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Thread: Catalinas and Sunderlands as transports to North Africa in summer 1941

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    Default Catalinas and Sunderlands as transports to North Africa in summer 1941

    Hi all,

    I would like to ask if anybody knows about flights when RAF Catalinas and Sunderlands were used as transport aircrafts to carry equipment, arms and ammunition to North Africa (Egypt) in summer 1941. If the info I have read is correct the starting base was Mount Batten and the route led via Gibraltar and Malta to Abu Qir.

    Any additional info + recommended literature appreciated.

    TIA

    Pavel

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    Default Cats on Special Duties to Middle East

    Hi Pavel,

    24May41: Two Catalinas of 209 Sqn, AH542 (F/Lt. Lewin) and AH553 (F/Lt. Pain), proceeded from Lough Erne to the Middle East via Mountbatten for special duties. The aircraft s were attached to 202 Sqn Gibraltar after arrival there from Alexandria on 01Jun41; AH553 returned to the U.K. on 01Jul41 and AH542 on 03Jul41.

    18Sep41: Two Catalinas of 209 Sqn, AH542 (F/Lt. F. Squire) and AH558 (F/O W.T. Nixon) proceed from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Gibraltar for special duties, flying via Lough Erne and Mountbatten and arriving Gibraltar 21Sep41. AH542 returned Pembroke Dock via Mountbatten 11Oct41, but AH558 not until 07Nov41.

    Those are two that immediately come to mind, but I hasten to add that I don't know the nature of the "special duties" these aircraft were assigned to carry out.

    Ahoj,
    Ragnar

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    Hi Ragnar,

    many thanks for your reply!
    It seems to me it is the exact thing I have on my mind.
    Please check your mailbox for more details.

    Pavel

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    Hi Pavel
    It might be an idea to get a look at the ORB of 10 Sqn RAAF,which operated Sunderlands out of Mountbatten (among other places). They are mentioned as the unit to which 3 Short G Class Empire Flying Boats were attached ( from 119 Sqn)for special flights to Gib and the Middle East carrying spares and ammunition for 272 Sqn's Beaufighters, in "Short Aircraft since 1900" by C H Barnes .The operations started on June11 1941 but the a/c didn't last long as X8274 was lost after a double engine problem on the 20th Jun which meant a forced landing in heavy seas off Cape Finisterre which cost the boat and 12 lives. The other 2 boats,X8273 and X8275 developed problems and were withdrawn from the operation by the end of October. It is possible that 10 Sqn RAAF continued providing the a/c afterwards, which might show up in their ORB. There might also be a note of the use of Flying Boats to transport personnel and spares etc via OADU or the equivalent personnel unit. I'm afraid I don't have the ORB
    Regards
    Dick

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    Pavel,

    Picking up on Dick's reference to 10 Sqn RAAF and Ragnar's post, I note that the 10 squadron history, 'Maritime is Number Ten - the Sunderland era', states that 'between 27 April and 25 May, no fewer than six separate detachments were thus made [as a result of the worsening situation in the ME/Med] from 10 Squadron, either to Malta or Alexandria, carrying important passengers and reinforcements, spare parts and ammunition for No. 272 Squadron, RAF, whose Bristol Beaufighter aircraft were operating from Abu Sueir on long range fighter duties.' [sourced from Gillison's official war history volume - 'Air War Against Germany and Italy, 1939-1943]. Several pages from p138 are given to this episode.

    And from p169, a brief reference to similar duties undertaken in Sep 1941:

    'The number of sorties flown by the squadron rose from 49 in September to 56 in October, but actual hours on patrol over the Bay declined due to recurrent engine trouble and new requirements for ferrying duties to the Middle East. Only one ferry flight had been made in August, two in September, but four were necessary in October with the result that one Sunderland was away for nearly three weeks and another for ten days. These flights were again made to carry senior diplomatic and service passengers, as was the case when Squadron Leader Bruce Courtney and crew in W3985/T carried HRH The Duke of Gloucester and Admiral Sir Max Horten to Gibraltar on the 14th. Flight Lieutenant Gil Thurstan and crew, when similarly tasked in W3984/S, made a record flight under wartime conditions on 18-19 October by flying to Alexandria in 36 hours, stopping only two hours at Gibraltar and four hours at Malta.'

    There may well be more such accounts in the book. Unfortunately it is not index, so some seeking out is required.

    Errol

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    Some 10 Sqn ORB's can be viewed on-line at NA Australia. One of them covers the period 1939-1943, 1426 pages. The first mention I found of Malta flights was for 27/28 April 1941, in the 'summary of events" section.

    Sunderland P9600, Mount Batten - Malta via Gibraltar; carried maintenance party and spares for a Beaufighter sqn at Malta.

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    Many thanks to all chaps.
    Will check the online ORB as suggested

    Pavel

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