The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. N N Woodland
Norman Naylor Woodland, of Rotherham, was born on 8th January 1912 and
joined the RAFVR on 12th September 1939 as an Airman u/t Observer. He was posted to No. 1 ITW Cambridge.
In January 1940 he went to 6 ANS Staverton as a LAC. He moved to 3 B&GS Aldergrove for No. 6 Air Observer Course which ran from 20th May to 12th July 1940. At the end of the course he was promoted to Sergeant and posted to No. 1 (Coastal) OTU Silloth.
Woodland joined 236 Squadron at St. Eval on 8th August. He generally flew with P/O AFY Lees but on 29th January 1941 he was scheduled to fly with F/O DVC Cotes-Preedy in Blenheim IV V5432 ND-A which suffered an engine failure when taking off from St. Eval for a reconnaisance to Brest.
It struck a tree and then crashed into a hill and caught fire. Woodland was thrown out. Cotes-Preedy forced his way out and found Woodland lying in burning petrol. He dragged him clear, rolled him in the grass to extinguish his burning clothing and then returned to the aircraft to look for Sgt. Shields, the air gunner.
Finding the escape hatch jammed, he ripped aside the side of the fuselage and dragged the gunner out by his head. Although injured and suffering from burns himself, he had saved the life of the gunner and also probably the observer.
Cotes-Preedy was awarded the George Medal (gazetted 5th May 1941).
In July 1941 Woodland was posted to 413 (RCAF) Squadron, at its formation with Catalinas.
He went to 210 Squadron at Sullum Voe, Shetlands in March 1942 and to 190 Squadron, also at Sullum Voe, in March 1943.
On 27th May Woodland made his longest flight, an ice reconnaissance of Spitsbergen, with a flying time of 23.5 hours in a Catalina.
In May 1944 Woodland arrived at 45 Air School Oudtshoorn, South Africa as a navigation instructor.
He returned to the UK and was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Warrant Officer.
Woodland died in March 2000 in Rotherham.