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Thread: 357 Squadron loss - 15/03/1944

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    Default 357 Squadron loss - 15/03/1944

    Hi guys

    I can't seem to find a loss for the following men in any of the books I have on the Burma campaign. There's nothing in Shores, or Terence O'Brien's books, or Gwynne-Tomothy's Burma Liberators.

    Though 357 Squadron flew a number of different aircraft Shores states that the first Liberator mission didn't occur until the beginning of April 1944, and the Catalina's had been split away slightly earlier. So I believe it was a Hudson on a Special Ops drop over Burma (in which case I am also missing one more possible crew member). Does anybody have any info that could tie these men to a specific loss?

    Name: PALMER, RICHARD BLAKE
    Nationality: Canadian
    Rank: Flight Lieutenant
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
    Unit Text: 357 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Service No: J/10015

    Name: PATTERSON, LORNE
    Nationality: Canadian
    Rank: Flight Lieutenant
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
    Unit Text: 357 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Age: 32
    Service No: J/8624

    Name: PONSFORD, JAMES CECIL SPENCER
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Flight Lieutenant
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Unit Text: 357 Sqdn.
    Age: 44
    Service No: 80801

    Name: OGILVIE, BRUCE ADAM
    Nationality: Canadian
    Rank: Pilot Officer
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
    Unit Text: 357 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Service No: J/89408

    Name: WILKINSON, JOSEPH
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Flight Sergeant
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force
    Unit Text: 357 Sqdn.
    Age: 25
    Service No: 537086

    The are all commerated on the Singapore Memorial.

    Thanks guys

    Amrit

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    Default 357 Squadron loss - 15/03/1944

    Amrit,

    You were correct -- these men were not Liberator crew.

    Four of the five men listed were killed in the crash of 357 Squadron Hudson AM949 "A" at approximately 0300 on the 15th of March at position 23 degrees 44 min N, 98 deg 48 min E (near Kokang on the Burma/Siam Border). The fifth of your men, F/Lt Ponsford, died on the ground from wounds at 1000 on the 15th. The sixth and final crewman, F/O Prosser was found comatose with a fractured skull, lacerations of forehead and face, and multiple fractures of the right ankle.

    The squadron's Medical Officer (F/O G.D. Graham -- who had never made a jump) and its parachute instructor (F/Sgt White) volunteered to be dropped near the crash site. First came Sgt White. On the ground safely, he yelled out instructions to F/O Graham, who descended uninjured.

    Graham and White's care for F/O Prosser during their month-long trek back through Japanese territory is the stuff of legends. F/O Prosser spent months in hospital in Calcutta before recovering.

    Many more details are available in two out of print books: "Flights of the Forgotten" by Ken Merrick and "Beyond the Irrawaddy and the Salween" by Dickson Morris. The Morris book, in particular, has rich details taken from F/O Graham's diary of the journey. Contact me at feb2944 AT aol.com and I'll be happy to share the further info.

    The Morris book states that the deceased were buried near the wreck. Sadly, their remains were not recovered post-war, a far too common outcome in that part of the world. Perhaps the jungle growth quickly obliterated evidence of the gravesite.

    Regards,

    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Poole View Post
    Amrit,

    You were correct -- these men were not Liberator crew.

    Four of the five men listed were killed in the crash of 357 Squadron Hudson AM949 "A" at approximately 0300 on the 15th of March at position 23 degrees 44 min N, 98 deg 48 min E (near Kokang on the Burma/Siam Border). The fifth of your men, F/Lt Ponsford, died on the ground from wounds at 1000 on the 15th. The sixth and final crewman, F/O Prosser was found comatose with a fractured skull, lacerations of forehead and face, and multiple fractures of the right ankle.

    The squadron's Medical Officer (F/O G.D. Graham -- who had never made a jump) and its parachute instructor (F/Sgt White) volunteered to be dropped near the crash site. First came Sgt White. On the ground safely, he yelled out instructions to F/O Graham, who descended uninjured.

    Graham and White's care for F/O Prosser during their month-long trek back through Japanese territory is the stuff of legends. F/O Prosser spent months in hospital in Calcutta before recovering.

    Many more details are available in two out of print books: "Flights of the Forgotten" by Ken Merrick and "Beyond the Irrawaddy and the Salween" by Dickson Morris. The Morris book, in particular, has rich details taken from F/O Graham's diary of the journey. Contact me at feb2944 AT aol.com and I'll be happy to share the further info.

