No. 281 Squadron (RAF) "We Fly to Save"

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About This Unit

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ex RAF Mod (UK) site


No 281 Squadron was formed on 29 March 1942 at Ouston for air-sea rescue duties, initially with Defiants. In February 1943, it added Walrus amphibians and by June had replaced its Defiants with Ansons. On 22 November 1943, the squadron was absorbed by 282 Squadron.

No.281 reformed at Thornaby on the same day with Warwicks for ASR missions and from February 1944 based detachments around the British Isles, moving its base to Tiree at the same time. In February 1945, the squadron moved to Northern Ireland but a detachment remained at Tiree until September. No.281 Squadron disbanded on 24 October 1945.



Engine Failure / Fire on Take Off

TED RUSSELL` S ACCOUNT. BV411 Sumburgh September 14th 1944.

"We took off at 18.25hrs en route to Wick. I was in the second pilots seat, it was rough With lots of vibration, not unusual as we had brakes on and plenty of revs to commence our run with the restrictions at Sumburgh. We started to climb and I Noticed the oil pressure dropping on the Port engine together with a temperature Rise. Jack said" he was going to feather the Engine "and I said "I am out of here on to Radio, do you want emergency "Jack said "yes", so I went on the set and sent out the Distress signals and fixed down the key, The crew were told to get into crash Positions and we instructed our passengers to do the same. I then changed the signal to S.O.S.

Jack was keeping me informed of height etc, then told me get rid of fuel he was going to try and make it back. Fire started on the remaining engine and started to come down the fuselage on the Starboard side. We did not have the height to use the long runway, so came in sea to sea with a strong cross tail wind, we could not sit down until about two thirds had gone, we tried to raise the undercarriage but it would not fold because of the hydraulic lock, after much stabbing of brakes one wheel went up,we carried on like that loosing bits and went over the grass then stalled more or less onto very large rocks that took off the outer wings, front turret, wind screen. Instrument Panel a wheel and bomb bay overload tank.

When we stopped the port engine was off and all after the mid up turret broke off and turned up 90o. I got the airman on the floor near me up, moved to the Navs compartment and there was Bart on the floor ( in his crash position ) with all his gear and table on top of him. I lifted that off him and stood him up under the Astro dome gave him a shove and followed so fast I hit my head on his boots. I should mention that the flames were blowing over the hatch and the sea was on fire. The tide was further in than when the photo' was taken but I still wonder how we missed the bolts that should have been holding the engine on we could not swim or stand up due to the rocks and seaweed, but we crawled very fast. I put my hand on the airman's shoulder on the beach, his great coat was like tar and just crumbled away, he was more concerned about loosing the fresh crofters eggs he was taking home to his Mother!!. It was his first flight, I believe he went to Wick on an old Jarrow (Handley Page Harrow) they used for the newspaper run and it crash landed, Wonder if he ever flew again. I still can't believe how lucky we were to get out without to many injuries or burns".

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