View Full Version : 31 Squadron Airman

Martyn A Critchlow
26th August 2009, 10:34
Looking for details of the death of Flt Lt Norman Lee BAUGH MC 43524 who was killed on 31-1-1943. Having been captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong in December 1941, he escaped on a raft and evetually made it overland to Bombay.
I have found a note that he was killed flying 'the Hump', although I am unsure what that is.

Many thanks

26th August 2009, 10:52
Hello Martyn,

No.31 Sqn.
DC-3 MA929

Took off from Dinjan en route for Fort Hertz at 1330 on 31/1/43. The aircraft failed to arrive at Fort Hertz and has not been found. It was last seen by a Hudson pilot at 7,000 feet near Kamku, heading for Fort Hertz at 1400 hours.

AUS401101 F/O (1st Pilot) Hugh John Munro CAMPBELL MiD RAAF +
1377419 F/Sgt (2nd Pilot) John Orson NICHOLLS RAFVR +
AUS407107 W/O (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Kenneth Ross PHELPS RAAF +
CAN R/74121 WO2 (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Joseph Jean Jacques Fernand CASAUBON RCAF +
1082946 AC1 (Fitter IIE) Thomas Gladstone WILLIAMSON RAFVR +
43524 F/Lt Norman Lee BAUGH MC RAF + (Passenger)

All commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.


Martyn A Critchlow
26th August 2009, 13:10

Many thanks for your detailed reply.


26th August 2009, 14:04
Hello Martyn,

There is a book on the history of No 31 Squadron called "First In The Indian Skies" by Norman Franks. Published in the 1980s. I don't know whether this crash or crew are mentioned.

From Googling, I found on "Wikipedia" that the Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew from India to China to resupply the Flying Tigers and the Chinese Government of Chiang Kai-shek. The region is noted for high mountain ranges and huge parallel gorges, and transverses the upper regions of the larger rivers of South-East Asia: Mekong, Irrawaddy, Salween, etc. Allied pilots began flying cargo resupply missions over the Hump in April 1942, after the Japanese blocked the Burma Road. Missions continued until near the end of the war, when the Ledo Road opened.


26th August 2009, 14:22

To save you the trouble of a look-up, here is what Franks has to say:

Appendix C.
Squadron Aircraft.

Douglas DC3

MA929 June 1942.

First in the Indian Skies/Franks p.235


Martyn A Critchlow
26th August 2009, 14:33

Thanks for the additional information.


27th August 2009, 16:23
I have sent you a e-mail concerning 31 Sqn but not directly to do do with the topic

Thank you for letting me pass this message to Col through your thread

David Stephens
25th July 2010, 13:35
Interested to read the bits of the following thread, picked up by a random Google. HJM Campbell (known to his family as Cam) was my uncle and we have bits and pieces at home about him and his last flight. The version we had was that his plane was last seen being pursued by a Japanese fighter. Cam's photo is on my desk as I write this. I saw his name on the Kranji memorial last year. The family legend was that the flight went ahead in bad weather because a 'bigwig' insisted on travelling though I can't determine from the passenger list who this gent might have been. A family myth possibly. Cam carried the same name as his uncle who died from wounds at Gallipoli (legs shot off while swimming).

Question for Col Bruggy. Is the mention in the appendix of Franks book the only mention there?

Hello Martyn,

No.31 Sqn.
DC-3 MA929

Took off from Dinjan en route for Fort Hertz at 1330 on 31/1/43. The aircraft failed to arrive at Fort Hertz and has not been found. It was last seen by a Hudson pilot at 7,000 feet near Kamku, heading for Fort Hertz at 1400 hours.

AUS401101 F/O (1st Pilot) Hugh John Munro CAMPBELL MiD RAAF +
1377419 F/Sgt (2nd Pilot) John Orson NICHOLLS RAFVR +
AUS407107 W/O (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Kenneth Ross PHELPS RAAF +
CAN R/74121 WO2 (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Joseph Jean Jacques Fernand CASAUBON RCAF +
1082946 AC1 (Fitter IIE) Thomas Gladstone WILLIAMSON RAFVR +
43524 F/Lt Norman Lee BAUGH MC RAF + (Passenger)

All commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.


25th July 2010, 14:47
Hi David,

Couple of mentions of your uncle in "First in the Indian Skies".

