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Liberator KH210 [Royal Air Force Aircraft Serial and Image Database] RAFCommands.com

 Liberator KH210



B.VI; ex 44-44071; dld Dorval 5.9.44; to India, arr Karachi 15.9.44; 355 Sqn [R]; engine fire led to attempted ditching in Bay of Bengal 130 mls (209 km) S of Calcutta 1.5.45; ASR search led to rescue of only two survivors; body of Wg Cdr E J B Nicolson, the Battle of Britain VC, a passenger on this aircraft, not found; SOC 31.5.45. 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  02 May 45 Aircraft Name  Liberator VI Serial Number  KH210
Unit  355 Sqdn Operating Airfield  Salbani Country  India
Aircrew details Sqn Ldr Gerald Anthony DeSouza* (118069)
Wg Cdr J B Nicholson*(39329)
Details Bay of Bengal Engine caught fire; crashed in sea 130m S of Calcutta, 1.5.45 (MPoole) : 118069 S/Ldr Gerald Anthony DeSouza (skipper) and his 11 crewmates (including 39329 W/Cdr [Eric] James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC, flying as an observer) were airborne from Salbani, India at 0051 on 2 May, bound for the Rangoon, Burma area on a bombing op. At an unclear time (official records are conflicting) in good weather on the outward leg, No. 1 engine caught fire and was quickly feathered. Bombs were jettisoned. The aircraft reversed course for Salbani, and the following message was sent: "Position 2052' N, 8933' E. Height 3000 feet. Course 305. Ground speed 135 mph." Shortly afterwards the aircraft rolled to starboard, the automatic pilot was disengaged, and normal flying was momentarily regained by the experienced S/Ldr DeSuiza and his 2nd pilot, 434840 F/Sgt Michael Henry Pullen RAAF, using their combined strength on the controls. However, the tendency to roll continued. It became necessary to throttle back on the three good engines to keep the aircraft level, but this resulted in a gradual loss of height. Ultimately S/Ldr DeSuiza ordered the crew to prepare for ditching. At 200 feet the aircraft again rolled to starboard, at which moment S/Ldr DeSouza was heard by F/Sgt Pullen to say, "I think the other engines are going." The Liberator crashed approx. 10 minutes after feathering, and it seems probable that it hit the water on a starboard roll. The two injured survivors, F/Sgt Pullen and 1480397 Sgt Eric Leslie Kightley (front gunner), had no memory of the moment of impact, but Sgt Kightley, coming to his senses in the water, saw a large fire about 50 yards away, which he believed was the burning aircraft. Clinging to wreckage, they were rescued on 2 May at position 2118' N, 8904' E by separate Air/Sea Rescue Catalinas. They had heard the shouts of two other crew members in the water, but they drifted out of shouting range. Neither survivor had seen or heard of R/251292 F/Sgt Samuel Arthur Doherty (2nd W/Op), whose body was recovered. Nine men were never found despite an Air/Sea Rescue operation over the next days. There was no clear evidence of the cause of the handling problems experienced by the pilots. One theory was that an engine or engines on the starboard side were cutting intermittently.
Source Matt Poole

Casualities in the CWGC Register for Liberator VI KH210

Rank Name, Number, Trade & Details DateUnit Country Cemetary/Memorial & Loc Ref
SergeantRobert Taylor BELL (1826150) Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flying OfficerJohn CALLAND (101427) Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flight SergeantDonald Urquhart CAMERON (1823810) Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Squadron LeaderGerald Anthony DE SOUZA (118069) Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flight SergeantSamuel Arthur DOHERTY (R/251292) Wireless Op./Air Gunner Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 IndiaCalcutta (Bhowanipore) Cemeter
SergeantLaurence HELSBY (1755315) Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Flying OfficerBrian HILL (163701) Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Wing CommanderJames Brindley NICOLSON (39329) Liberator KH210   1945-05-023 TAF HQ SingaporeSingapore Memorial
Pilot OfficerJack SPILLARD (195438) Liberator KH210   1945-05-02355 Sqdn AIR27 SingaporeSingapore Memorial

Related Posts in RAF Commands Forum

ThreadPost TextAuthor
249 & 27 Squadrons AIR27 Records/Summary of Events Request?Hi, Nick, I have the RAAF A705 casualty files of two of the men who died with Nicolson when 355 Sqn Liberator KH210 went down in the Bay of Bengal on 2 May 1945. Some great info on the loss of the Lib. I'll send you an email. Cheers, Matt ....Read More.Matt Poole on 15th July 2017 12:18:44
249 & 27 Squadrons AIR27 Records/Summary of Events Request?[QUOTE=Matt Poole;127359]Hi, Nick, I have the RAAF A705 casualty files of two of the men who died with Nicolson when 355 Sqn Liberator KH210 went down in the Bay of Bengal on 2 May 1945. Some great info on the loss of the Lib. I'll send you an email. Cheers, Matt[/QUOTE] Slight correction. OF the two Australians aboard, one (D.T. Nicolson -- same surname) died and one (M.H. Pullen) survived the ditching. Here's a summary I put together regarding the loss of KH210 on 2 May 1945 -- the 355 Sqn Liberator in which J.B. Nicolson VC was a passenger: 118069 S/Ldr Gerald Anthony DeSouza (skipper) and his 11 crewmates (including 39329 W/Cdr James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC, flying as an observer) were airborne from Salbani, India at 0051 on 2 May, bound for the Rangoon, Burma area on a 355 Squadron bombing op. At an unclear time (official records are conflicting) in good weather on the outward leg, No. 1 engine caught fire and was quickly feathered. Bombs were jettisoned. The aircraft reversed course for Salbani, and the following message was sent: “Position 2052’ N, 8933’ E. Height 3000 feet. Course 305. Ground speed 135 mph.” Shortly afterwards the aircraft rolled to starboard, the automatic pilot was disengaged, and normal flying was momentarily regained by the experienced S/Ldr DeSouza and his 2nd pilot, 434840 F/Sgt Michael Henry Pullen RAAF, using their combined strength on the controls. However, the tendency to roll continued. It became necessary to throttle back on the three good engines to keep the aircraft level, but this resulted in a gradual loss of height. Ultimately S/Ldr DeSouza ordered the crew to prepare for ditching. At 200 feet the aircraft again rolled to starboard, at which moment S/Ldr DeSouza was heard by F/Sgt Pullen to say, “I think the other engines are going.” The Liberator crashed approx. 10 minutes after feathering, and it seems probable that it hit the water on a starboard roll. The two injured survivors, F/Sgt Pullen and 1480397 Sgt Eric Leslie Kightley (front gunner), had no memory of the moment of impact, but Sgt Kightley, coming to his senses in the water, saw a large fire about 50 yards away, which he believed was the burning aircraft. Clinging to wreckage, they were rescued on 2 May at position 2118’ N, 8904’ E by separate Air/Sea Rescue Catalinas. They had heard the shouts of two other crew members in the water, but they drifted out of shouting range. Neither survivor had seen or heard of R/251292 F/Sgt Samuel Arthur Doherty (2nd W/Op), whose body was recovered. Nine men were never found despite an Air/Sea Rescue operation over the next days. There was no clear evidence of the cause of the handling problems experienced by the pilots. One theory was that an engine or engines on the starboard side were cutting intermittently. ....Read More.Matt Poole on 16th July 2017 11:31:13


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