Photos of the unit boats circa 1941

By Chris Young

The base was established in Newhaven in 1939 and this picture shows one of the early High Speed Launch (H.S.L.). The first photo shows the boat on its original jetty location. These photographs are from my late father's photo album (Tom Young). He was in the air/sea rescue when it started. He was stationed here from 1939 - 1941, he then went overseas with the ASR.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'RAF AIR-SEA RESCUE UNIT NEWHAVEN' page

From the private collection of Chris Young

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'RAF AIR-SEA RESCUE UNIT NEWHAVEN' page

From the private collection of Chris Young

Photo:Out at sea

Out at sea

From the private collection of Chris Young

Photo:Out at sea

Out at sea

From the private collection of Chris Young

Photo:On the moorings approx. 1941

On the moorings approx. 1941

From the private collection of Chris Young

Photo:Return to port, approaching the harbour entrance.

Return to port, approaching the harbour entrance.

From the private collection of Chris Young

Photo:Stowing gear after return to port.

Stowing gear after return to port.

From the private collection of Chris Young

Photo:All aboard for leaving harbour.

All aboard for leaving harbour.

From the private colletion of Chris Young

This page was added by Ginny Smith on 03/01/2009.
Comments about this page

For those who may not know, (Lawrence of Arabia) was closely involved with the ASR when it was first set up and was involved with the design and testing of their first launches.

By Richard Beckett
On 21/12/2008

I think you mean T.E. Lawrence who as you rightly say was Lawrence of Arabia  I think while he was serving in the RAF / ASR unit he was involved with research and development etc ( Alias , Aircraftsman Shaw )

By Chris Young
On 22/12/2008

Are there any photos of the base with the helicopters that eventually replaced these launches? I grew up in Fort Road and would watch them take off and land from the compound between Fort Road and the Riverside. One of the trees spaced along the edge of the pavement, near number 60 in Fort Road  or thereabouts, died off as a result of the constant blasting of the rotors.

By Rob Patten
On 27/12/2008

Photo #7 would appear to show the result of a successful rescue, the chap stepping off the boat appears to have a bandage around his head and is wearing flying boots and is of much interest to those around him as he steps from the outermost launch to one moored inboard.

By Rob Patten
On 04/01/2009

From what I can discover about these boats, they were 68 feet long (at least No 124 was) and built by the British Power Boat Company at Hythe. They had 2 or 3 500HP Napier Lion Petrol engines. Was no 124 stationed at Newhaven? If so, I have a picture of it at sea in The Motor Boat and Yachting Manual of 1943.

By Keith J
On 10/01/2009

The boat No 126. was not one of the original duo ( No. 100 & No. 121) although this type established the ASR MCS base at Newhaven. I am in the process of adding more photos of these with one of the editing agents of this site.  A main instigator of these high speed craft being built, for the RAF, was  Hubert Scott Paine, of British Power Boats Ltd , who was also exploring the sale of this style of high speed craft to the USA, as they had a excellent quick search and rescue ability for downed pilots, hence their introduction. This branch of the RAF service served all round the globe during the WW2 period, in all the areas of British overseas actions etc.  I will also be adding some post war pictures of later HSL class boats based at Newhaven.

By Chris Young
On 10/01/2009

Does anybody know if No 124 was stationed at Newhaven? If so, I have a picture of it at sea in The Motor Boat and Yachting Manual of 1943 which could be added to this site."

HSL No 124 (which I think may have been a Ramsgate craft) is recorded in the watch house records as having been at Newhaven on the 18 August 1942 and that it sailed next day, so looks like it may have been involved in Operation Jubilee.
I would just like to make a minor correction to various comments which have been posted here. The Newhaven unit was originally founded in 1939 as 28 ASRU (Air Sea Rescue Unit) and became 1107 MCU (Marine Craft Unit)  1948.

The Newhaven Museum has a couple of albums dedicated to the RAF at Newhaven including several photos of Whirlwind, Wessex and earlier Helicopters. Peter Mason

By Pete
On 22/01/2009

I read with interest the comments from someone who grew up in Fort Road Newhaven, but I do not recollect the site being used for Helicopters whilst I was stationed there 1959/1962. We did however work in conjunction with 22 squadron helicopters from Tangmere and Thorney Island. I was the Supplier (Stores) Corporal at 1107 MCU, and on one occasion foolishly volunteered to go out to sea on the RTTL jump overboard and wait for a chopper to pull me out of the sea. None of the Marine craft crew were interested in volunteering.

