The Sunderland after ditching near Setúbal
(Photo: Olinda Couceiro)
Tróia - Setúbal
RAF 95 Sqn
Short Sunderland I P9623
Pembroke Dock (UK) → Gibraltar → Freetown (Sierra Leone)
S/Ldr Pat Lombard NZ
F/Lt. Evison NZ
F/O Bowie NZ
Sgt Jack Banfield NZ
The fight against a hurricane exhausted the aircraft's fuel and the pilot had to ditch. The crew was repatriated in 23 March 1941. This was the first time that British airmen left the country, and it was made under the supervision of a Portuguese air officer. Major António Dias Leite, asked by the British Embassy and under the supervision of "higher authorities", organized the "escape" by sea trough Aveiro.
The plane was offered to Portugal in May 1942 and it became AN 136 of the “Aviação Naval”, the air branch of the Portuguese Navy. In March 1944, after repairs, he started a mission to the Portuguese Guinea colony, but on the way one propeller was lost, and it hot another engine. The accident happened near the Canaries islands but the pilot - Capitão-de-Mar-e-Guerra Paulo Viana – was able to bring the aircraft back to Lisbon with only two engines.
It never flew again and was scrapped in the next year.
* “Aviões da Cruz de Cristo” – Mário Canongia Lopes
* Sopwiths to Sunderlands: 210 Squadron 1917-1941 - John Evans
* 95 Sqn Operational Record Book
* Maria José Dias Leite
* Olinda Couceiro