(Courtesy of Eastern Daily Press Saturday 12th July 1952).
Race to Rescue Air Pilot Threatened by Tide
Parachute Drop Into Mud from Vampire Over King's Lynn
TWO KING'S LYNN vessels - the ferry boat Lynn Regis and the Conservancy Board's launch Robert Taylor - made a three-mile dash down the Great Ouse late yesterday afternoon to the rescue of an R.A.F. pilot
who had baled out from his Vampire aircraft [FB.5 VV224
]and lay waist deep in the mud of the banks off North Wootton marshes.
It became a race against time. The tide was almost at its lowest and within short a while was due to turn. After that the bank on which the pilot
was lying would quickly be submerged.
The rescued airman, Pilot Officer John Charles Wood
, aged 27, who is based at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, was in Lynn Hospital last night. Apart from a dislocated shoulder and shock he seemed little the worse for his experience, but he was wondering what had happened to his aircraft and what had caused the crash.
Saw Parachute Open
Apparently no one in King's Lynn actually saw the aircraft go down, but two people sitting in the sun on Common Staithe Quay, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Cook, of 43, King's Avenue, had seen several jet planes apparently on training flights over The Wash and then had noticed a parachute open. Mr. Cook, at one time a Lynn fireman, gave the alarm. The ferry boat operating between the town and West Lynn heard the call.
With a scratch crew, including Mr. Rodney Chapman, who had been in charge of the ferry, and Mr. Jack Hobson and Mr. Victor Wilkin, of the Eastern Sea Fisheries, who hurriedly joined her, the Lynn Regis made for The Wash. At the same time Harbour Master Capt. John Nicholson, Skipper J. Bunting and another Conservancy Board employee dashed for the launch Robert Taylor.
Past the Point, where the river widens into The Wash, they found the pilot
. Meanwhile aircraft kept up a constant flight over the area.
Mud Almost Waist Deep
Describing the rescue Mr. Hobson said they had to run about half a mile along a stone bank and then wade about 100 yards in mud almost waist deep to reach the pilot,
who was lying by his parachute. The first words he said were: "I'm ----- glad to see you. For heaven's sake get me out of this." He was in pain, said Mr Hobson.
Mr. Chapman said the pilot
was taken on board the boat belonging to the Robert Taylor and then transferred to the launch. Because of low water the Robert Taylor grounded and the pilot was then put on board the ferry boat.
On the way back, said Mr. Hobson, the pilot
told them that he had baled out at 20,000 feet. He said he thought he touched another plane. His aircraft disappeared and he was left hanging on his parachute.
Mr Chapman stated that the pilot
said, his aircraft seemed to break up into little pieces. The ferry boat brought the pilot
back along the river, just before the tide began to turn and at the ferry steps an ambulance waited to take him to hospital.
Aircraft Broken Up
It was later learned that the aircraft, which had broken up, fell in Terrington St. Clement. Parts of it were spread over an area of about a mile. The village is two miles from where the pilot
was rescued. No property was damaged and no one injured. Several people working in fields had narrow escapes and there were some near misses of property. The engine fell in Cdr. A. H. B. Hume's garden.
In fact, John Wood was in dogfight with some USAF Sabres when he collided with Vampire FB.5 WA189 which recovered safely. John's Vampire VV224
broke up and John
baled out. [Click to see 93 Sqn F540 Report.