LOG: MEMORIAL FLY-PAST FOR RAF COASTAL COMMAND
TUESDAY 16TH MARCH 2004

 

 
Below is a list of aircraft which took part in the RAF Coastal Command Fly-Past on Tuesday 16th March. The Fly-Past aircraft formed-up at Southwold at approx.12:05 and departed south for Westminster Abbey at 12:37 to over fly the abbey at 12:57 (See picture above).

Among those watching from the abbey steps were Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the RAF's only surviving holder of the Victoria Cross, John Cruickshank. On 17th July 1944, as Flight Lieutenant Cruickshank (then 24 years old), he had been a Captain of a 210 Squadron, Coastal Command Catalina, flying out of Sullom Voe in the Shetland Isles.

His aircraft was patrolling near the Lofoten Islands off northern Norway, when a German U-boat appeared on the surface. During his first attack the weapons did not release so despite marginal visibility a second attack was carried out against the U-boat now ready to fight back. During the run in to the target the Catalina was hit by heavy cannon fire which killed the navigator and damaged the aircraft. Flt Lt Cruickshank sustained 72 shrapnel wounds, but he pressed the attack home and successfully released the weapons. Despite heavy damage to the Catalina, height was maintained and the aircraft nursed back to the Shetland Isles.

On arrival at Sullom Voe the sea was found to be very rough. The co-pilot who was not qualified to land the aircraft, bounced the aircraft off the sea on the first attempt to land. Despite his painful injuries and loss of blood, Flt Lt Cruickshank took the controls and made a successful landing, running the aircraft onto the beach. RAF Coastal Command lost 10,875 allied airmen between 1939 and 1945. Three other wartime VCs were awarded to Coastal Command all posthumous. Later John Cruickshank learned that on their second attack their weapons had struck home and U-boat U347 had been sunk.

Of his VC Cruickshank says "The citation said "showed great courage" and all that nonsense, but a lot of people have done that in those circumstances".



PARTICIPANTS :

Nimrod MR.2 XV243/43 KSW RAF Kinloss HUNTER 1 / HUNTER LEAD / HUNTER FORMATION

Tornado GR.4 ZA461/AC 9 Squadron, RAF Marham (Off Port Wing of Nimrod) - BATMAN 2

Tornado GR.4 ZA585/AH 9 Squadron, RAF Marham (Off Starboard Wing of Nimrod) - BATMAN 1

AIRSPARE: Tornado GR.4 ZA546/AG 9 Squadron, RAF Marham (broke-off south of Ipswich) - BATMAN 3
 
Roger Smith
Lowestoft Aviation Society - Suffolk's Eyes on the Skies
www.lowestoftaviationsociety.org