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Flight 63931 Multi-cache

This cache has been archived.

espargosas: This cache has a chequered history as it has been muggled 4 times. I have now archived the cache but the story behind it is far too important for it to remain permananently 'lost' to the sport. So I am already planning for its resurrection under only a slightly different guise and hope that what arises from the ashes will improve upon the original.

Hidden : 03/13/2009
2.5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size:   small (small)

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Geocache Description:

The above coordinates are about 3 km from the final cache site and about 5 km north of where the story’s principal incident occurred. This multi-stage cache commemorates the ditching of a United States Liberator bomber during WWII and the gallant efforts of two local fishermen in rescuing 6 of the 11-man crew. A 5-page full write-up of the story is available on request to Team Espargosas.

The following summarises the story behind the crash of Flight 63931, U.S. Navy Liberator [PB4Y (Navy version of B24)] part of squadron VB-112/VB-103 that ditched in the sea south of Faro on November 30th 1943

30/11/43 Tuesday 17.00 hours    
Fishermen – Jaime Henrique Nunes and José Mascarenhas (both aged about 30) plus the latter’s son, Manuel, (aged about 10) left what is now Faro marina on the high tide in Jaime’s 5 m uncovered fishing vessel, that had a small sail and one set of oars. They had some blankets, a little basic food and a Hurricane lamp hung from a pole on the stern.     
30/11/43    19.00 hours    
Fishermen arrived at selected fishing ground about 2 nautical miles off Bareta Island, say 6 km in a direct line southwards from Faro Marina but more than 10 km by sea route. There was no moon. They were fishing with nets for corvina (bass).
30/11/43    09.00 - 10.00 hours  
Squadron VPB-112 despatched from Port Lyautey (Kenitra), Morocco, some 200 km due south of Faro, four aircraft for purpose of convoy escort and anti-U-boat patrol. Two planes lost; one was Flight 63931 with crew of 11. The other probably lost at sea closer to home base due to fog and fuel exhaustion.
30/11/43    21.30 hours    
Approximate time when, due to confusing homing signals from Seville and elsewhere, Captain and co-pilot of Flight 63931 acknowledged that they were lost. Parachuting to safety option discarded in favour of ditching. Lights of towns near Faro and hills to northward noted.
30/11/43    22.15 hours    
Probable time when ordnance (depth charges and bombs) jettisoned in the sea some distance from final ditching site
30/11/43   22.20 hours
Approximate time when plane ditched, approximately 2 nautical miles south of Bareta Island [N 36º 56.000’; W 007º 55.000’] some 6 km due south of Faro town and. 200 meters from Nunes/Mascarenhas´ fishing vessel. Fishermen abandoned nets and commenced rescue operations of 6 out of 11 surviving crew members; two injured. Fishermen gave rescued aircrew available blankets, clothes, food and rolled cigarettes.
30/11/43    22.30 hours     
Alarm sounded in Faro town. Motor-powered naval vessel investigated potential crash but found nothing. Also Fire Brigade rescue put out to sea but also without success in finding plane.
30/11/43    23.00 hours    
Low tide
01/12/43    02.00 hours    
Fishing boat commenced return towards Faro, containing 8 men plus 1 boy. Storm brewing.
01/12/43    02.00 hours    
Naval and Fire Service rescue vessels returned to Faro town after unsuccessful search.
01/12/43    03.30 hours     
Fishing boat entered Faro marina by way of south-west sea wall near railway tracks. Met by Fire Brigade. Crew taken to nearby Misericordia hospital, only one existing in Faro at time. But, general power cut throughout town.
Many visitors to Misericordia including U.S. Naval Legation & UK Consul. Fishermen persuaded to state that ditching occurred 20 miles (i.e. 32 km) from shore, not 12 miles (about 20 km) as they originally stated. Thus classifying aircrew as “distressed mariners” not subject to internment. But fishermen treated with disdain by officials. Not allowed to visit airmen. No compensation for lost clothes, blankets, fishing nets etc.
Two injured airmen taken by bus to Lisbon hospital.
06/12/43    09.30 hours    
Four non-hospitalised crew left Faro for Lisbon by bus
10/12/43    02.00 hours    
Four uninjured crew members taken by RAF Short Sunderland to Gibralter. On arrival, continued direct by USAF C-47 to Port Lyautey, Morocco (their home base).
Carlos Guerreiro (Portuguese journalist) wrote article describing incident
12/98  and onwards        
Correspondence between crew member of flight 63931, Lyle G. VanHook and Carlos Guerreiro of Faro referring to need for recognition and financial compensation by US and Portuguese Governments towards fishermen who had rescued crew members and provided material assistance.
VanHook wrote to U.S. Ambassador, Lisbon requesting official recognition of fishermen’s life saving deeds  
Ministry of Defence, Portugal, in conjunction with U.S. Embassy, Lisbon, agreed to recognise fishermen’s actions.
03/07/99    14.00 hours    
International TV Conference call recognising the deeds of Jamie Nunes, the surviving fishermen and presentation of plaque at Gambelas University, Faro.
Lyle G. VanHook died in Hot Springs Village. Arkansas, USA aged 87

Rescued crew members (6): Richard Trum, Julian O’Neal Pierce, Lyle Gordon VanHook, Rex Lee McCoy (injured), William Richardson Stultz (injured) and John Woodrow Eden
Crew members lost at sea (5): Clarence Arthur Miller, Earl Edgar Sowers, Frank William Taylor, George Austin Doane, Donald Eugene Peterson.

The cache is a plastic container encased in black pastic tubing, and is located close to where Jaime Nunes and his crew would have passed on their outward and return journeys.
Bearing in mind that a major cause of the loss of Flight 63931 was a navigational problem you are invited to locate the cache using the following triangular data.
The final cache site is approximately:
(a) 923 m from the 46th Phoenix canariensis palm tree, dead or alive, (after the fenced enclosure containing two radio masts) along the causeway that leads to the ‘Cais Comercial’.
(b) 891 m from the water’s edge of the boardwalk ramp that leads to the estuary near the Eva Hotel
(c) 649 m from the pine tree that overlooks the entrance to Faro Marina, above which passes the railway track.

Once having identified the cache site please understand fully the mechanism for withdrawing and replacing the cache itself. This is important for the enjoyment of others that follow.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Gnax (abg zvyvgnel)

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)