95 Squadron

Report on Visit of Z/95 to Cape Verde Islands

January 1944

24th January 1944

From: Officer Commanding, NO 95 Squadron.  R.A.F.
To: Officer Commanding, No 295 Wing, R.A.F.
(Copy to Station Intelligence Officer, R.A.F. Bathurst)

On 20th January, 1944 orders were received to proceed to Cape Verde Islands by Sunderland with Yellow Fever vaccine, provided the Governor of Cape Verdes agreed. His concurrence was obtained through the Portugese Consul at Bathurst, and arrangements were made to proceed on 21st January. However, the orders were cancelled on the evening of 20th, and consequently arrangements were also cancelled. Later that night, however, the orders were reissued but since it was too late to re-ward the Portugese Authorities, and the weather forecast was not good, it was decided to make the trip on the 22nd.

2. Contact was made with the Naval Control Officer at St. Vincente on 21st who sent a valuable meteorological forecast early the next morning.  This was favourable and so Z.95 with W/Cdr. Hatfield as Captain, W/Cdr. Pippett as passenger as well as the normal crew (F/Lt. Russell – Captain) were airborne at 07.50 hours on 22nd. The weather was very hazy and visibility was poor, but at 3,000 feet. We were just above the worst of the base.

3. At 11.10 hours a landfall was made on Boa Vista, the end of our first leg. It was too hazy for photographs and so we re-set course for St. Vincents passing St. Nicholas and other small islands on the way. These were all very rocky and barren. There appeared to be no cultivation and hardly and habitation.

4. at 12.20 hours we made a landfall on the southern coast of St. Vincente and photographed gun position as we passed along the West Coast to Port Grande. Here, while circling the port, the harbour defences and the ships were very thoroughly photographed. The base was still persisting although visibility had increased to about 5 miles. There was a light breeze of about 10-12 knots from N.E., but an appreciable swell was curling round Ribiero Point. The harbour was crammed with lighters and small craft and half a dozen larger ships were moored in the anchorage which left little room for a landing in the sheltered water.

5. The base is almost completely ringed by fairly steep hills, so that a semi-circular approach over lower ground on the Southern side of the bay had to be made. We touched down nicely just outside the ships in the leg of Ribiero Point, but as were coming off the step, we met the N.E. swell curling round the point and porpoised violently over two swells as we were losing way. We taxied towards a buoy which had been indicated by signal form the Naval Control Officer, but this turned out to be a steel spherical buoy about six feet in diameter. We therefore anchored in about 5 fathoms in the lee of Pt. Ribiero. On our way to the buoy we had passed through the outer anchorage where the ships were lined with enthusiastically cheering sailors giving the Vee sign. There were Spanish, Italian and Portugese ships, the crew all being equally demonstrative.

6. No sooner had we settled to our anchor that ‘pilote’ dinghy came alongside with the Captain of the Port who’s first action was to hoist a case of Port Wine on board, with the Garrison Commanders Compliments.

7. A succession of callers then streamed abord. The British Consul, Mr. Sands and his aide, the Naval Control Officer, Commander Adams and his secretary; the Chief Portugese doctor, three or four Portugese Army Officers, and the Garrison Commanders’ A.D.C.

8. Brigadier Soares? The garrison commander kindly invited us to lunch, and after handing over the vaccine and ensuring that the instructions were understood we went ashore, leaving a reluctant F/Lt. and two F/Sgts., as anchor watch.

9. The jetty had been cleared of the local populace but a huge crowd was lining the barrier and as we drove through, waved and cheered, and ‘V’ signed. Apparently we were the first flying boat to land in the harbour. The N.C.O’s were driven to the Officers’ Mess and the officers to the Governor’s Palace which was the temporary home of the Brigadier in the Governor’s absence. The N.C.O’s were magnificently entertained and we were driven on a short tour into the hills above the town.

10. There we met the Brigadier who entertained us magnificently for the next couple of hours. The meal was extremely good but a shortage of fresh meat and vegetables was apparent.

11.  At about 15:30 hours we made our departure firmly refusing the invitations to stay the night. Our impressions were that the Portugese were extremely friendly and were only waiting for “something” to happen by which I think they meant that they were quite prepared to come into the war on the Allies side if necessary. Other information gleaned was that, a small detachment of soldiers was kept on each island. The Brigadier and his staff were quartered at St. Vincente, and that the garrison was now being reduced as they felt there was no danger of invasion. They were extremely grateful for the vaccine and made every effort to make us as welcome as possible.

12. The British Consul stated that the flight was of the utmost propaganda value, and was most appreciated by the Portugese Authorities.

13. The return trip was uneventful. The take off was a little difficult owing to swell, but by starting our run close to eh Southern shore we were airborne before large swells were reached. The visibility was still poor and deteriorated still further as the light began to fail.

14.  We reconnoitred the island of SAL but it was covered with thin low cloud and very heavy haze. Photographs of the very poor aerodrome were taken but were not very successful.

15. We set course from SAL at 17.35 hours and arrived at Bathurst at 21.30 hours. We were lighted on our way by both navigational marker beacons which are no functioning and by very extensive bush fires.

16. We were waterborne at 21.45 hours. Separate Signals logs and photographic reconnaissance reports and Navigation Log have been rendered to Specialist Officers concerned.

(signed) P.R. Hatfield
Wing Commander, Commanding.
No 95 Squadron       R.A.F.

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