The author, Norman Franks, cites two mentions in the index (pp.91 & 92), I can only find the one on p.91.

Chapter Five (p.91)


During January (1943), some awards were made. Mike Vlasto was Mentioned in Depatches for his work in Burma, and the following were also mentioned: (one of whom, was), Australian T/Sergeant H J Campbell (pilot).


David Lord (later VC), took-off on a night sortie on the 12th January (1943) and lost an engine soon after becoming airborne. His crew consisted of Pilot Officer Campbell 2nd pilot (whom l assume is your Uncle), Sgt Rootes, WOP/AG, LAC Roze ACH/AG, LAC Cooper (Fitter/Armourer). While Lord throttled back the burning engine and shut off its petrol supply, Campbell turned the Dak back towards the strip while Sergeant Rootes radioed for the base to keep the flare-path on. Lord took over as the Dak lost height through mist,drizzle and low cloud, to make a successful belly landing although he hit a clump of bamboo which swung the aircraft around and caused more damage than the crash-landing. The Dak was LR235 - "J".

There is a rather indistinct photo of LR235 after the crash-landing, on the same page.

That's it, basically.

I have no scanner, so can't help from that angle.


26th July 2010, 17:04
Hi Gents,

This post caught my eye while browsing your forum, so I thought I would join up and ask for your help and advice.

I have been researching my Grandfather and his time in Burma during WW2. He was a 1943 Chindit who sadly did not return home, dying a POW in Rangoon Jail. After 3 years of extensive research I have found out much about his and his unit (13th Kings Liverpool's) time in Burma. I have began to collate a Roll of Honour for all the personnel that took part in or supported operation 'Longcloth'.

This is where I could do with some help. I would like to find as many names as possible of the men from 31 Squadron and possibly the 194 Squadron as these were the two units that supplied the Chindits in 1943-44. My main focus would be the crew that supplied in 1942-43, as this would be directly involving my Grandad's time.

I saw on the post the name of Michael Vlasto whose Dakota crew famously picked 17 wounded Chindits from a jungle clearing in April 1943. This story features heavily in Chindit folklore and is covered in many books. Here is a great link from the 'Life' magazine from back then, covering the story:


I hope this will be of some interest to some of you and I look forward to any help you can offer.

Many thanks.


26th July 2010, 17:18
As a start off, you can us Geoff Sullivans website which reads the CWGC and you can pick out 31 and 194 Squadron airmen that way. YOu must serach for Canadian and New Zealand and Australian airmen separate from the RAF.


Hmmm, this only turned up one 194 Sqn airman:

Search results for: + 08/03/1943-30/05/1943 + ROYAL AIR FORCE. records found: 1
Page 1 of 1

Similarly, there are no RAF casualties of 31 Squadron for the period I chose above.

I found no Canadians, and I have to dash off now. Your best bet would be to get a look at their archive ORB in the UK national Archvies at Kew.

26th July 2010, 19:34
Dennis, many thanks for the idea of using the search engine. I have used that many times and did not even think to use it in this instance.

With regards the National Archives, do you know the general reference title for these records?

Thanks again for your reply.


26th July 2010, 20:12
Hello Bamboo,

No. 31 Squadron RAF Operations Record Book is in AIR 27/351 for the period september 28 to December 1943, /382 for 1944, / 353 for January to April 1945 and /534 for May to December 1945. Appendices in AIR 27/355 for February 37 to April 1941 and /356 for January 1945.

No. 194 Squadron ORB is in AIR 27/1159 for September 1942 to December 1944, /1160 for January to May 1945, /1161 for June to September 1945, /1162 for October 1945 to Februayr 1946. Appendices in AIR 27/1163 for October 1942 to August 1944.

I take advantage of your interest in the Chindits. Do you happen to have any detail about Corporal Walter PEACOCK, 3660687, who was one of them. He died in the crash of Dakota IV KN557 in which he was a passenger, on 16th January 1946, and is buried in Mazargues (Marseille) cemetery. I have the CWGC details, but in case you would have other informations, that'd be welcome. I'm helping of group of locals who intend to build a memorial for the crew and passengers, to be dedicated next January, and any help is appreciated to trace families.


26th July 2010, 21:29
Hi Joss,

Thanks very much for the Kew references, they will come in very handy soon. I have picked up some crew of 31 Squadron through the internet, but was hoping there might be a personnel listing in one of the Operation Record books?

