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Thread: Corporal Arthur F. Militsher, USAAF - BEM - No.236 Squadron crash

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Orleans, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Corporal Arthur F. Militsher, USAAF - BEM - No.236 Squadron crash

    Found years ago at Kew and photocopied because I thought at the time his unit was No.425 (RCAF) Squadron. My mistake, but I have transcribed the following for the possible interest of others. The information is from Air 2/9230.

    ASN 32394725 Corporal Arthur F. Militsher - Ground Crew Member, No.425 Night Fighter Squadron. Recommendation for British Empire Medal, 29 September 1944 by the Air Officer Commanding, No.19 Group, Coastal Command, as follows:

    “On the 25th August 1944, Beaufighter aircraft B/236 of Coastal Command crash landed at Vannes Airfield, Brittany, and immediately broke into flames. The pilot, Flight Sergeant Buffey, was rendered unconscious by the crash.

    “Immediately and with great gallantry, Corporal A.F. Militsher, a United States airman of No.425 Night Fighter Squadron, with others rushed to the scene of the accident in a jeep. Undeterred by the fact that the aircraft was in flames and both engines blazing, Corporal Militsher got astride the fuselage above the pilot’s hatch and proceeded to extricate the unconscious pilot. With considerable difficulty he managed to unstrap the pilot and lift him partially from the cockpit. The fire was rapidly spreading but Corporal Militsher did not allow this to deter his efforts and with the help of others who had by then joined in the rescue he finally lifted the pilot from his seat and bore him away from the aircraft, thus saving his life. Corporal Militsher showed great devotion to duty and complete lack of care for his own safety and his efforts undoubtedly saved the life of Flight Sergeant Buffey. I strongly recommend he be awarded the British Empire Medal.”

    This was endorsed as “Strongly recommended” on 9 October 1944 by Air Chief Marshal W.S. Douglas (AOC-in Chief, Coastal Command).

    It appears to have been approved, with effect from 3 May 1945 with the following condensed citation:

    “On the 25th August 1944, a Beaufighter aircraft made a crash landing at Vannes Airfield, Brittany, and caught fire. The pilot was rendered unconscious by the crash. Accompanied by other helpers, Corporal Militsher hastened to the scene of the accident. The aircraft was in flames and both were engines blazing furiously. Undeterred, Corporal Militsher climbed into the fuselage above the pilot’s hatch and, with considerable difficulty, he unstrapped the pilot and partially lifted him out of the cockpit. Although the fire was spreading rapidly , Corporal Militsher persisted in the rescue efforts and with the assistance of others, he finally succeeded in releasing the pilot and got him to safety. Corporal Militsher’s gallantry and initiative were most praiseworthy and undoubtedly were responsible for saving the pilot’s life.”

  2. #2
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Corporal Arthur F. Militsher, USAAF - BEM - No.236 Squadron crash


    Date of the incident was early in the evening of 24 August, 1944.

    This was the last major effort required of the Davidstow Moor Strike Wing. (W/C) E.W. Tacon was briefed to lead ten Beaufighters from 236 and ten from 404, all armed with cannon and 25 lb rockets. Take-off was late in the day, at 16.15 hours. The wing was scheduled to attack near the limit of its range, perhaps returning in darkness...
    Although none of the Beaufighters was shot down, fifteen were damaged, They were a long way from home, with darkness ahead.
    'Call in, anyone in trouble' said Tacon. There were plenty of responses over the R/T. 'Can't maintain height, sir', said Flight Sergeant E.J. Prince of 236 Squadron. 'Call up the Naval Force and try and ditch near them', Tacon instructed. Prince turned towards the destroyers and ditched successfully, watched over by an aircraft of 404 Squadron, but it was to be ten hours before he and his navigator were picked up from their dinghy. 'One of my engines has packed up', said Flight Lieutenant G. Gregory, who was flying as Tacon's Number Two from 236 Squadron. 'Mine's the same', said Flight Sergeant T.G.F. Buffey*, from the same squadron. 'So is mine', said Flight Lieutenant W.R. Christison,** the leader of the section from 404 Squadron.
    It was evident to Tacon that these three aircraft might not stay in the air all the way back to England. He had a short conservation with his navigator. Then he called back to the three crippled Beaufighters and to Flying Officer J.P. Allan of 236 Squadron, flying alongside him. 'We'll head for Vannes aerodrome, between St Nazaire and Lorient', he instructed. 'With any luck, the Germans won't be there. You land with me, Allan, and help pick up the crews.'
    The aerodrome at Vannes appeared to be deserted as the five Beaufighters circled above. Christison and Gregory landed safely but Buffey overshot the runway and crashed. Tacon and Allan landed after them. Buffey was injured but his navigator was unhurt; after destroying their Beaufighters, the other crews had no alternative but to leave the two there and hope that medical help would arrive before long.The other two crews were taken aboard the two serviceable Beaufighters within minutes, and the journey back to England was resumed.
    After leaving France, the two Beaufighters climbed. Then Wardle brought forward some unwelcome news on the W/T. Davidstow Moor was closed in with bad weather, and the remaining aircraft were advised to try Chivenor, Portreath or Exeter. The cloud base was at 200 feet, whilst dusk was approaching. The twelve Beaufighters landed at these alternative aerodromes, apart from one which had to put down at Perranporth. Their fuel was almost exhausted, and one Beaufighter of 404 Squadron actually landed just after both engines had cut. Tacon landed at Portreath, six hours after take-off.

    Appendix III - Vessels Sunk or Damaged by the Strike Wings.

    Date: 24 Aug, 1944.
    Name: Z.24
    Description :Destroyer.
    Flag: German
    Tonnage sunk: -
    Tonnage damaged: -
    Squadrons: 236, 404
    Location: Le Verdon

    Date: 24 Aug, 1944.
    Name: T.24
    Description: Torpedo boat.
    Flag: German
    Tonnage sunk: -
    Tonnage damaged: -
    Squadrons:236, 404.
    Location: Le Verdon.

    * 1338952 F/Sgt (Pilot) Thomas Gordon Francis BUFFEY, injured, his navigator, F/Sgt W. ARMSTRONG, uninjured, flying Beaufighter TF.X B/NT942.
    ** J15143 F/Lt William Ritchie CHRISTISON (later DFC*), RCAF (see Hugh Halliday's RCAF Awards site for more detail).

    The Strike Wings Special Anti-Shipping Squadrons 1942-1945.
    Nesbit,Roy Conyers.
    London:William Kimber,1984.
    pp.175-180 & 263.

    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 4th November 2021 at 03:50.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
    Lincoln, England
    Thanked 163 Times in 149 Posts

    Default Re: Corporal Arthur F. Militsher, USAAF - BEM - No.236 Squadron crash

    Can the serial NT942 be re-confirmed please? I am aware that it says NT942/B in the 236 Sqn ORB.
    The Air-Britain serials book seems to think this was shot down by flak attacking ships off Den Helder on 17 Jan 45.
    Looking in the 236 Sqn ORB for Jan 45, it lists NT912/B as one of the three machines lost on that day (also NE794, NT918). This in itself is confusing, as according to Air-Britain NT912 only served with 1 FU and 79 OTU, being struck off charge on 26 Sep 46, while NE794 served with 144 Sqn after 236 Sqn and was SOC 25 Jan 49.

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