Peter Jensen's story
Peter Jensen enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in February 1941. After initial training in Australia, Peter undertook further training as a wireless operator/air gunner in Canada between April and October 1941.
Peter arrived in the United Kingdom in November 1941 and was posted to No. 461 Squadron, RAAF, in July 1943. Equipped with Short Sunderland Flying Boats, the squadron was part of Coastal Command, flying convoy escorts, anti-submarine patrols, air-sea rescue and occasionally freight transport, and also ferrying VIPs (very important persons).
While serving with No. 461 Squadron, Peter took part in 2 particularly memorable actions.
The first occurred on 30 July 1943. Returning from a patrol, with the aircraft almost out of fuel, Peter's aircraft intercepted a sighting report from another plane. Changing course, the crew came saw 3 U-boats with other Allied aircraft circling above. Facing heavy fire from the U-boats' guns, the crew of Sunderland 'U', No. 461 Squadron, dropped depth charges, which sank the German submarine U-461. Flying back around, they dropped a life raft to survivors who had escaped the sinking submarine. Peter recalled the scene as the most horrible thing he had ever witnessed, such was the destruction. Appalled by the sight, he remembered thinking at the time, 'What have we done?'
Many years later, Peter met the German U-Boat Captain, Wolf Stiebler, who had survived thanks to that life raft, and the pair became friends.
In another engagement, in September 1943, Peter and his crew were attacked by 6 German Junkers Ju 88 combat aircraft. Peter recalled the combat lasting some 45 minutes before they were forced to ditch the plane in the ocean. Eleven men crowded into a 6-person dinghy. After an anxious night, they were rescued the next day.
Returning to Australia in March 1945, Peter took his discharge from the RAAF in September 1945.
After the war, he worked as an accountant. Peter is President of the Sunderland Squadrons Branch of the New South Wales Air Force Association.