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15 October 2014
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A Secret Mission to Alderney

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Flt/Lt JW Merriam
Location of story: 
Christchurch, Hants; Alderney
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 November 2005

On the 19th November 1942 I was asked to go down to Christchurch in Hampshire to fly back a Lysander aircraft. I asked if it had been serviced to fly back to North Wales and was told it had been signed on form 700 but it was intended for me do a job! I was not qualified to fly the aircraft at night so was briefed at dawn, a chart was provided and the order explained.

A French fisherman, working for a secret underground organisation, found his vessel had been taken away and was stranded on Alderney at Bray Harbour. The grass aerodrome was little used on the island, and I was given instructions, as early as possible to pick this person up.

The Lysander was parked ready for me, the engine was started on an outside power unit and promptly burst into action. Chocks away, and I was soon on my way, clipping the wave tops. Very soon, my approach before the wind was head on. Under no circumstances was I to do a circuit - it had to be one touch down.

The fisherman would wear a large brimmed white hat - the difficulty though was that the area was white with sea birds. I was not to reason, but press on. The birds were all disturbed. On landing, and before the wheels stopped turning my captive was climbing the ladder and was still climbing in when we were airborne again. For once the throttles worked and we were soon back to a military guard with not a word said. It was so secret that I am left with a memory that it hardly ever happened. I was taken back to North Wales and there was absolutely nothing I could say. I was promoted to commission rank. I suppose I was lucky to be back.

This story was submitted to The People’s War website by Stuart Ross, on behalf of J.W. Merriam, who has given his permission for the story to appear on the website.

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