Database :: Aircraft Serials :: Aircraft Losses

Serial (AZ-9999) -
A-Z 1-2-3-4 -
Aircraft Name - Display: by Series Or Individually
Liberator BZ938 [Royal Air Force Aircraft Serial and Image Database] RAFCommands.com

 Liberator BZ938



GR.V; ex 42-64015; dld Dorval 20.10.43; Reykjavik - Ayr 27.10.43, Ayr - Prestwick 28.10.43; SAL 28.10.43; "SNAKE"; Prestwick - Ras-El-Ma 28.10.43; arr Karachi 24.11.43; 160 Sqn 'C' Flt [W] Wottawitch 3.1.44; emblem of reclining girl on broomstick on forward fuselage; used to investigate Japanese radio and radar stations and frequencies; 159 Sqn 21.7.44 when this Sqn took over responsibility; lost on SD sortie 31.1.45; SOC 22.3.45. More information in: The Liberator in RAF and Commonwealth Service by James D. Oughton , John F. Hamlin, Andrew Thomas

Aircraft Accident / Loss Entry

Date of Crash  31 Jan 45 Aircraft Name  Liberator V Serial Number  BZ938
Unit  354 Sqdn Operating Airfield   Country  Burma
Aircrew details Sqn Ldr Bradley
F Sgt Leslie Bellingan*(710193)
Details (MPoole) The pilot was S/Ldr Bradley, CO of 159 Sqn's Special Flight (C Flight). According to Bradley's memoir, BZ938 was attacked by a night fighter approx. 40 mi SW of Rangoon, but there are no other sources which have been able to verify this, including the 1990s recollections of 147114 F/O Allan Graham Jeffrey, the navigator. If not a fighter attack, then it was mechanical trouble which led to the loss of BZ938. Of the nine-man crew, it was believed that all bailed out successfully, but only six were able to make contact on the ground. Post-war investigation found that local villagers saw one man, trailing an unopened parachute, plummet into a mangrove swamp, never to be found. The two other missing airmen are believed to have drowned after landing just short of the coast. The six survivors, betrayed by the local village head, was turned over to the Japanese. Eventually Bradley and Jeffrey, the officers, were separated from the four NCOs and moved to Rangoon Jail. They survived. The NCOs were tortured and ultimately beheaded by the Japanese on 7 Feb 1945 near Myaungmya, Burma. They were: 710193 F/Sgt Leslie Bellingan (2nd pilot); 1234723 F/Sgt Robert James Snelling (F/Eng); 1803337 F/Sgt John Derek Woodage; and 1393806 F/Sgt Stanley James Woodbridge. The last to die, Woodbridge, was the senior technical W/Op on this special radar and radio-snooping crew. Despite been singled out because of his expertise, and knowing the three others had been beheaded, he refused to reveal secrets prior to his execution. When local eyewitnesses came forward after the war, the graves of the four men were located, exhumed, and reburied in Rangoon War Cemetery, Burma. Woodbridge was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1948. Six of the Japanese involved in the atrocities (those who had not died in the war) were put on trial in Rangoon in 1947 and convicted with the invaluable help of Woodbridge's father, who saved the prosecution's case by proving the fallacy of the defense's time line. Three were hanged, and three were sentenced to terms of rigorous imprisonment.
Source Matt Poole

Casualities in the CWGC Register for Liberator V BZ938

Rank Name, Number, Trade & Details DateUnit Country Cemetary/Memorial & Loc Ref
Flight SergeantLeslie ADAMS (1592986) Liberator BZ938   1945-01-31159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flight SergeantLeslie BELLINGAN (710193) Pilot Liberator BZ938   1945-02-07159 Sqdn AIR27 MyanmarRangoon War Cemetery
Flying OfficerWilliam James John LOWERY (156576) Liberator BZ938   1945-01-31159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flight SergeantRobert James SNELLING (1234723) Flight Engineer Liberator BZ938   1945-02-07159 Sqdn AIR27 MyanmarRangoon War Cemetery
Flight SergeantJohn Derek WOODAGE (1803337) Wireless Operator (Air) Liberator BZ938   1945-02-07159 Sqdn AIR27 MyanmarRangoon War Cemetery
Flight SergeantStanley James WOODBRIDGE (1393806) Wireless Operator Liberator BZ938   1945-02-07159 Sqdn AIR27 MyanmarRangoon War Cemetery

Related Posts in RAF Commands Forum

ThreadPost TextAuthor
Air Fighting Training Unit, IndiaHi, Hugh, A very informative post, for me! I learned some fascinating details about AFTU, and I've had some research connections to AFTU for a number of years. First of all, though, more about Doug Connor. It seems your reference misses his 160 Squadron operational tour. He was a founding pilot of the Special Flight, 160 Squadron (later transferred to 159 Squadron after he was tour-ex). From 160 Sqn's base at Sigiriya, Ceylon, and later at Digri, W. Bengal, Connor skippered many long Special Flight Liberator ops to investigate Japanese radar and radio transmissions in the Far East. There is a photo of Connor with three aircrew on pg 136 of "The Liberator in Royal Air Force and Commonwealth Service" by James D. Oughton. They are standing in front of Liberator BZ938, WOTTAWITCH!!, which on 31 Jan 1945 went down on a Special Flight op southwest of Rangoon. Four of the six crew who were captured were beheaded by the Japanese, including George Cross recipient Stanley Woodbridge. (PM me for a copy of the photo.) A very detailed review of Connor's flights with this unit can be found on the website of our mutual friend, Robert Quirk of Winnipeg, who transcribed the 160 Sqn ORB and also other appropriate Special Flight reports found at Kew. The direct link to Robert's pdf file: http://www.rquirk.com/splflt/draft.pdf Four entries from Robert's document: January 10 [1944] F/Lt. Connor and Crew arrived on posting, ex Canada. January 15 [1944] Formation of Special Flight: two aircraft "W" BZ938 "Y" BZ939 and two crews; F/L Bradley & Crew. F/L Connor & Crew. [From Form 540, June 1944] Digri. During the month all aircrew except F/Lt. J. W. Bradley (Officer Commanding) F/Lt. H J. Hulse and F/O A. Pritchard, were either repatriated or posted to other squadrons 23.11.44 Three members of "C" Flight (Special Flight) were awarded the D.F.C. The officers are: F/Lt. J. W. Bradley, F/Lt. D. W. Connor, and F/O A. J. Pritchard. (Bradley was the skipper of WOTTAWITCH!! when it went down; he survived Rangoon Jail.) Per Robert's work, Connor's last op with 160 was 21/22 May 1944, from Digri. He must have gone on to AFTU in June, or after a leave period following the conclusion of his 160 Sqn tour. Now, for AFTU. Here is just a bit more that I know, taken from my report (a pdf file on Robert's website) on the collision of two Liberators from AFTU on 26 July 1945, which killed 14. Thanks to Errol Martyn for some of this. The school began its existence as the Air Fighting Training Unit, 228 Group, located at the RAF airfield at Amarda Road, 100 miles southwest of Calcutta. AFTU was established in 1943 under the command of Frank Carey, the legendary Battle of France and Battle of Britain Hurricane ace, who had also flown with great distinction against the Japanese in Burma and the Arakan. The AFTU mission was to teach various flying tactics deemed valuable in the unique air war versus the Japanese. Carey was k ....Read More.Matt Poole on 26th November 2009 04:15:56


The URL for this page is Here is a Clickable Link
Like what you see? You can support this site!