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Seven Days at Sea

On the afternoon 6th June 1943, RAF 276 Squadron pilots Victor Dorman and Bary Hill scrambled for an Air Sea Rescue (ASR) mission south of the Channel Islands. Their ASR mission was to locate a 412 sqn downed RAF pilot Dick Thatcher.

Flying MkII Spitfires and south to Jersey, they spotted RAF Flight Officer Thatcher ensconced in a dinghy. Barry Hill assigned Victor Dorman to circle the dinghy whilst he climbed a couple of thousand feet to transmit for a seaplane rescue. Minutes later, Victor Dorman saw what he thought to be six Spitfires closing in on him from the North. However, this was not the RAF and was six FW190s. The FW's from 3 Staffel Jagdgeschwader 2, based near Cherbourg, were on a coastal patrol. The lead pilot was Oberleutnant Friedrich May, a German flying ace with 27 previous victories.

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Dropping to just above sea height Victor Dorman tried to make a fast escape. The FWs, took no time in engaging the spitfire, and the gunfire soon set fire to his aircraft. As the flames started to lick back at him, he cut the throttle, downed flaps and splashed the Spit into the sea. The plane sank like a stone.​

He was about twenty feet under the water when he managed to clear the cockpit and struggle to the surface, where he released his parachute and dinghy, just remembering the latter before it floated out of his reach. He had somehow lost his helmet and boots but was relieved that his Mae West inflated normally. Then he managed to inflate the dinghy and get into it. It was now about 7pm.​

Meanwhile, an RAF Walrus 2271 had landed and picked up RAF pilot Dick Thatcher. On the return journey, 'Bogey' warnings were sent to escorting Spitfires. 20 FW190's were plotted in the vicinity, but the escorts and the Walrus returned to base unmolested.

Victor Dorman had luckily salvaged a survival pack from his aircraft, which without he could never have survived. On Sunday, 13th June 1943, after seven days of floating at sea, Victor Dorman was just north of Jersey at the Paternostas rocks. Victor Dorman and a puffin he had christened 'Charlie', were spotted by two ME109s. They swooped low over him and gave him a wave. 

An hour later, a Dornier Do 18 seaplane attempting to rescue him crashes into the sea.

Victor Dorman and the German flight crew of the dornier do 18 now had to wait patiently for the arrival of a rescue boat, and thankfully the Germans could give him a drink of water, which he badly needed. Finally, they were all rescued and brought into Strongpoint Greve De Leq on the North coast of Jersey.

Victor Dorman was first imprisoned at the Prince of Wales Hotel, which was part of the Strongpoint at Greve De Leq (below). 

He was then taken to the Merton Hotel, a German military hospital, and remained on the island until he was judged by the Germans well enough to travel

He was then transferred to Stalag Luft 4B and remained a POW until liberation by the Russians on 23rd April 1945

Two days after his rescue, after repair, the crew of the Dornier Do 18 took off only to turn the thing over and end up in hospital with broken arms and legs.

This is one of those stories that gets missed, to survive seven days in a raft is unbelievable. We don't have a Photo of Victor and this story was put together with the use of multiple war diaries, and his own accounts provided to reports in the 60's. Any more information or photos very welcome. 

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