Who perished on 5th January 1944 - Port-Etienne, Mauritania
"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England..."
This page is dedicated to the memory of:
David Mason Campbell, Sgt 1343817 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Thomas William Ewen, Sg. (Air Gnr.) 1004464 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Kenneth Gilbert Mullett, Flying Officer (Nav.) RAFVR 95 Squadron
Charles Ernest Norris, Sgt 1280880 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Selwyn Guy Phillips, Flying Officer 142240 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Derek Anthony Roper, Flying Officer (W.Op./Air Gnr.) 142478 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Thomas Willoughby Sadleir, Pilot officer 171950 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Roy Stuart Crate, Cpl 1343817 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Gilbert Cameron Gibson, Sgt 1369021 RAFVR 95 Squadron
Part Crew of T/95
(photos from David Campbell's niece)
In 1944, following the North African landings the allies swept the Germans out of West Africa.
No 95 Squadron, who had been based further down the West Coast of Africa in Bathurst (now Banjul), had also set up an Ops base in Port-Etienne (now Nouidhibou) Mauritania (approx. 1100km from Bathurst), in a joint effort with the free French to launch attacks on the U boats and to escort troopships and convoys.
Founded by the French in 1905 and named after one of their colonial officials, Eugène Étienne (1844–1921), Port-Etienne, or Nouadhibou as it is now called, stretches along a thin peninsula running out from and parallel to the mainland in a southerly direction, of which the western side is part of The Sahara. Desert. . The airmen based there referred to it as "Rag City", due to the amount of Bedouin tented encampments.
It was from the harbour here, that the Sunderlands continued their Atlantic U-boat patrol sorties and escorts to the ship convoys. (Centre below, 2 ground crew are rolling depth charges along the bridge for loading).
WW2 Port-Etienne Ops Base - Port-Etienne Capo Blanc - WW2 Port-Etienne
On the 5th of January 1944, the crew of Sunderland T/95 were preparing for such a sortie.
"At 1105Hrs, Sunderland T/95 was airborne on escort to O.S.62.
Eight minutes later the aircraft was seen returning to base with smoke emitting from it and losing height. The aircraft failed to make a landing, exploding and crashed in the water just south of Cansado Point at 1115 hours. F/O Spinney (2nd Pilot) was the sole survivor.
Apparently the starboard inner engine developed a fault and later caught fire filling the aircraft with smoke and fumes thus making it impossible for the pilot to see.
P/O Phillips (Controller) who was acting as WOP/AG in place of F/Sgt Douglas (on sick leave) was on board, as also was Cpl Crate who volunteered to fly as a mechanic.
Four of the crew of the crashed Sunderland T/95 (F/O Roper, P/O Phillips, Sgt Ewen, Cpl Crate) were buried in the European Cemetery. The service was conducted by Padre Maule Johnstone."
The Official RAF Ops Record - Courtesy of National Archives, Kew
David Mason Campbell
(From his niece, Fiona Lee)