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14 September 1941: Blenheim Crew Rescued After Night Adrift in Dinghy

14 Sep

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HMS_Utmost

HMS Utmost

CREW SURVIVED HOURS IN HOSTILE WATERS

Three airmen stepped ashore at Manoel Island from the submarine HMS Utmost today feeling lucky to be alive after they spent a night in the sea off the coast of North Africa.  Sgt Brandwood, Sgt Miller and Sgt Mee were the crew of one of eight Blenheims which set out on Friday to attack an enemy convoy off the coast of North Africa.  In a fierce counter-attack by enemy destroyers escorting the convoy, three of the Malta bombers were hit.  The Blenheims of Squadron Leader Charney and Sergeant Mortimer were destroyed, and their crews killed. 

Sgt Brandwood’s starboard engine was hit and put out of action; then the bomb bay caught fire. As the crew struggled to put out the flames the Blenheim crashed into the sea.  The bomber sank beneath the waves but then miraculously resurfaced.  A badly injured Sgt Mee managed to release the rubber dinghy and the three airmen climbed in.

The remaining Blenheims circled back over the area and gave a signal to show they had spotted the dinghy. As soon as they landed at Luqa they reported the stranded dinghy and an immediate air and sea rescue search was launched.

Meanwhile the three airmen spent an uncomfortable night in their dinghy, interrupted by the booms and flashes of other attacks on enemy shipping. RAF Blenheims from Malta searched for them without success.

Then at 0800 hrs yesterday morning the airmen became aware of a submarine approaching. After several anxious minutes they realised it was friendly and were soon safely aboard HMS Utmost.  The submarine dived below the surface to avoid enemy detection as it headed for Malta. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 15 SEPTEMBER 1941

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned, having rescued the crew of a Blenheim.

AIR HQ Arrivals 4 Blenheim, 1 Maryland. Departures 10 Hurricane, 1 Wellington. 69 Squadron Photoreconnaissance Lampedusa, Zuara and Tripoli.  1 Blenheim, 1 Beaufort special patrol, 1 Blenheim special search.

TA QALI  6 sergeant pilots left by air for the Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A small church parade for A and HQ Coys at Barracca Church. Now that the Church has re-opened we will send a party each Sunday.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Advance party moved to Gozo.

(1) Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

 

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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in 1941, September 1941

 

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