Did the "Temporary Wellington Flight, Waterloo" evolve into a squadron ?

Can anyone add details to the following incident (such as identity of the ASR vessel or the Hudson "guardian angel") ?

On 21 November 1942 Wellington HX578 of Temporary Wellington Flight, Waterloo, Sierra Leone was despatched on a convoy escort flight. On its completion the aircraft was to land at Robertsfield, Liberia. The crew consisted of J8430 P/O F.P. Bartkiewicz (WOP/AG, killed), R69363 Sergeant J.J. De Marco (WOP/AG, killed), J8218 P/O C.J. Radford (pilot, injured, survived), 119657 P/O A.E. Abraham, RAF (second pilot, survived). J9565 P/O P.V. Lyon (navigator, injured survived) plus J11211 P/O R.C. Gillin, passenger. Radford had 189 hours 20 minutes flying on type and 396 hours 45 minutes total. Problems began after about 90 minutes flying and 60 miles from the convoy. The aircraft crashed at 6 degrees 50 minutes North, 13 degrees 10 minutes west. Aircraft was cruising when a knocking developed in port engine and smoke was seen to issue from the port engine cowling. There was as yet no apparent loss of power. Oil began streaming over port nacelle. After some time there was an explosion and the top of the port cowling burst open. From this point onwards power dropped. Pilot attempted to jettison depth charges but they hung up. Normal release system also failed. The engine then failed completely and pilot tried to ditch, closing the bomb doors before alighting at about 60 knots. Apparently preoccupied by a DC-3, pilot did not jettison petrol, and aircraft sank within seconds of ditching, taking down one crewman. The dinghy had inflated about 50 feet away and the crew boarded it; they were eventually spotted by a Hudson and picked up by ASR launch and six and one-half hours after ditching.

The specific evidence of Gillin (given just prior to posting to India) was as follows:

"I am an observer in a Hudson crew in transit at Waterloo aerodrome. I was a passenger on Wellington HX578, which was detailed to take off from Robertsfield at 0630 hours 21 November 1942 on convoy escort duty, returning Waterloo about 1430 hours. At approximately 0815 I went forward to second pilot's seat while the captain of the aircraft, P/O Radford, went to the astro-hatch to take a sun sight. I was still in the second pilot's seat when, at about 0830 hours, the port engine began to make a pop-pop popping noise easily heard above the usual sound of the motors, accompanied by small bursts of gray-white smoke. The captain immediately came forward and took over the controls. I returned to the cabin, where the Wireless Operator, P/O Bartkiewicz, instructed me to get the fire extinguisher ready as the fuselage was beginning to fill with smoke. I took the extinguisher from the bracket and walked aft into the fuselage but the source of the smoke appeared to be under the navigation desk. On returning to my position before the main spar I put my Mae West on and slipped the water bottle inside it. I noticed the cowling had split on the top and caved in at the sides; oil was streaming back over the nacelle.

"About five minutes after my return to the main spar I heard the captain give the wireless operator instructions to transmit S.O.S. and the I.F.F. to the distress position. During that time the captain and the second pilot had been trying to release the depth charges, but the rear gunner, Sergeant De Marco, did not see them go.

"On the order "ditching stations" I braced my back, head and shoulders against the main spar, facing forward. I saw the wireless operator leave his seat and stuff the Verey pistol and cartridge into his pocket while continuing to operate the Morse key with his left hand. I did not see him get onto the floor, although he may have done so at the last minute.

"The initial impact was not severe and the plane seemed to wheel to port before all forward motion stopped. I stood up and turned facing the astro hatch which the second pilot was climbing through. The navigator, P/O Lyon, was getting up from the floor behind him. Water, which was coming from forward and below, was already up to my knees and the plane was filling rapidly. My head was not above water for more than eight seconds.

"As the water came over my head I felt a shock of some violence, which spun me around and threw me off my feet, although I was not stunned. The fuselage appeared to disintegrate. The force of the explosion was definitely not upward as I had to swim upward through wreckage about fifteen feet to reach the surface.