By Charles (jim) James
On 12/02/2009

It's great to see these photo's. I believe my grandfather was a crewman on boat 121. Do you have any photo's of it?

By Alasdair Maclennan
On 07/07/2009

With reference to HSL 121, I have some original photos taken in 1939/40 when this vessel was stationed at Newhaven Marine Craft Unit. These pictures were taken by my father who served on her sister craft HSL 100. These two vessels were the original HSL's which initiated the base at Newhaven .

By Chris Young
On 18/07/2009

HSL 126 was a British Power Boat Co Type 2 63ft High Speed Launch, commonly called a "Whaleback" due to the reverse sheer deck-line.They were powered by 3 Napier Sea-Lion petrol engines each of 500hp, they were capable of 35 kts but cruised at 30 kts. 126 was taken on charge in 1941, and was disposed of in 1946, probably to become a houseboat as did most of these boats.

By Christian
On 18/07/2009

With reference to Charles (Jim) James comments, you were correct, RAF Newhaven was not in itself a 'base' for helicopters it was very much a refuelling base and was used as such on many an occasion. Whilst I was stationed at 1107 MCU RAF Newhaven, (May '68 to Nov '70) as a Marine Fitter, one of my duties was 'NCO i/c Helicopter refuelling', which meant that I had to ensure that there was always unopened and sealed (to ensure no water contamination) 45 gallon barrels of fuel, if I remember rightly, 'AVPIN', (a form of paraffin) had to be ready for the pilot to examine before he would allow the fuel to be pumped into his aircraft. It was pumped by hand via a semi-rotary hand pump. It seemed to take us ages whilst the pilot/crew went to the 'little boys room'. With regards to jumping overboard and being 'rescued' most of us had done it so many times before we were always willing to let a 'volunteer' have a go!

By Peter Fox
On 26/08/2009

My grandfather was engineer aboard HSL 165, and very briefly features in the film 'For Those in Peril' parts of which used Newhaven as a location. The family used to have a catalogue of photos taken during the filming, including shots of model craft used in the film, and including photos of some technicians wading alongside. These have been lost however, as my grandmother threw them out when my grandfather died, oblivious of their value to later generations.

I have a painting of HLS 165 that my grandfather did after the war, and would be happy to let you have a digital copy for inclusion on the site.

I have the book 'Sailors in the RAF', but would welcome any pointers to other sources of information about the ASR launches and the units stationed in Newhaven.

Please send us the copy of the painting. We would then be able to add it to this page - Editors.

By Ian Halstead
On 26/08/2009

For anyone wishing to find out more about the RAF Air Sea Rescue Service. There is a very good book available which gives excellent coverage of their many theatres of operation and service, called 'The RAF Air Sea Rescue Service 1918 - 1986' by Jon Sutherland & Diane Canwell .

By Chris Young
On 14/02/2010

My dad was stationed at Ramsgate I believe they were billeted in the pub "The Royal Oak" or "York". His craft was the 127 fitted with oerlikan guns, he was the armourer Tommy Hunter (Jock). There may be some pictures of a rescue and the crew standing on board. I will try to get these to you. It is important to remember these men and what they achieved, your website is fantastic.

By Gail Hunter
On 26/02/2010

I saw service on 2753 and 2552 at Immingham Dock as radio operator, during 1955 and 1956. If anyone who visits this page remembers me during those years, it would be fun to catch up. I look forward to returning to this site and exploring further. I have a photograph of myself standing next to the 2552, would you like it for inclusion to the site?

By David 'Dixie' Dean
On 05/04/2010

Yes please David. Carol (Editor)

By Carol Walton
On 05/04/2010

Found your site when trawling for info on RAF Marine Craft. I also served with the Marine Branch at Alness and Invergordon in the period 1955-1958. At that time we were using RTTLs 2744,2679, later 2557 and finally while I was there 2757, the early version of the Mark II with Griffon engines. I actually went to Calshot by train to collect 2757 to take it on its maiden voyage to Alness in Jan 1958. She is now at Hendon on display. I was the fitter on board for the first year of its service. I am writing a book about my time withthe RAF Marine Branch, it should be out in a couple of months. I now live in Queensland Australia Regards, Brian.