Walter Peacock has not featured in any research I have come across, but his service number tells me quite a bit. With that number he almost certainly was with the 2nd battalion Yorks & Lancs. who formed part of the 14th British Infantry Brigade in the second Chindit operation in 1944 (his number is not in sequence for the original operation in 1943).

His flight in Dakota IV KN557 would not have been the first time Walter had experienced that type of aircraft. His Chindit unit was a secondary back up group that flew in to Burma at a landing strip codenamed 'Aberdeen' in early April 1944.

They immediately mobilised and marched out to the Indaw area looking to support some of the gains achieved by the initial Chindit advance. They were involved in some horrendous forced marches over difficult terrain and in extremely arduous weather conditions.

For a good overview of the battalion's involvement in operation 'Thursday', the book 'March or Die' by Phil Chinnery would be my recommendation.

The battalion War diary reference at Kew is WO172/4934.


27th July 2010, 01:23

Re: 1265761 F/Sgt Arthur BROWN RAFVR, of No.194 Sq., mentioned in post #11.

There were other Commonwealth airmen involved. To start you on your journey, here are the details:

No.194 Sqn.
Hudson VI FK411

Hudson FK411 crashed at Palam, India on 15th April 1943. The aircraft had just become airborne with the undercarriage nearly or completely retracted, when it banked slightly into wind, lost height and struck the ground with both engines running. The aircraft burst into flames and was destroyed.

AUS416016 F/Fgt (Pilot) Ansell Edward BRITTEN-JONES RAAF + (CWGC 15-4-1943)
1265761 F/Sgt (Nav.B) Arthur BROWN RAFVR + (CWGC 15-4-1943)
136726 P/O (Nav.B) Frederick James ANDREW RAFVR Injured
J/16520 P/O (Pilot) Joseph Robert CURTIS RCAF Injured
141858 P/O (Pilot) Edward Leonard HERRING RAFVR Injured
AUS405582 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Francis Thomas Joseph de Warren GLOSTER RAAF Injured

The above, slightly amended from:


Best of luck,


27th July 2010, 19:48
Thanks Col.

Do you think there is a fair chance that the plane was beginning a mission into Burma to supply the Chindits? It is very near the time when Pilot Vlasto collected the 17 or so ill and wounded men from the landing strip later called 'Piccadilly'.

I would like to add these men to my Roll.

The Chindits were supplied in 1943 from a Rear Base at Agartala, which is on the India/Bangladesh borders today.

Many thanks again.

28th July 2010, 00:48

I doubt that FK411 was on a supply mission at the time of its loss, not with two extra pilots on board.


David Stephens
28th July 2010, 05:04
Col Bruggy

Many thanks, I will follow up. Apologies for seniors moment on my earlier post: Cam's uncle killed at Gallipoli was not also HJM Campbell but Captain (Dr) Sydney James Campbell (see John Hamilton, Goodbye Cobber, and God Bless You (2004) - chapter 6). Cam's father was Hugh Munro, his grandfather, Hugh John Munro and his nephew again Hugh Munro (also known for a while as Cam but now preferring Hugh) so my confusion perhaps understandable. David S

29th July 2010, 09:16
Hi all,

Thanks for your input on this matter. Col. I think you are right about FK411.

I have contacted the secretary of the 31 Squadron museum/association and am awaiting a copy of 'First in Indian Skies' from Amazon. So I expect to receive or learn more very shortly. If anyone else is interested in the names of personnel from that era 1941-46, then let me know and I would happily share the info.

Thanks again.


30th July 2010, 12:12
Hi all,

Thanks to sound advice from the forum and quick work by Amazon, I already have a copy of 'First in the Indian Skies'. What a wonderful if somewhat large book. I shall enjoy reading it soon. It is already a winner for me with its personnel lists at the back and a ground plan of the Agartala air base in 1943, priceless info.

Can I ask everyone's opinion with one question? Would it make sense to credit the whole Squadron whose service includes the dates 01/12/1942 through 01/05/1943, with "probably" having participated in Chindit supply that year? I know we can never be sure, but I wondered what your views would be.

Many thanks for all your help.


5th August 2012, 13:48
i have a set of docs about flt bough he escaped form the japs and is my late wife uncle if you would like to cal me on 07800729365 bograt

6th August 2012, 06:29
Thanks guys and gals,

This Thread has helped me regarding MA929. Several years ago I was searching for the detail of its loss but could not get beyond the basic information and did not have details of the crew and passenger - all now resolved thanks to you!!!

