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Lancaster FM159 Chronicles
Lancaster FM159

How We Almost Lost Lanc FM159

by Norm Sharratt

The photo was taken at Yellowknife on our staging from Comox to Resolute Bay.

I was first Radio Operator on Lanc 159 of 407(MR) Squadron RCAF Station Comox on July 18th, 1955 flying out of Resolute Bay on Ice Reconnaissance for the re-supply of the Arctic DEW Line Sites. Harry Addison was Captain; Ross McKendry was First Officer. I can't remember the names of the rest of the crew.

We were doing what was called the west leg from Resolute about a seven hour patrol. On our return to Resolute, we received word that they were experiencing a "White Out" and visibility was below limits. We were advised to fly to our alternate, which was Thule, Greenland.

Halfway to Thule, we were advised that Thule was also socked in. When we asked for another alternate, we were advised that although they had not heard from Alert for three days, the weather map looked OK. So we proceeded to Alert which is right on the northernmost point of Ellesmere Island.

The flight north was uneventful. The scenery was spectacular with rugged fjords and the most beautiful contrast between the ice floes and the vivid blue water. We were not too interested in the scenery though and despite numerous attempts, were unable to raise Alert to inquire about the weather. Our flight engineer was frantically doing all sorts of engine configurations to increase our flying time as we were getting critically low on fuel.

Harry was finally able to raise Alert of the VHF and we were told the weather was fine. They turned on the homing beacon and we landed safely.

We landed after a flying time of 12 hours 25 minutes with 30 minutes of fuel remaining. Isachsen was the only other airstrip available and that was 45 minutes away. Needless to say we were all relieved to be on the ground and return an aircraft back to the Squadron.

Bomber Command Museum of Canada