View Full Version : Hudson loss, 18 April 1942, Port Blair

Matt Poole
17th November 2009, 11:49
Hi, inquisitive ones.

Can anyone provide me with the names, etc., of a Lockheed Hudson crew of the AKWING GR Flight (based at Akyab, Burma) shot down while attacking flying boats at Port Blair, S. Andaman Island on 18 April 1942? I also seek details of the crash location, i.e., on land or in the sea.

It seems I have found some of the crew, at least, with a wrong date of death.

Per Bloody Shambles Vol 2 (Shores, Cull, Izawa), the serial number was given as V9221 and the pilot was Sgt. G. H. JACKSON. There were no survivors from Jackson's aircraft, per this source.

The problem is that the only G.H. Jackson in the Debt of Honour Register that fits in any way is 1284578 W/O Gordon Henry Jackson, who is buried in a six-person collective grave in Rangoon War Cemetery. Jackson's date of death is 29 Nov 1943, and his unit is 139 Sqn. I can find nothing further on these casualties for Nov 1943 in Air War for Burma (Shores).

Bloody Shambles reveals that the GR Flight was comprised of six Hudsons that had previously been on 53, 59, and 139 Squadrons. Looking on-line for the history of 139 Sqn, it is clear that after its Far East service ended on 30 April 1942, it's service from then on was in the UK! So a 139 Sqn-linked Hudson didn't go down in the Far East on 29 Nov 1943. It seems, then, that the CWGC date of death info on Jackson is in error, and I'm guessing that Shores, Cull, Izawa's info in Bloody Shambles is accurate.

Looking through the Rangoon War Cemetery listings, here are the six names from Collective Grave 6.E.1-6:

919720 Sgt Albert FLOWER, 139 Sqn, 29.11.43
7535440 Pvt Robert James HOLROYD-DOVETON, Royal Army Medical Corps, 30.11.43
1284578 W/O Gordon Henry JACKSON, 139 Sqn, 29.11.43
915429 Sgt William Albert James MANSER, 99 Sqn, 29.11.43
5182332 Pvt Alexander George MARTIN, Gloucestershire Regiment, 29.11.43
402686 F/O Kenneth McKellar WHITE, RAAF, 62 Sqn, 29.11.43

That's an odd grouping. Jackson, Flower, and White make sense for a 18.04.42 Hudson crew. Per the web, 139 Sqn (Hudsons) was absorbed into 62 Sqn (Hudsons) in the Far East. So these three were Hudson airmen. Manser on 99 Sqn? Not sure about that one. And the last two hardly seem like they would have been aboard a Hudson sent out to attack floatplanes.

I'm not sure of how many were aboard the Hudson...certainly not six.

White was an Australian, so his A705 casualty file can be digitized, if need be; it has not been digitized yet. I probably won't order the scanning if someone can provide the full crew and the link to 18 April 1942.



17th November 2009, 12:30
For what its worth, the airmens names appear as follows in RAF Casualty lists:

Casualty list 159, printed in Flight Magazine October 1st 1942
MISSING, BELIEVED KILLED IN ACTION.—Sgt. W. Y. Alderdice; Sgt. E. Annable ; P/O. L. A.
Coventry; Sgt. W. H. Curtis; Set. I. Edwards: Sgt. D. H. Fletcher; Sgt. A. Flower; Fit. Sgt.
R. J. Flux, D.F.M.: Sgt. J . R. Frehner; Sgt. J. Garroway; Sgt. P. W. G. Hall; Set. T. Hindle;
Sgt. D. L. Hughes; Sgt. G. H. Jackson; P/O. R. M. Owen; Sgt. C. J. Scott; Sgt. H. L. Smith; Sgt. H. H. Stott: Sgt. D. 8. B. Vincent; P/O. J . J. Walker; P/O. A. C. White; Sgt. D. B. Williams.