Baugh sounds an interesting character and an escape from the Japs a rare happening. Does naybody know if there is an account of this episode - a quick trawl didn't reveal anything.

I've read Escape or Die, You'll Die in Singapore and the account of the escape by John Mills' brother in law and two others from Hong Kong. I've also read a book by a chap called Brooke who escaped from Singapore and through Sumatra before sailing to Ceylon.

Colin Cummings

31st January 2014, 15:15
Hallo all
I have only just come to this thread following a visit to Kew.
John Orson Nicholls was my cousin (2nd pilot on last flight of MA929 ). The records at Kew show that the flight was actually on 27 January 1943 not 31st. The records are Air 27/351 and are the Operations Record Book.
There are no entries for 31/1/43 but the entry for 27/01/1943 reads:

MA.943 Pilots F/Lt. Baugh - Sgt. Haynes made one sortie over FALAM where 6,000 lbs. supplies were dropped. Flying time 4 hours.
MA.929. Pilots P/O Campbell - Sgt. Nicholls left TEZPUR for DINJAN and has not been heard of since. Reported missing - Signal A. SD3837.
P/O Akers - Sgt. Perry arrived on MA. 928 from DINJAN and carried out a supply dropping test at TEZPUR. Flying time 1 hr. 20 mns.

Unfortunately no times are given. Is the F/LT Baugh mentioned above the passenger who later flew in MA 929? I would presume so.
By coincidence my son in law was on a business trip to Singapore this week and visited the Singapore Memorial in Kranji War Cemetery, left some flowers and prayers for all the men whose names are inscribed there, but especially for John Orson Nicholls and those who died with him.

Christine Roshanzamir

10th February 2014, 20:12
Hallo to All
I came across this site while researching my cousin F/Sgt. John Orson Nicholls who was the 2nd pilot on MA929. We always believed that his death occurred on 31st January 1943, but my sister and I visited Kew recently and the Operations Record Book (AIR 27/351) for 27th January 1943 reads as follows:

MA.943. Pilots F/Lt. Baugh - Sgt. Haynes made one sortie over FALAM where 6,000 lbs. supplies were dropped. Flying time 4 hours.
MA.929. Pilots P/O Campbell - Sgt. Nicholls left TEZPUR for DINJAN and has not been heard of since. Reported missing. Signal A. SD5837
P/O Akers - Sgt. Perry arrived on MA.928 from DINJAN and carried out a supply dropping test at TEZPUR. Flying time 1 hr. 20 mns.

Unfortunately no times are given but the date is definitely 27.1.43.
I hope you find this interesting and useful
Best wishes

11th February 2014, 00:03
Hello Christine,

Firstly, Welcome to the Forum.

l find your comments on the loss of No.31 Sqn DC-3 MA929, most interesting.

All the documentation l have on this loss, indicates that DC-3 MA929 was lost on 31st January, 1943. One of the few documents l did not see was the No.31 Sqn ORB. Some of these ORB's were not compiled with the greatest of care, in fact, more than a few are no better than reconstructs, and well after the actual events mentioned*. Much more reliable are the Circumstantial Reports, and Casualty Signals. These documents were subject to much greater scrutiny than any ORB, as quite a lot hinged on their accuracy, ie Death Certificates, Wills and Probate etc.

This Signal, on MA929, clearly states:

From: No.31 Squadron. R.A.F. Palam.
To: B.P.O. Bombay
Date: 26 February, 1943.
Ref: 318/301/20/P.1.
Subj: Circumstantial Report - F.B. - Douglas D.C.3. MA.929 - 31.1.43.

Further to this Unit's casualty signal A.10. dated 3rd February, 1943, the following report is submitted.

2. Douglas D.C.3. Aircraft MA.929 took off from Dinjan en route for Fort Hertz at 1330 hours on 31st January, 1943. The crew consisted of:-

1st pilot - A.401101 P/O Campbell, H.J.M. - RAAF
2nd Pilot - 1377419 T/Sgt. Nicholls, J.O. - Pilot
W.O./A.G. - R.74121 T/Sgt. Casaubon, J.F. - RCAF
W.O./A.G. - A.407107 T/Sgt. Phelps, R.K. - RAAF
Fitter - 1082946 AC1. Williamson, T.C. - F.II
Passenger - 43524 F/Lt. N.L. Baugh, M.C. -

The aircraft failed to arrive at Firt [sic] Hertz, and has not yet been found. It was last seen by Hudson pilot at 7,000 feet near KAMKU, heading for Fort Hertz, at 1400 hours on 31st January, 1943.

