View Full Version : No.8 Squadron, IAF

7th February 2013, 11:57
A website, http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Database/Units/WW2/8%20Squadron, is very useful in identifying members of the RCAF who served in this unit. Most remarkably, it reports that on 19 March 1944, no fewer than 14 such members were posted to the unit. However, I have some misgivings about the list, as my comments below will indicate. In some cases the commonality of names makes it difficult to confirm the force in which they were enlisted.

I am not reluctant to order copies of the squadron records out of concern for cost - I am reluctant to flood myself with paper at a time when my office resembles an archaeological site. Lacking an e-mail address for the webmaster of the above-noted site, may I appeal to any experts in this squadron if they can clarify the names (and hopefully, trades) of the following who appear on the website list:

Warrant Officer F. Kennedy (posted away 23 November 1944) - I have been unable to confirm RCAF association to date.

Flight Sergeant Steel - ditto - more initials would help

Warrant Officer Conlon - ditto - more initials would help

Warrant Officer Allan (killed 6 August 1944) I can find no RCAF casualty report that matches this man. He may be George Logan Allan, RAAF, killed on 5 August 1944 with No.8 Squadron. Australian experts, help !

Sergeant Bell - more initials needed to confirm RCAF association.

Flight Sergeant Burrows - more initials needed to confirm RCAF association.

P/O J.G. Gunderson (posted 21 April 1945) - clearly this John Grant Gunderson, RCAF

F/O M.W. Sills (posted 21 April 1944) - Milton Ward Sills, RCAF

P/O H.E. Dougherty (killed 16 May 1944) - Hazen Edward Dougherty

F/O MacBain (killed 14 August 1944) - William Ernest Jay McBain

F/O Seaton - repetition of H.W. Seaton, below ?

F/O A.C. Buck (posted 21 April 1945) - I can find no wartime aircrew member of the RCAF with these initials. However, Austin Ormond Buck might fit the bill. Am I on the right track ?

F/O E.E. Ettinger - Everett Embert Ettinger, RCAF

F/O H.W. Seaton (posted 1 November 1944) - I can find no wartime aircrew member of the RCAF with these initials.

7th February 2013, 12:12

For more on AUS412359 P/O (W.Op.[Air]) George Logan ALLAN RAAF, see:


See: p.63 of 347.

It should also be noted, that the pilot of Vengeance III FB956, 117505 F/L (Pilot) Carswell Harold NIVEN RAFVR, was an Australian, serving in the RAF.


The crew of FB956 were originally buried in Quotta Cemetery, Baluchistan, India (Now Pakistan), on 10-8-1944. Their remains were transferred to the Karachi War Cemetery in March, 1952.


7th February 2013, 12:37

Just one match in Chris Shore s "Air War for Burma".

Flying Officer H E Dougherty, Canadian, was killed 16.5,44 when his Vengeance of 8 sqn crashed into ground during attack, possibly due to wires. Flt/Sgt Khan his Indian gunner also killed.

regards Peter

7th February 2013, 16:05

I compiled that list (its my website).

I used teh 8 Sqn ORBs to build the database. In case you are interested, I can mail you the relevant pages.

Best regards


8th February 2013, 12:05
Jagan, I have sent you an e-mail about your kind offer. For the moment, to share with others, I offer the following, drafted after consulting the file of one RCAF pilot in No.8 Squadron, Indian Air Force:

The hazards of dive bombing are illustrated by the fate of Flying Officer Hazen Edward "Doc" Dougherty (St. Stephen, New Brunswick). Having graduated as a pilot from No.14 SFTS, Aylmer, on 3 July 1942, he proceeded overseas and spent several months on operational training. Posted to India in October 1943, he next attended No.152 OTU before being posted to No.8 Squadron (IAF) on 29 February 1944 although he may not have reported until 19 March, when 14 members of the RCAF were taken on strength.

Doughery was piloting Vengeance AN618 on 16 May 1944; his gunner was Sergeant A.M. Khan (IAF 10576). There are at least three accounts of what happened, including one in a letter to his father which may have put a slightly more heroic spin on the story. The unit report by S/L Ira A. Sutherland was grim enough:

"The aircraft AN618 piloted by F/O Dougherty was No.5 in a box formation of six aircraft attacking Japanese lines of communication. The army who were about 2,000 to 3,000 yards from the target area report that the aircraft was doing aileron turns in the latter part of the dive, practically a spin that he did not start pulling out until he was very low, that he crashed out of their view very near to the target and inside the enemy's lines. They saw no signs of fire.

