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Liberator  BZ978 [Royal Air Force Aircraft Serial and Image Database]

 Liberator  BZ978

B.VI; ex 42-64074; dld Dorval 23.11.43; then via Azores to India, arr Mauripur, Karachi 12.12.43; 159 Sqn [W]; FTR from raid on Bangkok/Chienghai railway 6.10.44; SOC 9.10.44. More information in: The Liberator in RAF and Commonwealth Service by James D. Oughton , John F. Hamlin, Andrew Thomas


DateAircraftUnitPilot NameLocation
05 Oct 44 Liberator VI BZ978 159 Sqdn WO John McKinnon (1550526) Burma
RemarksMissing from attack on Bangkok-Chiengmai railway. (MPoole) BZ978 was attacked by enemy fighters over the target, killing one and wounding three of the crew of eight. The skipper was 1550526 W/O John McKinnon (on his last scheduled op), and his second pilot was 1338538 F/Sgt. L.J. Roper. See for a photo of the nose art. Also see photo SUK12705 in the on-line Australian War Memorial collections database, via . Further loss info: With two engines knocked out, the crippled Liberator managed to escape the fighters and remain airborne for three or more hours after the attacks. The bomber limped back as far as the Bay of Bengal, but inevitably McKinnon and Roper ditched BZ978 in the water off the enemy-held coast of western Burma. Only three reached a dinghy: Roper, 1891770 Sgt. Sid Hill (flight engineer), and R/184955 F/Sgt Harry Frederick Richardson (seriously injured rear gunner). Though the dinghy was spotted on more than one occasion over the next few days of intense RAF air and sea searches, the rescuers failed to reach the survivors. The three men fell into Japanese hands in Burma and were sent to Rangoon Jail, where Richardson died on 28 Oct. Roper and Hill survived to be liberated. Richardson and the five who died in the air combat and ditching have no known graves.Matt Poole

Casualties in the CWGC Register for Liberator VI BZ978

Rank Name, Number, Trade & Details DateUnit Country Cemetery/Memorial & Loc Ref
Warrant OfficerErrol Percival FORD (420172) Liberator BZ978  More Details 1944-10-05159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
SergeantPatrick HOGAN (1522977) Liberator BZ978  More Details 1944-10-06159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
SergeantGeorge KERNOHAN (1796515) Liberator BZ978  More Details 1944-10-06159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Warrant OfficerJohn McKINNON (1550526) Liberator BZ978  Forum Post 1944-10-06159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flight SergeantWilliam Noble PATERSON (1345502) Liberator BZ978  Forum Post 1944-10-06159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
SergeantKenneth Gordon PRICHARD (1324322) Liberator BZ978  More Details 1944-10-06159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flight SergeantHarry Frederick RICHARDSON (R/184955) Liberator BZ978  More Details 1944-10-28159 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial

