Spitfire IX , BS407 (AH-Y)
Rodeo 167. 11 aircraft of this Squadron too off from North Weald led by Capt. Thorsager F., at 1120 hours. As the visibility at North Weald was less than 500 yards, 331 Squadron and this Squadron became separated. An endeavour to reform over Bradwell was made but without success. Major K.Birksted D.F.C., who was leading the Wing, developed R/T trouble being able to contact controller on button "B" only. The Wing was ordered to return to base. This Squadron had reached the Flushing area and were at 25,000 feet when this order was received. The Squadron swept round the back of Flushing and set course for base. Some 20 miles West of Noorderhofd, Yellow 2, Sgt. Watne R. reported engine trouble. He was able to continue to within 15 miles of Manston descending gradually to 6,000 feet. He then baled out and landed in the sea. As Sgt. Watne had trouble in releasing his parachute, he was dragged for 25 yards under the water before finally releasing his parachute. He was seen to make a few breast strokes but suddenly all movements ceased and his head fell backwards and remained under water. The main part of the Squadron had been orbitting the spot whilst some pilots flew to the English coast to direct the H.S.L. When picked up by the H.S.L. Sgt. Watne was dead. The remainder of the Squadron landed at base at 1330 hours, having previously landed at Manston to refuel. There is nothing further to report from this operation. Weather:- England and Channel - visibility very poor below 4,000 feet. Over Holland - 7/10ths cloud at 5-10,000 feet with thin layers of cloud up to 20,000 feet.