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‘Clouds above, sea below’

 

 

On the 28th of August 1941 the Blackburn Botha (aircraft L6417 of 4 Air Observer School) was tasked to locate German U boats, reported to be attacking an allied merchant shipping convoy. Gale force winds made conditions nearly impossible to take off. The crew of three took to the skies, however, the aircraft stalled during take off and plunged into the waters. The aircraft remained afloat. Two airmen were washed away, another clinging to the aircraft. After watching this unfold, two 17 year-old boys set off in a boat to reach the aircraft. The weather conditions caused their boat to overturn.

 

They succeeded in reaching the aircraft and started helping an airman to the shore. Clinging to the upturned boat, they reached a beach defence post. The airman clung and the boys were washed ashore. At the same time, rescuers launched three boats. All were swamped by the waves and strong swell. A larger boat containing police officers, navy and six soldiers set off as well.

 

The tide had washed the aircraft nearer to the shore, but the boat did not reach it. The airman, who was suffering from shock and exposure, was swept from his holdfast. They attempted to rescue him. Three men reappeared clinging to an oar while the other five were struggling in the water. Soldiers and airmen got ropes and waded out as far as possible, making human chains to reach the men being washed towards the beach. As they reached deeper water they were swept back by the force of the waves. One soldier managed to swim out far enough to grasp an oar to which two soldiers were clinging. They were brought safely to land.  

 

 

John Wood and Derrick Baynham received the George medal, a monetary reward from the Air Ministry and silver cases from General Skiorsky, Commander in Chief of Polish Forces. The RNLI Bronze Medal was awarded posthumously to those who had died in the rescue attempt. The two RAF officers were taken to their hometowns for burial. The Polish officer was buried in Holyhead. The five rescuers from the Army camp - Gunners Reginald Eaton (20) Ronald Kenneth Simons (33) Clarence Herbert Thorton (20) and Sidney Wilkins (33) along with Warrant Officer Alfred William Moger and 2nd Lt P. T. Whysall, are buried at St Maelog’s churchyard in Llanfaelog.
 

In Memory

 

The crew killed:

 

Sgt K.S Rosiewicz (P.782028) (Sergeant, Kazimierz Stefan ROSIEWICZ, 4 Air Observer School Polish Air Force) Age 23

 

LAC T.A Dixon (1119294) (Leading Aircraftman, Thomas Alexander DIXON, 3 School of General Reconnaissance, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve) Age 20 

 

LAC F.G Glockler (1376289) (Leading Aircraftman, Frederick Charles GLOCKLER (1376289), 3 School of General Reconnaissance, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve) Age 27 


 

Rescuers killed:

 

2Lt P.T Whysall (145327) (Second Lieutenant, Peter Tyrel WHYSALL, Royal Artillery, British Army) Age 23

 

W/O A.W Moger (1062088) (Warrant Officer Class II, Alfred William MOGERS, Royal Artillery, British Army) Age 34 

 

Gnr R.K Simons (183241) (Gunner, Ronald Kenneth SIMONS, Royal Artillery, British Army) Age 33 

 

Gnr C.H Thornton (1832450) (Gunner, Clarence Herbert THORNTON, Royal Artillery, British Army) Age 20

 

Gnr S.Wilkins  (1832411) (Gunner, Sidney WILKINS, Royal Artillery, British Army) Age 33

 

R.Eton (1832747) (Gunner, Reginald EATON, Royal Artillery, British Army) Age 20 

 

LAC L.A Ford (845761) (Leading Aircraftsman, Leslie Ford, 615 Squadron, Royal Air Force) Age 29

 

AC1 D.W Bannister (819139) (Aircraftman 1st Class, Donald William BANNISTER, 616 Squadron, Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force)  Age 20

 

PC G.Arthur (Police constable, George Cledwyn Arthur) Age 29 

 

E.Jones (Coastguard Officer, First name unknown, Jones) 

 

A.J Owen (Information unknown)

All images © Copyright protected Cody Froggatt 2022