"The pilot following in the dive did not notice anything out of the ordinary except that the aircraft appeared lower than usual in pulling out. The aircraft was almost level when his starboard wing hit the side of the hill. Such was the nature of the terrain that he catapulted across the valley, turning on his back and crashed on the other side. There was no fire.

"A gunner in the preceding aircraft is of the opinion that he hit a cable stretched between the two hills; he states that he saw something trailing from the aircraft. It is possible that the pilot was hit by small arms fire during the dive."

Squadron Leader Sutherland's letter to the father dated 7 June 1944 was remarkable for detail and candor.

"I hope, and I believe in my heart, that you will find solace in the fact that “Doc”, as he was known and called by his many friends on this squadron, went out in the way he would have liked best, fighting. It was not an accident on a training flight, neither was it something caused by what we refer to as finger trouble on the part of the pilot. No, it was not like that; your son was on active service operations bombing the Japs.

"Details are rather indefinite but on questioning and piecing together the stories of the others who were on the same operation this is evidently what happened.

"Your son was one of a box of aircraft bombing enemy positions very near to our front lines. His bombs had been released, they were seen to hit the target, when the aircraft evidently hit by ground defences became out of control and dived to the ground, gathering speed rapidly and finally crashing into the side of a hill. It was all over in a matter of split seconds. Unfortunately the area where the aircraft crashed was held by the enemy, but the army, even before our request went in, sent out several patrols to endeavour to reach the wreckage, with, I’m sorry to relate, negative results; they were not able to reach it. Perhaps that action by the army who risked other lives gives you an idea of how much the bombing carried out by your son and his companions is appreciated by our troops. It is hard for me to write this, but the speed and the angle at which the aircraft crashed prohibits me, much as I would like to, from any wishful thinking that the crew could get out. One of his companions did circle at the time and later on a section of fighters searched but nothing was seen.

"I should like to assure you that the gallant sacrifice your son has made so far from his home and his country in the cause of freedom and humanity is highly appreciated...

"No doubt “Doc” has told you something about this, his squadron. The aircrew are really an international group. It is an I.A.F. Squadron and besides Indians - who in themselves are divided into Sikhs, Punjabis, Bengalis and other sects - there are the lot of Canadians your son came with - a great mob these - Englishmen, Scots, Australians and myself, a lone New Zealander - really a mixed bag ! “Doc” mixed in and got on extremely well with everyone; he was generally liked. I like to think of him on nights when a small party would be going on in the mess, sitting there, never drinking, extremely happy, watching and laughing at the others who were supplying the antics and the fun; he was getting as much enjoyment out of it as they were."

The crash location was given as 20 degrees 50 minutes north and 92 degrees 27 minutes East which would have placed it in the Arakan Hills.

8th February 2013, 12:11
This is wonderful Hugh. I knew about Dougherty as his was the only fatality on the operations. Your post has literally put his name to life. Thank you.

8th February 2013, 12:19
A very small addition to Dougherty's story - I interviewed a veteran of 8 Squadron in 2005. Gp Capt CGI Phillips of the IAF (Who had since passed away). He mentioned

"We had a few losses. One I remember very clearly, because it happened right in front of me. Was a chap called Dougherty [5]. English , RAF pilot. I remember him very well, because, playing poker, he owes me 23 rupees, or something like that!""

The entire acccount is given in this page - and a couple of photographs as well which might show Canadian crew (this shows the crews from Sutherland's time)



11th February 2013, 23:39
Further information on a Canadian member of this unit - Flying Officer William Ernest Jay McBain (Winnipeg) who was killed in Vengeance FB952 on 14 August 1944. In a letter to his mother dated 20 August 1944, Squadron Leader Sutherland described what happened:

" Your son was up on a normal practice flight and climbed to about 12,000 feet - about 6,000 to 7,000 feet above ground level – in circles around the airfield. After flying straight and level for a short time he went into a steep dive. For some unknown reason he left the pull out from the dive too late and although he made a superhuman effort, he almost had the aircraft straight and level, it was to no avail and the aircraft crashed. Both your son and his passenger were killed instantly; death came very suddenly and very swiftly; they would not have time to think of what was going to happen."

