Monday, September 2, 2013

Sep

2

1943

Shot down off Spain and ‘In the drink’

Catalina Mark I, Z2147 ‘AX-L’, of No. 202 Squadron RAF based at Gibraltar, in flight approaching Europa Point on returning from an anti-submarine patrol. While serving with the Squadron, Z2147 was credited with nine successful attacks on enemy submarines.

When we finally got to the surface, all except the skipper and Pat, I suddenly saw daylight and took a deep breath of air. We were appalled to see only one dinghy: the rest had gone down with the aircraft. It wasn’t easy getting seven of us into the two-man dinghy. Our Mae Wests had been riddled and didn’t keep us up. Some could not swim and their wounds made it dicult to hoist them aboard. The sea was rough and we were sick over the side, from swallowing so much salt water. We hadn’t beenin the dinghy more than an hour when we sighted smoke on the horizon. Somebody said, “Surely we’re not saved already,” and started to wave the telescopic flag. The smoke came nearer and we saw the shape of a vessel altering course towards us. We all started talking and cheering like wildfire as we thought we were going to be picked up and saved.