PS. Were you ever at Alness or Mountbatten, Dixie Dean?

By Brian Mutton
On 15/04/2010

I was a fitter on RTTLs and pinnaces' in Newhaven about 1961-62 and remember the place well. There were few "living in" in those days and we were billeted on the site. The converted minesweepers were also known to me in Newhaven and Mountbatten. Tours overseas took me to Limasol ,Tobruk ,Gan and Aden. Portrush in Northern Ireland was my favorite posting . We sunk a Rttl there then had to tow it to Mountbatten for refit . Great days . I was demobbed in 1967 after nine years service.Jim Dunn

By Norman (Jim) Dunn
On 15/04/2010

Has anyone more photos of RAF launches of the period 1950-1960 that I could use in my book please?

By Brian Mutton
On 16/04/2010

Dear Sirs. I have read your site with interest. My late father served with ASR in the middle east during hostilities, transfering from long range desert salvage. He served as engineer on 109, 159 and 2604, and others I cannot remember the no's of. I have some photo's that I will look out.



By John Maughan
On 04/07/2010

I wonder if anyone has any info about Flt Sgt Frederick (Monty) Banks who served in the RAF Marine Craft Section. I have carried out some research into an incident off Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire that occurred 19th August 1952. Flt Sgt Banks was Coxn of ST 357 that day whilst serving at 1104 MCU Bridlington and he took 357 into the cove of North Landing, Flamborough to rescue a girl swimmer. Sea conditions were awful, heavy swell running straight into that little bay. 357 managed to pick the girl up but sadly she died. Flt Sgt Banks was awarded the 'Queens Commendation for Brave Conduct' for that rescue bid. I know he served at many MCUs around the country, in fact the world, just wondered if anyone out there knew him. He was stationed at Immingham for a while. Would like to hear from anyone who knew Fred Banks. Regards Paul L Arro

By Paul L Arro
On 31/07/2010

In reply to John Maughan (4/7/2010), my Grandfather was wireless operator on 159 - he turned 90 last week. What was your father's name?

By Alex V
On 02/08/2010

In reply to Gail Hunter:

My Dad was on Air Sea Rescue boat 127! He is 88 next week. I've heard him talk of the Oerlikon guns. Indeed I think he operated one! Any contact/information would be very welcome. He was also (from his memory) on 144, 145, 163 and 178. Many thanks for the lead, Gail.

By Steven Hale
On 06/08/2010

I served as a wop from 63 to 67 (Seletar & Newhaven). Be nice to catch up. Andy

By Andy Tago Reeve
On 03/09/2010

Does anybody remember my late dad Vincent Baldwin (nick name- Bronco - Vic) or his late twin brother Fredrick Baldwin (nick name - Tino) both in the air sea rescue around 1941-1946

By m baldwin
On 10/09/2010

Sir, can you help me trace an ex RAF rescue launch which was sold to and refurbished by Walker Marine of Ramsgate at the end of ww2. My uncle who is 94 and housebound, was on this vessel after she was shipped to Bahrain and named Trucial Maid. He thinks it was 75ft and had 3 Perkins 6 diesel engines. If you can find photos of this boat would be obliged. It was purchased by Holloway Brothers of London and shipped to Bahrain on the City of Leeds about 1950.

Can your Uncle remember it's number as this would help a great deal in tracing this craft. There is also a web site for ex military marine craft www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/.../marine_craft_records.cfm   where you might find the information you require. Editor


Sinclair Milne.

On 05/10/2010

Visitors to this site might be interested to know about my George Turner Models 1/35th scale Whaleback ASR Launch. It's radio controlled with a water cooled electric motor, exhausts out of the stern just like a real one. I'm having a "whale of a time" building it and will post a movie on youtube when completed. Unfortunately, George has stopped making this beautiful kit, I was lucky in buying mine at Wings and Wheels North Weald this year. Also, a very interesting book regarding ASR is "Shot Down and in the Drink" by Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork obtainable from the National Archive in Kew web site www.nationalarchives.gov.uk Congratulations on a very interesting site! Regards, Dave Townsend

By Dave Townsend
On 01/11/2010

My father was Coxswain in the ASR and was stationed at Lyme Regis. I have just been there and found our old Married Quarters. As a young boy (4 in 1953) I recall sitting on boxes and was at the wheel, what a monster of a boat. Could anybody tell me the type and the number of this boat? My father died 2 years ago.

