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Thread: Blenheim 11 Sqdn collision on 5th April 1943 over Burma - Matheson and Besley

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    Default Blenheim 11 Sqdn collision on 5th April 1943 over Burma - Matheson and Besley

    Two Blenheims collided near target on Burma on 5th April 1943 . Aircraft were Z9667 and Z7648. Both aircraft were seen spinning away into the ground interlocked - and one parachute was seen to open.

    Crew of Z9667 were S/Ldr W. R Matheson, F/O Edward Francis APPLETON (400067) and F/Sgt Thomas Joseph WIXTED (404225) .
    Crew of Z7648 (above) F/Sgt H. Bealey (or BESLEY), P/O George Atkinson FOSTER (407418), and David Thomas ANDREW (400247)

    I cannot locate Matheson or Besley/Bealey in CWGC - Did both of them or one of them survive as POWs? OTOH did i get their names wrong? The remaining four listed above with numbers are shown in CWGC as buried at Taukyan Cemetary (link)

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    Jagan,

    From Dr Tom Roberts' 'Wingless':

    BESLEY, Harvey F/Sgt/F/Off MM.
    402942 Pilot.
    Born: Inverell, N.S.W. 18/4/1914.
    11 Sqn RAF - 2 MRU - Blenheim (IV. Z9667). Meiktila airfield, Burma. 5/4/1943.

    His aircraft was involved in a collision with anotherf Blenheim during an airfield attack. He successfully baled out.

    Later he escaped on a march, with Sgt Ronald Trobridge HADDEN 406936 (99 Sqn), F/Off John Jameson WILSON 402431 (82 Sqn) and Cpl Douglas Percival EASTGATE VX65572 (AIF).

    (Held at) Camp prison , Rangoon.

    NB. Besley late wrote an account of his Air Force career entitled, Pilot-Prisoner-Survivor - Six Years in Uniform. Toowoomba:Darling Downs Institue Press(Q,land),1986.

    and ...

    MATHESON, William Ronald. S/Ldr. 406253.
    Born: Perth, W.A. 17/10/1916.
    11 Sqn RAF. 1 MRU - Blenheim IV Z7648 AD- . Meiktila, 5/4/1943.

    Matheson was flying Number 7 in a formation of nine Blenheims at 15,000 feet in an attack on Meiktila aerodrome. A collision with Number 5 resulted in a fire and bale out. The aircraft crashed six miles north of Pywabe, Burma.

    He was captured together with F/Sgt BESLEY 402942 from the other Blenheim IV Z9667. Matheson and Besley were apprehended by armed natives who beat them up and handed them to the Japanese. They were confined to a police cell where they were threatened, beaten and deprived.

    On 2/5/1943 they were transferred to Rangoon prison. Then on May 29th most prisoners were evacuated and flown in an Army 97 bomber to Bangkok, hence to Singapore at Kalang civil airport and from here to Changi. Later they were imprisoned at Malai Camp in Malaya.

    (Held at) Rangoon Prison.

    Killed: P/O Edward Francis APPLETON 400067 (Nav.), F/Sgt Thomas Joseph WIXTED 404225 (WOP/AG), F/Sgt George Atkinson FOSTER 407419 (Nav.) and F/Sgt David Thomas ANDREWS 400247 (WOP/AG).

    See:
    Wingless:A Biographical Index of Australian Airmen Detained in Wartime.
    Roberts,Tom (Dr.)
    Ballarat:Author,2011.
    pp.92 & 322.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 4th September 2018 at 00:34.

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    Thanks for that Colin - that tied up both threads. Though BESLEY was the pilot of Z7648 and and Matheson the pilot of Z9667. and not the other way around as per the ORB.

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    Jagan,

    Correct, Besley was aboard Blenheim Z7648, and Matheson was flying Blenheim Z9667. I should have made that clear. Occasionally, Tom Roberts gets this type of detail mixed up.

    Harvey Besley passed away at the Westhaven RSL Home, Toowoomba, Queensland, on 6 November, 2003, aged 89

    AUS434555 F/S Robert Anthony WIXTED RAAF, the younger brother of AUS404225 Thomas Joseph WIXTED RAAF, was killed on 5 July, 1944, when 1667 HCU Halifax V DG414, crashed on the south bank of the Humber, 7m NNW of Scunthorpe, Licolnshire (BCL8/122).

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 4th September 2018 at 10:19.

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    Jagan,

    I have Besley's book, Pilot-Prisoner-Survivor, if you need the passage about his final op. He doesn't name any of the others involved and offers no serial numbers, either.

    Matt

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    Matt, thanks for the offer. but i am good . I was hunting after the full names of both the pilots and their fates. which i now have.

    Pretty sure that Mathesons kin must have been notified about his presumed death - and can imagine their surprise. the ORB talks about only one parachute being observed and coming from BESLEYs aircraft.

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    Just read the file ANDREW David Thomas - (Warrant Officer); Service Number - 400247; File type - Casualty - Repatriation; Aircraft - Blenheim Z9667; Place Pauktaw, Burma; Date - 5 April 1943 in the australian archives

    D T Andrew was originally classified as missing - particulars unknown as he was in BESLEYs ac and they saw one chute open. family was notified of the same
    A few months later Matheson was announced as a POW - this prompted a communication to be given to the next of kin that Besley and his crew including Andrew were presumed killed.
    It was only after Besleys liberation did his fate get clarified. Besley baled out at 10000 feet, Matheson baled out at 1000 feet - thus his chute was not observed. Page 66 of the above file.

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    Do you fine chaps have any information about P/O or F/Sgt George Foster? It's hard trying to find information but I'm armed with a photo of all the crew involved in this accident. And yes I am related to George as he is a not too distant cousin.

    Tank.
    Last edited by tankengine888; 19th February 2020 at 10:41.

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    Default SN 407418 F/Sgt George Aktinson Foster, 11 squadron, Died April 5th 1943 Burma.

    I know that there is a thread about his death and 3 others but I posted this Forum because all I know is his birth, death, enlistment papers and I have his photo. I need assistance with acquiring more information. I checked NAA And familysearch already. He is my 2nd Cousin 3 removed.


    Regards,
    Tank.

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    Default Re: SN 407418 F/Sgt George Aktinson Foster, 11 squadron, Died April 5th 1943 Burma.

    From Warner's 'Blenheim'

    "05-04-1943 Blenheim Z7648 of 11 Squadron collided with Z9667 during a raid on Meiktila airfield, some 8 miles from the target:
    F/S Besley, P/O G Foster and W/O D Andrew killed in action."

    From Shores 'Air War for Burma'

    "Just before the target the two leading Blenheims were seen to collide, that flown by S/L Bill Matheson catching fire, whereupon the pair crashed, still locked together. One parachute was seen to deploy from F/S Harvey Besley's aircraft, but both crews were reported missing, although in the event all six airmen survived and were captured."

    For what it is worth, I realise that the two accounts here differ regarding the fates of the crews.

    regards

    DaveW

  11. The Following User Says Thank You to davew For This Useful Post:

    tankengine888 (11th May 2020)

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