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RAF Museum rules the waves for Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Published on: 25th May 2012

Sea Plane Tender 441A recently restored rescue craft used during World War II will be returning to the water at Hythe Marina at 11am on Thursday 24th May. ‘ST 441’ will be recovering its sea legs ahead of representing the Royal Air Force Museum at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Finding the Royal Air Force in the water would not usually be cause for celebration, but on this occasion an exception can be made. By virtue of the dedication of owners Marion and Alistair Walker, Air Sea Rescue craft ‘ST 441’ will rule the waves once more at Hythe Marina, the very place where it was built during World War II.

Having purchased ‘ST 441’ eight years ago, the vessel has occupied the tennis court of the Walker’s home in Berkshire ever since. Thanks to a passionate team of helpers, Mr and Mrs Walker have managed to fully restore the vessel to its original specifications and will see the fruits of their labours in the coming weeks.

The craft will be coming home to Hythe Marina, but the fairy-tale does not end there. Sunday 3rd June will see ‘ST 441’ take pride of place in the Thames River Pageant as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Hundreds of thousands of people will flock to the riverbank to see the flotilla which will consist of more than 1000 craft. ‘ST 441’ will play a prominent role, being at the head of the military section. By way of completing the restoration, the vessel will travel under an original RAF ensign, provided by the Royal Air Force Museum London.

Marion Walker said of the pageant, ‘We are delighted to be part of this event. We are extremely proud that ‘ST 441’ will be representing the RAF Museum in honour of the Queen.’

‘ST441’ was part of a group known as Air Sea Rescue Seaplane Tenders, used to rescue stricken airmen from the seas during the Second World War. Their speed and manoeuvrability allowed them to navigate harbours and coastal areas with ease. Whilst stationed at Sheerness, Kent, ‘ST 441’ played an active role in the D-Day landings and in May 1944 rescued the entire crew of a stricken B-17 bomber from the grip of the British Channel.

Following the Pageant, ‘ST 441’ will return to the south coast before heading to Pembrokeshire, where it was stationed towards the end of the war.

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