Search Google for Liberator  BZ978

Related Posts in RAF Commands Forum

ThreadPost TextAuthor
EV870 Liberator V1 Alipore CalcuttaDear Chris, Prior to reading your plea, I'd just spent the previous hour (no lie) digging through old letters, dating back to 1991, by EV870 T crewmen & crash survivors Elwyn Jones and Jack Dey. The reason I was doing this was because this past week I'd made contact with the daughter of another crewmate who survived the crash, RAAF 2nd Wop/AG Arthur Robert O'Malley. And Friday afternoon I'd listened to my taped conversation with the man at the controls of EV870 on 2 April - Raymond Quaife. I was about to quit and go to bed when I decided to do a sweep of internet favorite sites, including RAF Commands...and your plea was awaiting my prying eyes. It's a very strange, and pleasant, coincidence! On the night of 1/2 April ten B-24 Liberators of RAF 159 Squadron attacked Kemmendine Rail Station, located on the west side of Rangoon. It was a difficult op, with very active searchlights, antiaircraft fire, and multiple attacks by one or more night fighters in the Rangoon vicinity. Three Liberators were damaged by fighter gunfire, two so severely that they never flew again after limping homeward and crash landing at Allied airfields. In addition to several airmen with minor injuries suffered in the crashes, one gunner was killed and three others wounded during the fighter attacks. Japanese Army Air Force 204th Sentai ace Hiroshi Takiguchi claimed three Liberators over Rangoon on this night. 159 Squadron's Libs were the only ones on ops that night, so certainly Takiguchi participated in the attacks. The evidence is muddy as to whether he was the sole attacker. Takiguchi's bio in the Hata/Izawa/Shores book "Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units and their Aces 1931 - 1945" says that flying alone on the night of 1/2 April, he claimed three B-24s over Rangoon. I also have a Japanese newspaper story which, briefly, mentions his three victories this night. The three Libs that were hit: EV843 E -- rear gunner killed in fighter attack, aircraft took evasive action & was written off in crash at Chittagong. BZ960 V -- survived night fighter attack which injured rear gunner. Made it back to base (Digri, W. Bengal, India) with Category I damage. EV870 T -- details below: Having absorbed a night fighter attack over Rangoon, EV870 T (erroneously noted as BZ870 T in squadron records wherever the full serial was given) remained airborne but could not reach its home field at Digri. Upon touchdown at Alipore (Calcutta), 65 miles from Digri, a battle-damaged landing gear collapsed and the Liberator crashed in a spectacular heap. There was no fire. All crewmen survived the fighter attack and the subsequent accident. No detailed damage assessment report for this bomber is found today in the 159 Squadron records, but in another report EV870s damage was deemed Category III: damaged beyond repair, never to fly again. The combat report for EV870 T, from 159's Operations Record Book: A/C T crash landed at ALIPORE. Two of cre ....Read More.Matt Poole on 7th June 2008 05:46:30
Liberator serial BZ978Robert and all, The RAF and US serials for Modification Number 30-13 are definitely BZ978 (a B.VI) and 42-64074. As C.O. of 159 Squadron (Dec '43 - July '44), W/Cdr John "Hoppy" Hopkins collected a few 159-related photos, including two of BZ978 / W for Winnie showing crew posing for the camera in front of the forward fuselage (groundcrew in one, aircrew in the other). On each of these prints 30-13 and the stencilling with the US serial are clearly visible. Hoppy's brother, ex-wartime RAF flight surgeon Dr. Tom Hopkins, generously lent me his late brother's photo collection, which I scanned. Excellent quality prints. I see that one of these is in the Australian War Memorial collection: SUK12705. You can clearly read the 30-13 but not the US serial number in the version viewable via After suffering serious damage from fighters while attacking Siam rail targets on 6 Oct 1944, BZ978 limped homeward but was lost in a ditching in the Bay of Bengal, short of the first available Allied airfield at Cox's Bazaar. One crewman was killed in the fighter attack and others wounded. 1550526 W/O John "Jock" McKinnon, skipper, not seen after the ditching, was on his final-scheduled op. Despite a massive search over the next few days during which a dinghy with three crewmen was spotted several times in poor conditions, an RAF rescue launch was unable to locate the dinghy and the three fell into Japanese hands. One died in Rangoon Jail, but two survived. Regards, Matt ....Read More.Matt Poole on 1st July 2008 10:43:18
Liberator serial BZ978Matt, Graham and Pavel: Thank you all! Do you have delivery dates for BZ978, Graham? Regards: Robert ....Read More.robstitt on 1st July 2008 11:03:32
Liberator serial BZ978BZ978 dld Dorval 23.11.43, then via Azores arr Mauripor, Karachi, 12/12/43 I make it the 9th B Mk.VI by RAF/USAAF serials However, I count 10 delivered to Dorval ahead of her, another which crashed, and 3 others delivered on the same day. So somewhere in there is the explanation why she was 30-13. ....Read More.Graham Boak on 1st July 2008 12:45:36
