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The RAF Far East Cruise

of

The Far East Flight

Five new metal-hulled Supermarine Southampton II flying boats were assigned to the Flight. Aircraft S1149, S1150, S1151 and S1152 were delivered to Felixstowe in September 1927, and these four competed the Felixstowe-Singapore-Australia-Singapore legs of the cruise. The fifth aircraft, S1127, was shipped as a spare to Singapore. This aircraft replaced S1149 for the final Singapore-Hong Kong leg on Air Ministry instructions.

The Aircraft were Prepared with a Number of Modifications from standard the specification. Hulls and wingtipFloats were finished with white enamel.  The engine radiators were larger & extra oil and fuel tanks were fitted. Metal airscrews replaced the nornal wooden ones.

Internal changes were made to provide more space & support facilities for the crew, who had to live on board sometimes during the trip.  Specially Designed Collapsible Rubber Dinghies were carried.

There were no automatic pilots or Blind flying aids and only two of the aircraft had radio sets. Airborne communication between aircraft was by lamp or hand signals.

 

Group of officers making the flight.

In front of them is a model of the Supermarine "Southampton" twin-Napier-engined flying-boat used.

From left to right: Flight.-Lieut. C. G. Wigglesworth, A.F.C., Flight-Lieut. D. V. Carnegie, A.F.C., Squad.-Leader G. E. Livock, D.F.C. (Second-in-Command), F./O. B. Cheesman, M.B.E., Group Capt. H. M. Cave-Browne-Cave, D.S.C., D.F.C. (in Command of the Flight), Flight-Lieut. H. G. Sawyer, A.F.C., Flight-Lieut. P. E. Maitland, A.F.C., F./O. S. D. Scott, F./O. G. E. Nicholetts, F./O. L. Horwood, M.C., Flight.-Lieut. S. T. Freeman, M.B.E.

Crews

S1149

Squad.-Leader G. E. Livock, D.F.C (Flight Leader)

Flight-Lieut. P. E. Maitland, A.F.C ( Lead Navigator)

Sergeant Cushing (Fitter)

Lac Williams (Wireless Operator)


S1150

Flight-Lieut. D. V. Carnegie, A.F.C.

F./O. G. E. Nicholetts

Sergeant McMeeking (Fitter)

Corporal Myers (Fitter)


S1151

Flight.-Lieut. C. G. Wigglesworth, A.F.C.

F./O. S. D. Scott

Sergeant Hart (Rigger)

Sgt Semple (Fitter)


S1151

Group Capt. H. M. Cave-Browne-Cave, D.S.C., D.F.C. (in Command of the Flight)

H. G. Sawyer, A.F.C.

Corporal Coyne (Fitter)

Leading Aircraftsman Nelson (Wireless Operator)


Base Party

The Base party was sent on to Seletar to set up Facilities for servicing the aircraft

Flight.-Lieutenant. S. T. Freeman, M.B.E. (Engineering Officer)

F./O. L. Horwood, M.C. (Stores & Pay)

F./O. B. Cheesman, M.B.E. ( Maintenance and Handling)

Flight Sergeants

T. Parry AFM & W. P. Spinks

Sergeants

A. E. Nicol & J. R. Semple

Corporals

Leading Aircraftsmen

Aircraftmen

G. H. Bucknall,  S. W. Coates, V. W. Lee,  J. I. Netley,  H. Rose, C. Young

Section 1

The flight departed Felixstowe on 14 October 1927 at 0900 to fly to Plymouth, leaving Plymouth three days later at 0900 on 17 October. From Plymouth, the route was south then southeast across France and Italy to Greece, and on to Egypt. From Egypt, northeast to Turkey then southeast across Iraq and east along the northern coast of The Gulf and Arabian Sea to Karachi. At Karachi the aircraft were overhauled, remaining there for three weeks.

Section stopping points and arrival dates:

Plymouth, 14 October 1927

Houtin (Bordeaux), 17 October

Berre (Marseille), 19 October

Naples, 21 October

Brindisi, 25 October

Athens, 28 October

Aboukir, 29 October

Alexandretta, 3 November

Ramadi, 5 November

Hinaidi, 6 November

At anchor on the River Euphrates at Hinaidi 

Basra, 10 November

Bushire, 14 November

Henjam, 14 November

Gwadar, 16 November

Karachi, 18 November

View the Full Flight

 

Section 2

The second leg began on 18 December with departure of the Flight from Karachi at 0730. From there, the route was round the coast of India (now Pakistan and India) to Calcutta via Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) then southeast down the Burmese coast and Malay Peninsular to Singapore. Once again the aircraft were overhauled and prepared for the third leg of the trip, staying in Singapore a month.

Section stopping points and arrival dates:

Bombay (now Mumbai), 26 December

Mangalore, 27 December

Cochin, 29 December

Colombo, 31 December

Trincomali, 12 January 1928

Pulicat, 19 January

Coconada, 20 January

Chilka Lake, 23 January

Calcutta, 27 January

Akyab, 3 February

Rangoon, 6 February

Mergui, 13 February

Penang, 16 February

Port Swettenham, 23 February

Singapore, 28 February

 

View the Full Flight

 

Section 3

Take-off from Singapore was at 0555 on 21 May. The route followed was east along the north coast of Sumatra and the Javanese archipelago to Koepang (now Kupang, Indonesia) then south to Broome and a circumnavigation of Australia back to Koepang and returning to Singapore along the outward route. Back at Singapore the aircraft were serviced and readied for the final section.

Section stopping points and arrival dates:

Klabat Bay, 21 May

Batavia, 23 May

Sourabaya, 25 May

Bima, 28 May

Koepang (now Kupang), 30 MayBroome, 1 June

Port Headland, 3 June

Carnarvon, 6 June

Perth, 7 June

Albany, 13 June

Israelite Bay, 19 June

Murat Bay, 20 June

Adelaide, 22 June

Melbourne, 29 June

Paynesville, 30 July

Sydney, 1 August

Brisbane, 11 August

Gladstone, 18 August

Bowen, 19 August

Cooktown, 24 August

Thursday Island, 28 August

Melville Bay, 29 August

Port Darwin, 30 August

Koepang (now Kupang), 1 September

Bima, 3 September

Sourabaya, 4 September

Batavia, 9 September

Klabat Bay, 14 September

Singapore, 15 September


Section 4

Starting on 1 November, this took the Flight along the north coast of Borneo to Manila, across the South China Sea to Hong Kong, returning to Singapore along the Vietnamese coast. Aircraft S1127 replaced S1149 for this section.

Stopping points on this section:

Kuching

Labuan

Princessa

Manila

Salomague

Hong-Kong

Tourane

C. St. Jacques

Siagon

Tachin

Bangkok

Victoria Point

Penang

Singapore

Flight completion

Arrival back at Singapore on 11 December 1928 marked the end of the cruise. On 8 January 1929 the Flight was re-designated as No. 205 Squadron based at Seletar in Singapore, with Group Captain Cave-Browne-Cave commanding the Squadron until 1930. The aircraft remained and were used until the Squadron re-equipped with Short Singapore in April 1935.