By John Shirley
On 12/11/2010

In reply to Alex V. My father's name was Hugh Raymond Maughan. Sorry for delay in replying. My uncle was also on HSL's based at Newhaven. He was Bob Young.

By r. John Maughan
On 21/11/2010

Great to see the old photos and interesting to read the various comments. Like others my late Father, Ron Stinchcombe also served on ASR launches in Ramsgate and Newlyn between 1941 and 1946. He was in the engine room on the launches and apparently known as "Ginge" or "Ginger". My Mother has still his tunic and release papers.

By Paul Stinchcombe
On 01/01/2011

My late father, Pete Lehmann was also on the ASR boats after a brief trial as flight crew which showed he had little aptitude for flying...He told me that he never picked up a live pilot, neither German nor British. I have some pictures of his craft but am unable to find them at the moment but will post details when found. Keith Cutler and Derek Summers, I believe were his crewmates.

By Melissa Roberts Nee Lehmann
On 07/01/2011

My B-17 crew was rescued by the ASR Service off Beachy Head on the late afternoon of 24 Aug. 1943. Can anybody provide me with any information or a link to the unit that participated in that rescue. Thank you, John

By John Keema
On 22/02/2011

John, the chances are it was a Newhaven ASR / MCS launch as it would definitely be the nearest to 'Beachy head', such as RNLI craft would be if were a call came for that type of SAR area today.

By Chris Young
On 06/03/2011

Does any body have information on ASR based in Chittagong during WW2. My Dad, Mr. Earnest Frederick Law - Service No 1479871 served as Leading Air Craftsman on Air Sea Rescue between 1942 and 1945, stationed in what was Chittagong in Burma . Not only were he and the crew stationed to rescue downed Airmen, but the launch was also used by Earl Mountbatten to travel on between ship & shore. Dad still has a full photo album of his days on ASR and I would like to know more about this particular ASR station

By David Law
On 02/05/2011

I trained as a Marine Mechanic at MountBatten in Sept/Nov 1957, under Ch/Tech Hamilton, Sen/Tech Hughes. What magnificent training ! It served me well in my subsequent life in engineering. Are there any other u/t's from that period out there? I ran foul of the Guardroom staff at MountBatten - a Sgt.Taylor, Cp.Bitchenor and SAC's Clive Overton and Paul (?) (a a diver) but it was a fine entry into RAF life.

By Andrew McMeekin
On 08/07/2011

I remember delivering the Evening Standard paper to the RAF base 1960/62 for a RAF guy named "Rocky", he got me in trouble more than once by giving me some tasty treats they were having for tea. If I missed the bus bringing the next edition from Brighton it would go on to Eastbourne! I collected 3 editions each night and took them to different newsagents in town which included the news seller at the bus stop near the bridge, then had to deliver to my own customers.

By Ray Sexton
On 15/07/2011

Re David Law's request about Chittagong. My father, Arthur Keats was in ASR in Chittagong. Do you know the number of your fathers boat? My father was on 2709. There are a few books about, Boat in the Blue has a list of boats and where they were at the back. There is also a web site asrmcs-club.com. I will ask my father if he knows of your father and post again if he does.

By Andy Keats
On 26/11/2011

My father Raymond Jose Garment was stationed at Portrush, etc. during the war and served in Air Sea Rescue. Any information would be appreciated.


By David Garmont
On 21/01/2012

I'm trying my hardest to find some info on boat 2709, as my great uncle was an engine man on it and he would like to see any info on that boat I can get him. He has all the pictures of him and his crew members, his name is LAC F. WEATHERILL, if anyone has in info please let me know, many thanks.

By Mark Hickling
On 10/02/2012

Like this forum very informative. Am in the process of aquiring "Navidia" an ex RAF 1951 build ASR. I am trying to identify her and her history regards to all

By Alan Williams
On 15/03/2012

In reply to Mark Hickling my Father was on 2709. He is now 92 and unfortunately can't recall all the names of those on his boat that was at Chittagong amongst others. I am happy for the website to give you my email and we can then try and give him some clues to jog his memory. I have some information and some details of other websites you my like to visit. Did your uncle have a nickname?

