Wing Commander Henry Lamond - RIP

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Wing Commander Henry Lamond - RIP

Postby antipodeanandy » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:56 pm

I'm hoping this is the best place for this. I take a lot of interest in obituaries of former aircrew and did a fair bit of digging on the loss of the Sunderland and Lamond's earlier efforts in Greece. Was surprised what I turned up.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituar ... amond.html

Wing Commander Henry Lamond, who has died aged 94, was one of the first three men to escape from a tunnel at Stalag Luft III and remained at large for a week; he had been captured in Crete after gallant attempts to rescue stranded personnel in his Sunderland flying boat.

In the spring of 1942 Lamond was among the early arrivals at Stalag Luft III at Sagan, Goering's show camp for captured Allied airmen and one he claimed was escape-proof. Lamond and his colleagues immediately set about proving him wrong.

Lamond had already developed a reputation as an inveterate tunneller during his time at another prison camp. He and Bill Goldfinch, who had been his co-pilot when they were captured in April 1941, invited another PoW, Jack Best, to join them in an audacious attempt to dig their way out of Sagan.

The prisoners had managed to block and flood the latrines in order to convince their captors that it was necessary to dig a drainage ditch to a point near the perimeter wire. Lamond intended to use the ditch to dig a tunnel, from where they would "mole" – or burrow – their way out.

Just after the evening roll-call their helpers sealed them into the tunnel. The three men burrowed towards the wire, piling sand behind them. Kept alive by air holes pushed up through the soil, they worked all night; but the following morning their comrades were horrified to see wisps of steam rising from four air holes. Fortunately they remained undetected and carried on digging. After 36 hours underground and "moling" for 150ft they broke the surface outside the wire and crept to the nearby woods.

They headed for a local training airfield, intending to steal an aircraft in which they would fly to Sweden. Arriving at dawn, they hid all day, but then failed to locate a suitable aircraft. They spent the next five nights walking to the river Oder, where they found a rowing boat and set off for Stettin, 200 miles away, with the aim of finding a ship going to Sweden. While they were resting on the river bank they were arrested by local police.

The three men were the first to escape from Sagan by tunnel and were at liberty for seven days. Lamond later wrote: "This escape destroyed the Germans' overbearing sense of superiority, and re-established the morale of the PoWs, allowing them with great delight to jeer at the Germans about their escape-proof camp." Goldfinch and Best were sent to Colditz, where they were to build their famous glider. It was never explained why Lamond was left at Sagan.

Henry William Lamond was born on August 26 1915 at Kaukapakapa, a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. He was educated at Auckland Grammar School before serving in the 1st Battalion Auckland Regiment. In 1938 he joined the RNZAF, transferring to an RAF scheme in 1939; he completed his pilot training and was commissioned.

After arriving in England he joined No 210 Squadron, and in December 1940 was ordered to ferry a Sunderland to Malta. Instead of returning to England, he was sent to No 228 Squadron and started operational flying. In March 1941 the remnants of 228 had to leave Malta, and Lamond flew one of the two surviving Sunderlands to Alexandria; on April 24 he was sent to Suda Bay in Crete.

With Goldfinch as one of his co-pilots, he reconnoitred the Greek coastline looking for RAF personnel fleeing the German advance. After a successful first mission Lamond was ordered to fly to Kalamata, where he saw signals from the shore. Although short of fuel, he landed and picked up 74 men of an RAF squadron.

Later the same evening, he was woken up and ordered to fly back to Kalamata. With no flare path for the night take-off, or for the landing at Kalamata, Lamond would have been justified in refusing. However, as he commented later: "In those days one did not." On landing, he hit an unseen obstruction and his Sunderland sank.

He and three members of his crew survived, and after several hours clinging to a wing they were picked up by a Greek boat. A few days later the Germans occupied the area and the men were captured.

Lamond was taken to Dulag 185 at Salonika, where conditions were primitive and the PoWs badly treated. It was here that Lamond and Goldfinch first met Best. They remained together during a desperate march in November over the mountains to a railhead at Corinth, where they were loaded into cattle trucks. After travelling through Yugoslavia, Austria and Germany, the RAF prisoners arrived at Stalag Luft I at Barth on the Baltic coast.

After his recapture and return to Stalag Luft III, Lamond was a member of numerous tunnelling teams. He worked on the three tunnels before the Great Escape, and on the night of the breakout – March 24/25 1944 – he was the dispatcher. Positioned in Hut 104 at the top of the entrance shaft which led to the escape tunnel "Harry", Lamond checked each prisoner and his chattels to ensure that they would not block the narrow tunnel.

He was also responsible for controlling the flow of prisoners into the tunnel. Just after he had dispatched his 87th escaper, "Harry" was discovered; 76 men had broken free, of whom 50 were later murdered by the Gestapo.

In January 1945 the camp was evacuated with minimum notice and the PoWs marched westwards to avoid the advancing Soviet army. During one of the worst winters on record, the prisoners suffered greatly on "the Long March". Eventually they reached a camp near Lübeck from where, in late April, they were repatriated.

