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Rhodesian Spitfire Pilot - charmed life.

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Reggie
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Rhodesian Spitfire Pilot - charmed life.

Post by Reggie » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:53 am

S! Chaps, got this newspaper cutting today via e-mail. This chap was from Bulawayo, same city as Paula and I are from. What a charmed life - the guy must be a cat.

Military Medal
For Old Allan Wilson School Boy
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I
L.P. Pearson. M.M. Old Wilsonian)
Photo by Grafton Studio, Salisbury


Flight Sergeant L. P. Pearson was born at Makwiro in 1924. He completed his school career at the Allan Wilson School in 1942. and joined the R.A.F. He was posted to the Middle East in the following year, and flew with a Spitfire Squadron in Italy. Corsica and Southern France.
He was awarded the Military Medal for Distinguished Service in 1941. At present he is farming at Karoi.

" The Rhodesia Herald" wrote as follows of his experience as a pilot:-

BLOWN OUT OF AMBULANCE AND BLOWN UP BY MINE
Remarkable Experience of Rhodesian Fighter Pilot

Blown out of an ambulance by a hand grenade and then blown up by a mine which caused the Jeep in which he was travelling to somersault across the road - that was the remarkable experience of a Rhodesian Spitfire pilot recently.
He was Sergeant Pilot Paul Pearson of Bulawayo and he belonged to the Rhodesian squadron which operated from the beginning of the war throughout most theatres, from Kenya to Italy. Formerly led by Wing/Commander Eric Smith D.F.C., the squadron, which was flying Spitfires is now under the command of Squadron/Leader John Walmsley. Its work has entailed sweeps, bomber escorts and strafing, and the pilots have had considerable success in the destruction and damaging of enemy transport and trains on the Italian mainland.
It was while engaged on a strafing mission that an experience befell one young Rhodesian which speaks for itself. Sergeant Pilot Paul Pearson, of Bulawayo, who is commonly known as "Junior," joined the squadron earlier this year in Africa and was with it in the attack on Elba.

CRASH LANDING
Not long ago the whole squadron was out doing strafing when Pearson's aircraft was hit by light flak, and he himself received a light flesh wound in the thigh. The damage to the plane caused the engine to overheat, and he had to make a quick crash landing. The machine was on fire when he landed. The crash made him bump his head on the reflector sight and the blow dazed him so that he did not remember getting out of the aircraft. The next thing he does remember was that he was standing alongside the aircraft and he saw about 30 Jerries with automatics running towards him shouting, but though he put his hands up the Germans opened fire.

Pearson made a duck for it and putting the machine between him and his attackers, ran towards a wood. A bullet hit him in the thigh, and he fell down, but he got up and gained the shelter of the wood. He ran on for a mile with the Germans on his heels, till he saw some thick bushes in which he was about to hide when he saw a party of Germans approaching from the opposite direction.

He dived for the nearest tree foliage, which grew nearest the ground, and with his back to its trunk, pulled the branches round him. His pursuers sprayed the bushes with their machine-guns as it was a likely hiding place, and came within a few yards of the tree against which Pearson was leaning.

GUARD LEFT
The party as a whole appeared to give up the hunt, but left one of their number to keep an eye on the spot while the remainder went back on the job which the crashing of the aircraft had apparently interrupted. From his hiding place Pearson could see the Germans clambering over his aircraft andthen saw F/O. Brian Wilson, of Elgin, Cape, who had been his No. 1 in the strafing that afternoon, zoom down and shoot up the stranded plane and the Germans clustering on it.

The Germans were getting really rattled when another Spitfire came like a bolt from the blue, and strafed the truck in which they had arrived on the scene. In the meantime, the
sentry came and sat in the shade on the opposite side of the tree behind which Pearson stood. The German relaxed after the heat of the chase, and leant his rifle against the tree.

He was half dozing when Pearson with a stone in his hand crept round the tree and bashed in his skull. Pearson ran on five miles to the South, heading to the Allied lines. Some
peasants saw him trying to hide; seeing that he was wounded they carried him to a nearby house and bandaged him with German dressings.

BLOWN OUT OF AMBULANCE
At dusk some Italians made a litter and carried him some miles to thick scrub, where they hid him not 200 yards from a German heavy artillery post where he could see men walking round a gun-pit. There he remained for five days fed nightly by the Italians who had befriended him. On the night of the fifth day, the German position was over-run by the advancing Allies and Pearson sent a message requesting an Allied ambulance to be sent.


While in the ambulance on the way to a field hospital the Italian partisans were attacked by Fascists, who threw a hand grenade into the ambulance and literally blew him out of the door, but except for the shaking he was not injured. He lay in a ditch until a Jeep came along carrying four American soldiers who had been celebrating the taking of a town. In his ragged state the soldiers were convinced he was a spy.

He convinced them that he was a British pilot who had been shot down. They took him aboard the Jeep and drove on at 60 m.p.h. The speed saved them for they went over a mine, which blew up but did not catch the Jeep with the full force of the blast, but the effect made it somersault on to the side of the road; again Pearson with his companions escaped injury.

When Pearson was taken to an M.O. the latter sent him to hospital. After a day there, taking French leave he hitch-hiked to Rome, where he was again sent to hospital. He
deserted again and found an aerodrome where he could get a lift back to his squadron.
While sitting in the waiting aircraft up dashed F/O. Peter Sutton from Umtali, a member of the same squadron who had also hitch-hiked to Rome.

—By courtesy of "The Rhodesia Herald."


ROLL OF HONOUR FOR ALLAN WILSON
Jameson, A.P. (R.A.F.; Europe, October, 1942)
Kotze, R. (Sixth S. African Armoured Division; Italy, July 1944)
Watson, W. (Killed in Action: Italy, 16 April, 1945)
"They Were Men of Men"
May they be Resting in Peace
Extracted by Eddy Norris from the booklet The Shangani Story by A. J. Smit which was made available by Darryl Burlin.
The booklet was published by Allan Wilson Technical High School, Cnr., Rhodes Avenue and Prince Edward Street, Salisbury. !952.
Printed by A. W. Bardwell & Co. .Ltd., Baker Avenue, Salisbury.
ORAFs records its thanks to Darryl Burlin, Allan Wilson Technical School and the Publisher and also to Grafton Studios.
Distributed to ORAFs and Friends
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Post by Bunny » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:46 pm

9 lives indeed! :D

Thanks Reggie
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