(Sgn).?????????????? F/Lt.
For Wing Commander, Commanding,
No.31 Squadron, RAF, India.

This document (p.52 of 64), along with the associated signals, can be read in the A705 Casualty File of; AUS407107 W/O Kenneth Ross PHELPS RAAF:


Notwithstanding transcription errors (mine, and the RAF's!), take a look, and let us know your thoughts.

* Christine, There is a possibility that the ORB is correct, to a certain extent. l think that DC-3 MA929 was probably overdue on the 27th January, 1943, and later turned up at Dinjan, only to be lost (out of Dinjan), on 31st January, 1943.


11th February 2014, 22:37
Hallo Col Bruggy
Thank you for your very interesting reply. I had not considered the possibility that maybe the plane was lost out of Dinjan but of course that could have happened. I can't make the link you give work but will trace it up through the casualty file you mention. I suppose it doesn't matter now which date is correct, the sad result is the same. My cousins Father was lost the previous December when the SS Ceramic was torpedoed so it must have been a very difficult time for his Mother, who I never knew
Just as an aside my son in law was in Singapore for a few days recently and he went to the Memorial in Kranji cemetery, found my cousins name, and left some flowers and thoughts for all the crew of MA929.
Thank you for the extra information and possibilities.

12th February 2014, 15:29
Hallo again Col Bruggy
Following your information I stayed up last night reading the casualty file of W/O Kenneth Phelps RAAF. How very very sad to read all these years later, but also very interesting.
I agree that the correct date is probably 31 January. I am amazed that the flimsy pieces of paper have survived for 70+ years and also that they were saved in the first place. Would there be anything like this archive for my cousin do you think? I have tried various sites but have had no luck.
Thank you for your welcome (sorry, I forget to mention that in my last email) and the further information.

Matt Poole
29th May 2020, 15:16
It has been a few years since the last posting.

MIA wreckfinder Clayton Kuhles, who has located over 20 wrecks in the rugged mountains of the Hump in China, Burma, and India, discovered the wreckage of MA929 in December 2017. On his website, at https://www.miarecoveries.org/reports/, he posted this info:

C-53 #42-6479 a.k.a. RAF #MA929
Found 25 Dec 2017

This aircraft was assigned to the 31st Squadron RAF at Palam, India. Information about the aircraft loss is limited and conflicting. Aviation Safety Network reports the aircraft departed Dinjan, India for Fort Hertz, Burma at 1330 hrs. on 31 Jan 1943. The aircraft failed to arrive at its destination and has not been located. It was reportedly last seen by a Hudson pilot at 1400 hrs., flying at 7,000 ft. near Kamku, India and heading for Fort Hertz. However, this was probably an erroneous sighting because the crash site was found approx. 60 mi. NNW of Kamku. The C-47 reference book, The First Seventy Years by Jennifer Gradidge, reports the aircraft as missing in flight on 27 Jan 1943 while enroute from Tezpur, India to Dinjan, India. Either flight route could plausibly explain the crash site location. Dead: 6.

• 1st Pilot: F/O Hugh John Munro Campbell MiD RAAF
• 2nd Pilot: F/Sgt. John Orson Nicholls RAFVF
• W.Op./Air Gunr: W/O Kenneth Ross Phelps RAAF
• W.Op./Air Gunr: W/O2 Joseph Jean Jacques Fernand Casaubon RCAF
• Fitter llE: AC1 Thomas Gladstone Williamson RAFVF
• Passenger: F/Lt. Norman Lee Baugh MC RAF

Clayton also posted numerous photos of the wreckage at: https://www.miarecoveries.org/photos/?gcg_11=1314/c-53-42-6479-aka-raf-ma929-expedition-photo-gallery

The kin of three of the six casualties, all officially missing, posted replies on this RAF Command thread, though years ago:

a) Dr. David Stephens, the nephew of RAAF pilot Hugh John Munro Campbell. David last posted in July 2010, but I found another link to him from April 2011.
b) Christine Roshanzamir, the cousin of the RAF 2nd pilot, John Orson Nicholls. She last posted in February 2014.
c) Martin (no surname given), whose late wife was the niece of passenger Norman Lee Baugh, a pilot. Martin gave his phone number, from back in August 2012, as 07800729365. ANY IDEA WHERE THIS NUMBER IS LOCATED? N.L. Baugh’s father was from 38 Highfield Ave, Riveton Park, near Sheffield.