Lamond remained in the RAF and flew transport aircraft. During the Berlin Air Lift of 1949 he was an operations controller at Gatow airfield in Germany, where he later served for two years. He was a flying instructor and served in Southern Rhodesia before becoming the chief instructor at No 2 Flying Training School at Syerston, near Newark, Nottinghamshire.

He retired from the RAF in 1962, and four years later joined the RAF Reserve of Officers. For the next 15 years he worked with the Air Training Corps, of which he later wrote a history.

A keen golfer, he did not allow hip and knee replacements to interfere with his enjoyment of the sport, but continued playing until late in life.

In December 1942 the King of the Hellenes awarded Lamond the Greek Distinguished Flying Cross. For his activities as a PoW he was mentioned in despatches, and in 1953 he received a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air.

Henry Lamond died on January 15. He married, in 1945, Nesta John; she predeceased him, and he is survived by two sons and a daughter.


Some digging and questions to a friend revealed a Kiwi Flying Officer on board was killed so I referred to my copy of Errol Martyn's For Your Tomorrow:

Fri, Anzac Day/Sat 26 Apr 1941
Middle East
Communication flight from Suda Bay, Crete, to Kalamata, Greece
228 Squadron, RAF (Alexandria, Egypt - 201 Group)
Sunderland I T9048/N - took off at 2130 captained by Flt Lt H W Lamond, RAF, to deliver a message from Air Vice Marshal J H D'Albiac, Air Officer Commanding Greece, to Gp Capt A G Lee at Kalamata, and to evacuate 50 RAF personnel to Suda Bay. While approaching to land at 2315 on a moonless night, the height above a perfectly calm sea was misjudged and the aircraft flew into the water. Six of the ten crew died, including the 2nd pilot, but their bodies were not recovered and they are commemorated on the Alamein Memorial. The survivors drifted on an upturned wing until picked up by fishermen a few hours later.
2nd Pilot: 33460 Fg Off John Clement Julius Lylian, RAF - Age 21. 816hrs.


The above was from Volume 1. Vol 3 revealed he went through RAF Cranwell from January 1938 and joined 228 Squadron in March 1940.

I then started getting a little carried away and looked into the evacuation flights from Greece. Came across this on the excellent NZETC site:

http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-W ... Epi-e.html

On the same day, 25 April, Flight-Lieutenant H. W. Lamond7 was detailed to search for a party in the Githeon area in Greece. At Githeon Greek officers in laboured French directed him to a bay farther south-west, where the crew observed flashes from a hand mirror and picked up 52 officers and men of a Royal Air Force fighter squadron. Lamond returned immediately to evacuate a party which Frame had noted near Kalamata. He took aboard 72 men waiting in the page 8 harbour area. This still stands as the record number of passengers ever carried in flight by a Sunderland. Lamond carefully disposed his passengers to balance the aircraft, firmly preventing anyone, irrespective of rank, from bringing aboard any luggage or personal effects. Carrying only 400 gallons of petrol, the Sunderland finally became airborne after ricochetting off the harbour. The same evening at eleven o'clock Lamond returned to Kalamata to deliver a message to a senior officer of the remaining Royal Air Force personnel. The take-off had been made without a flare path and there was none available for the landing, which was attempted by the use of the aircraft's landing light on a glassy and deceptive surface. The pilot found it practically impossible to judge his height, and the aircraft hit the sea heavily and broke up. Lamond and three of his crew were the only survivors. A portion of the hull remained afloat, and on this the four stayed until Lamond's shouts attracted the attention of a small Greek fishing boat; the search party from the shore had failed to locate the wreck and had given up the search. Three of the aircrew, including Flight-Lieutenant Lamond, were taken to a military hospital where they later became prisoners of war. For his share in the evacuation Lamond was awarded the Greek Distinguished Flying Cross.


After all that, believe it or not, I found pics of the Sunderland prior to her crash:

http://www.iwmcollections.org.uk/dbtw-w ... =QBE_QUERY

Image

PRODUCTION DATE:
24 April 1941
MAKER:
Hensser H (Mr)
Royal Air Force official photographer

OBJECT TYPE:
Official photograph
DESCRIPTION:
Short Sunderland Mark I, T9048 'DQ-N', of No. 228 Squadron RAF, being boarded by RAF personnel in a rowing boat off Kalamata, during the evacuation from Greece.


Image

PRODUCTION DATE:
24 April 1941
MAKER:
Hensser H (Mr)
(Royal Air Force official photographer

OBJECT TYPE:
Official photograph
FORMAT DESCRIPTION:
Official photograph
DESCRIPTION:
Short Sunderland Mark Is of No 228 Squadron RAF (T9048 'DQ-N' in foreground), and No 230 Squadron, RAF (L2160 'NM-X' centre), moored in Messinia Bay off Kalamata while evacuating RAF personnel from Greece.