By Andy Keats
On 27/04/2012

My grandfather Ernest Shone served with RAF ASR on HSL100 based out of Newhaven. I am currently writing up his memoirs and came upon this website whilst doing some research. My grandfather is still alive and it would be great to show him some photos of the HSL100 and crew from the 1940 onward period. Please advise if anyone can share. Thanks, Naomi

By Naomi
On 31/10/2013

Hello all, This is rather a long shot.....my family and I lived aboard an HSL Whaleback 63ft (No182 - I think) for 2+ years in 1951-52 in and near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcs. I know nothing about where she was stationed wartime and wondered if anybody can give me a lead? I heard somewhere when I was very young that it may have been Ramsgate. I believe our boat called "Fiona" was sailed across to Ireland after my parents sold her. She had a houseboat superstructure but retained the wheelhouse area. Powered by two Chrysler engines. We kids spent many happy hours aboard Fiona - I bunked down in the captains birth aged 8 years! Please contact me if you know anything about this boat. Many thanks Nick Hanbury

By Nick Hanbury
On 08/11/2013

I notice from here that a lot of ex-RAF Marine Craft personnel, and families, are asking for details and whereabouts of ex-colleagues and launches. In this era of Facebook there is a very active Facebook page entitled, 'RAF Mountbatten and Marine Craft' which has some very up to date information and where questions can be asked re all things RAF Marine Craft. Being ex-RAF Marine Craft myself (Mar/Fitt) I hope this helps! https://www.facebook.com/groups/254266065612/

By Peter Fox
On 12/12/2013

Just discovered the site and brought back many memories. I was based at Newhaven for all of 1956, working as the clerk in the office. The CO was Flt Lt Ron Butler, one of the best officers I served, who taught me so much about admin as well as letting me spend some times at sea with 2747 & 2729. His final reference was priceless, 'This airman [I was a SAC at the time] can be depended to do whatever he thinks is best, regardless of orders'. Amongst other very special people were Flight Sgt Armstrong. who was commissioned at the base, a very well deserved and popular appointment. Oh, so many happy memories?

By Tony Brown
On 01/01/2014

I have a friend who was a Corporal in Air Sea Rescue stationed at Chittagong and Calcutta. From memory he served on HSL 176, 2533(I have a photo of this one on VE Day at Calcutta), 2534 and 2714. He was a fitter. His name is Eric Moss and I believe trained at Gorleston. Does anyone remember him? 

By Brenda Mason
On 18/01/2014

From the January to July in 1971, I lived on a houseboat in Newhaven. We were told it had been converted from an air/sea rescue boat. The size and shape was very similar to the one shown in these photos. The wheelhouse remained, as did the wheel, but new rooms had been added behind. It was moored near Denton Island at the Old River Boatyard, alongside a larger converted boat. It was called the Sylphide. Does anyone else remember it, or know if it was converted from one of these boats?

By Phil smith
On 20/02/2014

My dad was in the war time RAF air sea rescue in the middle east with 208mcu in Alexander and Port Said from about 1941-1945 his name was Douglas Plater. I have some very good pictures of him and his crew.  There is some very good pictures in the book the air sea rescue service 1918-1986 is there any one on this site that may have been in the middle east. My name is Ian Plater his son, l now live in New Zealand but I do remember my dad taking me to see the launches at Newhaven in the fiftys, regards Ian Plater

By Ian Plater
On 28/02/2014

Does anyone have a email for Chris Young.

Yes Ian, but we will ask Chris for his approval first.


By Ian Plater
On 28/02/2014

Hi all Have purchased 2751! My intention is to get her back in the water, I would love to hear from anyone who knows about her and served on her! Have loads of info on her and her sister boats! Dad was in bomber command and I believe might have even stood on her decks whilst being taken on leave! He's gone now but would have loved your forum and the fact that I've now got her and am going to get her back in the water! Thanks for all you guys did for all of us! Stuart

By Stuart
On 12/10/2014

My father in law was a member of the Newhaven ASR Unit from 1942. He was on HSL 145 (he thinks). His name was Evan (Harry) Davies but known as 'Taff'. He also thinks that the person  at the front in the photograph above 'All aboard for leaving harbour' might be him. He is 93 now and in ailing health but has fond memories of his time with the Newhaven ASR Unit. Does anyone remember him?

