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Thread: Sunderland operations, No.95 Squadron

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    Default Sunderland operations, No.95 Squadron

    Herbert Lindsay Coons, RCAF, was awarded a DFC for services as a navigator in No.95 Squadron, 16 March 1943, retrained as a pilot and was awarded a Bar to the DFC for services in Burma, 1945. My query is in regards of his first award, although it arises from a draft of a press release that was composed at the time of the second. This press release said, in part:

    "Coons has already completed a tour of ops as a navigator in Sunderlands of Coastal Command. During 1942 he flew from a West African base on patrol in the Bay of Biscay and the western Mediterranean. During this tour his aircraft was attacked on several occasions by Focke-Wulfe Kurriers, Messerschmitt 109s and 110s and once by Vichy French Dewoitines. During one of these attacks his Sunderland shot down a Kurrier and drove off an Me.110 over the Bay of Biscay. He returned to Canada in 1943 to train as a pilot, and came to India with the RCAF squadron which has now been operating on the Burma Front since shortly before Christmas."

    I have so far been unable to pinpoint any of the above actions. However, the reference to “Vichy French Dewoitines” (which the censor had run a pencil through) sounds rather like a encounter between Vichy Mohawks and a Sunderland of No.204 Squadron, 29 September 1941 (F/O Ken Dart, captain), and described on pages 92-93 of Chaz Bowyer’s “The Short Sunderland”. Given a certain number of personnel transfers between Nos.95 and 204 Squadrons, it is conceivable that Coons was the navigator on this occasion. On the other hand, I should not assume that.

    Can anyone advise me as to the composition of Dart’s crew on 29 September 1941 ? If Coons was not involved, are there any suggestions as to what other dates and sorties might be associated with him ?

    The text of his original DFC was as follows:

    “This officer has been continuously engaged in operational duties since September 1941. On two occasions his aircraft has been forced down on the sea. Its exact location, however, was easily discovered by the searching ships as a result of the accurate signals sent out by Flying Officer Coons. When, on another sortie, the bomb room caught fire, this officer gallantly assisted in extinguishing the outbreak. Three times he has participated in engagements with enemy aircraft and on the last occasion a Focke Wulfe Kurier was probably destroyed. Flying Officer Coons is an extremely cool and efficient navigator whose courage and devotion to duty have been most praiseworthy.”

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    Further to ny query, the following may be related to the action at which he was present when a FW.200 was engaged (although not to the incident with Vichy French fighters).

    BAILEY, Henry Ronald, F/O (48547, Royal Air Force) - No.95 Squadron - Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 16 March 1943. Public Record Office Air 2/8938 has citation drafted when he had flown 2,200 hours. Note: there is some confusion as to his service number, which may be 88415. See also Air Ministry Bulletin 9566.

    "Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Flying Officer Bailey has completed 800 flying hours. He has completed his duties with great skill and determination, often in extremely adverse weather. On one occasion he was pilot of a Sunderland flying boat when it was attacked by a Focke-Wulf Kurier over the Bay of Biscay. The first burst of enemy fire killed one of the mid-gunners and rendered the rear turret useless. The aircraft was holed in many places but, by skilful manoeuvring, Flying Officer Bailey continued the combat and drove off the attacker. On return to base, although the hull of the flying boat had been holed in many places below the water line, this officer successfully descended on the water without further mishap. He is an excellent pilot who has been a source of inspiration to the other members of his squadron."

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