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Puma’s return connects to Tiger Squadron’s past

pumaA ROYAL AIR FORCE Tiger Squadron has reconnected with its flying boat roots and an 80-year association with Pembroke Dock. 

A Puma 2 helicopter of No 230 Squadron – which has a tiger on its official crest – flew into the Royal Dockyard last week to link up with the Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust during a routine training sortie. The Squadron’s first connection with the town was in 1934 when based at the RAF station before relocating to the Far East. After the Second World War 230 Squadron returned to ‘PD’ briefly, before becoming permanent residents there from 1949 until the last two Sunderland squadrons in the UK disbanded in 1957. Heading the 230 crew was the squadron Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Hamish Cormack. This was one of his last duties before handing over command on promotion. And it was almost a homecoming for another crew member, Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Thomas, who is from Ceredigion. To celebrate 230 Squadron’s 95th anniversary, the Puma 2 was repainted in a special colour scheme as worn by a Sunderland which 230 operated from Ceylon in World War II. Known as ‘Black Peter’, the Sunderland was the only one painted black, for night operations. Wing Commander Cormack brought along a framed print featuring the new and the old ‘Black Peters’ and this was presented to Ron Boreham for the Sunderland Trust. Ron, a Trust Volunteer and former 230 Squadron aircrew on Sunderlands at ‘PD’, later took members of the crew to visit the Flying Boat Centre Workshop and the new Heritage Centre in the Dockyard Chapel. The Mayor of Pembroke Dock, Councillor Pam George, welcomed the visitors and presented a Town Council plaque to Wing Commander Cormack. Sunderland Trust Volunteer Team members and members of the public took the opportunity to view the Puma 2 at close quarters during its brief period on the ground. The landing site, close to the western Sunderland hangar in the former dockyard, was generously provided by the Port of Pembroke whose staff spent considerable time preparing it for the aerial arrival. The support once again of the Port staff is gratefully acknowledged by the Trust. The original ‘Black Peter’ – in model form – was on hand to greet the 230 Squadron crew. It was made by Sunderland Trust Volunteer Peter Mitchell, of the Penfro Model Group, who had faithfully recreated the colour scheme and markings of this unique aircraft. This model will be displayed by the Sunderland Trust the Heritage Centre, along with the print of the 230 Squadron Puma 2.