Pre-Pathfinder War Service: Air Sea Rescue, Allan Templeton

Some Pathfinders had very unusual – and dramatic – pre-Pathfinder war service. Allan Templeton was one of these.

Allan came from Newfoundland, at that time a Dominion (Newfoundland would join Canada in 1949). His wartime service with the RAF was highly varied, including a stint in Air Sea Rescue, during which he and Pilot Officer Trevallian, his crewmate in a Walrus flying boat, rescued this exceedingly fortunate crew from 115 Squadron.

The rescued crew – together with Pilot Officer Trevallian, 3rd from left, and Allan Templeton, 3rd from right detail from photograph pasted in Allan’s logbook.

The following information is from Allan Templeton’ son:

Dad was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1920. When WWII came along, he volunteered for the Services. At first, the Royal Navy was going to take him, but the RAF took him when it was noticed that he had a particular type of colour blindness that allowed him to see camouflage better. In 1940, he trained in Canada — in Alberta and Manitoba. In 1941, he was posted to 278 Squadron, Air Sea Rescue (he was an excellent swimmer).

On June 23, 1942, he and P/O Trevallian, in a Walrus L2238, rescued a crew of five. The next day, he was court martialled for this, because he had taken on board the plane more people than it was meant to hold. The men he had rescued were all in court. They were asked to stand. “Which of these men should have been left behind?” the court was asked. Case dismissed.

Bob Templeton, 11 September 2020

Chorley gives the following details of this crew, who were exceptionally lucky men; most crews who ended up in the sea drowned or died from exposure – sixty miles off the British coast was an almost insurmountable distance for swimming or paddling a dinghy to land:

115 Squadron, Wellington X3555, KO-W, ditched in sea while returning from operation to Emden, "alighting in the sea roughly 60 miles NE of Cromer, Norfolk. All were picked up by an air sea rescue launch."        

The crew: F/O M L Freegard, Sgt A K Meacock, Sgt W G Rogers, Sgt C J Rowe, Sgt J Munro (Note the slight difference in the pilot's rank and surname to the details given in Allan's logbook)

W R Chorley: "RAF Bomber Command Losses", 1942 volume.

For further details of Allan’s dramatic pre-Pathfinder war service, see: Allan Templeton, Mentioned in Despatches

On 20 June 1944, Allan was posted to 28 OTU. From this time onward, he was on the heavy bombers as a wireless operator, starting with Wellingtons and then later moving to Lancasters. His pilot for all subsequent flights, except in June 1945, was Flying Officer Scholey. They flew with 156 Squadron of the Pathfinders in the closing months of the war.

It is not known who is in this wonderful photograph of the Three MustGetBeers, pasted into his Flying Log Book. Allan is on the far right.

Photographs courtesy of Bob Templeton.