Casualty List: 228 printed May 6th 1943
MISSING.—Sgt. C. S. Berger; P/O. A. Carr; Fit. Sgt. P. Comrie; Sgt, M. Dransfield; Fit. l.t.
W. A. S. Elder; A.F.C.; L.A/-C. B. F. Garrad; L.A/C. T. J Goodwin: .Sgt. R. 8. Greep; Sgt.
N. Hallett; Sgt. J. W. Heain; P/O. J. C. W. Hewetson; Sgt. K. H. Hogarth; Sgt. K. R. Johnson; P/O. G. P. Kirwan; Fit. Sgt, J. T. Lindsay; Act. Fit.- Lt. P. S. C. Lovelace; Sgt.
A. C. McBav: Sgt. W. A. J. Manser; F/O. J. A. Mitchell: F'/O. B. R. Muxphy; F/O. P. R, V.
Myers; P/O. N. P , Orr; Sgt. E. Parry; Sgt. K. Pearson; Sgt. D. W. Penney; P/O. N. G. Price;
Sgt R. Scott- P/O. V. C. Sherring; Sgt. L L. Stuart;Sgt. D. Sutherland; Sgt. J. H. Tolkin; Sgt. A. Waterworth; F/O. R. W. White; F/O. G. D. Wright; F/O. J. N. Wright; Sgt. E. A. Yates; Sgt. W. H. Young.

Casualty List 189 printed Jan. 14th 1943
Royal Australian Air Force
MISSING.—Set. O. F. Dare; Sgt. N. R, .lone: Sgt. G H. Shannon; Sgt. K. McK. White <---- Not certain that this is our man, the rank is NCO

Excuse the spelling, its the copied text from the OCR Flight archives.

All a bit strange then!

British Army Roll of Honour:
Name: Robert Holroyd Doveton
Rank: Private
Death Date: 30 Nov 1943
Number: 7535440
Birth Place: India
Residence: India
Branch at Enlistment: Other Corps
Theatre of War: Burma
Regiment at Death: Royal Army Medical Corps
Branch at Death: Other Corps

Name: Alexander G Martin
Rank: Private
Death Date: 29 Nov 1943
Number: 5182332
Birth Place: Gloucestershire
Residence: Bristol
Regiment at Enlistment: Gloucestershire Regiment
Branch at Enlistment: Infantry
Theatre of War: Burma
Regiment at Death: Gloucestershire Regiment
Branch at Death: Infantry

17th November 2009, 13:04
At the same time,

all the RAF men are listed on the General Registers Office RAF Overseas list:

Sgt Albert Flower 139 Sqn Died 1943
Sgt William A J Manser 99 Sqn 1943
W/O Gordon H JAckson 139 Sqn 1943

Some admin problem along the way. Maybe their bodies were found around that time in 1943.

17th November 2009, 13:56
Hello Matt,

The death of AUS402686 Kenneth McKellar WHITE RAAF is recorded as follows:

Statement by ex-prisoner of war interrogated by F/Lt J.C.Buckland (DPS Sect.). "402686 P/O K.McK White was killed as a result of Allied bombing on 29th November 1943, and buried at Rangoon." N.O.K. advised of burial by letter 9-10-45.

White became a POW as follows:

No.62 Sqn. Cuttack.
Hudson IV AE523 'T'

Failed to return from an attack on port of Akyab. Shot down by Ki 43.

AUS402686 Sgt Kenneth McKellar WHITE RAAF POW
50662 P/O George Oliver MAUGHAN DFM RAF +
1108880 Sgt Neil McNeil RAFVR +

I think I'm lacking one crew member.

See: Air War For Burma/Shores pp.22-3 (Albeit quoting incorrect Hudson serial).


Henk Welting
17th November 2009, 15:13
Crewmember nr. 4 on Hudson AE523: F/Sgt Albert A. MARGOLIS - RCAF R/60404 (Singapore Mem. Column 420). Listed TSGNO page 464 with death date 9th JULY 1942.

17th November 2009, 15:34

Thanks for that!

The CWGC also has MARGOLIS as dying on 9th July 1942. There are no matching No.62 Sqn. aircraft/personnel losses on this date.


Henk Welting
17th November 2009, 16:12
.......what means that CWGC and TSGNO date 9th JULY may be incorrect for MARGOLIS ? TSGNO has correct serial AE523 in biograpy Margolis. Air Britain AA100 - AZ999 (latest edition) for AE523: 287/289/62 - Shot down by Ki 43, Akyab, 9.9.42.

17th November 2009, 16:21

I agree. Maughan,McNeil and Margolis all mentioned in same Casualty List (No.189), Flight January 14, 1943. pp.33-4.


Henk Welting
17th November 2009, 16:34
In A705 file of Kenneth McK. WHITE - 402686 is the word "Germany" !


17th November 2009, 16:44

The Titling, and the Item notes of all A705s, should be treated with caution. They contain many errors, and not just typos, many errors of fact.

