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Thread: W H Westby & Catalina AU160

  1. #1
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    Default W H Westby & Catalina AU160

    Couple of queries in one post here if anyone has any info please:
    William Henry Westby 524787 was awarded a DFM, published in the London Gazette in Decmber 1944, does anyone have a note of the citation.

    Also his death is shown on CWGC as 1 Feb 1944, although i have seen other information, including an inscription on the family grave that quotes a date of 2 Feb 1944.
    He was killed on Catalina AU160 when it was lost on a search looking for survivors of SS Fort Buckingham.
    Can anyone confirm which date is correct.

    Many thanks
    Martyn

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    Hi Martyn

    AU was never used as a serial prefix it should be AJ160 on 1 Feb 1944

    Malcolm

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    Hello,

    1-2-1944
    No.205 Sqn
    Catalina I AJ160

    Took off from Kelai (in the northern islands of the Maldives), at 2045Z, detailed to search for and rescue the crew of the torpedoed merchant vessel, SS "PORT BUCKINGHAM". The weather was good on take-off and the aircraft attained a height of 25 feet after passing the fourth flare and then crashed. The DCs did not explode and the cause of the accident is unknown. The aircraft finished lying in 50 feet of water with salvage not possible.

    AUS404655 F/L (Capt./Pilot) Kenneth George Campbell McCALLUM RAAF +
    1483304 Sgt (Pilot) Sydney Charles LINN RAFVR +
    1384658 F/Sgt (Pilot) Alec Samuel JEFFERIES RAFVR +
    129052 F/O (Nav.) Fred Illingworth ALLISON RAFVR +
    50919 F/O (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Peter Walton WEBB RAFVR +
    1313736 F/Sgt (Fitter Maintenance/Air Gnr.) Percy Allen Eric GRANT RAFVR +
    1383819 F/Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Albert Sydney JACOBS RAFVR +
    976155 W/O (W.Op./Air Gnr.) William GRIER RAFVR +
    1081692 Sgt (Fitter 2E) Charles DAVIES RAFVR +
    524787 W/O (Flt. Eng.) William Henry WESTBY DFM RAF +

    There is a report stating that the body of a RAF member of the crew was recovered, but all are now commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.

    A Squadron service was held over the sunken aircraft.

    A somewhat inaccurate account can be found here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/davidbarryball/history.htm

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 15th April 2012 at 14:49.

  4. #4
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    Malcolm/Col

    Thanks for the info.
    Looks like the family somehow were told of the wrong date.
    AU160 was from an undigitised record at NAA - dangerous I know.

    Many thanks
    Martyn

  5. #5
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    Martyn,

    Here are the recommendations for Westby's DFM:

    WESTBY, William Henry. 524787 Flight Sergeant, No.205 Sqn.
    L.G. 5/12/1944. Sorties 125, Flying hours 1300. Flight Engineer. Air2/9622.

    The above mentioned airman has now flown 1300 operational hours as Flight Engineer in various types of aircraft during this war. His total flying hours are 1700. before joining a flying boat squadron, Flight Sergeant Westby was on Whitleys and took part in the first leaflet raids over Berlin, Frankfurt, Kiel and Cologne during the winter of 1939/40. He joined a Catalina squadron in April, 1941, and since then has shown great devotion to duty. Since he has been under my personal notice, Flight Sergeant Westby has always been an example to the rest of the crew by reason of his thoroughness, keenness and his unfailing cheerfulness in adverse circumstances. During the Japanese invasion scare which proceeded the Easter raid on Columbo in 1942, Flight Sergeant Westby worked day and night to keep his aircraft servicable and it was largely owing to his efforts that "L"*, the aircraft of which he was Flight Engineer, was able to make the large number of sorties which it did. During actual shadowing of the enemy fleet, Flight Sergeant Westby was, on three occasions, the first man to spot the enemy and he called out directions to the pilot until the latter was in a favourable position for observing the ships. In my opinion, his high standard of work in the air and on the ground together with his fine example, make him worthy of special recognition.

    !0th November, 1943. (Award w.e.f. 31st January, 1944)

    Remarks by Station Commander.

    This N.C.O. well deserves the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal. He has set a fine example as a Flight Engineer.

    Remarks by Group Commander.

    Strongly recommended for the the award of the D.F.M. He has shown an excellent example of keenness and devotion to duty throughout many sorties of many types of operational work.

    See:
    The Distinguished Flying Medal Register for the Second World War with Official Recommendation Details. Volume II. K-Z.
    Tavender,Ian
    London:Savannah Publications,2000.
    pp.929-30

    * Sgt Westby was serving with No.240 squadron at the time of this incident:

    During the afternoon (of 5-4-1942), Nagumo Force was again spotted, 450 miles from Ceylon and heading for Trincomalee, it was seen from a distance of 10 miles by Catalina "L" of 240 Squadron, flown by Flt Lt W Bradshaw**. The crew had been warned that Hurricanes and Fulmars would be in the area and, at first, took a formation of aircraft flying above to be friendly. At the same time, the warships put up a barrage of shells, about a dozen falling some 50 yards behind the wave-hugging Catalina, the resultant splashes and blast almost sending the aircraft into the sea. Nonetheless, the crew shadowed the Japanese force for the remainder of the day, only returning when their fuel began to run low.

    ** 43413 F/L William BRADSHAW RAF (later OBE,DFC).

    See:
    Bloody Shambles Volume Two.
    Shores,Christopher,Cull,Brian & Yasuho Izawa.
    London:Grub Street,1993.
    pp.407-8

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 18th April 2012 at 00:43.

  6. #6
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    Col,

    As ever, wonderful research and full notes.
    Many thanks for your efforts.

    Martyn

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