|EV870 Liberator V1 Alipore Calcutta||Dear 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 EV870’s 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|