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Liberator KG974 [Royal Air Force Aircraft Serial and Image Database] RAFCommands.com

 Liberator KG974



B.VI; ex 44-10479; dld Dorval 25.6.44; to India; arr Karachi 4.7.44; 99 Sqn; collided with Liberator KH254 in circuit at Dhubalia 21.1.45. 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  21 Jan 45 Aircraft Name  Liberator VI Serial Number  KG974
Unit  99 Sqdn Operating Airfield   Country  
Aircrew details WO Percy Norman Sayer (1378229)
Details The colliding bombers were not "in circuit at Dhubalia", but instead were 175 miles east-southeast of Dhubalia, where 99 Sqn's Libs were in a formation-forming circuit. They were on a combined op with other Lib squadrons to Kyauktalon on Ramree Island, Burma (south of Akyab, Burma) in support of the British 14th Army's landing at Akyab. Sixteen Libs of 99 Sqn took off between 0530 and 0600 in darkness, with a planned dawn rendezvous to join up in a tight bombing formation at 5000 feet over an island at the northeast corner of the Bay of Bengal at 2248' N, 9048' E. Time of collision between KG974 and KH254: 0706 hrs. Further loss info: The weather at this time was good, except for some haze aggrevated by the cross light of the rising sun. Some clouds on the eastern horizon intensified the glow of the sun as it rose, making it difficult to see in that direction. In his book "Survival of the Fortunate" 99 Sqn pilot John McCredie wrote: "The first aircraft to reach the rendez-vous was to circle in a wide orbit over a specified point on the Bengal coast, and at a specified height. Others approaching the rendez-vous were to do so from a height five hundred feet above gradually lowering ourselves until we could take our place on the tail of one of the circling aircraft. As soon as the whole Squadron was in the circle we were to form up and head for the target. . . One moment there was an aircraft orbiting, about two ahead of us and perhaps a kilometer distant; the next, an enormous expansion of red, turning gold and then black and a tremendous shuddering of King Kong's manly frame. Then we were flying through all that was left of two Liberators and their eleven men crews; little bits of black flotsam seemingly suspended in the air. . ." Heading directly toward one another, neither KG974 nor KH254 took evasive action until almost the last moment, when each Lib climbed frantically to avoid impact. They appeared to be almost stalling when they hit. Based on the ferocity of the explosion, it was believed that bombs exploded in the collision, resulting in disintegration of both aircraft and probable instant death to the 23 airmen aboard. One seemingly scorched parachute was seen, with wisps of smoke coming from whatever was on the end of it. Per John McCredie: ". . .and the greatest irony, there wafting gently down ahead of us was a small red parachute with the emergency kit which we carried for dropping to any crew which might have crashed." Wreckage was scattered over a wide area measuring roughly one square mile, much of it embedded in soft ground. The crash site was recorded as map references RR0728 (Ordinance Survey) / OK5557 (Seafog), near Noakhali, Bengal. Guided by Police and Bengal Home Guard, RAF searchers collected nine bodies, of which seven were positively identified: three men from KG974 and four from KH254. In a service led by a Catholic priest, the men were buried on 21 Jan 1945 in separate graves, under uninscribed bamboo crosses, near Char Mahammadpur, Bengal at map references RR074281 (Ord. Survey) / OK554557 (Seafog). In July 1955, with the evidence of the seven individually identified airmen apparently lost, a British Army Graves Service unit recovered the remains of these nine and reburied them in Maynamati War Cemetery, Comilla, (then in Pakistan, now Bangladesh). They were interred in Collective Grave 3.D.19. The Collective Grave, in fact, is for all 23 casualties, though only nine were recovered. Thus, the chance to give seven of the men a verifiable, identified gravesite was lost. Official 1955 documents state that IDs were not possible at that time. The skippers were 1378229 W/O Percy Norman Sayer (KG974, 11-man crew) and 410044 P/O Noel Thalman Biccard RAAF (KH254, 12- man crew).
Source Matt Poole

Casualities in the CWGC Register for Liberator VI KG974

Rank Name, Number, Trade & Details DateUnit Country Cemetary/Memorial & Loc Ref
Flight SergeantGilbert John ASPINWALL (1322064) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantGeorge BAKER (1610129) Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantWilliam Charles BURROWS (1602975) Wireless Operator (Air) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantClifford CANDLISH (2206379) Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantRobert Henry DIXON (1896854) Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantRoy Cooper FERGIE (1372356) Wireless Operator (Air) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantBruce Colin GEEVES (428016) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantPhilip Bellerby HAILE (1490462) Navigator (Bomber) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantMichael Victor IRETON (1623984) Pilot Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantArthur KAY (1549565) Wireless Op./Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantThomas James Arthur LINETON (1688240) Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Warrant OfficerJohn Laing McKEE (1167652) Navigator (Bomber) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantPeter Alexander READER (1627512) Flight Engineer Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantHenry Raymond John ROSE (1802330) Wireless Op./Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Warrant OfficerPercy Norman SAYER (1378229) Pilot Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight LieutenantMaurice Thompson SIMPSON (130500) Air Bomber Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
LieutenantAlan Leonard SPAFFORD (542789V) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantMervyn Harcourt TRICE (1305035) Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantWilliam WATCHMAN (1691748) Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flight SergeantWilliam Thomson WATSON (2209607) Air Gunner Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
Flying OfficerColin Leonard WOOLFORD (424665) Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery
SergeantFrederick Joseph WRIGHT (1543863) Pilot Liberator KG974   1945-01-2199 Sqdn AIR27 BangladeshMaynamati War Cemetery


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