WHITE,Kenneth M. RAAF 402681 [sic] - 62 Squadron.

Held Burma (Rangoon) - Died Rangoon 29-11-43 - Buried Rangoon.

Unsung Heroes of the Royal Air Force:The Far East Prisoners of War.
Stubbs,Les & Pam.
Hough on the Hill:Barny Books,2002.


17th November 2009, 18:32

I think Shores et al, may be wrong about the fate of the crew of Hudson V9211.

What do you think of this?

GR Flight
Hudson III V9211

Failed to return from attack on Port Blair. Shot down by fighters.

1284578 Sgt Gordon Henry JACKSON RAFVR POW (+29-11-43 killed as result of Allied bombing).
919720 Sgt Albert FLOWER RAFVR POW (+29-11-43 killed as a result of Allied bombing).
1261851 Sgt John Robert FREHNER RAFVR +
1255943 Sgt Percy William George HALL POW Held Burma (Rangoon).

All listed as members of 139 Sqn .


17th November 2009, 20:47
Hi Col

Is this not what I suggested in 'Bloody Shambles' Volume II?



Matt Poole
17th November 2009, 21:49
Thanks to the Brain Trust!

I pored over my Rangoon Jail lists and books and can confirm that of the six men in the communal grave I mentioned in my posting, all but HOLROYD-DOVETON were killed in the accidental bombing of the prison on 29.11.43. These four airmen and the one army private in the grave are mentioned by name in the excellent memoir "Quiet Jungle - Angry Sea" by Denis Gavin. "Piggy" MARTIN, the private, was "compound [prison compound] tough...who just liked fighting", per Gavin.

I realized then that I have the Graves Concentration Report for WHITE, pulled off the web from his National Archives of Australia casualty file, I think.

Of the four men Col listed as the likely crew of Hudson V9211, then, JACKSON and FLOWER were definitely POWs who died in Rangoon. And the Gavin book has great info on Percy HALL, who, it seems, survived his imprisonment despite terrible bouts with dysentery and beri-beri. One passage from Gavin's book:

"Percy Hall was the only one I remember who recovered from the final stage of wet beri-beri. He tried everything from exercise and sunbathing to refraining from drinking water. He was a serious, intellectual RAF sergeant who wouldn't give in even when Len White and I bet him we would see him carried out. We lost because unaccountably Percy started to sweat one day, he sweated and stank like a urinal, and he gradually went down until in a week he was skin and bones and then he started to build up and even got to the stage where he went out regularly on work parties."

That just leaves Sgt John FREHNER. He isn't listed in Unsung Heroes by Les and Pam Stubbs, and his CWGC info confirms an 18.4.42 death. Missing, commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.

I don't know how reliable these lists are for figuring out aircrew casualties, but I went through the "MISSING, BELIEVED KILLED IN ACTION" in the Casualty List 159 that Dennis retrieved from the Flight Magazine site. Of all these names, only one do not show up in the CWGC database: Percy HALL, who we now know was in Rangoon Jail and a survivor, it seems.

The reason I was inquiring about this Hudson crew is because of my hunt for the missing crew of 355 Sqn Liberator KH250, shot down by AA fire at Port Blair, S. Andaman Island on 17 May 1945. One crewman, Sgt. Harold WYNNE, died as a POW on 17 Aug 1945 in Port Blair. Per the 355 Sqn ORB, and a 355 Sqn participant on that op with whom I corresponded, only one parachute was seen. The remainder of the crew were killed in the crash, and officially they are missing.

I have been working with the kin of the pilot, 177155 F/O Rowland TOTHAM DFC. The Air Historical Branch told them that the Lib crashed in a tidal marsh just outside of Port Blair and that the bodies were buried by the Japanese near a named village. Then, the British put up a proper marker on the communal grave when they reoccupied the area in Oct 1945, but the graves were not exhumed.

This is baffling, because the grave of POW casualty Wynne was exhumed and today is in Kirkee War Cem, Pune, India. Why was the communal grave of his crewmates ignored when it was so easily accessible? Worse still, the kin of these men were never notified of the existence of the grave.

I contacted an English language newspaper in Port Blair, and last Saturday Sanjib Kumar Roy, the editor, drove out to the village to speak with elders. He was taken to the gravesite, which unfortunately is in an area which was flooded by the 2004 tsunami. The earthquake which triggered the tsunami lowered the land mass (it was, I think, the 2nd or 3rd worst quake in recorded history), and the grave is constantly flooded now in the tidal marsh.

