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15 October 2014
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Flying out P.O.W.s and Flying in Bailey Bridges

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Royal Air Force

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BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Derrick Hull
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Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
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Contributed on: 
06 July 2005

This story was submitted by a volunteer from Brighton on behalf of Derrick Hull and has been added to the site with his permission. Derrick Hull fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I was one of the many ground crew servicing aircraft during the War. I worked on the planes' instruments and often flew with aircraft that were being delivered, or to get to aircraft that needed servicing. One of my many memories is that of the prisoners of war who were released from Japanese camps in Burma and Thailand in August 1945.

I was part of the 267 Squadron who were charged with flying these sick, emaciated men to Akyab Island from where they joined a ship home, or if very sick, were sent to hospital in Calcutta. Normally a Dakota would take 25 passengers, but these men were so thin and wasted that we were able to fly them out 60 on board at a time. The planes flew missions whatever the weather, and were even flown through torrential rain and thunderstorms. One day the ground crew at the airfield saw a Dakota land with parts of a Bailey Bridge sticking out of it! The Dakota had been caught in severe turbulence and the plane suddenly dropped 500 feet. There were no doors on the delivery planes, and cargo was just strapped down. The incredible drop had dislodged the cargo so that parts were sticking out of the plane. The pilot had to do a very amazing landing.

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