Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Comm. Johnny Rawlin MBE

Discussion in 'Roll of Honor & Memories - All Other Conflicts' started by GRW, Mar 13, 2016.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "Commander Johnny Rawlins, who has died aged 83, was the Navy’s youngest jet pilot and one of its most experienced aviators in fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
    On the night of Friday May 13 1965 Rawlins rescued two wounded Royal Marines from the Radfan Mountains. He was embarked in the commando carrier Albion, flying the Wessex V helicopters of 848 Naval Air Squadron, when en route to the Far East Albion was diverted to Aden, where the British protectorate was under threat from Soviet-armed rebel tribesmen. Rawlins became detachment commander of a flight of four helicopters, deployed ashore to assist the marines operating in the hinterland, where a company of 45 Commando was under siege in a mountain pass at Ad Dimnah.
    All other helicopters were grounded that night, but Rawlins and his co-pilot Peter Metcalfe volunteered to fly through the hot, thin, dusty mountain air and – in the dark and despite risk of further enemy fire – they hovered with one wheel on the mountain slope to pick up two seriously wounded marines.
    The first Rawlins’s wife heard of this derring-do was when she received a letter from Major-General “Chips” FN Grant, whose son was one of the casualties. He wrote: “We have come to rely so much on the Fleet Air Arm. They always get there whatever the conditions, and this brings it pretty close to home. Please give my grateful thanks to your husband.” The son survived, after medical evacuation to Britain, but his marine companion died.
    Rawlins was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
    A month later, he was disembarked again, this time in Borneo to support Commonwealth forces resisting Konfrontasi, the assault by Sukarno’s Indonesia on Malaysia. Much of the jungle over which he flew belonged to the Iban people, who had seen their first white man only a generation or two before. They had been headhunters but they proved very hospitable to the visiting British military, not least when they found that they could cadge helicopter rides between parts of their territory which otherwise took many days to reach on foot.
    Flying from sites along the border of Sabah and Sarawak, and a helicopter base on Labuan Island, Rawlins’s helicopters ferried troops, guns and supplies between observation posts, which were switched rapidly to thwart Indonesian attempts to cross the border.
    After 15 months’ deployment, and the overthrow of the Sukarno regime in Indonesia, Konfrontasi was defeated. Rawlins was appointed MBE for his distinguished services in support of operations in East and West Malaysia.
    The son of a bricklayer, John Trevor Rawlins was born in Salisbury on June 12 1932 and won a scholarship to Bishop Wordsworth’s grammar school. As a teenager he saw damaged Flying Fortress bombers returning from raids over Germany, and the skies filled with gliders on their way to the Allied landings in Normandy. Aged 17 he started work as a scientific assistant at Boscombe Down and when the Navy opened a scheme for short service commissions in the Fleet Air Arm, Rawlins volunteered, and joined No 24 Pilot’s Course. He flew solo after eight hours in Percival Prentices and was awarded his wings on May 1952. Of the 13 pilots on his course, six failed, four were killed in flying accidents, and two more were killed in action over Korea, leaving Rawlins the only survivor."

Share This Page