DH Mosquito MM244

Corryfoyness, Loch Ness, Highland

 
     
 
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Aircraft Accident Details (Extended)

As related by F/O Alex Barron DFC, navigator, RAF
and provided to this site by Neil Barron

 

Continued from Page 1

 

...In order to retain sufficient speed to remain airborne we had to lose height pretty rapidly and the prospect of reaching an aerodrome and effecting a landing was beyond our capacity. Joe, the pilot tried for some time to restart the engine without success. We were losing height at quite a pace and he made the decision that we had no alternative but to abandon the aircraft. The Mosquito cockpit is a pretty cramped affair and getting out of thing was not a particularly easy matter. By the time we took the decision to go we were below the need for oxygen so that the masks could be discarded. I had to take off my helmet after disconnecting oxygen and intercom and open the inner door and jettison the outer door by kicking the release mechanism. I then had to turn round to go out backwards feet first. This was accomplished by sitting on the floor and sticking my legs through the hole. Care had to be taken not to get caught up on anything sticking out of the wall since a parachute harness with a parachute on front took up quite a lot of room.

When it got my legs through the hole the slipstream was so powerful that my legs got pushed up and jammed against the underside of the plane. Added to that, the shaft of the trailing aerial was also jammed against my leg. The cold was severe and I was still suffering from lack of oxygen. I guess my movements were pretty slow because Joe told me I took a long time to get out. It’s not surprising since, if I didn’t get out, neither would he: However, I was suddenly sucked out like a cork from a bottle and found myself sailing through the air. I grabbed frantically for the ripcord and wrenched it out. I was arrested with such a jerk that I felt I’d been cut in half. My intense relief was incredible and I hung there talking out loud to myself thanking everyone I could think of for my deliverance.

The cold was intense. I don’t think I saw the aircraft but I was too busy with my own position. What actually happened after I left was that Joe had the difficult job of coming out of his seat; holding the control column turning round and stepping through the hole hoping that he didn’t get tangled on anything on the way. He made it anyway. I must honestly say that as I dangled on the end of this chute for what seemed ages I never gave him a thought. The concealed terror that I experienced gradually subsided at the realisation that I was alive and the parachute seemed to be holding up well. Nevertheless, I was frightened to move in case all the air spilled out and I came to sticky end.

My next problem was the hills and forests and lochs which spread below me as I drifted in complete and utter silence. Loch Ness dominated the vista and it looked as though my progress in this direction was inevitable. As I got closer I saw a boat below with one or two people on board. I seemed to be accelerating in that direction and shouted to attract their attention, but I got no reaction. Come to think of it, if someone shouted to you it’s doubtful if you’d look up : As luck would have it I was blown over the loch and landed on a hillside after crashing through some trees. There was nothing calculated about my para-landings—just crash bang wallop hope for the best.

The very severe cold which I had experienced on the way down had loft my fingers numb and I was still in a mentally frozen state. I think I must have been slightly stunned since I had virtually fallen out of a tree on my back. However, I quickly realised I was very much alive with no broken bones and gathered up my parachute and set off downhill to seek a telephone to report to base. I quickly reached a road and met a man who passed me going in the opposite direction, He glanced at me and passed the time of day and I returned his salutation in kind and carried on. This despite the fact I was wearing a very large silk parachute festooned round my neck: I finally reached a village Post Office (which I later found was Foyers) and recounted my plight to the local Postmistress and requested the use of the telephone.

I don’t remember all that went on before I eventually made contact with my station, but the dear lady in the post office was more concerned with …?

It was decided that the nearest point of contact with the Services would be the Military Hospital at Longmans in Inverness. With the help of the Postmistress I cadged a lift from a passing Milk van and eventually reached the Hospital. I was examined by a Doctor who among other things shone a light in eyes and immediately said I was suffering from shock and ordered me to bed in one of the Wards. I must say this was an excellent idea since there was two very nice nurses who treated me like a hero and I basked in quite a bit undeserved notoriety. Nevertheless, it was a couple of days before I heard that Joe had escaped unharmed and arrived back at base without having had the luxury of a few days in bed. Apparently my whereabouts was a bit of a mystery to the local constabulary who had several search parties scouring the hills. One of their number came into the Ward on some errand or other and mentioned they were still looking for a missing airman. Whereupon the nurse said, “There he is over there.”

Eventually, I was issued with a new greatcoat by the local R.A.F. and returned to Oxfordshire in a very cold train. The C.O. asked me if I was O.K. to carry on and that was the end of my escapade. Next came the real work of Operations.

 

 

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