Also, I’ve seen on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial that the nephew of wireless operator/air gunner Joseph Jean Jacques Fernand Casaubon, RCAF, submitted photos of his uncle. I’m friendly with the guy who handles the project, and I know the CVWM policy is to keep dates of submissions and IDs of submitters hidden, but I’ll see if I can connect with the Casaubon relative.

So, if any relatives of the casualties see this, please respond, as Clayton would like to share details (and photos without watermarks on them).



JAGAN - I don't have the time right now, but I'll post this on the Facebook page later.

29th May 2020, 17:48

C-53 42-6479 was MA928 - 31 Sqn - Crashed on take-off Agartala, India, 25 March, 1943 (1st Pilot: 49720 P/O Gordon Macrae SMEATON RAF).


Matt Poole
29th May 2020, 19:08
Hi, Col,

Something has to be wrong with your source info.

First, how can one aircraft be given two RAF serial numbers? Maybe it happened, and I’ve just never seen it before.

Secondly, and more emphatically, wreck photos on Clayton Kuhles' site clearly show "26479" – solid evidence of the American serial number 42-6479. And a combination of two wreck photos supports the contention that this aircraft was RAF serial number MA929: 1) one piece of wreckage shows a vertical painted line which could be the right side of the letter "M", followed by a clear "A9", followed by a straight vertical edge to a piece of aluminum (aluminium to many), and 2) another piece of wreckage shows a left vertical edge to the metal followed by "29". Presumably, these two images, adjacent to one another (joined at the common vertical edge), are evidence of the MA929 serial number.

So Clayton found visual evidence of 42-6479 / MA929. Your info links 42-6479 to MA928, not 929. You can view the photos on the link in my last message.

I noticed this further error on the website where Joe Baugher lists US serial numbers, here:


42-6455/6504 Douglas C-53-DO
6479 (MSN 4931) to USAAF May 8, 1942. To UK May 28, 1942. to
Egypt Jun 12, 1942. To RAF as Dakota II FJ709 Jun 1942. Appears as Dakota IV on RAF record card. No record of fate.

So this is linking 42-6479 to FJ709 and no other RAF serial number. I haven’t delved into the kind of aircraft. Evidence varies as to whether it was a DC-3, a C-47, a C-53, a Dakota II, or a Dakota IV, and admittedly I haven't investigated further.

Also, the crash site reached by Clayton is very remote and nowhere near Argatala. It was a five-day trek northeast of Roing, India. On his website, in a Site Report, he stated that the location of this crash was at 28˚ 12’ 05.4” N, 95˚ 58’ 31.5” E. Argatala is located at 23˚ 53’ 40.17” N, 91˚14’ 29.03”E. These two locations are 417 miles apart, as measured on Google Earth. Definitely the wreck site found by Clayton is not a crash on take off from Argatala.

29th May 2020, 19:20

MA929 was 42-6481 (c/n.4933), in the opinion of the late Jennifer Gradidge. DC-3 The First Seventy Years Vol.2, p.344.


Matt Poole
29th May 2020, 21:43
Hi, Col,

Thanks for that.

Jennifer Gradidge has it wrong, too (based on Clayton's photographic evidence). And here's what Joe Baugher says about 42-6481, not that it is accurate:

6481 (MSN 4933) to USAAF May 8, 1942. To UK May 21, 1942. To Egypt Jun 12, 1942.
to RAF as Dakota II FJ710 Jun 1942. 117 Sqdn RAF. Appears as Dakota IV
on RAF record card. No record of fate.

We keep snooping and scratching our heads, and sometimes we figure things out.



30th May 2020, 02:25

So there is no misunderstanding (rightly, or wrongly), here are the complete entries from Gradidge's, DC-3 the First Seventy Years, Vol.2:

4907-5000 including 42-6455 to 42-6504 - C-53-DO - Contract No. AC-20667, delivered to Long Beach (p.343).