"Pilot Officer Radford, P/O Lyon, P/O Abraham and P/O Bartkiewicz were already on the surface and P/O Abraham was calling out that Bartkiewicz was injured. There were pieces of wreckage (parachute packs, fabric, a piece of the mainplane) on the water, which did not show any signs of upheaval caused by the explosion. The dinghy was about 40 yards from me. My eyes were stinging with petrol and I had swallowed a good deal of petrol and sea water.

"The dinghy was about half-inflated, right side up and puckered by its ropes. On reaching it I almost fainted but though better of it. I helped Radford close the larger of the two leaks with a leak stopper and two shoe laces, while Bartkiewicz was placed in the dinghy. I saw no signs of life in his body at any time. Later, Abraham was assisted into the dinghy which shipped a good deal of water. I was in the water about three-quarters of an hour, repairing the leak, and blowing up the dinghy by mouth. Radford stayed in the water some time after me. When he finally got in, the dinghy was still half-inflated and the slightest movement on the part of any of the four of us brought water over the side. After a thorough examination Bartkiewicz was slipped over the side.

"Later we found the pump, and baled out water so that the dinghy rode better. The dinghy medical kit was opened and a field dressing was placed on Radford's leg.

"I noticed that my watch had stopped at 0846. It had been synchronized in the morning before take off so that 0846 was definitely the time of ditching.

"We saw the search Hudson on one leg of its search before it spotted us but the distress signals were wet and useless. It spotted us on the next leg that apprioached us, and dropped a Mae West with a bag of food, water and medical supplies, which we secured. Later it dropped some Marine Distress Signals which we also secured.

"Later Wellington Y appeared and still later the Air Sea Rescue launch picked us up. I was only slightly scratched and bruised and had vomited up the petrol. On examination later the carbon dioxide bottle in my Mae West was found intact, and could not be operated by the lever."

P/O (later F/L) Peyton V. Lyon testified:

"I am a Navigator of the Temporary Wellington Flight, Waterloo. At 1020 hours on the 17th November 1943, I was a member of the crew of Wellington HX578, which took off from Waterloo to carry out a convoy patrol, afterwards landing at Robertsfield. On this flight and three subsequent flights from Robsertsfield no trouble from the engine was experienced.

"At 0700 hours on the 21st November 1942, the aircraft took off from Robertsfield to carry out a convoy patrol with instructions to land at Waterloo. Before taking off I noticed that two gill plates were missing from the port engine. In the air, however, the aircraft was giving a better than normal performance, i.e. our I.A.S. was 120 knots instead of the usual 116 knots.

"At 0827 hours I heard a popping noise from the port engine. The first pilot asked me for a course to the nearest land. A minute later he asked for a course to Waterloo, on which we flew until the aircraft ditched. At the time of setting course we were 120 miles south of Waterloo. I gave our position and E.T.A. to the Wireless Operator on two separate occasions and he replied each time that the messages had been received by shore stations. At 0845 hours the first pilot announced over the intercom that he was preparing to ditch the aircraft. I started to jettison loose articles but as we were losing height very rapidly I gave it up and took my ditching station beneath the astro-dome. I saw the second pilot and passenger also braced and the rear gunner in his turret. The initial impact was comparatively slight, but the aircraft commenced sinking rapidly. It was at that moment intact. I found myself on the surface of the water and the aircraft had broken up. The first pilot, second pilot and passenger were also on the surface and conscious. We found Pilot Officer Bartkiewicz, the Wireless Operator, floating on the surface with his Mae West inflated but he was unconscious. We placed him in the half-inflated dinghy which had also come to the surface, but later discovered that he was dead. As there was no prospect of rescue at that time we came to the conclusion that it would be better to bury him at sea.

"We were later spotted by a Hudson and picked up by a high speed launch after approximately six and a half hours in the water."