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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J Quinn


James Quinn was born on 14th June 1919 in Belfast. He was educated at St. Malachys College there and St. Patricks College in Armagh.

Quinn joined the RAF in September 1939 as a direct-entry Airman u/t Pilot.

On 9th October 1940 he was solo in Oxford P8828 from Cranwell practising night circuits. He became lost and had to force-land about six miles west of Ripon. The aircraft was badly damaged. Quinn must have escaped injury as he is recorded as joining 236 Squadron the next day.

Commissioned in December 1941, he was awarded the DFC (gazetted 1st September 1942).

He was then posted to 204 Squadron, operating Sunderlands based at the port of Bathurst (now Banjul) in Gambia, West Africa, tasked with protecting passing convoys from U-boats.

On 17th August 1942 Sunderland I L2158 was shadowing convoy SL119, which had left Freetown on 14th August bound for Liverpool.

For reasons currently unknown it made a forced landing on the sea and broke up.

F/Sgt E C G Jackman, Sgt W A Davis, Sgt W D Maconnell RCAF and Sgt E H Connell RCAF were killed.

The survivors spent 105 hours in a liferaft before coming ashore in 'neutral territory' where they were assisted by local natives before being rescued two days later.

The survivors were:

P/O J Quinn
P/O H Horner (awarded the DFC for his conduct while at sea)
Sgt J James
Sgt K O'Meara
Sgt D Stevens

Later Quinn served with 222 Squadron and was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 25th August 1944). The citation read:

This officer piloted an aircraft which successfully attacked a U-boat. In spite, of heavy opposing fire, F/Lt. Quinn pressed home his attack. After the explosion of the depth charges the submarine was seen to be out of control whilst the fore-casing was completely under water. F/Lt. Quinn displayed a high standard of skill and courage throughout the fight.

Quinn retired from the RAF on 20th October 1969 as a Group Captain.

He died on 26th December 2001 in Ely, Cambridgeshire.



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