

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Air Sea Rescue ops in the SEAC area?

    The following, from an unpublished manuscript, may be useful. See also entries for Bradford and Shnider on the RCAF Association website, https://www.rcafassociation.ca/heritage/search-awards/

    American B-29 Superfortress raids are most commonly associated with formations based in the Marianas Islands from October 1944 onwards. Nevertheless, the first B-29 missions were flown on 5 June 1944 from bases in India against rail targets in Thailand. The XX Air Force was intended to stage through airfields in China to strike at Japan itself (Operation Matterhorn). As matters turned out, capture of the Marianas gave the USAAF much closer access to the enemy’s industrial heartland, and most of the B-29 assets were transferred there. Nevertheless, one B-29 wing remained in India until March 1945, supporting Montbatten’s offensive with raids targeting rail and port facilities in Indochina, Thailand, and Burma. More distant targets included refineries and airfields in Singapore, Malaya, and the East Indies. Although Japanese opposition was slight, extreme ranges and B-29 teething problems in 1944 led to several crews having to be rescued from the Indian Ocean. Operations such as this necessitated an efficient air/sea rescue service. One particularly active unit was a detachment of No.212 Squadron, flying Catalinas out of Bally, West Bengal.

    Among the aircrew were F/Ls Cecil Ronald Bradford (Winnipeg) and Maurice Shnider (Inglis, Manitoba), pilot and navigator respectively of a very busy Catalina team. Both would receive DFCs and fifty years after the war Schider would be singled out for Congressional mention by a grateful American survivor.

    Rescue operations were carried out jointly with Royal Navy units. On 26 February 1945 a Catalina with a British captain and one member of the RCAF (F/O C.R. Hines) rescued five airmen, and the next day the Bradford/Scnider crew were directed to search for more in the same area. As it happened, a submarine had picked up four, and the Catalina alighted to take them aboard, then fly them to Bally. The sortie had lasted almost 21 hours. No.212's Operational Record Book recorded a more dramatic mission on 3 March 1945:

    They were airborne at 1330 hours. Ten hours later they spotted an Allied submarine, then a dinghy with six survivors plus two men in the water some distance away. They alighted to pick up all eight, then resumed their search. A Liberator was seen to drop a smoke float. On investigation they saw two more men in the water. Their immediate decision was to not risk another landing with the survivors already aboard but to let the Liberator home the submarine to the men in the water. However these plans were changed and at 0136 the aircraft was waterborne again and the two survivors were picked up. They then set course for base. During the return trip the survivors were fed on bacon and eggs and hot tea; only one of the men was suffering badly from exposure. At one period a 20 knot headwind was encountered and it seemed doubtful whether or not there was sufficient fuel to return safely. Nevertheless the aircraft was eventually waterborne at 1245 hours. They had been out for 23 hours and 15 minutes.

    The period 25 to 27 March 1945 was one of intense SAR activity searching for B-29 survivors and picking them up. Bradford’s sortie of the 25th was especially complex. Following a sighting report of wreckage, they spotted two parachutes on Dalhousie Island (West Bengal). Soon afterwards two survivors and four natives were seen along the shore of Dalhousie Island. Two Catalinas cooperated. H/212 landed to pick up the men while B/212 (Bradford/Scnider) looked for more. They found and rescued two more. Continuing the search, they spotted an American Catalina in shallow water which appeared to be in trouble. B/212 alighted again. at 1006 hours. Two members of the American crew rowed out to report that their Captain and one other member of his crew had been ashore investigating a parachute a mile inland. B/212 was airborne again at 1020 to look for the parachute and members of the American Catalina crew. A native boat with five Europeans in it were seen. They were directed towards the waterborne American Catalina and they showed that they had understood these directions. The search was continued and it was presumed that the five men in the boat included three survivors and two members of the crew of the American Catalina.

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    Default Re: Air Sea Rescue ops in the SEAC area?

    Thanks for posting that Hugh, much appreciated.

    The 292 Sqn ORB is pretty patchy after the end of 1944, but I've managed to find some interesting snippets from the ORB Appendices detailing their activities.

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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