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This page commemorates

Wing Commander James Brindley NICOLSON (39329) of the Royal Air Force


Lost in aircraft Liberator KH210  

Death of Death 1945-05-02 .

Served in 3 TAF HQ

Burial/Commemoration Details : Column 445. at Singapore Memorial, Singapore

More Details: SON OF LESLIE GIBSON NICOLSON AND DOROTHEA HILDA NICOLSON; HUSBAND OF MURIEL CAROLINE NICOLSON, OF KIRKBY WHARFE, YORKSHIRE.

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National Archives AIR81

Citation AIR81 Casualty File Description Link
AIR81/1463Acting Flight Lieutenant J B Nicolson: injured; Hurricane P3576 in air operations east of Southampton, 16 August 1940.C14502885

London Gazette Mentions

NumberName /Text London Gazette Details
39329Flight Lieutenant James Brindley NICOLSONLondon Gazette issue : 34993 , Dated 1940-11-15 , Download #34993
39329James Brindley NICOLSONLondon Gazette issue : 34954 , Dated 1940-09-27 , Download #34954
39329!+ J B NICOLSON V CLondon Gazette supplement : 36898 , Dated 1945-01-16 , Download #36898
39329J B NICOLSON V CLondon Gazette supplement : 35383 , Dated 1941-12-16 , Download #35383

Aircraft Accident / Loss Entry

Date of Crash 1940-01-01 02 May 45 02 May 45 Aircraft Name Liberator VI Serial Number KH210
Unit 3 TAF HQ Operating Airfield Salbani Country Singapore
Aircrew details Sqn Ldr Gerald Anthony DeSouza*
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 Henk Welting's Database

Other Aircrew lost in 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
Who is "Harry" 23 Sqn Early 1939I managed to see a copy of Air 2/5091 today - I am glad I did not order it (as I would have been disappointed that it did not add anything to my research). Basically it contains schemes and orders to prevent trigger happy Home Guard troops and angry civilians from opening fire on descending Pilots in the assumption they are German pilots It details at least 3 cases where descending pilots were shot up or roughed up in the BoB including A F/Lt James Brindley Nicolson on 16/8/40 (the incident in which he won the VC) - In another case someone suggested the Home guard troops should be prosecuted for murder - So the publicity of this may be to avoid the 'shoot first ask questions later' mentality It also makes the claim that a number of RAF personnel were killed by French civilians in May 1940 - I wonder if anyone else has heard this allegation before? I will need to get the French part translated but some dates mentioned Paul ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 13th January 2014 05:30:17
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
249 & 27 Squadrons AIR27 Records/Summary of Events Request?Hi, Nick, That's A-OK. Hope your time away was productive, restful, or whatever you desired. I'd forgotten about this 1991 book until last night: 'Nicolson VC', The full and authorised biography of James Brindley Nicolson, by Peter D. Mason. There is some excellent detailed information on the final op and aftermath, and some photos, too, including one of J.B. Nicolson's name on the Singapore Memorial in Kranji War Cemetery. And, of course, this is a book about his life, so it contains a wealth of other info and photos. Very possibly his nephew knows of this book, as it was authorized, and his widow was very cooperative with Peter Mason. Just thought I'd mention it, though. Cheers, Matt ....Read More.Matt Poole on 4th August 2017 08:42:04
CWGC WW2 Air Forces Query DB (now with serials, AIR81, Unaccounted airmen data)The CWGC Database is enhanced a bit more.. Now in the search results, the Surname is a hyper link - and clicking it will take you to an individual casualty page that will have additional details - eg - a search of the Gazette, and even a rough search of the forum for additional posts.. [IMG]https://scontent.fphl2-3.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/70266287_2741488785890685_1671253602590523392_o.jpg?_nc_cat=101&_nc_oc=AQlMSig3LGxqFkhavDzJViWTgzzQJx1-faW3KkqFcccAOXtreKOrurAY3weFf8bwoOU&_nc_ht=scontent.fphl2-3.fna&oh=9d00191b3e14855e000055a8ce7fc6c6&oe=5E37242F[/IMG] An example page [URL]http://www.rafcommands.com/database/wardead/details.php?qnum=33508[/URL] (J B NICOLSON VC) ....Read More.Jagan on 18th September 2019 10:53:43

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