His service file includes another letter written by Sutherland, this one undated. Some of it may have been “fluff” for a grieving mother, or it may have been accurate.

" May I say that the loss of your son has been a great shock to this squadron. “Boon” as he was known to all of us was universally liked and very popular. He got on extremely well with everyone, for though he was quiet and when compared to some of the other Canadians on this squadron he was always able to keep his end up. In his work he was very capable and as an officer an efficient and hard working one. I rated him as one of my best pilots and when we were on the same operation he used to always fly as my No.2 - in other words, my right hand man - I asked for no one better. So it is to me as his Commanding Officer a bigger loss when I see one of his calibre go; most pilots can be replaced, but good ones don’t come every time; they are few and far between.

"It is very sad to think that “Boon” came through some months of operations against the Japs - during which he acquitted himself very creditably – too come up here on a rest and then be killed in an accident during a training flight. This flight was a normal one in all respects; he was piloting the aircraft, and after circling the airfield, and flying for some time, he began to dive. It was a steep dive and for some reason he left the recovery from the dive late with the tragic consequences that he crashed....

" “Boon” came to this squadron with some other Canadian boys, they were great friends and together with your son’s regular air gunner they acted as pall bearers in the final ceremony. Your son was buried with service honours in the cemetery up here; the RAF Padre conducted the beautiful service. As I mentioned in my letter, this cemetery is well looked after so rest assured that his grave will not be neglected."

He had one brother (Frederick Ross McBain) who at the time was a member of the RCN in Halifax and a married sister living in Winnipeg. Born 27 February 1923 in Winnipeg. Before enlisting he had sold newspapers and been a chauffeur. Interviewed before enlisting, he was considered good air gunner material. At No.3 ITS (Victoriaville) he was recommended for Observer training. However, he went to No.21 EFTS (Chatham) where he trained on Fleet Finch aircraft. The assessment there read, “This student learns very quickly and seem to be a natural. He is above average in aerobatics and general flying.” At No.13 SFTS (St.Hubert) he flew Harvards and was described as follows: “Average pilot. Weak on forced landings. A hard worker and very anxious and keen. Slightly under-confident.”

The circumstantial report of the accident involving FB952 read as follows:

"The above accident occurred at 1045 on the 14th August 1944 at a point approximately half a mile south of Quetta. The occupants of the aircraft were:

" J.21879 F/O W.E. McBain, General Duties (pilot) and
" Ind.14890 AC1 Haque, M.T. (F.M.A.) – both killed.

"The aircraft was on a local test flight after a minor inspection. The minor inspection was carried out according to the maintenance schedule. The Form 700 has been examined and all Daily Inspections were carried out. The aircraft was signed serviceable for the day.

"The aircraft took off and climbed circling the airfield. At approximately 12,000 feet the aircraft began its dive. From conflicting reports and examination of the area of the crash the aircraft evidently came down in a very steep dive, the pilot must have left it late before beginning his pull out but when he did pull out he did so violently that the aircraft assumed an almost horizontal position. However, the downwards momentum of the aircraft had not been overcome and it “squashed” into the ground.

"The height of the area where the “prang” occurred is approximately 5,300 feet above M.S.L."

The crash occurred one-half mile south of Quetta. McBain had graduated as a pilot from No.13 SFTS, St. Hubert, on 18 December 1942, received his commission, and gone overseas at once. He went through No.58 OTU in Britain, then was posted to India in October 1943. There he attended No.152 OTU (18 December 1943 to 26 February 1944) followed by his posting to No.8 Squadron. The OTU report indicated his flying - 50 minutes dual on Harvards before going solo, a total of four hours five minutes dual on Harvards, and ten hours solo on Harvards (85 minutes in formation). He required only 50 minutes dual before going solo on the Vengeance, logged a total of 57 hours 35 minutes solo on the type (22 hours in formation) and also put in ten hours on the Link. On the ground he was tested for Airmanship (230/300), Armament (241/300), Navigation (156/200) and Signals (87/100). Flying tests were for General Flying (240/400), Applied Flying (145/200), Instrument Flying (150/250) and Link (39/50). The Chief Flying Instructor wrote, “His appearance is deceptive - baby faced but a man beneath it - works hard and improved towards the end of the course - should do well.”