    The Morris book states that the deceased were buried near the wreck. Sadly, their remains were not recovered post-war, a far too common outcome in that part of the world. Perhaps the jungle growth quickly obliterated evidence of the gravesite.

    Regards,

    Matt
    Hi Matt,

    Amrit was asking this question for me as i asked about this flight in another forum. Many thanks for this information. Does the books list the reason why the plane crashed?

    I'm writing a book on Beamsville War Memorial, Ontario which i will be donating to the town on my next trip over to Canada. My wife is from the town and her father who is now 89 was a member of 422 RCAF Squadron based at Pembroke Dock. Any info that you can give me will bring the book to life for not just the town but also for the schools.

    Again many thanks.
    Sniper

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    Default 357 Squadron loss - 15/03/1944

    Good morning, Sniper.

    Yes, here are crash details, from both sources:

    Local natives and guerrillas said that the aircraft was on fire and that the engines were making a banging noise. The Merrick book says one engine was on fire.

    The wrecked aircraft was examined, and the following points noted: It was lying nearly horizontal on the top of a ridge below the main crest at the SW and closed end of the Nam Po Ko valley at a height of approximately 4,600 ft. After dropping containers on its Special Duties assignment, and prior to crashing, it had turned sharply to port to avoid the crest of a 6,000 ft ridge, but it then struck several trees on a lower ridge with the outer part of the mainplane. The outer part of the starboard wing was ripped off. The nose of the aircraft struck the summit of the ridge and the machine came to rest. Scallop marks on the ground showed where the port propeller had struck; none found for the starboard engine. The port engine was hurled into the valley below, while the starboard engine was pushed underneath the main plane. Forward of the W/Op cabin the aircraft was entirely wrecked. The port mainplane had been pushed into the despatch compartment and the floor thrust upwards. The rest of the aircraft and rear gun turret were relatively undamaged. There was no sign of fire and little smell of petrol.

    Palmer (skipper), Patterson (W/Op), Ogilvie (2nd W/Op), and Wilkinson (despatcher) had all died in the crash. Ponsford (the 'A' Flight commander) was acting as 2nd pilot. He had been badly injured but managed to drag Prosser (nav) out of the wreckage. Both men had finished their tour but had gone along because they knew the area well. They had battled through terrible weather to find the Drop Zone and were pulling out for the second run when the Hudson struck a tree.

    When Force 136 people reached the wreckage Ponsford was guarding Prosser with a drawn revolver despite his terrible injuries, from which he died.

    In May 1944 three immediate awards were made: the Medical Officer, F/Lt Graham (listed earlier as a F/O, but I think F/Lt is the correct rank) received a DSO; F/Lt King DFC (pilot of the aircraft which dropped Graham and White) received a Bar to his DFC; and F/Sgt White received a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.

    Do write to me off-board and I'll provide even more background to this story.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Thank you so much for the information, Matt. My apologies for forgetting to mention, in my original post, that I was asking on behalf of Sniper.

    Sniper, didn't I tell you the guys on rafcommands were excellent? :-)

    regards
    A

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amrit View Post
    Thank you so much for the information, Matt. My apologies for forgetting to mention, in my original post, that I was asking on behalf of Sniper.

    Sniper, didn't I tell you the guys on rafcommands were excellent? :-)

    regards
    A
    Amrit, You were so right, wish i'd listened to you sooner because it would of made it so much easier.

    Thanks again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Poole View Post
    Good morning, Sniper.

    Yes, here are crash details, from both sources:

    Local natives and guerrillas said that the aircraft was on fire and that the engines were making a banging noise. The Merrick book says one engine was on fire.

    The wrecked aircraft was examined, and the following points noted: It was lying nearly horizontal on the top of a ridge below the main crest at the SW and closed end of the Nam Po Ko valley at a height of approximately 4,600 ft. After dropping containers on its Special Duties assignment, and prior to crashing, it had turned sharply to port to avoid the crest of a 6,000 ft ridge, but it then struck several trees on a lower ridge with the outer part of the mainplane. The outer part of the starboard wing was ripped off. The nose of the aircraft struck the summit of the ridge and the machine came to rest. Scallop marks on the ground showed where the port propeller had struck; none found for the starboard engine. The port engine was hurled into the valley below, while the starboard engine was pushed underneath the main plane. Forward of the W/Op cabin the aircraft was entirely wrecked. The port mainplane had been pushed into the despatch compartment and the floor thrust upwards. The rest of the aircraft and rear gun turret were relatively undamaged. There was no sign of fire and little smell of petrol.

