Dinghy Drop: 279 Squadron RAF 1941 - 46 by Tom Docherty

By Tom Docherty

September 1941 approval used to be given for the formation of 2 long-range Air-Sea Rescue squadrons. No 279 Squadron was once shaped at Bircham Newton in Norfolk. within the interval prime as much as the formation of the squadron there have been a lot paintings performed with regards to air-dropped survival apparatus akin to the Lindholme Dinghy shedding equipment, the Bircham Barrel and the Thornaby Bag. those contained such goods as water, nutrients, first-aid kits and misery signs. 279 was once the 1st squadron to hire the airborne lifeboat, which used to be carried underneath the bellies of the portly Hudson. In January 1942 a realistic boat, geared up with oars, sails and engines was once placed into construction with the goal of slinging it less than the bomb bay of the Hudson and to drop it via parachute. In October 1944 the Squadron re-equipped with Warwick Mk I airplane moved to Thornaby within the NE of britain. by means of now its ASR internet used to be forged extensive and there have been detachments at Tain, Fraserburgh, Wick and Banff (all in northern Scotland) and Reykjavik.

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On 23 March the 57th declared itself full y operational again. But Saigon brought its own problems. The 57t h's ass igned parking a rea at Tan Son Nhut Airport was directly behind the area where the V ietnamese A ir Force pilots parked their C-47 Dakotas. When BIRTI-I OF A TRADITIO N 29 the VNAF pilots sta rted their pl a nes, a lways parked with the ta ils towa rds the 57t h's area, the engi nes spa ltered oil all over the bubbles, windows, and wi ndshields of the Hueys. Severa l times the 57 th's crews asked the V ietnamese to park the C-47's facing a nother direction , but the pil ots refused.

S. Army helicop ter assault companies we re forced to keep some of their aircraft o n evacuation standby, but without a med ical corpsman or medical equipment. Because of the shortage of Army aviators and the priority of armed combat support, the M edical Service Corps did not have enough pilo ts to staff anot her Du st Off unit in Vietnam. Most Army ae romed ical evacuation units elsewhere already worked with less tha n the ir permitted number of pi lo ts. Although Army av iation in Vietnam had grow n considerably since 1961, by the summer of 1964 its resources fell short of what it needed to perfo rm its missions, especially medical evacuation.

Far more importa nt than the medals he earned was hi s legacy to the hundreds of Dust Off pilots who followed him. H is death saddened all who had known him, for he had given so much of himself so selfl essly . The men of the 57th heard that General Stilwell , Kelly's commander for the las t six months, wept when he heard of his death. Capt. Paul A. Bloomquist took command of the 57th Medical Detachment in Saigon and Capt. Patrick H. Brady moved to Soc Trang to ta ke over Detachment A. Assuming that the 57 th wou ld now select its miss ions more carefu lly, the comma nder of the 13th Aviation Battalion in the Delta called Brady into his offi ce.

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