Ventura V, JS902
Staff Nav School/75 OTU
Abandoned out of fuel 30m SW of Debra, Sudan, 18.1.45
Hello, and Happy New Year!
Seeking a service history/fate of Ventura V JS902.
Ventura V, JS902
Staff Nav School/75 OTU
Abandoned out of fuel 30m SW of Debra, Sudan, 18.1.45
Staff Navigators School (ME)/75 OTU, Gianaclis.
Ventura V JS902 "55"
Lost on a navex, Cairo - Khartoum. Abandoned out of fuel, 30m SW of Debra, Sudan. Five crew baled out safely, returning to civilisation eight days later.
Crew (Alpha order):
AUS413743 F/Lt (Pilot) Arthur Gostwyk CORY RAAF
J/20899 F/O ( - ? - ) A E SUTHERLAND RCAF
138049 F/O ( - ? - ) Eric VICKERS RAFVR
1575772 F/Sgt ( - ? - ) T A WAINWRIGHT
175026 F/O (Met.) Robert WILSON RAFVR (Met. Branch)
Apparently, Cory never applied for his Caterpillar Club badge. He does not appear on any of the official lists.
Happy New Year, Mate.
Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 30th December 2010 at 06:31.
See above... finger trouble.
Last edited by robstitt; 30th December 2010 at 06:19.
One of 196 Ventura Vs delivered via Takoradi or Accra for MAAF. USN serial: 48672.
Yes, a PV-1/GR.V. Completely forgot that our old friend, Joe Baugher, now covers USN/Marine a/c.
JS889 - JS984 (96 a/c.) Diversions to SAAF.
PS. Use the delete function Mate. Hides a multitude of sins!
Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 30th December 2010 at 06:58.
Just noticed your reference to F/O R Wilson (Met Branch) being amongst the crew. As a matter of interest how many men normally made up a Ventura's crew? From his rank Wilson must have been a forecaster and I'm guessing he was on a 'jolly'.
Whatever, he joins a very select group (in meteorological terms) as being one of just three meteorologists to join the Caterpillar Club.
Crew numbers varied, 4-5 being the norm. In Cory's case, there were actually three (3) navigators onboard (Cory was a qualified Nav, as well as a pilot).
Chase up the story here:
Happy New Year,
Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 30th December 2010 at 09:39.
Much obliged and compliments of the season to you Col.
I'm unable to access the first reference (session expired), but the second is very helpful. Since it was a training flight not terminating at Cairo it may be that Wilson either cadged a lift for some R&R in Khartoum or was en route to a new posting, although whether a training sortie would be considered appropriate for the latter is debateable.
An old thread, but I do have something to add! A very good friend of my father, as they were in the same Draft: 4875, Robert 'Jock' Wilson was the Met man along for a 'flip.' In my father's papers was a copy of . . .
Extract from ‘PYRAMUS’ weekly magazine of RAF Station Gianaclis -
MET. OFFICER IN HIS ELEMENT. – WEATHER EXPERT BALES OUT.
“Jock would make a damned good paratrooper.” These were almost the first words of F/Lt. Cory, pilot of the aircraft which was lost a short while ago on a trip to Khartoum, when he and his crew returned on Thursday morning. Interviewed later, “Jock”, F/O Wilson, the Meteorological Officer, gave us a full account of his experiences. He said he that he decided to go on the trip for personal interests and also to study weather conditions. “There was bags of weather over the Delta,” he admitted, “and visibility was limited to 5 miles.
However, conditions improved, and the aircraft flew at 7,000’ without any trouble until, at 2000hours, the beacon at Luxor was sighted. The navigator gave the E.T.A. at Khartoum as 2205hours, but although lights were seen at that time there was no sign of Khartoum itself. At 2230 the pilot estimated that he had sufficient petrol to last until 2330 and, as the weather had now cleared completely, it was decided to search for Khartoum. At 2300 hours, the pilot said the crew would have to think about baling out. “I thought he was kidding,” said F/O Wilson. “Nevertheless, I ate all the food I had to make sure that if I did have to bale out, I should not be hungry for some hours. F/Lt Cory told me that he had enough petrol to last until 2345 hours, and then proceeded to check my parachute harness. Half an hour went by and, as there was still no sign of Khartoum, the pilot told us to prepare to bale out. I opened my bag and hunted for and found my spectacle case, which I put in my pocket after removing my spectacles. I also stuffed the first available articles inside my Battle-Dress Blouse to make a soft padding. The second navigator, F/O Sutherland, jettisoned the door, and all the crew were ready. At 2355 hours, F/Lt Cory ordered us to abandon the aircraft as there were only five minutes petrol left. F/O Sutherland went first, followed by F/O Vickers and then myself. I went out head first and the only sensation I felt when my parachute opened was a dull thud on the back of my neck. I seemed to drift slowly upwards, and could see nothing but the stars until I was about 50 feet from the ground. Twice I had to check the swaying of the ‘chute by pulling on the shroud cords, but landed safely, though heavily, on my right foot. I had no difficulty in getting rid of the harness. The first thing I did was to light a cigarette which was seen by the two navigators who had landed about half a mile away. We joined up in less than 15 minutes.
