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Thread: 15 June 1945, 99 Sqn Liberator casualty query

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    Default 15 June 1945, 99 Sqn Liberator casualty query

    A fellow researcher from Switzerland, Stefan Zingg, asked me if I knew the serial number of a 99 Squadron Liberator which crashed with battle damage at Mingaladon, Burma (RAF airfield just north of Rangoon) on 15 June 1945. So far, to my surprise, I haven't found it, and it may have slipped through Air Britain's list of serial number/squadron details. Haven't found it on the Oughton book, "The Liberator in Royal Air Force and Commonwealth Service" yet, either. But I haven't looked all that hard so far.

    Excerpt from "Ninety Degrees East", The Story of the overseas tour of Ninety Nine Squadron from February 1942 to November 1945, by Flight Lietenant S R Hodkinson, Squadron Intelligence Officer:

    Then came the attempt of seven aircraft to destroy a 10,000 ton oil tanker off Koh Samoi Island in the Gulf of Siam. They took off in the worst of Monsoon weather and only three reached the target. Flight Lieutenant Ludbey and Flying Officer Parkinson flying together in M made two runs without success in face of heavy and accurate flak from the escorting destroyer and returned to base with severe damage. Flying Officer Wheeler in F attacked at mast level and was repeatedly hit by flak. His bombs would not release but nose and tail gunners scored strikes on the target. Damaged, they limped to Akyab where the Flight Engineer was killed in crash landing. Pilot Officer Parkin took J to the target. On the bombing run the aircraft was repeatedly hit, the starboard tail fin was shot away and the bombs were blown off the racks and considerable damage was done. The Navigator and Air Bomber baled out in the target area. The Navigator unfortunately lost his life, but the Air Bomber was taken prisoner and was released a few months later. Meanwhile the aircraft was flown back to Mingladon, but crashed on landing killing the pilot. This was one of the most disastrous operations to be undertaken by the Squadron.

    The date is 15 June 1945, and I do know that F/O Wheeler's Liberator 'F' was KH361. I do believe that his FE who was killed was 1892853 Sgt Albert Arthur Webb.

    I'm guessing that the Air Bomber who is mentioned as having baled out, captured, and later released was 519898 F/S E. Durtnall, though he isn't listed as being a POW in Les and Pam Stubbs' "Unsung Heroes of the Royal Air Force", which lists all known POWs. Durtnall, Stefan told me, is not in the CWGC Debt of Honour Register. I haven't found the name of the navigator who baled out and lost his life.

    SO...ANY TAKERS? 1. What was the serial number of Liberator 'J'? 2. Was Durtnall the POW? 3. What is the name of his navigator who died?

    Thanks,

    Matt

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    From Shores' Air War Over Burma (Bloody Shambles Vol3) P/O Parkin's navigator is quoted as being Flg Off J.T.Adair and his bomb aimer is confirmed as being Durtnall. Both are said to have bailed out over the target but there is no confirmation of their fates. Unfortunately the identity of the aircraft is just given as "J".

    Edit / Update : Just checked Air of Authority and this confirms Adair's death and identifies the aircraft as Liberator VI KG878. His full details are given as ADAIR, JOHN THOMAS DFC (187101); age 30 RAFVR

    Hope this is of some help. J.
    Last edited by norfolkjohn; 10th January 2017 at 22:02.

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    Thanks, John!

    I completely forgot to check Air War For Burma...which is sorely devoid of a tremendous amount of Liberator info (because of a printing deadline). But, anyway, you have come through with great info.

    However, the serial number has to be researched further...because Oughton's Liberator book says this about KG878's history:

    Arrived at Karachi 28.8.44; 358 Squadron; Category E 4.10.45 and Struck Off Charge the same date.

    That said, the Oughton book has tons of errors, some of which I've documented. However, many of his individual serial number records came from the Aircraft Cards, and if the card has erroneous or incomplete info, then it is understandable that errors found their way into print. This might be the case for KG878. I know that the 99 Sqn Operations Record Book has no serial numbers for a big chunk -- all of '45, for certain, and probably way before that, too, which might help to explain why the KG878 Oughton entry has no 99 Sqn reference. It wasn't on the record card, and it wasn't mentioned in the 99 Sqn ORB.

    But at least I have a serial to work with and investigate further. And your additional info. Thanks very much!

    Matt

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    Matt,

    Independent information I have, confirms the serial of the 99 Sqn Liberator as KG878.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 11th January 2017 at 01:10.

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    Beautiful, Col! I was wondering if you'd have the answer. No, I figured that you'd have the answer, and you did. Many thanks. Might you have the full crew listing and any other details? It's a pain to summarize documents, but if you're willing, I'm all eyes.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Matt,

    Very limited information:

    SEAC Missing Searchers List.

    Crew: 187101 P/O. Adair, J. T.
    Unit: 99 Sqdn.
    Last Reported Position: 16.57N:96.10E.
    Remarks: Liberator KG.878. Hit by flak, Baled out. Remainder of crew safe. 15/6/45.

    That's it!

    Col.

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    It's a shame the 99 Sqn ORB -- or that which survives -- is so thin on basic details. But your info is good, and valuable. Much appreciated!

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    You guys are great

    Thank you for the information. Every bit is very much appreciated!
    I will try to find out more about the fate of 519898 F/S E. Durtnall.

    Stefan

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    KG 878 crashed at Mingalon 15.6.45
    F/S Durtnall became a POW but F/O JT Adair was lost and is commemorated on Singapore Memorial.
    Pilot F/O Jack Parkin DFC RAFR died in crash and is buried at Rangoon.
    Co-pilot P/O Peter Miles survived with leg and facial injuries; F/S Cooke and others survived crash.
    F/S Cooke having release bombs over Indian Ocean with a hammer, we are told.
    Hit by naval flak whilst attacking oil tanker Tohu Maru
    Wing Commander Lucien Ercolani commanding.

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    Thanks, Milesofnewbold.

    I still don't have the 99 Sqn ORB for June '45. I'm just wondering what the source of your info was. The ORB?

    Cheers,

    Matt

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