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Artefact of the Month

Pick Up Pilot’s Map

On the night of 7/8 July 1944 (a month after D-Day) Lysander pick-up pilots, Captain Per Hysing-Dahl and Flight Lieutenant George Turner, were detailed to carry out Operation Palais, a double Lysander mission to carry agents into and out of a French farmer’s field near Tours on the River Loire.

To avoid the D-Day bridgehead, the operation was conducted from their squadron’s base, RAF Tempsford, near Bedford. Usually the squadron used RAF Tangmere for such operations. Turner set off for France ahead of Hysing-Dahl who had engine problems and had had to transfer to a reserve aircraft. Turner routed via Trouville to avoid the bridgehead with its anti-aircraft guns and delivered his three agents and picked up three others with no difficulty. However Per, on reaching the landing field, could see no ground identification signal lights and decided to return his passengers back to England. His return track was again via Trouville but on reaching the coast he found that he had miscalculated and was over the beachhead, off-track and under anti-aircraft fire. The Lysander was hit in the wing and the aileron was practically removed. The oil reservoir behind Per’s head was punctured and his three passengers were covered in oil. One piece of shrapnel wounded Per in one hand and short of oil the engine seized.

Hysing-Dahl elected to ditch in the Channel about 20 miles from the coast – a difficult enough task in daylight with a fixed undercarriage but this was at night with only the moonlight to assist him. On ditching, the wheels hit the water first, the tail flicked over and the three passengers were catapulted into the sea. Per undid his harness, left the sinking cockpit and swam away. He managed to inflate his personal seat dinghy and eventually pulled into it two of his passengers. The third was not a strong swimmer and drowned before Per could reach him.

Eventually after about two and a half hours an American Motor Torpedo Boat picked up Per and the two agents. Sadly, one of them later died later from shock.

FLIGHT LIEUTENANT GEORGE TURNER’S MAP USED ON OPERATION PALAIS IS DISPLAYED IN THE SOE EXHIBTION IN THE MUSEUM’S TANGMERE HALL

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