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Pilot rescue and Battle of Britain

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Kai-Petri, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    On "The War File" movie " Fighteraces ":

    It claimed the British had 18 rescue ships, the pilots had no dinghy, no device for signals.

    The German pilots had yellow caps, yellow life vests, a dinghy and even a devide for signalling their boats where they are.

    So over the Britain it was total pilot loss for the Germans but in the channel? Was the British situation like this??

    :confused:
     
  2. Ancient Fire

    Ancient Fire Member

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    During the Battle of Britain, the Germans had a dedicated air-sea rescue squadron made up of Dornnier Do 24s, Heinkel He 59s and some He 115Cs. In addition to this, the Germans distributed floats a mile or so off of Frances's coast that were equipped with blankets, rations, medical supplies and florescent dye. These were in essence "survival rafts" that allowed the pilot to survive until he was picked up. This allowed the the Germans to have a high survival rate of downed pilots in the English Channel.

    I do not know of any British atempts to create a comprable system. The British did have their trusty Mae West life jackets, though ;) . I think later they issued flares and dyes.
     
  3. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    I remember reading something years ago about ditching in the English Channel. I can't be sure of the exact numbers but it was like your fingers quit working in about 3 mins. and your arms and legs go soon afterward and your lose your life in about three hours or less due to the extreme cold of the water. If you got wet, and most did, then there was noway to dry off and stay warm until rescued.

    The RAF did have rescue flights using the Walarus Flying Boat but I have no numbers of how many flyers they saved. Probably not many as it was just too cold to survive for long in the water.
     
  4. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Err......TA, people swim in the English Channel every summer, I've done it myself? [​IMG] I wouldn't care to do it in winter, but some do. As the BoB was in the summer of 1940, I think the pilots had more than minutes or hours.

    The RAF had 'Crash Boats' for pick-ups, which were reasonably quick motor boats - the Commandos often 'borrowed' them for some cross Channel raiding.

    No.9
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx guys!

    I find this rather interesting because the "myth" (??)or so I thought is that the British got all their pilots who had to jump out of their planes back and the Germans lost all theirs instead.

    What happened to the pilots who fell into the channel...??

    :confused:
     
  6. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    Hi No9, I read about it some time back but I don't know where. I also have seen BAC Lighting pilots flight suites that look alot like frogman suites so they can stay alive longer in case of ditching in the North Sea. Perhaps that is what I am thinking of in reading about the short time the pilots had use of their fingers. Is the North Sea colder than the channel ? :eek:
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    In 1940, the British had no adequate, organised air-sea rescue plan. The RAF relied on the hope that a passing trawler or Naval vessel would pick up any downed pilots. A fair number were picked up by the RNLI ( Royal National Lifeboat Institution ) who played an unsung role in the Battle.

    A conference in 1939 had placed the responsibility for organising air-sea rescue under Coastal Command ; some launches had been ordered but were not ready in time for the Summer of 1940.

    The RAF fighter pilots had no dinghies or fluorescent dye markers ; all they had was the 'Mae West' lifejacket. The temperature of the Channel in Summer reaches about 14 degrees C at best giving a downed pilot about 4 hours before death from hypothermia ( this of course varied depending on the individual, there are instances of pilots surviving 12 hours or so ).

    A further horror was the standard issue Van Heusen shirt ; the collar shrank in contact with salt water and could choke the unfortunate wearer. This is the main reason for RAF pilot's unofficial adoption of the white silk scarf ; it wasn't just because they looked :cool: .

    ASR definitely 'caught the British out' during the BofB ; on 22 August 1940 Fighter Command got 12 Lysanders to help with sea searches, but many pilots drowned within sight of the shore. Possibly the worst place to be shot down was the Thames estuary; the swift currents made survival virtually impossible.

    The proper, RAF Air-Sea Rescue organization was formed in 1941.

    ( The above details come from various sources, including Bungay, The Most Dangerous Enemy , Price, The Hardest Day, and Mason, Battle Over Britain ).

    ( PS : TA, the North Sea is definitely more inhospitable than the Channel. The Channel does at least benefit from the very tail-end of the current from the Gulf of Mexico : even so I wouldn't like to be adrift in either place... :( )

    [ 12. January 2004, 06:37 AM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
  8. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Quite right TA, Soviet strikes were predominantly expected from Britain’s north east so the old Lightning’s were expecting to intercept over the North Sea. North Sea rolls up till it becomes the Norwegian Sea then the Arctic. Whenever the snow and ice hit you can put pretty safe money it’s going to hit the Scottish Islands and northern Scotland first. They’ve already had a few blasts this winter, while here in the glorious south, [​IMG] [​IMG], we’ve only had a few minor morning frosts and probably won’t even see a fleeting snow flake.

    I say, I say, I’ve done seen pictures of people sawing frozen fish out of ponds in Texas? :eek:

    Martin, you don’t mention RAF Crash Boats, but, when the new Commandos started raiding in the summer of 1940, they were allocated these as transport? Apparently some of them would actually work? ;) :rolleyes:

    No.9
     
  9. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    HI No.9, The upper half of Texas will get cold in the winter, usually the Dallas region and further north. I am in central Texas so it is not too bad. It was around 65 degrees today.

    What I have a hard time figureing out is why "dry cold " feels warmer than " wet cold ". I was in Denver last month and it was 18 degrees and very low huminity and I felt fine in short sleeves but high huminity at 18 degrees and a bit of wind is like a knife going through you.
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    There seems to be a 'gap in intelligence' here somewhere, No. 9 !

    The RAF were certainly at the forefront of fast rescue launch development - this is what T E Lawrence was involved in during the early '30s, helping to test the revolutionary 200 Series launches at Southampton with the British Power Boat Company.

    Why this wasn't carried through to the Battle of Britain I really have no idea at all :(
     
  11. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Hmm…..65 degrees, I’m jealous TA :(
    Quite diverse climate in Texas, but then it is a bit on the large side. ;)

    That humid cold is just what we get here. It may not even be freezing but it can hit to your bones. Just 200 miles straight east in Holland they can easily go 10 degrees below in bright sunshine and everyone goes skating on the canals. We hit freezing and most of our transport stops. :eek:


    Oh, disappointment Martin. The RAF Crash Boat is often mentioned in conjunction with the first raids, but nothing as to their lineage? :confused:

    For example, Hilary St.George-Saunders (Combined Ops Recorder) states in The Green Beret re the Commandos first raid (Operation Collar) on 23/24 June 1940; (P25)

    “Two factors limited the numbers who could take part in this first raid: the quantity of boats and the quantity of Tommy guns available. Both were scarce……………………The difficulty of boats was temporarily overcome by the address of Garnons-Williams who, distrusting the capabilities of his gimcrack fleet, borrowed from the Air Ministry half a dozen air-sea rescue craft or ‘crash boats’, “fast, reliable and seaworthy”. True they were too small to accommodate all whom it was desired to send against the enemy, but they were far better than any other craft which could be obtained or borrowed at short notice. Thirty was the maximum number which could be taken on board, and accordingly 180 officers and men were detailed for the raid, this number being reduced to 120 at the last moment through failure of the engines in two boats.”

    :confused:

    No.9
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx Guys and especially Martin!
     

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