AIR-SEA RESCUE 1939-1945



AIR-SEA RESCUE : Air crew rescued by picket ships, rescue ships and crash boats, sea rescue flights, aircraft rescue flights, ASR flights (Air Sea Rescue) and submarines.  Limited information also provided if rescued by ground forces or resistance units.

During the war ditched Fleet Air Arm airmen were rescued by land, sea and air. The majority were inevitably rescued by escort ships to the parent Fleet carriers, however it was the task of specific FAA units to carry out ASR. The prime ASR unit was 700 squadron which acted as a pool and HQ for all catapult aircraft embarked on battleships and Cruisers. 701 squadron operated in the Middle East and there was a Sea Rescue Flight Malta, Hal Far. Nevertheless, even unconventional rescues were carried out towards the end of the war especially in the fight with the Japanese. For example by war's end over 487 Fleet Air Arm aviators had been rescued by 144 Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Australian Navy and allied ships alone, including some aviators by British, Dutch and American submarines (see FAA sea rescue page).

87 submarines of the US Submarine Lifeguard Marine had rescued 520 aviators by the end of World War II, including 247 aircrew in the months of May, June and July 1945 alone. Among those rescued were US Army bomber and fighter crews, US Marine Corps fighter pilots, British carrier pilots and US Navy search-plane and carrier-plane personnel.  A few Japanese pilots (not included in the total) were salvaged for good measure.  Most of the rescues were in the Central Pacific.

The following pages are intended to illustrate the daring and often heroic exploits to rescue the downed Fleet Air Arm airmen of WWII.


AIR RESCUE - List of rescue aircraft and of rescued aircrew

SEA RESCUE - List of rescue ships and of rescued aircrew











144 ships 

including 6 submarines

+202 rescues

+487 airmen rescued


The ship that rescued the most airmen was HMS Duncan with 11 rescued airmen, closely followed by HMS Clover with 9, HMS Scylla with 9, HMS Undine with 9 and HMS Whelp with 9.

Also see list of downed TAGs rescued by ships 1939-1945

LAND RESCUE BY GROUND TROOPS - Summary of rescue forces and of rescued aircrew

Visit the Air-Sea Rescue Museum, Flixton




Submarine Lifeguard League Memorial:

The website Submarine lifeguard league Memorial: The Submarine Lifeguard League Memorial is a project dedicated to the memory of the valiant men and submarines involved in lifeguard operations, and the aviators they rescued. USS SCABBARDFISH (SS 397) to the aid of a 'limey' & a 'kiwi' up the creek without a paddle Keith Quilter, a Royal Navy fighter pilot, recalls the day he flew off the deck of HMS Formidable and had his Corsair shot out of the air at Owase Wan.  Up a creek without a paddle, Scabbardfish to the rescue.0500 on the morning of July 23rd 1945 -- the 1825 Squadron Also USS Toro (SS 422) 24 July 1945,  in the afternoon, rescued three British aviators afloat on a raft.  She maintained her station for carrier strikes against Japan on the 28th. She transferred the rescued British fliers to USS Gabilan (SS-252) on 1 August 1945.

Air-Sea Rescue Museum, Flixton

A Museum dedicated to Air Sea Rescue and Coastal Command was officially opened on April 23rd 2000 at Flixton, UK





       Created: 3-3-2001, Last modified 3-6-2005


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