We had landed on sandy ground, sparsely covered with grass and small trees. On seeing a Verey light go up in the direction of a range of hills, we decided to walk in that direction, for we knew that the pilot would be in possession of the Verey pistol. About one hour later, after walking across very rocky, stony ground, we established contact with the W/Op and pilot by shouting and blowing whistles. Their replies were extremely faint. A stony ridge lay between us, so we decided to establish further contact in the morning, since the darkness and the nature of the ground made any attempt futile that night.
At first light, by about 0700 hours next morning, we met on top of the ridge and found that they had landed in very broken country very near to a range of hills between 1,500 and 2,000 feet high. The amazing fact is that we landed on an old caravan track – the only one in the entire district. Hence the unexpected presence of grass, scrub and small trees. The track lies approximately from El Debba to the spot where we landed and then curves South Westwards. The surrounding territory is nothing else but sheer sand and rock with occasional barren hills – in fact, extremely grim country – miles and miles of desolation. So you can see that we have a lot to be thankful for, despite our misfortune in having to bale out.
My parachute was used for bandaging purposes, for F/O Sutherland and I had sprained ankles and found walking difficult. F/Sgt. Wainwright was bruised and cut on the head and F/Lt Cory had lost one flying boot when his parachute opened. We rested a short time and decided what to do. The steep hill behind us gave us little choice as regards direction in which to travel, so we decided to walk down to the grassy plain below, knowing that the trees would at least give us cover from the sun. This decision was strengthened a short time later when F/O Sutherland thought he saw a flash in the distance. Shortly afterwards, we saw one or two camels grazing. F/O Vickers and F/Sgt. Wainwright went on ahead to find out if there were any natives tending the camels. F/Lt Cory assisted me over the broken ground, but F/O Sutherland was able to limp along by himself. By 0900 hours or so Vickers returned and announced that he had found a native and four boys tending the camels and that the native had already produced fresh camel milk. Naturally we were tremendously elated and inside fifteen minutes, we were all enjoying the hospitality of the bearded native. The remainder of the day was spent resting and explaining to the native by means of sign language and my very poor, scanty Arabic who we were, what had happened and that we wished to contact the English. He was amazingly intelligent and seemed to understand the situation fairly well. He fed us on water and camels’ milk for two days, giving us to understand that on the third day we would set forth on camels to contact the English. On the second day another native appeared. He killed a goat for us to eat – the first meat we had tasted since the accident. On the evening of the second day, one snag, not yet mentioned, was rising sand. The visibility was reduced to about half a mile and it was most unpleasant. Had that storm occurred during the heat of the day, it would have been even more so.
The first native was called Fadl-el-Moulah, the second Mousa and, true to their word, we set off on the morning of the third day. We had explained to them that they would be well rewarded for their trouble, but, amazingly enough, these chaps did not stress their desire for money, except that they wanted to be paid for the hire of the camels and the killing of goats.
Riding camels was a most uncomfortable experience, it was awful, but we were glad of them all the same, but Fadl-el-Moulah broke us in gently. For example, on the first day of travel we rode for one and a half hours in the morning, two and a half hours during the late afternoon, and finished by travelling for ten hours on each of the last two days! We always stopped at midday and started again about 3 pm. Meals, consisting of camels’ milk, goats flesh, water and tea, were taken in the morning, midday and sometimes in the evening. We always stopped where there was shade and slept on the sand beside trees using parachutes as blankets, for it was always very cold at night.
The second occasion of rising sand on the 4th day was not so bad, but, even though visibility was not impaired to any great extent, the sand managed to make things pretty uncomfortable, for – it got into our eyes, our food and drink, in fact, everything. We were all glad when it abated late in the afternoon.
On the third evening of travel, another native called Ali joined the party. He supplied additional food and water and acted as additional guide. The nature of the territory changed on the 4th day; grass and trees began to thin out, and that evening we crossed sheer desert, but eventually we camped beside several trees around 2100 hours. On the sixth day – the 26th – the day when we expected to reach El Debba – F/O Sutherland went ahead with Fadl-el-Moulah and when we reached this native town after sunset, F/O Sutherland had already notified the District Commissioner of our safety. The local Postmaster at El Debba treated us very well, gave us an excellent meal and loaned us his shaving tackle. The D.C., Mr. L.A.Buchanan sent out a car from Merowe which arrived at 2100 hours, but we decided to stay overnight at Debba. We rewarded the natives, but next day, on instruction from the D.C., we took Fadl-el-Moulah to render his report in person. We reached Merowe at 1 pm next day and the D.C. and his wife showed great hospitality. Mr. Buchanan loaned some of his own suits while our clothing was cleaned and pressed, and that evening in the words of F/Sgt. Wainwright: “We were very merry on whisky.” The treatment we received was magnificent and we were all sorry to leave for Khartoum by air from Kareima – an RAF landing strip across the Nile from Merowe, when an Avro Anson came to pick us up.