Meredith Evans

By Meredith Evans
On 08/03/2015

My father is Geoff James. He was on ASR 1956/57 in Immingham Dock, just before the Suiz Crisis. Does anybody know Geoff? Just curious to know as we looked up this page today.

By Phil James
On 15/03/2015

Fantastic site, really good that you have shared your Father's pictures for everyone to see. My interest is in HSL108 out of Gorleston, which l believe was of the same class as 126 and was lost on 1st July 1941, captured and used by the German's as their own search and rescue craft. One of the crew saw it in German 'colours' in a magazine as a POW and returning bomber crews also reported a British craft in German 'Colours' on their return legs. Any idea what happened to it would add to my story. KenFentonsWar.com.



By Nick Fenton
On 11/04/2015

Hi Brian Mutton,

I was stationed at RAf Mountbatten in 1947 and I have some old but poor photographs I took of some of the HSL's.  If you are interested in copies please contact me. Ray

By Ray
On 02/05/2015

Hi all, My  father was in air sea rescue during ww2 and he left a painting of launch 121 signed by W.Royle, size 24 inches by 12 inches if anyone is interested in having it please contact me.

Please take a photo of it and send it to us to add to the page. As for the original, how about donating it to Newhaven Museum? I'm sure they'd love to add it to their already impressive Air Sea Rescue display. Andy-Editor

By Stephen Pollitt
On 14/08/2015

My late father  Cpl Sam Smith served in ASR,  as a marine engineer ending up based on the island of Mayotte  off the South African coast. Before her death my Mother made a trip to the island and actually met two old native men that remembered the crews playing football with a homemade ball. I believe the base was also used by Sunderland Aircraft.

By Steve Smith
On 15/03/2016

My name is David Bisley and I was a cook at Lyme Regis in 1958. I wonder if anyone remembers me.

By David Bisley
On 29/03/2016

Hi Everybody, akin to yourselves my father served on the boats 1941-45, he was based in Alexandria and Cyprus. I have a few photos of him and the rest of the crew (he was a marine fitter). Would really appreciate any info or comments data of crews serving in that part of the worlds... seems a lot of info on the channel boats, but none further afield!

By steve lightfoot
On 11/06/2016

Hi all, We are about to acquire ST437 Mk1 for restoration at Boston (1109MCU) and used as a PTSD Veteran Respite Boat as well as Cadet Experience. Any old crew of 437 or 1109 are welcome to get in touch and offer help and archive stuff....

By Jonathon Brackenbury
On 11/12/2016

I noticed the comment posted back in 2011 by a John Keema about him being rescued from his ditched B17 bomber back in 1943 so I thought I would do a little research to add flesh to the bones. Bombardier John Keema's B17 42-30308 'Hot Rocks' was part of the US 390th Bomb Group and was returning from a shuttle bombing raid having taken off from Algeria and bombed targets in southern France. According to the official loss report she ditched south of Selsey Bill on the afternoon of 24th August 1943 with the majority of her crew (one lost) being picked up by HSL134 out of Newhaven. HSL134 doesn't appear in this thread so I thought it would spark some discussion especially being that Selsey Bill would seem to be quite a ways from Newhaven and likely in another unit's "patch".

By Rob Patten
On 01/01/2017

Can you please help me find an image or history of an RAF Air-sea Rescue boat No 168. My father James Henry Atherton served on this vessel from 1941 until 1945. He was a Senior aircraftsman. I'm not sure where he served.

By John Atherton
On 24/02/2017

My father Harry Dennis Green was a coxswain on ASR launches. Not sure if he spent time at Newhaven. He was stationed at Pembroke Dock for some of the war and spent time in Sierra Leone before demobbing at Lyme Regis in 1946. Long shot but any info most welcome.

By David Green
On 27/09/2017

Air Sea Rescue Research help needed. Please!

I am currently researching paintings in what were the recreation rooms of the Air Sea Rescue units for an MA at Brighton University.

