MISSION REPORT - RESCUES - 02
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08 JUNE 1945
Second Lieutenant Earl Hutchings, pilot of "Playmate Four Six", while searching for a P-38 pilot in the vicinity of Sangie Island received a message from a Spitfire pilot stating that he had sighted two dinghies off the northern shore of the island. Lieutenant Hutchings proceeded to the area and soon sighted the two survivors at 0347'N 12537'E, surrounded by native canoes. As he circled the rafts, the natives paddled ashore and disappeared into the jungle. Rescue was effected at 1430 and the two pilots Lieutenant D.L. Finch and Lieutenant J.W. Woliung, both assigned to the 41st Fighter Squadron, stationed at Clark Field, were returned to Zamboanga and transferred to the Station Hospital for treatment of severe sunburn and lacerations of their feet.

The survivors stated that while ferrying a P-38 from Biak to Clark Field, they encountered a tropical front and became lost. They climbed above the clouds and finally located the familiar island of Sangie, but unfortunately, they had insufficient fuel to reach their destination and decided to ditch in the shallow water of the northern coast of the island. Both pilots successfully ditched their planes side by side at 2130 on 7 June 1945 and escaped unhurt. They removed all their survival equipment from the planes, waded ashore, and proceeded to a village a few hundred yards distant. Their reception was cool and restrained and fearing that the presence of Japs may have intimidated the local inhabitants, they withdrew from the village and selected an abandoned hut on the beach as a temporary shelter for the night. They inflated their rafts and secured them at the water's edge in readiness for a hurried flight, should it become necessary. In order to prevent the natives from carrying off their emergency supplies, they removed them from the rafts and stored them in the shack. About midnight Lieutenant Woliung heard footsteps approaching and yelled for them to halt. A flash of lightning at this moment disclosed their shack to be partially surrounded by Japs. The two pilots crawled through the opposite side of the hut and raced through the darkness to the beach where they secured their rafts and departed the scene. Shortly after they left, the Japs opened fire on the hut. The pilots hurriedly launched their dinghies and paddled away from the sound. By some miracle they escaped unhurt and continued paddling through the night. At daylight they were about two miles off shore, but were surrounded by natives who attempted to pursuade them to return to the village. The pilots declined and continued paddling. However, about noon, they observed several boat loads of Jap soldiers putting out from the shore. Their hopes of escape were fast dwindling when suddenly two spitfires suddenly appeared. The Spitfire pilots, observing the situation, proceeded to strafe the canoes, driving all of them ashore. They remained in the vicinity as long as their fuel supply would permit, finally departing about 1330. In the meantime, Playmate 46 had been notified of the position of the two survivors and being only about 30 minutes away, hurried to the position given. They arrived just in time as the Japs had again put out from shore and were rapidly approaching the life rafts. The arrival of the rescue plane dispersed the Japs who scurried to shore as Lieutenant Hutchings landed near the survivors and took them aboard. Had the two survivors not lost their equipment in their hurried escape from the Japs, they could have attracted the attention of several ships which passed over them during the morning. Their escape from the Japs was miraculous and a credit to the alertness of the two Spitfire pilots and the speedy arrival of Lieutenant Hutchings, pilot of the rescue plane.

RESCUED P-38 PILOTS: 41st Fighter Squadron - Lieutenants D.L. Finch, J.W. Woliung

AIRCRAFT: OA-10A*   
USAAF SERNO: 44-33933  (CV-438)**  
 
CALLSIGN
"Playmate 46"   

CREW
:
(Pilot) 2nd Lt. Earl Hutchings


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The narrative of these rescues was compiled and published in April 1946 from logbooks of pilots, notes, letters, and other
information by secretary Marina G. de Guzman in Pampanga, Philippines.

  * Aircraft produced at Canadian Vickers Ldt, Cartierville, Quebec, Canada
** Canadian Vickers contract number that was unique to each aircraft produced by at the Cartierville, Quebec plan
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