Sunderland pilot seeks information

420265 FLTLT Ron Prentice (461 Squadron Sunderland pilot)  wrote to me recently seeking information about the RCAF Navigation Officer that instructed at the GR (General Reconnaissance) course at Charlottetown, Nova Scotia in 1942.

So it’s over to Ron….   

One item which may interest you was a statement made to us, as students at the GR course in Charlottetown, Nova Scotia in 1942 by the Navigation Officer of the RCAF, Flt. Lieut Cadman (I think that I am correct in that name). He had been the navigator on the Cat sent to shadow the Bismarck after its original sighting by an aircraft patrolling from Iceland. This Catalina flight was made with overloaded tanks and the aircraft had been stripped of all surplus equipment. The flight proved to be a record in endurance and when back at base F/L Cadman was so bunged up in each eye from constant use of recording equipment and binoculars that he could not open either eye for some time. This man was one of the finest I have met in my life. His teaching on the basis of Astro Navigation is still clear in my memory. Have you information on this flight or the gentleman I refer to?

Now back to me.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Ron last month a few days after his 89th birthday. During this meeting, he kindly lent me some books and other information on 461 Squadron and Sunderlands in general. Naturally, I will be returning this material to him, providing a good excuse to catch up again with his remarkable man in the near future.

Ron was the first pilot on Sunderland EK577 (UT-D) when it sank U-Boat U-571 on 28th January 1944. Now mere mention of U-571 may have some of you thinking about a movie of the same name made in the year 2000. Well, all I can say here is that my research (plus conversations with Ron) indicates that the only thing the storyline of the movie and the actual event had in common was the name of the U-Boat. So don’t go out and hire/buy the movie and expect to see a good-looking actor portraying (the then) FO Prentice in the film!

I may write more about Ron in a future edition of this newsletter. In the meantime, if you have any information on the Navigation Officer Ron was referring to, you may contact Ron via e-mail on

Catalina display for the Bowen Foreshore

As part of the Bowen Foreshore Redevelopment project, the Whitsunday Regional Council is looking to include an imaginative display of Catalinas etched on large glass panels through which viewers will see Cats in various stages, in the water and on the hardstand.  The idea is that viewers can stand behind the glass panels and see all the Cats in their original positions. The illustration below provides some idea of how it will look.

To assist in this project we, together with Bob Cleworth are providing photos and information on Cat operations to the Whitsunday Regional Council.  It is expected that this display will be completed later this year when it is hoped that with some financial assistance we might be able to take VH-CAT to Bowen for its official opening.


Newsletter and Web Content edited By : Colin Cool

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April 21st 2009

Volume 3 Issue 4

Newsletter Spotlight

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