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Title:SALVAGING A SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT ON THE BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER [Allocated Title]
Film Number:ABY 146
Other titles:ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: RAF and Royal Navy salvage personnel attempt to recover a sunken Short Sunderland flying boat from the River Brahmaputra at Dibrugarh, Assam, India.
Description: Two men swimming in the river are thrown a line. Men position a large air compressor on a floating stage. A naval officer holds onto the tip of a propeller protruding above the water. The officer is helped out of the water and onto the floating stage. A landing barge passes. A diver wearing breathing apparatus submerges. He swims out to the propeller along a life line. The air compressor is unloaded from a lorry onto the floating platform. Men ready the compressor for use. Local men punt a narrow boat upriver against a strong current. RAF personnel leave a flooded tent and get into a jeep. They drive across a set of railway lines before arriving at the site of the sunken aircraft.
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 399 ft; Running time: 5 minutes
Notes: Dopesheet provides interesting details of the technical aspects of this recovery. A plan to use inflatable rubber airbags to refloat the aircraft proved impossible given the current. A second plan to divert the current using a temporary wooden structure was in turn rejected due to the hazard it would present to shipping. Apparently the final decision was to leave the recovery of the aircraft until the abatement of the monsoon, anticipating a fall in the level of the river.
Dopesheet gives location as Dibrugarh, this aircraft therefore probably JM659 'Q', part of a two-aircraft detachment of RAF 230 Squadron. JM659 sank in bad weather on 4 July 1944, having previously been crashed into by a DUKW amphibious truck. This film probably dates from late summer 1944.
The activities of this Sunderland detachment can be seen in the IWM films referenced below.
Dopesheet is dated 28/9/1945. By this date, however, RAF 230 Squadron had redeployed to Akyab Island, Burma, with detachments at Red Hills Lake near Madras and Koggala, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
ABY 12 ('SUNDERLAND STORY' - TRANSPORT AND EVACUATION OF BRITISH CASUALTIES BY SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT AT DIBRUGARH, ASSAM, INDIA [Allocated Title])
MWY 25 (OPERATION RIVER: AIR EVACUATION OF CHINDITS BY SUNDERLAND FLYING BOATS OF 230 SQUADRON RAF [Allocated Title])
JFU 362 ('T FOR TOMMY' CRASHES: 230 SQUADRON SUNDERLAND AT KUANTAN [Allocated Title])
JFU 363 (KUANTAN, MALAYA: DELIVERY OF RICE BY SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT [Allocated Title])
ABY 9 (AMPHIBIOUS EVACUATION OF CASUALTIES BY SUNDERLAND AIRCRAFT, DIBRUGARH, INDIA [Allocated Title])
2565 (Burma: Air Evacuation of Casualties)