They were apparently painted in 1946 for a Christmas party, one of the service men involved was Fred Gale, sadly now deceased. Newhaven Fort held an exhibition on them some years ago. I am hoping someone out there might have photos from 1946 or pre dereliction, have been to social gatherings there, have stories on the relationship between the servicemen and Newhaven locals, were stationed there in 1946 or have connections with any of the following HSL craft that feature in the paintings. I cannot read all the numbers sadly.










I hope this is the right place for this. These paintings are fast disappearing and I'm hoping my research can, if not attract money to preserve what's left, at least document and preserve their memory.



By Harriet Parry
On 28/9/17

By Harriet Parry
On 29/09/2017

Hi Harriet,
I read your comment with interest. I presume you are on Facebook (most are these days) so if I may suggest you search for 'RAF Mountbatten & The Marine Branch' and request to join you will find some very knowledgeable people who I'm confident will be able to help you.
I served 12 years in the RAF Marine Branch (1966-78) so unfortunately was some time after the era you are researching.
I wish you well in your MA.

Warm regards,

By Peter Fox
On 14/10/2017

My late father Richard Woodhouse served in the RAF Marine Boat Section between Jun 1938 - July 1945. His service record shows him as being in 930, 980 and 982 Squadrons. I have some photographs. One is a group photograph  taken outside a hanger in Port Said in March 1943. I think it may be of the 275 wing, 980 squadron. Another is of my father sitting in front of a obelisk but where I don't know.  Another is of a HSL No 2518 at sea.  Is anyone else researching history of family members and has any information on 980 squadron in Port Said in 1943 or can throw a light on where the 930 and 982 squadrons were posted between November 1941 and February 1943. 

By David Woodhouse
On 03/04/2018

I am trying to trace any information about my grandfather. His name was William Henry Davies and he served in the Air Sea Rescue at Gorleston for the latter part of WW2. That’s pretty much all I know, so any information about him or how to find further information would be great fully received.

many thanks


By Matt Mason
On 11/08/2018

I have been given a model of a Whaleback Rescue launch number 149. I would be great full for any information on the boat. I exhibit my other models at several country shows with the information, and would like to do the same with this model, Many thanks.    

By Brian Moore
On 10/12/2018

My father, Bernard McNulty, was a radio operator/mechanic on an HSL stationed at Menai Bridge in North Wales and Kirkcubright in Scotland possibly 1943/44. We did have a photo with the vessel number but both are lost to me. Any ideas on where I should enquire over this and obtain a photo? Advice appreciated. By the way, there is a an excellent book on HSLs and the siege of Malta.

By Phil McNulty
On 05/01/2019

I was in the RAF as an aircraft fitter and lived in a married quarter next door to the MCU in Gib in the 70's. When the boats fired up the noise was very startling. When we moved in and the first boat fired up very early in the morning my wife and I leapt out of bed thinking that a war had started. Sadly I never saw the boats in Newhaven as I only arrived here in the late 80's.

By Bill Giles
On 11/01/2019

Dad was Raf ASR during the war....he died in November 2018 aged 95, we know he spent time on 2559 and was in Belgium in `41, West Africa in `42/`43 but not sure he was on 2559 then as he was with an embarkation unit. Maybe a Pinnace ..number 83?  Trained at Corshall? spent time at Calshott (Sunderlands base?) and also south coast for D day we understand...Dover?

 Have a photo of 33 mcu asr unit at Erbaut...Belgium 1941 with names of..

A J. Belsham

J. Hassay?

Len Ellis...(known)


W.(Charlie) Bramhall.

Arthur N. Dymond?

?. (Jock) Granger

H Worthington Bass

S.(Stan or Sam) Pearett?

D.M.(Dick) Moshey...Moshery...Mosb??y...Mash??y.

Spent time in Norway and returned via Sweden and Scotland to Felixstowe for VE day in `45.

Will do best to add picture when I can...have many photos of relevant things ...just need time etc. to get to it.


