John Hampden Grammar School

Kenneth Mullett

Mullett

Flying Officer Kenneth Gilbert Mullett, RAF, was part of an aircrew in No95 Squadron.

In 1944, following the North African landings the allies swept the Germans out of West Africa. 95 Squadron, who had been based further down the West Coast of Africa in Bathurst (now Banjul), had also set up an Ops base in Port-Etienne (now Nouidhibou) Mauritania (approx. 1100km from Bathurst), in a joint effort with the French to launch attacks on the U boats and to escort troopships and convoys.

 Founded by the French in 1905 and named after one of their colonial officials, Eugène Étienne (1844–1921), Port-Etienne, or Nouidhibou, stretches along a thin peninsula running out from and parallel to the mainland in a southerly direction, of which the western side is part of The Sahara. Desert. It is now the second largest city in Mauritania and is the location of the world's largest ships' graveyard. The airmen based there referred to it as "Rag City", due to the amount of Bedouin tented encampments.

 On the 5th of January 1944, the crew of Sunderland T/95 were preparing for such a sortie. "At 1105Hrs, Sunderland T/95 was airborne on escort to O.S.62. Eight minutes later the aircraft was seen returning to base with smoke emitting from it and losing height. The aircraft failed to make a landing, exploding and crashed in the water just south of Cansado Point at 1115 hours. F/O Spinney (2nd Pilot) was the sole survivor.

Apparently the starboard inner engine developed a fault and later caught fire filling the aircraft with smoke and fumes thus making it impossible for the pilot to see.
P/O Phillips (Controller) who was acting as WOP/AG in place of F/Sgt Douglas (on sick leave) was on board, as also was Cpl Crate who volunteered to fly as a mechanic. Four of the crew of the crashed Sunderland T/95 (F/O Roper, P/O Phillips, Sgt Ewen, Cpl Crate) were buried in the European Cemetery. Kenneth Mullet was recorded as "missing presumed dead" at the time of the report. His body was later recovered and laid to rest at in the same place.

Items were made from the metal of the plane, which contained the message, "The plane was no sooner airborne than it exploded – killing all on board. Fragments of the plane were salvaged and made into mementoes of which this tankard is one. Sabotaged by the so-called Free French." (Vichy) 

His grave could now longer be maintained and there is now a special memorial to the five airmen who are buried there. Kenneth's record at the CWGC can be found here

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