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Thread: Crew of AN529, 90 Sqn, force landed 8 Nov 1941

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    Default Crew of AN529, 90 Sqn, force landed 8 Nov 1941

    I have conflicting information about this aircraft's letter code and crew and am looking for clarification.

    Per "Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean, Vol 1, 1939-1942":

    8 Nov 1941
    90 Sqn, Fortress I AN529 X
    Op: Benghazi

    F/O Swanson, crew
    Took off Shallufa to attack Benghazi harbour and shipping. Ran out of fuel and force-landed 128km W of Fort Maddelena.

    From Air Classics magazine article, Dec 1994:

    On 26 October, four Fortresses each with two bomb bay tanks flew to Shaluffa, Egypt as 90 Squadron detachment, leaving five in England. Operations began on 8 November, when "C-Charlie." flown by Flying Off. Stevenson and Flt. Sgt. Ken Brailsford, bombed Benghazi in daylight from 20,000 ft. As the bomb bay doors were open throughout the bombing run, the vented hydraulic fluid from the operation of the autopilot swirled up into the bomb bay and froze the lower bomb releases. Tony Barwood. who was on board to experience high-altitude operations during desert conditions, recalls,

    "It was the passenger's job to be ready with two screwdrivers to manually operate the lower releases if the bombs failed to come off. On this occasion manual release under the direction of the bomb aimer over the intercom was necessary. It did not contribute to the accuracy of the bombing!

    "There was some flak, which was a shock as we weren't expecting any. Shortly after turning for home the aircraft progressively ran out of fuel; engines 1, 2 and 3 being feathered in turn. The crew prepared to bail out but a convenient wadi came up and Stevenson effectively crash-landed. Apart from some sand in the eyes, nobody was injured." The crew were later picked up by an armored unit of the Long Range Desert Group.

    +++++++++++++++++++++

    Was AN529 coded "X" or "C"? Was the pilot F/O SWANSON or F/O STEVENSON? If the latter is true, then other crew members included 2nd pilot Ken BRAILSFORD and Tony BARWOOD.

    I just heard from the daughter of Colin BARBER regarding 159 Sqn matters in India, and she mentioned, by chance, that Colin was involved in a Fortress crash in the desert that I think was AN529...but his logbook is missing. He is alive in Ontario, Canada (having emigrated from the UK years ago) and just told his daughter that Canadian Bill STRUTHERS was among those aboard. I have three photos of the prang (no injuries, all rescued), and there were at least eight aboard. It's early in my communication with Colin's daughter, so possibly Colin will be able to provide his own further take on what happened and who was with him.

    Are there two separate Fortress prangs involved here? I don't think so, based on info found on Joe Baugher's US serial numbers database, on-line.

    If a 90 Sqn expert, or another, can provide a crew list, I'll be delighted.

    Some other tidbits to share: STRUTHERS later died with STEVENSON aboard 159 Sqn's Liberator AL526 "G" on 6/7 April 1943 during an op to the Arakan coast, Burma. BRAILSFORD did a tour with 159 Sqn in India in 1943/44 and then later in 1944 joined 358 Squadron at its formation in India. He was skipper of KH215 when lost, along with two other 358 Sqn Libs, on 358's first SD op, to French Indo-China, on the night of 22/23 Jan 1945. BARBER flew a small number of ops with 159 Sqn in India in '44, and BARWOOD also shows up briefly on ops with 159 in early '43. BARWOOD also shows up in the "Bomber Losses" book as a crewman aboard 220 Sqn's AN521 "K", which suffered an in-flight engine fire near Shallufa on 10 Jan 1942 on an air test. Two died baling out, but three survived, including BARWOOD (one of two injured).

    Many thanks for anything that can add to what I've found.

    Matt

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    Default AN529 crew

    I hit the "Submit" button and almost immediately had an e-mail from Colin Barber's daughter, in which she passed along her father's identifications of crewmates in a photo taken as the AN529 crew were waiting to be rescued behind enemy lines. Thus, I think the crew were as follows:

    Jimmy Stevenson, skipper
    Ken Brailsford, 2nd pilot
    Dick Parnell
    Tony "Doc" Barwood
    Tom Gwynn
    Ken Waddle
    Bill Struthers
    Colin Barber

    Colin identified one crewmate only as "Doc", but this was definitely Tony Barwood, who flew as 90 Squadron's Medical Officer in order to study the effects of high altitude flying. Doing a google search on him, I found that he passed away, age 93, last year and had a fascinating career. His Telegraph obit:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/2979212/Group-Captain-Tony-Barwood.html

    One of the photos of the post-prang scene shows seven men. The man who shot the photo makes it eight. All have been identified by name. This doesn't account for F/O Swanson, listed as the pilot in the Gunby & Temple book. I must assume that Swanson was not aboard and that AN529 was "C", not "X", but I welcome clarification.

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    Matt:
    The pilot was F/O Stevenson and the code was 'WP-C'.
    Sources: Roger Freemans' various articles the Fortress I (there is a photo showing the downed 'WP-C' in one of them) and Phil Listemann's recent book on the same subject.
    Regards:
    Robert Stitt

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    Matt:
    I just looked at the obit for Barwood and it's a little misleading. It gives the impression that he could not have been on board AN529 when it crash-landed as it quotes him being posted to the ME in February 1942. I don't have the 90 Squadron ORB for November 1941 but the 220 Squadron ORB for December 1941 shows him flying as MO with the unit on the 19th of the month. A later, retrocative entry indicates he transferred from 90 to 220 Squadron so there seems little doubt that he was indeed there in November 1941.
    Regards:
    Robert

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    Thanks, Robert. I found a photo on-line of a prototype B-17C (Fortress I) radio controlled model in the colors and markings of 90 Sqn's WP-C...though the AN529 serial had not been applied. See http://www.cdscaledesigns.com/Images%20B-17C/Prototype/PICT0044.JPG for one image. I have sent this, and a second photo of the work-in-progress to the daughter of Colin Barber. No doubt he will be thrilled to see "his" aircraft.

    Like you, I also noticed the date error in the Barwood obituary. Clearly there is no question about 90 Sqn's detachment to the Middle East. I have a copy of the Birdsall/Freeman book, "Claims to Fame: the B-17 Flying Fortress", which says that four Fortresses flew to the M.E. on detachment in October '41. The authors added, "It was finally decided that the detachment would be used chiefly in attacks on enemy shipping, and on 3 February 1942 it was re-labelled as a detachment of No. 220 Sqn, a Coastal Command unit with headquarters in the UK."

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Matt:
    Could scan and email the book photo of 'WP-C' on its belly if you would like.
    Thanks for the extract.
    Regards:
    Robert

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    Robert,

    Thanks for the offer. Maybe I should send you my photos first, in case one of them is the same as in the Listemann book, although possibly the book image is different, or a better image, than I have. My e-mail: feb2944 AT aol.com.

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 13th April 2009 at 19:26. Reason: Spelled Phil Listemann's name wrong

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