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828 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

828 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm




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Those known to have sailed in

828 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Slt. Tom Christopher "Stucco" Chapman 828 Naval Air Squadron

March 1943

The next step was the real thing. A drafting to 828 Squadron at Malta. To get there was something of a problem. Rooms were booked for us at the Strand Palace which showed the human touch on behalf of the Admiralty. There were several false starts which I think gave us about a week in London before eventually traveling to somewhere in Cornwall, and a few nights there. A night take-off from Redruth, a flight west over the Atlantic to avoid any interference from enemy aircraft, and then a safe landing at Gibraltar. We took off from Gibraltar in a Hudson for Algiers flying and keeping fairly well south over the Sahara, eventually altering course north for Algiers. Everything went well, but we were all a bit worried about the last leg to Malta. Nothing happened fortunately but a look out was mounted in the mid-upper turret. As we were totally unarmed I don't know what we could have done. However, the solution to that one, we never found out, and we duly arrived in one piece in Malta.

Having been shown our cabins by the Maltese Stewards, the next thing was meeting our C.O. I don't know how the others felt, but me, it felt like being at a new school and meeting the Headmaster. When we did I couldn't believe it. Expecting to find a Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander we were introduced to temporary Sub-Lieutenant RNVR, who I should think was somewhere around four years my junior in age. He apologized for his rank but told us that the Squadron had lost three C.O.s in rather quick succession, and as the pilot with the most flying time he had stepped into the breach as acting C.O. until he was relieved by his replacement. We were then introduced to the other members of the Squadron and then given a brief talk on what the Squadron had done, was going to do and intended to do in the future. As the Squadron had been stood down that night we retired to the bar before dinner.

June 3rd 1943. Hal Far Malta

My Observer Sub LtPeter Scotcher did not spot that my forth aircraft (Harrison) had left the formation because of engine trouble or for some other reason {Tom would never speak ill of this move by Harrison, but it cost him dearly, and his face would cloud whenever we tried to bring up the subject}. So that now unbeknown to me at the time, I was now tail arse Charlie. Although night fighters could be seen if they were fairly close by the observer in the back cockpit, I received no warning until an explosion, apparently underneath me let me know that I had probably been hit.

When the air pressure dropped alarmingly and the instruments went haywire it scared me quite appreciatively. It was a moonless night and I warned Peter to prepare for ditching but it would be dicey. To ditch an aircraft with a fixed undercarriage was always a problem as anyone can imagine particularly with a fixed under cart. As always what happens in these circumstances the aircraft went on its nose with its tail in the air. If the observer carried out his ditching according to carefully laid out instructions he should open his rear cockpit cover which opens forward and when hitting the sea he would be a catapulted over the aircraft and into the water. This Peter did but forgot to attach his k-type dinghy to his harness. For my part whilst I opened the small side window in the front cockpit, it left a very small opening for the pilot with a parachute and a K-type dinghy and of course himself to scramble through an opening about 12 inches square. Somehow I accomplished it after cutting my left leg on the window. Also there was a certain amount of flames after we hit the water, I got slight burns but nothing too serious.

My next job was to find Peter. He wasn't far away but then told me he had no dinghy. This wasn't very happy news but I finally got him aboard mine. Believe you me our one manned rubber dinghy wasn't very comfortable or safe for two people. We very soon found this out especially in the hours of darkness, but of course the sun eventually came up and that encouraged me to hope. The sun warmed us after the very cold night. June was not the warmest month in the Mediterranean and considering we were sitting in several inches of water during the night that can be understandable.

When the sun eventually came up, I took stock. We had no water or anything to drink, but we did have a few Horlicks Malted Milk tablets. These were sufficient to keep us going for a day or two, but without anything to drink there seemed little hope. We had no paddles except our hands and I soon realized that my earlier intention of paddling back to Malta was rather a forlorn hope. On the first day I discovered that Peter was lapsing into unconsciousness, and not doing his fair share of paddling. Darkness came for the second night and with it all hope receded.

We kept up the paddling, still in a southerly direction all through the night. But in the morning I began to realize that Peter was not quite himself. In the daylight I must have looked rather a disconcerting sight with my face burnt and my leg wounds, not a pleasant appearance. Sadly Peter didn't make it. On the 3rd day I was picked up by a fishing boat and handed over to spend the next 3 years as a POW

Suni Chapman







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