Veteran Stories:
Alexander Allan “Sandy” Scott

Air Force

  • A Catalina Flying boat - pictured here in Ceylon, India - like the one Alexander Scott worked on in Durban, South Africa. Photo Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

    Veterans Affairs Canada
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"We were always very lucky to return to base without having sighted some enemy shipping vessels."


My full name is Alexander Allen Scott. And I am 91 years of age. During our war service, I was with a Royal Air Force squadron and it was 259 Squadron in East Africa. And we flew Catalina flying boats. Well, Catalina was a long distance plane. It was not, it was not designed for aerial warfare. But it was very essential for its long distance travel. And that’s why it was employed. It was a fairly slow moving aircraft but it was ideal for reconnaissance and the time it could afford to spend in air. Well, while we were basically doing anti-submarine and anti-enemy vehicles, we were doing patrol and search for these enemy vessels and the range that our aircraft passes was considerable. Our normal flight would be around 12 to 14 hours and sometimes it extended up to 17 hours. We were always very lucky to return to base without having sighted some enemy shipping vessels. And one day, we were doing our regular patrol, we had a blip on our radar and so we decided to home onto this blip and see what we could find. And after about a half an hour later, we came across a mother service ship, an enemy mother service ship, which was used for servicing submarines in the area. And it was a very important find for us and it meant a great deal to the whole area of our time in the Indian Ocean. I remember one time, we went to a place and I saw a group of native Africans and the whole family, about 20 or 30 people, were crowded around the leader. And I got talking to them. And some of them spoke English. And they were one side of the river and I was on the other side of the river. I was on leave at that time. And I put my hat down and went over across the river, or I didn’t cross over, I just went partway over the little rickety bridge and said, I want you to try and hit my hat with your spear. And after I told them what, I put my hat down and I says, (laughs)… And I looked at the spears that made the motion, I put my hat on the other side of the river and I said, hit this. (laughs) And it was quite a ways across, might have been about 80 feet. I put it down. And that was the hat landed about there, the spear. So when I saw that, I thought, I’m going to lose my hat. (laughs) I thought, the spear, he threw the spear, (makes noise), like that, and it landed about a foot and a half from the hat. That was just a happenstance and I gave him a quarter for it. And they were quite happy. (laughs) A schilling it would be, yeah. I had schillings in those days.
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