Artefact of the Month Archive

EARNING MEMBERSHIP OF THE GOLDFISH CLUB

October, 2009

On 22 September 1959 Midshipman W (Bill) Walker, a new observer on No 849 ’B’ Flight Royal Naval Air Squadron, was a member of the crew of a Douglas Skyraider AD-4D Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft launched from HMS Victorious. Its task was to direct ground-attack Supermarine Scimitars on to a bombing range off the Norwegian coast. The sortie length was seven and a half hours and after many hours directing successive waves of Scimitars on to their target the pilot, Barry Hartwell, set course for ‘Mother’.

When the Skyraider reached the predicted position of Victorious, the Task Force could not be seen, even on radar. A search in the area proved futile and after half an hour, with little fuel remaining, the Skyraider was ditched in the sea alongside a Russian trawler. Bill and the other two crew members boarded the aircraft’s dinghies and the Skyraider quickly sank. To their dismay, the trawler left the scene (presumably to seek advice as to what to do) but then, to the crew’s relief, returned and picked them up. On deck they were questioned as to their nationality and after finding that they were not American, were invited to join the whole trawler crew to celebrate their rescue with vodka!

After being transferred to the trawler’s depot ship Atlantika, the Skyraider crew was reclaimed two days later by the frigate HMS Urchin.

The subsequent board of enquiry found that the Skyraider crew could not be blamed as they had not been updated on the change of plan on the movements of the task force.

THE SQUADRON BADGE AND GOLDLFISH CLUB SYMBOL WERE LATER WORN BY MIDSHIPMAN (LATER LIEUTENANT COMMANDER) W J V (BILL) WALKER ON HIS FLYING OVERALLS AND ARE DISPLAYED IN THE MUSEUM’S MIDDLE HALL.

Talks by Tangmere

The Museum is pleased to be able to offer speakers to interested groups or societies on a range of subjects connected with the history of operations at RAF Tangmere and other military aviation subjects.

The presentations are usually given as an audio/visual presentation using the Museum's equipment. Our presentations can be tailored to suit audiences ranging from specialist societies to community based groups and range in length from 40 to 90 minutes depending on the subject matter.

Further details of the full range of presentations and the availability of speakers can be obtained by calling the museum on 01243 790090, by emailing your interest to director@tangmere-museum.org.uk or by letter marked for the attention of the Director.

Top