An eyewitness account of the earlier epic rescue trip (more detail at the website, I've cut the quote down):

http://raf-112-squadron.org/memories.html

From the top of the hill we watched the commotion below as the dinghy was used to take the men out. They were moving fast. We started the difficult climb down but at about half way Mr. Casey and myself sat down and watched as the Sunderland engines opened up for take off. I've heard it had about 80 men on board. The sea on that morning was like a mirror and no wind. At one time we thought it would not lift off.(T 9048 Sunderland of 228 Sqdn piloted by Flt Lt Lamond, took 50 men off, he was unable to return for more, another Sunderland Y 9050 ( pilot unknown at this time) flew from Suda Bay on 23 April with Crew and 25 passengers, arriving safely at Alexandria).

It seemed as if it went miles before it got airborne and with it went our hopes. We had spotted the flying boat, they did see us and came in, but we two did not get near the beach - let alone get a lift. We were not the only ones to be left behind. I remember somebody saying in consolation "Supposing they get shot down?" As it turned out they got back to Alexandria safely.

After the flying boat had gone from sight Mr. Casey and I rejoined those who were left, now about thirty. We were told that the engine of the boat on which we had left Gytheon had failed. A "dicky" engine was not the ideal engine for making a night journey towards Crete. German aircraft were everywhere, looking for a target to strafe; thank God that the Sunderland had got away. It had been a "sitting duck" for about thirty minutes.


As I was doing all the googling etc I kept coming across references to the Pembroke Dock Sunderland. It finally made an impact when I saw the Pembroke Sunderland is T9044 and our 'hero' above is T9048 so they must have been within sight of each other on the production line.

I've also emailed the Greek Air Force Museum to see if they know anything of the wreck as it's most likely a war grave. Of course, the Greek government has other things on its hands at present ... and it's just occurred to me I sent it on my old email address. :roll:

Hope the above is of interest. I got carried away but...
Andy Wright
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Re: Wing Commander Henry Lamond - RIP

Postby sunderlandnut » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:17 am

Hi Andy

Thanks for this excellent and very interesting post, which I will digest tomorrow morning as it’s time for bed now here in London, but here is a brief response.

I have various references to W/Co Harry Lamond, condensed as follows:

T122: 25.4.41 T9048 crash Kalamata.
AR48: 25.4.41 T9048 crashed Kalamata. 7 killed, 3 survived including the Captain, Flt Lt Henry Lamond and 3rd Pilot, Bill Goldfinch who later built the glider 'Colditz Cock' at Colditz Castle.
DU40,167: 25.4.41 T9048 crashed Kalamata, Greece (6 killed). Flt Lt Harry Lamond (a New Zealander) later captured.
DW49: Oct-39; DW50*: Group photo. (3 NZ pilots 210 Sqn 1939)
EX89: 27.1.41 T9048 EX91,92: 25.4.41 T9048
FY: Lamond flew evacuation flights from Greece, holding the record for passengers carried by a Sunderland (82) plus crew (total 92) and was awarded the Greek 'Flying Cross 1945'.
MT: Greek Cross of Valour Flying Cross 1945 to 36174 Flt/Lt Henry William Lamond.
ZL28: 25.4.41 T9048

Let me know if you would like me to expand further on any of the above.

This is the group photo, my Ref DW50, which is in John Evans’ booklet ‘Sopwiths to Sunderlands’

Image

Cheers
Richard
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Re: Wing Commander Henry Lamond - RIP

Postby antipodeanandy » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:20 am

Hi Richard

Many thanks for the photo. That's great. I'm intrigued by your referencing. Some of the codes look familiar. Please elaborate wherever you see fit.

I think I have worked out the four aircrew who survived but, other than Lylian, am struggling to work out the rest of the crew to date.

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/ ... 02123.html

The captain, Fit Lt H. L. Lamond, of New Zealand, the third pilot, Fit Lt L. J. E. Goldfinch, and the fitter, Sgt Davies, suffered injuries and were taken
to hospital; the second pilot, F/O Lylian, and a warrant officer were killed on impact, and one member, F/O Bristowe, escaped unhurt and managed to get to Crete.


Andy
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Re: Wing Commander Henry Lamond - RIP

Postby sunderlandnut » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:41 am

Hi Andy

This was the situation as far as I can tell:-

Flt Lt Henry W Lamond (Captain) – Survived.
P/O Sean Bristowe (1st Pilot) – Survived (Escaped unhurt and got to Crete).
33460 F/O John Clement Julius Lylian (2nd Pilot) – Killed
Flt Lt L J E (Bill) Goldfinch (3rd Pilot) – Survived
Sgt Davis (or Davies?) (Fitter) – Survived.
P/O J H Linton – Killed.
Sgt G Cooper – Killed.
Sgt T James – Killed.
Sgt R Warren- Killed.
LAC W Sommers – Killed.

These two illustrations are from my Ref ZL “Help from the Heavens” by John Evans (Paterchurch 1998)

Image

Image

Send me a PM with your email address if you would like higher resolution versions.

Cheers
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Re: Wing Commander Henry Lamond - RIP

Postby antipodeanandy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:10 am

Richard, that's bloody brilliant! PM sent.

Thank you very much for the crew details.

Andy
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