Flying Boat Adventures at Probus Club of Sarum

The members of Probus Club of Sarum were treated to Sunderland flying boat adventures by club member Derek Riley recently.
Derek opened his navigator’s logbook for us and took us back to the 1950s. His story started with an old school friend making him aware of the Forces’ pre-selection procedure. Once passed he would be eligible to become aircrew during his National Service.
In 1953, Derek decided to join the RAF after he had promised his mother he would not become a pilot. His navigator training included a Canadian Pacific 1st class cruise to Canada for an extended training course. In those days, navigators had neither Sat Nav nor radio aids at their disposal.
Eventually, Derek was based at Pembrokeshire Flying Boats while the remainder of his squadron were all in Singapore.
In late 1956, the RAF was looking for volunteers to transfer reconditioned Sunderland flying boats to Singapore.
On 9 February 1957, he boarded his Sunderland at Pembroke Dock. With a cruising speed of only 135mph and with numerous stops for refuelling and repairs, as well as political and diplomatic detours, it took 15 days to reach Singapore.
Net flying time was 56 hours 20 minutes.
Based in Singapore, Derek and his crew were engaged in both anti-submarine operations as well as night time bombing missions against insurgents in Malaya. We were assured that there was also agreeable ‘down time’ around Singapore, including in Raffles.
It obviously was attractive enough for Derek to volunteer for a second transfer tour lasting from June 13 to July 9, this time with a 90-hour net flying time.
The club meets every second and last Friday of the month at the White Hart Hotel. Its members are retirees who value intellectual stimulation as well as a sociable atmosphere. Guests and new members are always welcome.
T: 01722 392 043

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