Liberator serial BZ978Thanks for adding Harry Richardson's name, Henk. In a rush, I had failed to mention names. The "Circumstantial Report" on the loss of BZ978 / W for Winnie follows. I have not yet cross-referenced service numbers with the CWGC Debt of Honour Register. The two surviving crewmen/Rangoon Jail POWs were Hill and Roper. Regards, Matt ++++++++++ To: B.P.O. A.C.S.E.A. Date: 2nd November, 1944. Ref: 1898/S.402/24/P.1. CIRCUMSTANTIAL REPORT ON LIBERATOR "W" 978 - MISSING FROM OPERATIONS ON THE MORNING OF 6th OCTOBER. 1944 Herewith circumstantial report on the above aircraft as required. I. CIRCUMSTANCES. Liberator "W" 978 was detailed, together with fifteen other aircraft of this Squadron, to carry out a low level dawn attack on the Bangkok-Lampang Railway line from UTTARADIT to BHANPAJII; locomotives were the primary target with opportunity targets along the railway line as the secondary. 2. The crew consisted of:- 1550526 W/O McKinnon J. - Capt. 1338538 F/Sgt. Roper L.G. - 2nd Pilot. A. 416627 W/O Swan C.S. - Nav. [Australian] A. 420172 W/O Ford E.P. - W/Op. [Australian] 1891770 Sgt. Hill S - F/Eng. A. 423854 Sgt. Nelson - Beam Gunner. [Australian] 1345502 F/Sgt. Paterson W.N. - Upper Gnr. R.184955 F/Sgt. Richardson H.F. - Tail Gnr. [Canadian] 3. The bomb load consisted of 15 x 100 lb. G.P. U.S. bombs fused 8 - 11 seconds tail delay and armed with spikes. The aircraft carried 2650 Imp. gallons of fuel which brought its all up weight to 62000 lbs. and gave it an endurance of approximately 18 hours. 4. The aircraft took off from Digri as briefed at 23.33 hrs. 5.10.44. The weather en route and over the target was good apart from small patches of low stratus, and all aircraft were able to map read easily and to identify the railway line without difficulty. 5. The three other aircraft which were on the same section of the line as Liberator "W" attacked between 05.25 and 06.18 hrs. at heights varying from 100 to 500 ft. 6. Liberator "W" 978 failed to return to base. II. SIGNALS RECEIVED. 1. At 08.10 hours Liberator "W" broadcast "S.O.S. S.O.S." followed by "333" to which Base Control at Digri replied by asking if they had any further message. 2. At about this time another aircraft of this Squadron who were receiving the signals very loud and clear, thinking that they were in the vicinity passed an approximate position of 15 00'N. 95 00'E. 3. At 08.37 hrs. R.A.F. Salboni gave a second class Q.D.M. of 315 deg. 4. At 08.45 hrs. Liberator "W" 978 called Digri with the following message "Trying CHITTAGONG - Two engines u/s. Height 5000' A.S.I. 140 [Air Speed Indicator 140 MPH] D. 360 deg [Direction 360 degrees, or due north]". 5. At 09.09 hours it called again with "Unable to receive due to heavy interference". 6. Finally at 09.20 hrs. it sent the following message which Digri received "Attacked by two fighters over target, one dead, three wounded". This messag ....Read More.Matt Poole on 6th July 2008 10:26:19
info on RAF bomb aimer Shot down over BurmaI'm at work and don't have my files handy, but I am familiar with Rangoon Jail prisoners in Burma. I know there was an RAF 159 Sqn rear gunner, R/184955 F/Sgt Harry Frederick Richardson from Canada, but he was seriously injured in his Liberator's Bay of Bengal ditching (BZ978 "W" for "Winnie") on 6 Oct 1944. Captured, he died in the prison on 28 Oct. Obviously not your friend's father... Here's another, courtesy of Chindit/Rangoon Jail researcher Steve Fogden and found as a camp roster in a downloadable Excel spreadsheet at : +++++++++++++++++++++ RAF 607 Sqdn. 753090 W.O Richardson John H Mentioned in two books: Return via Rangoon and Operation Rangoon Jail. Learned Japanese, used this to pacify the guards on many occasions. Carried off many impersonations in camp entertainment. Also buried Hobson. +++++++++++++++++++++ This reference to Hobson must concern the tragic death of Brigadier Clive Hobson, the only prisoner killed when 400-plus men force-marched from Rangoon Jail in late April 1945 were attacked near Pegu by Hurricanes soon after their Japanese captors had unburdened themselves of the lot in an attempt to evade the rapidly advancing Allied forces. Hobson, the ranking Allied officer in Rangoon Jail, had soon before addressed his men, exclaiming "We are free! We are free!", or similar words. If John H. Richardson helped to bury Brig. Hobson, then I'd guess Richardson was a survivor and soon was in Allied hands. However, 607 was a Hurricane, then Spitfire, squadron in Burma. No separate bomb aimers on these fighters... Will look for more when I can. Cheers, Matt ....Read More.Matt Poole on 22nd October 2009 09:22:57
Full names of S. Hill and L.J. Roper, RAF 159 Sqn airmen & PoW survivorsI am looking for the following names information on two Liberator crewmates, each a member of the RAF, who survived PoW incarceration in Rangoon Jail in 1944 and 1945. I am curious if anyone can provide these specifics: a) The full name of 1891770 Sgt [B]Stan [I][EDIT: No, I meant Sid][/I] HILL[/B], a flight engineer, and b) The full name of 1338538 F/Sgt [B]L. J. ROPER[/B], Hill’s second pilot. Chindit researcher Steve Fogden had, a few years ago, located a source giving Hill’s first name as “Stan” [I][EDIT: No, Steve had it correct as "Sid", and I typed it wrong, making the name "Stan"][/I], but Steve recently could not rediscover that source. Except in Steve’s excellent database of Rangoon Jail prisoners, I have only seen this airman mentioned as “S. Hill”. Roper's first and middle names are only identified by initials in the sources I have found. Hill and Roper were aboard 159 Squadron Liberator BZ978, which ditched in the Bay of Bengal after being attacked by fighters over Thailand on 6 October 1944. These two, plus one other, Canadian rear gunner R184955 F/Sgt Harry Richardson, made it into a dinghy but were soon captured. Richardson, wounded in the air by bullet strikes, was given no medical attention by the Japanese and died in Rangoon Jail on 28 October. Hill and Roper survived incarceration and were liberated in 1945, though I know nothing of their whereabouts post-war. I seem to have misplaced another book source of RAF PoW names, by Les and Pam Stubbs, that would possibly have the full names. Curse, curse...the book should be on a shelf with other PoW books. I think gremlins stole it, along with a set of car keys, the timer for cooking, and a DVD remote. Certainly, it's not MY fault they can't be found! Might a reader have access to a source or sources which will give fuller names? Thanks, Matt ....Read More.Matt Poole on 11th January 2022 05:29:54

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