Miraculous Survival with Parachute January 7, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback
***in his long tradition of blogging incompetence Beach accidentally put up two posts yesterday including, briefly, an incomplete post on folklore and the Nessie legend. That will come in the next month! Apologies!***
A late supplement to the post on those who survived jumps from planes without a parachute. This is the most remarkable instance of survival against the odds with a parachute: other examples, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. Reading it you want to reach out through the years, pat Dudley Davis on the back and say ‘you lucky bugger’.
Flight Lieutenant Dudley Davis was the pilot of one of three Hampden bombers that attacked the German battleship Tirpitz in Wilhelmshaven as it was in its final phase of construction, 20 July 1940. All three planes were destroyed as was not untypical in early British bombing raids against Germany: British bombers became massive iron coffins for some of the most talented men in the RAF in the first year of the war, men who would have proved desperately important in the Battle of Britain. Davis, a pilot, in any case, brought his Hampden down to fifty feet and dropped delayed action mines that settled under the German ship. The ack ack caught the Hampden and Davis just managed to climb above the German ship before losing control of the plane with fire showering through the cabin. In what must have been the most terrifying moment of his life Davis stepped out onto the wing and remembers cranes and buildings hurtling past him – the plane was very low… Then he did the only thing he could do. He pulled the ripcord.
It was a classic pull off. The canopy streamed, filled, and tore him from the wing. He swung down beneath it like a pendulum, and on the beginning of the upswing he hit the ground. He had landed on a stone jetty, off the end of which the blazing Hampden crashed into the water. Davis rose to his feet uninjured apart from minor facial burns and a ruined moustache.
As he was marched away by German soldiers, who were probably as surprised as he was by his survival, there was a shattering blast: the airmine he had planted beneath the Tirpitz had just gone off. Unfortunately no serious damage was done… The British would take until 1945 to finally get the Tirpitz, another ‘lucky bugger’. Various sources claim that Davis was 50 feet above the water when he jumped. However, even if we double this it is remarkable that he came out alive. Even today a hundred feet is seen as suicidally low for a parachutist. Perhaps it is better to think of his as a modified parachuteless jump?