    Palmer (skipper), Patterson (W/Op), Ogilvie (2nd W/Op), and Wilkinson (despatcher) had all died in the crash. Ponsford (the 'A' Flight commander) was acting as 2nd pilot. He had been badly injured but managed to drag Prosser (nav) out of the wreckage. Both men had finished their tour but had gone along because they knew the area well. They had battled through terrible weather to find the Drop Zone and were pulling out for the second run when the Hudson struck a tree.

    When Force 136 people reached the wreckage Ponsford was guarding Prosser with a drawn revolver despite his terrible injuries, from which he died.

    In May 1944 three immediate awards were made: the Medical Officer, F/Lt Graham (listed earlier as a F/O, but I think F/Lt is the correct rank) received a DSO; F/Lt King DFC (pilot of the aircraft which dropped Graham and White) received a Bar to his DFC; and F/Sgt White received a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.

    Do write to me off-board and I'll provide even more background to this story.

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Matt,

    Thankyou so much for all this information. I will PM you thats for sure. This is awesome and will certainly (well hopefully) show the people of Beamsville how brave these gallant men were. I'm hoping to have the book finished by next September when we visit the wife's family again. I'm planning to have the book published and then presented to the libraries and schools within the area.
    Again thankyou very much for all your help so far.

    Take care
    Mike (Sniper)

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    Default 357 Squadron Loss

    From the aerial DSO data base:

    GRAHAM, George Desmond, F/L, MBE (61855, Royal Air Force) - No.357 Squadron - Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 2 June 1944. Born 1913 in Carlisle; home in Carnarvon. Educated at Cambridge where he was a member of the University Officer Training Corps. Commissioned in the Medical Branch, 1941; awarded MBE in June 1943. This award was in conjunction with a Bar to the DFC for F/L James Albert King and a CGM (Flying) to FS Thomas Emmanuel White for none of whom there was a citation. Public Record Office Air 2/9156 has the text of a message sent from Air Command, South-East Asia to Air Ministry (received 17 May 1944) which announced these awards and then went on:

    "Information was received by Flight Lieutenant Graham, "S" Unit, that medical assistance was urgently required by two members of his squadron who had been very seriously injured in a crash in enemy occupied territory. This Medical Officer, well knowing that he would have to make a parachute descent into enemy-held territory and despite the fact that at time he was unaware that his eventual escape from enemy territory could be arranged, that he had never done a parachute descent before, that he had not flown for considerable time and in fact had done very little flying at all, immediately volunteered to go to the assistance of the injured.

    "Having made a successful parachute descent this officer found there was only one survivor, the other having died from his injuries. This officer displayed great surgical skill and eventually after 21 days the injured navigator had recovered sufficiently to be moved. He then arranged for coolies to transport the injured man through mountainous jungle country on a stretcher to China. He accompanied the navigator out of Burma into China on foot and throughout a five-day trek suffered great hardships with extreme cheerfulness, and this was wonderful inspiration to the injured man. Thirty-three days after this parachute descent, the doctor having covered about 100 miles on foot and flown over the Hump from China arrived with patient [at] Bayish, India. The navigator is now in hospital and is expected to make an almost complete recovery from his injuries.

    "Flight Sergeant White was attached to 357 Squadron and once the rescue mission had been arranged he volunteered to accompany Flight Lieutenant Graham to scene of crash. This Non-Commissioned Officer, a fully qualified Parachute Training Instructor, well knew the terrain where the crash had taken place and that he would have to do a parachute descent into enemy occupied territory. Imbued with a great sense of duty, he volunteered to accompany the doctor not only to assist him but to identify the survivors so that relatives could be informed with as little delay as possible and he gave invaluable assistance to the Medical Officer during the time the then only survivor was being attended to medically. During the trek out of Burma of 100 miles and taking five days he gave further valuable aid and bore great hardship with much fortitude. His cheerfulness throughout proved a great help to the injured man. He showed great courage and grit and his sense of duty is of the highest order.

    "Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant King he has carried out a further ten operational sorties over enemy occupied territory involving flights of over 1,000 miles and of an average duration of some eight hours. These sorties have involved low flying in extremely mountainous and hazardous country and flying under very difficult weather conditions. Success of operations he has carried out has in the main been due to his exceptional flying skill, a quality he has always displayed.

