On the 29th of March 1943 two days after leaving Freetown, the SS Celtic Star, a British cargo steamer owned by the Blue Star Line. was torpedoed. She sunk on 30th March, S.W. of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
On the 31st of March at 05:05hrs the crew of Coastal Command Sunderland W6063 N/95 took off from their base at Half Die, Jui to search for survivors of the vessel...
HMS Wastmaster, together with two other vessels, joined in the search for survivors of the stricken S.S. Celtic Star.
The ship's lifeboats were sighted at 13:15 hrs but as the Sunderland approached the area, it flew too low and hitting a large wave, crashed into the sea at 14:05 hrs. in position 4-30N, 17-12W.
Three survivors of the aircraft were picked up by HMS Wastwater in position 3-50N, 17-25W at 1805 hours.
These RAF Crew members landed with S.S. Celtic Star survivors at 1100 on the 2nd April.
The remaining crew were not recovered and are commemorated on the Malta Memorial.
The lost crew members listed were:-
F/O Stafford William LOVETT 65570
Sgt Louis Reginald HANNAFORD 1500952
Sgt George William GRAHAM 808325
Sgt Frank MOODY 575957
Sgt Charles Everitt BRADBURY 1062441
Sgt William Edmund Stuart COOKE 551113
The following survivors were rescued by HMS Wastwater:-
Those whose bodies were not recovered, are commemorated on the Malta Memorial
The Malta Memorial commemorates almost 2,300 airmen who lost their lives during the Second World War whilst serving with the Commonwealth Air Forces flying from bases in Austria, Italy, Sicily, islands of the Adriatic and Mediterranean, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, West Africa, Yugoslavia and Gibraltar, and who have no known grave. It is situated in the area of Floriana
(Click to enlarge)
Half Die Operations base, Jui, Sierra Leone
(Courtesy of The IWM)