|Survivor of AL560 Lib crash, 159 Sqn, 12 Aug 1943?||I am primarily looking for confirmation that one man survived the following Liberator crash, and verification of his name.
At 1100 on 12 August 1943 159 Squadron Mk II Liberator AL560 crashed at Salbani, West Bengal, India while on an air test. An engine had caught fire just after takeoff. Seven men died, per the 159 Squadron Operations Record Book. Here are details, per the CWGC (slightly different than the ORB details, same basic names, though):
Pilot: F/O Stanley Linwood Pettingale, RCAF J.16279
2nd Pilot: F/O Edwin Earle Smith, RCAF J.12568
Nav: F/O Jermyn Samuel Greengrass, 137338
Air gunner: W/O John Francis Simmons, RNZAF 404100
Observer: F/Sgt. Robert John Hutton 1379274
W.Op/AG: Sgt. Harry Denzil Chapman 990569
Ground crewman: LAC D. Cooper 1430704
The ORB noted that [I]“The aircraft crashed while flying on 3 engines. An unsuccessful landing had been attempted and an effort was made to complete another circuit and come in again when the aircraft was seen to crash from a height of approx. 200 ft.”[/I]
There was no mention of survivors. However, the diary of 159 Sqn wireless op/air gunner Don Lomas notes that there was one survivor named [B]“Grisewood”[/B]:
[I]12 [August]. “N” crashed. Pettingale, Chappy, Greengrass etc. killed. Grisewood survived. Very bad affair. Kite wrecked. Write off. [/I]
[B]“Grisewood”[/B] must have been the [B]“F/Sgt Gristwood” [/B]mentioned once in the 159 Sqn ORB as arriving on 17 July with AL560 casualties Pettingale, Smith, Greengrass, Chapman, and Simmons.
I don’t know if the name was Grisewood or Gristwood, or even if there was a single survivor. I’ll have to guess that there was a survivor, because Lomas recorded it in his diary.
This diary reference to “Grisewood” is the sole evidence I have yet seen to mention a survivor.
Can anyone clarify whether or not there was one survivor, and what his name was? Col, I bet you have it in your records somewhere!
I do know that the RCAF personnel files of the Canadian casualties might reveal the answer, though I haven’t gone this route yet.
Matt ....Read More.||Matt Poole on 12th February 2017 05:27:33|
|Survivor of AL560 Lib crash, 159 Sqn, 12 Aug 1943?||Exxxxxxxxcellent, Errol! Just what I was looking for. I've been editing/expanding the wartime memoir of Bill Kirkness DFM, a wireless op/air gunner on 159 Sqn in '43 and '44, though he thought everyone died in the crash. I have updated the memoir accordingly. Am in the process of shopping it around to publishers...a long, slow journey. Hopefully it will be a printed book one day -- it's a darn fine memoir.
I found Gristwood in both Airplane and Flight magazines from Nov '43, and the service number given in Airplane matches the number you provided, Errol. Yes!
Here is the excerpt from the Kirkness memoir:
[I]On the morning of 12 August, Liberator AL560 was scheduled to be flown on [/I][I]a bombing practice exercise skippered by an experienced Canadian pilot, Fg [I]Off. Stan Pettingale. Aboard were six other airmen plus one passenger, ground [I]crewman LAC David Cooper, who regarded AL560 as his baby and wanted to [I]display his confidence by flying in her.[/I][/I][/I][/I]
[I][I][I][I]Almost immediately after take-off the port inner engine was shut down and the [/I][I]propeller feathered. No smoke was visible. Having made a circuit in order to get [I]down quickly on three engines, Fg Off. Pettingale, approaching the runway much [I]too fast, misjudged the landing and had to overshoot. Gaining a little height, he [I]went around again on a more sedate circuit and seemed to be setting up for a [I]good landing. [/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I]
[I][I][I][I]Something terribly wrong was evident. The Liberator gradually sank in a [/I][I]nose-up attitude, stalled far short of the runway, impacted a tree and came to rest [I]in a paddy field about a mile and a half from the aerodrome.[/I][/I][/I][/I][/I]
[I][I][I][I]The drama sickened all who witnessed the tragedy. The forward fuselage was [/I][I]shattered, and six bodies were strewn on the ground. It seemed that there could [I]be no survivors, but the rear gunner, FS Gristwood, though injured in his turret, [I]was the miraculous exception. He was even removed from the dangerously ill list [I]at the Station Sick Quarters the following day. The funeral for the seven victims [I]was held at noon on the 13th at Midnapore Cemetery, south of Salbani.[/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I]
[I][I][I][I]Stan Pettingale had been a popular member of the squadron and was [/I][I]particularly well-known to our crew, having been the pilot who converted John [I]to flying the Halifax the previous December back at Lyneham.[/I][/I][/I][/I][/I]
[I][I][I][I]AL560 had been with 159 Squadron since 1942 in the Middle East, and one [/I][I]experienced pilot, John Musgrave, then a flying officer, considered it a ‘wretched [I]machine’ with gremlins that confounded the best attempts by the ground crews [I]to eliminate them. The circumstances leading to the engine malfunction on 12 [I]August, sadly, went undiscovered.[/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I][/I]
[I][I][I][I]Apart from the horror of the crash, many of the aircrew were ....Read More.||Matt Poole on 12th February 2017 09:02:46|
|Survivor of AL560 Lib crash, 159 Sqn, 12 Aug 1943?||Matt,
Many thanks for the eyewitness account of AL560's demise. I have emailed you a copy of the relevant papers I have from Simmons file.
Errol ....Read More.||Errol Martyn on 13th February 2017 12:46:00|