Just after Easter 1965, on Tuesday 20th April, the Wijsmuller tug Offshore I was carrying out its regular duties, servicing Radio Caroline South and Radio London. Caroline's ship, the mv Mi Amigo,
was the first port of call. Disc-jockeys returning from their shore leave were dropped off and the tender continued on its way to the Galaxy, Radio London's vessel.
First Lieutenant John Wynn, USAF. Photograph from ‘Radio Caroline’, published by Landmark Press.
Meanwhile overhead, an American pilot was flying a Voodoo fighter aircraft. Based in France he was on a training mission when he was forced to eject at near supersonic speed. The ejection fractured
his shoulder and damaged his knee. Dazed, light-headed and on the verge of losing consciousness, he guided his parachute towards the small ships he could see way down below him. The North Sea in April can be pretty
inhospitable but, fortunately for First Lieutenant John C. Wynn, the tender was in the right place at the right time. Radio London DJs Pete Brady and Dave
Dennis were on their way back to the Galaxy. They saw the parachuting airman descend into the water. The tender changed course to pick him up. The press reported that Pete jumped into the sea to help him on
board - which was not strictly true - but the two DJs did assist in getting him onto the tender. The exhausted pilot was then taken to the radio ship to dry off. He was given warm clothes and a drink. And, of course,
the station did not hesitate in relaying full details of the drama to their listeners.
Tony Windsor reporting the news at 4.30pm that day. Recording kindly provided by Hans Knot (duration 1 minute 8 seconds)
Having swapped crew at the Galaxy, the Offshore I then returned to the Mi Amigo. The Radio London DJs going on leave (Dave Cash, Kenny
Everett and Earl Richmond) were joined by their Caroline counterparts (Garry Kemp, Doug Kerr and
Keith Martin) and the tender headed back for land with the injured pilot. An ambulance was waiting on the quayside and John Wynn was rushed to the hospital at USAF Bentwaters in
Suffolk, a very lucky man.
A Radio London memo sent out to the ship. Click to magnify. From Hans Knot's ‘Historie van Radio London’, published by Freewave Media Magazine.
Radio London was not the only radio station to get in on the excitement that day. An air-sea rescue helicopter was launched to pick up the pilot and headed out to sea. Someone must have heard that
he was on board a pirate station but got its name wrong because the helicopter landed on Radio City's fort. This caused some alarm to the occupants. Once everything had been explained though they too could not wait to
inform their audience.
A breathless Radio City DJ reports on why an air-sea rescue helicopter has just landed on the roof of their fort. Recording kindly provided by Hans Knot (duration 4 minutes 18 seconds)
The rescue of the pilot received a lot of publicity on land, which was particularly helpful to Radio London who had only been on the air for a few months and only been broadcasting
on full power for a matter of weeks. What delighted the writer of this memo, right, was that the station was not described on the BBC news as a “pop pirate”. It seemed that, in a very short time, Radio
London had already become an accepted part of the established media. It is thought that the author of the memo is John Dienn, alias DJ Earl Richmond, writing to his colleague Paul Kaye.
Following the rescue, Radio London received a letter of thanks from the Governor of Texas, John Wynn's home state, and Programme Director Ben Toney was made an Admiral in the Texas navy!
A couple of years later John C recorded a message of thanks that was broadcast on Radio London. It has been sent to The Pirate Radio Hall Of Fame by correspondent Hans Stieper.
Hans says he thinks it was recorded as part of the “fight for free radio” campaign that was in full swing during 1967.
John C. Wynn telling the story of how he came to land in the North Sea and thanking those responsible for saving his life. Recording kindly donated by Hans Stieper (duration 1 minute 59 seconds)