PEMBROKE Dock has lost a special connection with its wartime history and a champion of its heritage, with the death of Wing Commander Derek Martin.
Wing Commander Martin, who was 93, was the last surviving RAF pilot who had flown Sunderland T9044, which sank in a gale off Pembroke Dock in November 1940. Many parts of this aircraft are on display at Pembroke Dock heritage centres.
Two months earlier, in September 1940, Derek Martin was among the crew which ferried the brand new Sunderland from Pembroke Dock to 210 Squadron at Oban in Scotland.
Derek himself later Joined 210 Squadron and was badly injured in a crash at Oban in 1941. He was treated by the renowned plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe at East Grinstead and became a member of the exclusive ‘Guinea Pig Club’, of which he was very proud.
In 1943 Derek returned to flying duties and at Pembroke Dock made a piece of aviation history by taxiing a Sunderland ashore on its beaching gear - something never previously attempted. The experiment in the hands of an experienced flying boat pilot was successful, but it was never repeated.
After the war Wing Commander Martin remained in the RAF for some years. In retirement he maintained strong links with the service and the ‘Guinea Pig Club’ and, more recently, with Pembroke Dock and with 210 Squadron Association.
Derek was a great supporter of the Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust’s plan to recover T9044 from the Haven Waterway and he was the Trust’s Patron.
He opened the Pembroke Dock Flying Boat Centre in 2009 and visited regularly, the last time in 2011 when he was interviewed by historian Dan Snow for BBC’s The One Show.
Wing Commander Derek Martin, OBE, is survived by his wife, Betty, and an extended family.