4931 - 42-6479 - C-53 08May42 - UK 28May42 - Egypt - 12Jun42 - FJ709 RAF - 117 Sq - MA928 - 31 Sq - Cr 25Mar43 Agartala, India. (p.343).

4933 - 42-6481 - C-53 08May42 - UK 21May42 - Egypt 12Jun42 - FJ710 RAF - 117 Sq 1943 - MA929 31 Sq - Missing 27 Jan43 Tezpur to Dinjan, India. (p.344).

The Douglas DC-1/DC-2/DC-3 The First Seventy Years - Volume 2.
Gradidge,Jennifer in collaboration with Douglas D Olson, David W Lucabaugh, Allan Bovelt, John M Davis and John A Whittle.
Tonbridge:Air-Britain (Historians),2006.

I don't think there is much doubt that the aircraft lost was MA929. Granted, Gradidge could have mixed up the MSNs.

Forget Joe Baugher. Most of his material on the RAF was sourced from out of date, sometimes incorrect and incomplete Air-Britain data. The ASN data is based on Alan Storr's material, which in turn is derived from the files of the two members of the RAAF aboard MA929.

The prescribed route for Agartala - Fort Hertz flights, was: AGARTALA-TEZPUR-DINJAN-FORT HERTZ.

What intrigues me, is, why are the six airmen listed on the CWGC (and elsewhere), with a date of death of, 31 January, 1943?


Matt Poole
30th May 2020, 18:44
Thanks, Col.

I agree -- I've found many things wrong with the Baugher material, but it is a brilliant database, nevertheless. Well, except how can one trust the info? At least it's a starting point! There are millions of tidbits of data, largely accurate, I'd guess.

I also agree that the anomaly on the date is baffling. ORBs are known to be error-prone, from my experience, so maybe some bored clerk made a simple error of choosing 27 January '43, not the 31st, when writing up the ORB, and the error has been taken as gospel by many. However, the actual "Circumstantial Report" on the loss, plus the CWGC info, states that the loss was on 31 January. I'm inclined to go with 31 January -- BUT IT MAY BE ERRONEOUS!

For what it's worth, the book (I've decided to edit out the name of this book) -- considered the standard reference work for this theater of the war, along with his two earlier books, (names edited out) -- has nothing about this loss or the men who died. That's no surprise, as this book has many holes. But this isn't known to readers, most likely. Sorry, but I hold a grudge, because long before publication, I offered the author accurate info on the loss of two Liberators on 29 Feb '44, and he said, no thanks, because he'd found what he needed on the web. And then he seriously screwed up the 29 Feb '44 info in the book, though I think everything I've seen on the web was basically accurate. I won't go on criticizing, though I have further serious issues. I've seen (the book with the wrong 29 Feb '44 info) quoted as fact on this forum. Most of what has been printed is likely very accurate info, but, unfortunately, I will always be sceptical.

That said, I also understand the immense value of the author's work, and the impossibility that all info he received was accurate. We can't get everything right. Take the conundrum with the date of death of the MA929 casualties, as an example -- a different date in different official records. So, despite my pouting, I tip my hat to the author.

2nd June 2020, 12:49
Hallo Matt Poole
Thank you for the amazing news that MA929 has been found. It is something my sister and I never expected. And the photos are a bonus. We always assumed the plane crashed in dense jungle so to see it amidst snow was a surprise. How do I contact Clayton to thank him, and request any further details please?
Best wishes
Christine Roshanzamir

Matt Poole
3rd June 2020, 07:13
Hi, Christine,

Yes! I was hoping you would find my posting on this old thread! I just found J.J.J.F. Casaubon's niece and nephew on Facebook, after learning their names from their father's 2015 obituary, but I haven't made contact yet. Clayton and I are in touch with David Stephens, nephew of pilot H.J.M. Campbell, and now you, and hopefully I'll receive a reply from the Casaubon kin. I tried phoning the number in posting #21 on pg 3, but it's not his number any more. His late wife was N.L. Baugh's niece, and I don't know his surname, only his name Martin. Still, progress is being made, which is great.

You can contact Clayton via his website's upper right "Contact Us" link. You can contact me at: feb2944 AT aol DOT com . I wonder if you have a decent resolution photo of John Orson Nicholls. Clayton would like to put photos of the men on his website, and we only have Casaubon and Campbell, so far.

This is great news!

Are you in touch with any of the families?


Matt [ADDENDUM: Christine and I have been corresponding directly by email since I posted this message.]