The next remarkable story concerning the Walrus comes from Ireland. In 1939 the Irish Air Corps had three Walrus delivered and used them for maritime patrol. One plane, No 18, had a interesting time, whilst being delivered it was forced down in heavy seas in the Irish Sea causing damage to the wings. Unable to fly, it was then towed into port by a local fishing boat and lifeboat. Once in port it was loaded onto a truck and driven to its final destination at Dublin. At Baldonnel Aerodrome it was repaired and put back into service.
No 18 continued to serve with the Irish Air Corps until 1945, then it was sold into civilian use. In 1946 she was put up for sale again, and brought by the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as a runabout, where they used her to fly to the coast with bathing parties. Finally she was retired and left on a dump until she was eventually rescued in 1963. She then ended up at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.
1942 also saw the last successful air attack by a Walrus. On the 11th of July an Italian submarine was attacked near Cyprus and sunk. From then on the Walrus continued to serve as air sea rescue and patrol aircraft. On 10th of August 1945, a Walrus was sent to rescue a downed New Zealand pilot near Japan. The Walrus searched for hours until it finally saw the pilots life raft. However the long search caused the Walrus to run out of fuel and it had to set down some distance away. What the Walrus crew didn't know was that the New Zealand pilot had already been rescued by a US Submarine. When the submarine saw the shape of the Walrus chugging through the skies they hadn't believed anything that looked like that could be friendly and crashed dived to avoid the supposedly Japanese air craft.
Earlier in the year Pilot Officer Ada had carried out a much more daring rescue. During the battle of Okinawa Sub Lieutenant John Gass was a navigator in an Avenger bomber over Miyako island. His plane was hit by a heavy AA Shell, which struck right under his seat and caused the Avenger to burst into flames.
|Avenger from HMS Victorious|
Then Pilot Officer Ada and Sub Lieutenant Marshall appeared in their Walrus. Chugging along at its heady speed of about 130mph they landed about half a mile from the drifting and exhausted Sub-Lt Gass. Pilot Officer Ada then began to slowly taxi through the deadly reefs that littered the area. The Japanese on the shore then began to fire their heavy AA guns at the ponderously moving Walrus. Sub-Lt Marshall was manning one of the Vickers K guns, and started to bombard the shore line. The Walrus eventually made it to the downed flier who was promptly hauled aboard, While Pilot Officer Ada taxied out through the reef Sub-Lt Gass was given first aid and brandy.
"No we threw coral at them."
The message received by Pilot Officer Ada from Rear Admiral Denny, who was the captain of HMS Venerable, the carrier Sub-Lt Gass’ Avenger was based upon read slightly different. It said:
"We are most grateful for such a fine rescue”