OBAN 15th January 1941 10:00 hrs: No 210 (G.R.) Sqdn RAF received orders to detach 3 Sunderland flying boats with pilots and crews, maintenance personnel and spares to proceed to FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE for operations.
The three aircraft; P9623 “E”, L2163 “G” and T9041 “D” left for PEMBROKE DOCK on 16th January 12:00 hrs. During the next few days, W/C FRESSANGES and S/L LOMBARD joined the flight as O.C. and Flight Commander respectively and the flight became 95 Sqdn. Both officers were from 210 Sqdn.
Aircraft L2163 was replaced by N9027 from 210 Sqdn., the latter aircraft being more favourably placed for engine hours, and each aircraft was fitted with an extra petrol tank of 355 gallons, this tank being placed in the bomb compartments, bringing the total petrol capacity up to 2400 gallons. All aircraft were checked and serviced and supplied with spares to maintain serviceability for approximately one months operations in FREETOWN, at the end of which period the ground party which was now being formed, was expected to be able to work in FREETOWN
PEMBROKE DOCK 31.1.41 1430
Sunderland N9027, Capt F/O BAGGOTT, W/C FRESSANGES , F/O GOOCH and P/O BURROWS and crew of L2163 with Sgt. JONES and Sgt. THOMAS left P. Dock for MOUNT BATTEN. Arrived 15:35. Carried spares for delivery to SS Empire Tremolo at GIBRALTAR.
PEMBROKE DOCK 1.2.41 1150
Sunderland P9623 and T9041 left P. Dock for MOUNT BATTEN with S/L LOMBARD and Sgt. STEVENS additional in P9623, and others pilots and crews as before.
MOUNT BATTAN 2.2.41 0410
N9027 F/O BAGGOTT, F/O GOOCH and P/O BURROWS with Sgt. THOMAS and Sgt. JONES as passengers, left for GIBRALTAR, an uneventful trip except for the failure of the port outer engine off C. FINISTERRE owing to an oil leak. Repairs carried out in the air but without completely stopping leakage. Weather fine. Landed GIBRALTAR 14:34. Repairs affected the next day.
MOUNT BATTAN 6.2.41 0630
Ground party consisting of F/O GIBSON (in command) 12 officers, 7 WOs and senior NCOs and 161 ORs embarked for GOUROCK, arriving there 13:00 hrs. 10 officers boarded S/S HIGHLAND BRIGADE at GLASGOW the same night, 3 officers and the remainder of the party spending the night in the transit camp at GOUROCK.
GOUROCK 7.2.41 1800
Remainder of party boarded the ship
GOUROCK 8.2.41 PM
Ship left in convoy for FREETOWN. Voyage was without any incident of note.
GIBRALTAR 9.2.41 1212
N9027 with same crew as above, all passengers as above, took off from GIBRALTAR to escort C/V (convoy) H G53 which was urgently requiring air assistance against submarine attaches. The position given was in error and the convoy was not found. A/C landed at GIBRALTAR 1910hrs. Weather fine. Vis. 20 miles. N9027 as above but with P/O Ruston (202 Sqdn) as extra pilot took off the search for wreck of torpedoed ship. Wreckage only sighted at the position. 1936 hrs a/c landed GIBRALTAR. Weather fine. Vis. 8-10 miles in west or area.
MOUNT BATTEN 14.2.41 2330
T9041 Capt P.O. BAILEY, W/C FRESSANGES , P/O ROBERTSON, P/O RITTEY (Air Obs) left for GIBRALTAR and arrived at 1300 hrs 15/2/41. Weather: cloud in Bay of Biscay down to 800ft. Snow, sleet and hail showers, wind south 20kts. From FINISTERRE to GIB. Wind south to S.E. 50kts gusting 6-80kts. Seriously bumpy. 7/20 cloud… Vis 8-10 miles. Foul Trip! Appearing a very worrying passage.
MOUNT BATTEN 14.2.41 2345
P9623. S/L LOMBARD F/LT EVISEN F/O BOWIE, SGT BANFIELD (Air Obs) left for GIBRALTAR. This aircraft had to make a forced landing near SATUBAL in PORTUGAL owing to petrol shortages...
Stranded in Portugal, Sunderland P9623 became the very first of many Allied and Axis aircraft to end up in use with the Portuguese armed forces during World War Two.
(More information can be found on the following website: www.key.aero/article/plight-flight)
Gales persisted on this day and at 1900hrs N9027 had broken away from her morings and beached on the shore at Devil’s Tongue bay in GIBRALTAR harbour. Later this aircraft was safely refloated off by F/O Lee in conjunction with a salvage company….
T9041 also received damage to the bows from a pinnace which successfully boarded a pilot in difficult conditions of sea and wind. The continuance of gales during the next five days, …… to retention of pilots and crew on board this boat night and day.
W/C FRESSANGES, F/O BAGGOT, F/O GOOCH & P/O BURROWS returned to MOUNT BATTEN with F/L HAVYATT of 10 Sqds. R.A.A.F. in Sunderland P9605. W/C FRESSANGES then proceeded to H.Q.G.C. and the others on leave to await further instructions.
GIBRALTAR 26.2.41 2230
T9041, with her bow patched up temporarily, Capt P/O BAILEY F/O ROBERTSON, P/O RITTER, with crew of N9027 as passengers returned to MOUNT BATTEN, arriving at 0845, 27.2.41. Weather lousy again! Fog was encountered from C. FINISTERRE to ENGLAMD. The aircraft …. in ST. EVAL and landed at MOUNT BATTEN in a 50kt southerly gale with cloud base at 300ft.
MOUNT BATTEN 28.2.41
T9041 was handed over to 10Sqdn. R.A.A.F. for repair and pilot and crews went on leave...