Sanjib then sent me a photo of the grave -- of crumbling brick and stone or concrete. It's a sorry sight, but maybe something can happen now...a start of a lobbying effort to get the British government to exhume the graves for proper burial. I know, it's an uphill battle, but at least this is a known gravesite, not a wreck site, so maybe this will work to our advantage.

When I learned that another RAF bomber, the Hudson, had been shot down in the same area three years earlier, I felt I needed to investigate whether the grave found by Sanjib might hold victims of this Hudson loss. I feel quite confident now that the grave is of the Liberator crew, not Sgt John Frehner from the Hudson crew. Certainly the remains are of an RAF airman or airmen. The fact that Casualty List 159 has no other names of airmen that can be linked to the Hudson crash adds to my confidence that the grave found by Sanjib is, indeed, the KH250 crew remains.

Thanks, gents, for your excellent help.


17th November 2009, 23:17
Hi Brian,

''Is this not what I suggested in 'Bloody Shambles' Volume II?"

In part, yes.

My premise was, "I think Shores et al, may be wrong about the fate of the crew of Hudson V9211."

I stand by that.


18th November 2009, 07:50
Hello Matt,

I have finally figured out how 915429 Sgt William James MANSER RAFVR, fits into the pattern of events.

As noted he was 99 Squadron.

On 12-2-1943, No.99 Squadron raided the Mandalay marshalling yards. P/O R E Watson was obliged to force land his bomber in hostile territory near Gangaw, he and his crew later reported to be POWs. (See: Air War For Burma/Shores pp.57-8 & 60).

No.99 Squadron
Wellington IC HD975

Failed to return after attacking Mandalay marshalling yards. (Aircraft later located on banks of River Chindwin at Ywathit and set fire to by Hurricanes of 615 and 136 Sqns.).

118504 F/O (Pilot) Richard Edward WATSON - POW - (Rangoon - survived)
123681 P/O (Nav.?) Gregory Patrick KIRWAN - POW - (Rangoon - survived)
116213 F/O (Obs.) John Norman WRIGHT - POW - (Rangoon - survived)
915429 Sgt (Pilot?) William Albert James MANSER - POW - (+29-11-43 killed, Allied bombing)
AUS406936 Sgt (A/G) Ronald Trobridge HADDEN RAAF - POW - (Rangoon - survived)
AUS416306 Sgt (A/G) Malcolm Stuart WOODS RAAF - POW -(Rangoon - survived)

See: NAA: A9301 406936 pp.31-4 of 94


Henk Welting
18th November 2009, 11:57
Thanks 'Sherlock' Col making us part of your excellent research.


Matt Poole
19th November 2009, 05:30

I love it when the jigsaw fits together. I recognize some of his crew's names from Rangoon Jail lists; I just had not found the time to study those lists to see the common thread to Manser. Thanks for providing that superb info, Col.

Getting back to Hudson V9211's downing on 18 April 1942, if you have anything further on the ultimate fate of Sgt FREHNER, this would be solid gold to me. Was he captured, for example? I wonder if the post-liberation questionnaire for crewmate Percy HALL noted this? A future Kew search might reveal the answer, if lucky.



Henk Welting
19th November 2009, 13:59
I still have problems with the Hudson serial; V9211 was never used ! Could it have been V9221 ?

19th November 2009, 14:20

I'm sure you're right. I have V9221 written up in all my notes (1 OADU/India), but somehow persisted in using V9211 on the board. Very sharp of you to pick that up.

Speaking of No.62 Sqn. Did you ever resolve your problem with AE574/29-4-1942?



Henk Welting
19th November 2009, 15:03

I'm sure you're right. I have V9221 written up in all my notes (1 OADU/India), but somehow persisted in using V9211 on the board. Very sharp of you to pick that up.

Speaking of No.62 Sqn. Did you ever resolve your problem with AE574/29-4-1942?



Unfortunately not; still the three names in my files and a Hudson AE574 with a question mark.
There also must have been a fourth crewmember who made it back to base (by foot ??).
Do you think Hendon might have the answer on the Form 1180 ?
Best regards,

19th November 2009, 15:24

Would you mind greatly, starting a new thread on AE574/29-4-1942?

I think it needs a review.