By noon on the 28th January, we reached Khartoum. F/Sgt. Wainwright and I were examined by the M.O. and the former was given treatment. The M.O. certified that I had no bones broken. The crew were given a grand time at Khartoum. I travelled to Cairo by Empire Flying Boat on the 30th, the others following in a BOAC Dakota and we all reached Gianaclis at noon on Thursday, 1st February, exactly a fortnight after take-off.
Much more could have been said about the extremely kind way the three natives treated us, and of the gallant way in which they abandoned their wives and children for over a fortnight in order to bring us to safety. They never once attempted to molest us in any way. It is to their extreme credit that they undertook that long journey on the assumption that we had no money at all with us! But we made sure that they were well rewarded at El Debba.
A word or two could also be said about the faultless ‘navigation’ of these natives. They seemed to have no idea of time or distance, even though they suggested on the sixth day that we were near our destination, but never once did they go off course. How on earth they knew where they were going still beats me. On several occasions Fadl-el-Moulah would alter course slightly, even with no apparent landmarks visible. The District Commissioner later told us that these natives do know something about the stars and that, in any case, Fadl-el-Moulah was reputed, even among his own people, to be an expert in knowing everywhere in the desert. And a good job too, or else I have a nasty feeling that I should not be here at the moment.
F/Lt Arthur G. Cory - Pilot, 459 RAAF Squadron. AUS413743
F/O A.E. Sutherland - 2nd Navigator RCAF J/20899
F/O Eric Vickers - Navigator RAFVR 138049
F/Sgt Wainwright - Wireless Operator 1575772
F/O Robert “Jock” Wilson - Meteorological Officer 175026
Thu 18 Jan 1945 – Take-off. Bale out 23:55 (160 miles NNW of Khartoum)
Fri 19 – Met up and found Fadl-el-Moulah. Rest.
Sat 20 – Mousa appears. Sandstorm in evening.
Sun 21 – Set off by camel 4 hours ride.
Mon 22 – 2nd sandstorm in afternoon.
Tue 23 – Ali joins party in evening.
Wed 24 – Sheer desert in evening.
Thu 25 – 10 hours ride.
Fri 26 - Reached El Debba after sunset and 10 hrs ride.
Sat 27 – Report to D.C. at Merowe at 1 pm.
Sun 28 - Anson from Kareima. Reached Khartoum by noon.
Mon 29 – Khartoum.
Tue 30 – Jock by Empire Flying Boat to Cairo.
Wed 31 – Others follow in BOAC Dakota.
Thu 01 Feb 1945 – All reached base at RAF Gianaclis by noon
Here's Cory's account at: https://www.454-459squadrons.org.au/coryag
After 500 hours of operational flying I joined the RAF Staff College (Overseas) of Navigation for a rest. Here we flew Venturas at night with two navigators doing the post-graduate course I had done on Prince Edward Island.
On a trip from Cairo to Khartoum - 1,000 miles due south - when we were supposed to arrive at Khartoum at 10.00 pm it wasn't there! - we were lost!! The usual procedure was to do a square search but after 30 minutes flying under navigators' instructions, I sacked them and took over. By this time we had no idea where we were - the radio had been of no use since we left Cairo. It was a dark night. Nothing could be seen in the desert. I took a star shot on the Pole star Polaris. This gave us our latitude south of Khartoum - west or east, we didn't know. The radio compass would not read Khartoum so we were a long way away. It is a long story as to how I eventually calculated our position - one hour flying from Khartoum (200 miles). The petrol gauges were showing 15 minutes flying time left. The five of us parachuted down and were found by a Bedouin cameleer. After two days sitting under a tree waiting to be found we mounted camels. After eight days riding we reached civilisation.
We were greeted by the English District Commissioner, who invited us into his beautiful home on the banks of the Nile. The men were treated to hot baths. "I think we might have smelt a little bit". After more than a week of living on camel's milk and goat, the dinner that night took my breath away. What a dinner! The silver and china, crystal goblets all round, three kinds of wine, four courses, then some very nice pre-war coffee. The experience was a world away from the North Start district property "Belara" where I grew up.
Nora Cosgrove phoned both telegrams to my mother. The first to report that I was missing and then to report I was safe. A few months later my mother's letter began, "I have received a telegram from the Air Force to say that you are missing over the desert but I believe you'll come home on a camel".
And just found Cory and Wilson on YouTube - https://youtu.be/qwna_9_6n1I Boy Cory visiting the Strathallan Collection’s Lockheed Hudson with Robert Wilson in 1979 and reminiscing about bailing out of a Lockheed Ventura (JS902) in the Sudan Desert during WW2 in 1945. That's a clip from a longer version here: https://youtu.be/vNSE9TjWGtk
Last edited by MaxiePete; 25th November 2022 at 16:02.