    "In March 1944 a volunteer was required to fly a doctor to assistance of two members of the squadron who had been seriously injured in a crash in enemy occupied territory. This flight involved returning over enemy occupied territory in daylight and unescorted for most of route but he immediately volunteered to carry out the flight. This successful conclusion of this rescue mission was in no small measure due to brilliant flying of this officer. This exemplary courage, determination and great tenacity of purpose have been of the highest order and a glowing example to all around him. Total operational flying hours 264 hours ten minutes. Since last award 78 hours and ten minutes.

    "In order not to compromise future operations and safety of personnel operating in enemy territory request particulars of these citations be withheld from publication in the Gazette or press."

    Alan Cooper, In Action with the Enemy, gives the following:

    "The second CGM for a Far East recipient was an unusual award, as the man recommended was a parachute instructor in the RAF. Flight Sergeant Thomas Emanuel White was attached to 357 Squadron, based at Dum Dum, flying Special Duties ops, dropping men and supplies to insurgent groups behind the Japanese lines, with Hudsons, Liberators and Catalinas.

    "On 14/15th March 1944, a Hudson aircraft took off at 11.30 pm to fly such a mission. At 3 am a signal was received that the Hudson had crashed. Four of the crew had been killed, and two seriously injured. The assistance of a doctor was urgently required.

    "At Dum Dum, the medical officer, Flight Lieutenant George Desmond Graham MBE, who had just joined the squadron, immediately volunteered to parachute into the area where the injured men were. A drop was organised, piloted by Flight Lieutenant James Albert King DFC, having flown an operation to the area only the previous night. Flight Sergeant White also volunteered to accompany the doctor, and to assist in identifying and burying the dead airmen.

    "On the 17th, a message was received that Graham and White had landed safely, but that one of the injured men had died two days earlier. The drop had gone well, and the two men had been met on the ground by Kokang guerillas dressed in blue uniforms under the control of Colonel Yang Yan Sang. Mule transport had been provided and after an hour's journey to the crash site, he found the wreckage half a mile west of the Po Ko village. In a mountain hut, directly opposite the crash, the sole survivor Flying Officer Prosser, the aircraft's navigator, was found. He had been given first aid by Major Leitch and Lieutenant Parsons of American forces in the area. Prosser was found to have a fractured skull, cuts on his face and a fractured right ankle, plus a fever due to infection that had set in. Treatment was given, and he was attended to by Leitch, Parsons and Flight Sergeant White.

    "After three days he began to improve, the men having kept watch on Prosser in relays around the clock, but then he had a relapse. Captain Hockman, an American medical officer then arrived having journeyed from T Etang by mule, which had taken him 5 days. He and Graham tended Prosser constantly and he began improve again. Meanwhile, the dead crewmen were all buried a given full military honours.

    "Then on 24th March, a message was received that a force of Japanese soldiers was making its way towards their position, being even then only four hours' march away. Prosser was better but not well enough to be moved, so they decided to await further confirmation of the enemy's movements. This came on the 30th the force was just thirty miles away and numbered 400!

    "On 1st April, they departed into China, Prosser being carried o litter by twelve coolies. On the 8th the coolies vanished in the night and some hours were spent trying to engage new ones. In meantime, White was sent ahead to see if he could recruit others. He returned on the 9th and they set off again.

    "Two days later they climbed a pass of 7,000 feet, then on the 12th they got a message to 357 Squadron. The next day they were transported in a weapons' carrier to Yunshin staying there at 22nd Field Hospital. They then contacted the American Air Transport Command who promised to fly the party to India. They took off but then the aeroplane's undercarriage failed to retract, so had to land immediately. Prosser collapsed again and was air sick. They returned to Kunming where he was refreshed. They finally flew out on the 17th, arriving at Dum Dum at 6.30 pm.

    "Flight Lieutenant Graham praised the work of Flight Sergeant White, for the way in which he .looked after Prosser, his help with the coolies and general all round assistance. They had covered over 100 miles, travelling for five days, and in all they had been away a total of thirty-three days. White was recommended for. the- CGM on 17th May, and Graham the DSO. Flight Lieutenant King, who had flown them in received a bar to his DFC."

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    Hi Hugh,

    Many thanks for all this background information about the trip back for the survivor of the crash and those that helped save his life. You must have a huge collection of books and documents. Do you happen to have anything on the pilot other than what has been posted so far?

    Many thanks again
    Mike (Sniper)

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    Default 357 Squadron loss - 15/03/1944

    Sniper, currently I do not know any more about the pilot than what has already been posted (some of the material put up by others will be added to my own data base).

    Does you intended book encompass the RAF School at Beamsville in 1918 ? There was an article on that school published in the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society about 1973.

    Hugh H.

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