By Steve Beart
On 16/01/2019

It is wonderful on this excellent site to read these messages about relatives who served the RAF Air Sea Rescue service in the war. My late Dad was one such. I am trying to research his war career and hopefully to discover relatives of other men who served a similar role. Maybe even finding fellow crew members. To this end I have set up a Facebook group called "Whalebacks in the War". Specifically for relatives like ourselves. May I respectfully ask anyone who qualifies to join? You would be very welcome. If you want to seek expert help, then you might like to join my group. "Air Sea Rescue WW2 rescuers and rescued" I have started a freely available library of pictures information and data (on a spreadsheet) on ASR in the war on Googledrive for anyone interested. Please add to it if would like to. If you do not qualify for these groups but are just interested in the work of the RAF Air Sea Rescue service, please join my group "RAF at Sea WW2 (Air Sea Rescue). My email address is (Edited by OurNewhaven as we do not publish personal email address's on the website but will forward Steve's email address to anyone interested)

By Steve Hale
On 16/02/2019

Would be interested to correspond with Steve Hale re photos etc. I have some that he want to add to the library. 

Jeff,   I have emailed Steve's email address to you via your registered email you have logged with our website.

John -- Editor 

By Jeff Hill
On 24/06/2019

I would like Steve Hales email as I read earlier his father had connections to HSL 144 of which my father was coxswain and would like information.

We will try and contact Steve for you Terry and ask if he is willing for us to pass on his email address to you.

John --  Editor

P.S. unfortunately neither of the two email addresses Steve has logged with us are recognized.

By Terry Piper
On 23/01/2020

I'm the Late Fred Gale's daughter and would welcome a call.  I'd be pleased to help if I can.  I have many black and white photos linked to ASR and need to find them a good home for future generations.  Many have nothing written to explain - some I think are of when my father was in Ceylon.  As for the paintings below Newhaven, of course there was the BBC News item when Dad was interviewed at the family home in Fawley.  Please use my email address to get in touch.   

By Linda Berry
On 24/05/2021

My grandfather served on HSL 126 after being asked to volunteer from Bletchley. I have some photos of his time aboard, including when stationed in West Africa. We also have a painting of 126. We remember some his stories! 

By Steve Hancock
On 26/12/2021

My father was on HSL 2533 and was in Chittagong. I have nice photo and also other memorabilia including Japanese leaflets and occupation money. 

By Tony King
On 04/03/2022

Hello, Board Members. I am new here; I am researching ASR activities with the Sea Rescue Flight based in the ME. Their ORB makes several mentions about co-operations with HSL's 121 and 141. (and Walrus's of the FAA). Does anybody have movement information on these two vessels?


Andy WIS

By Brooklands
On 01/04/2022

Gail Hunter and Stephen Hale, Ramsgate Tunnels museum have a really clear photo of ASR 127 with most of the faces of the crew visible.

By Garry
On 20/05/2022

Hi, I'm trying to find out details re. The death of aircraftsman 1st class Gilbert George Wyatt who served on one of the rescue boats. He was my father-in-law's dad who was killed in the 15th October, 1941 aged 27.(He left a widow and two sons - My future father-in-law was just four a the time). We would really appreciate any more information on the events of that date. We understand that his rescue launch was strafed  by an enemy fighter.


By Rob Maple
On 31/08/2022

Steve Pollitt. My Grandfather was William (Bill) Royle. He served on ASR boats throughout WW2. If you get this message, I would be very interested in the painting you have. He was always painting and telling me stories of his escapees during his service. From memory, he trained in the Firth of Forth and served as a coxswain. He initially served in the channel during the battle of Britain. He was then transferred to North Africa where he served in both Egypt and Libya. He was then involved in transporting commandos to Palermo in order for them to set mines on enemy naval ships in Palermo Harbour in Sicily at the start of the Italy campaign. campaign. After that he was sent to Burma via Cape Town and Durban. He loved South Africa and 2 of his sons, my dad and uncle both emigrated there in the 1960s. On arrival in Burma and enemy shell exploded on the beach and he was temporarily blinded. Him and his crew then had to escape through the jungle until they reached safety in Rangoon. Whilst in Burma he was given a kukri which I still have. I would be most interested in hearing other such stories and seeing more photos. Jeff Royle, Horsham, West Sussex.

By Jeff Royle
On 29/11/2022

My grandfather Harry Carter served on this boat 126. Thanks for the pictures.

By Matt Meldon
On 23/08/2023

John Keema 22.02.2011 Comment (B-17 from Framlingham)

B-17 Hot Rocks, 568BS/390BG, Pilot Lt KE Dougherty (John Keema as Bombardier) 9A 1KIA. Ditched in the English Channel, off Selsey Bill HSL 134 to Newhaven

By Michael Meras
On 05/10/2023

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