59 History
- The Consolidated B-24 Liberator Mk.III - VIII - No. 59 Squadron Service History -
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B-24 Liberator FL 977 - H/59 - Painted by Timothy O'Brien
-- Battle of the Atlantic - Bay of Biscay - U-Boat Hunters --

The Legendary B-24 "Liberator": Jokingly known by many as the "Packing box the B-17 came in", the first Liberators (the British name for the aircraft) to see service were 6 LB-30A's (the LB suffix standing for Land Bomber) but due to its lack of frontline suitability (no self-sealing fuel tanks) they were diverted to Ferry Command which later formed into Transport Command in 1943. The first "fully operational" Liberators, were 20 LB-30B's which were built for the USAAC but were diverted to the UK and first saw action with the RAF as the "Mk I" serial numbers AM910 - AM929. Number 120 Sqn Coastal Command began operations with the Mk.I's in Sept of 1941, from RAF Nutts Corner. 120 would go on to become Coastal's most successful squadron in the U-boat war, resultant from the combination of their extended time spent on suitable aircraft in high enemy contact areas with U-boats and their highly successful levels of training with a keen eye for accurate bomb drops. In the early days flying the Mk.I's the bombardier was required to drop the DC's by eye, with no aid of a bombsight (Peter Clare).

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is probably one of the best known American bombers of all time despite the fact that its role during WWII is vastly overshadowed by the "much prettier" B-17 Flying Fortress (according to some). The Liberator was the most produced American aircraft during the war and at its peak of production a new B-24 bomber was being made every 51 minutes. A total of 19,256 Liberator aircraft and variants were manufactured between 1940 and 1945. The B-24J Liberator circa 1944 was the most produced model with 6,678 built. The first B-24D (MkIII RAF) rolled of the production line on 22 January 1942 (which is the aircraft that 59 Squadron received in late 1942) and in total there were 2,696 B-24D's made. This was also the first model Liberator to have exhaust driven turbo-superchargers. The B-24H was the first production Liberator to roll of the line with a nose turret already installed (previously they were fitted out once in the UK). The Liberator was a rugged aircraft that regularly brought crews home despite extensive damage, so it was often assigned the toughest and longest missions. It is the only aircraft to have served in every theatre of the war, it was faster than the B-17, had a longer range and could carry a higher payload. On the downside, the Lib was said by some to be harder to manoeuvre and control (due to the wing type) and was thus unsuitable for formation flying and the Mk.I's turbo-charged Pratt & Whitney engines left a flame trail, making it unsuitable for night missions (Endurance, 1996). Further more, any damage to the specialised Davis Wing was a serious problem for Liberator aircraft and crews, and some sources will argue that the B-17 Flying Fortress could hands down take far more damage than the Liberator and continue operating. Indeed there seems to be a lot more pictures of severely damaged B-17's that have made it home (especially of those missing the nose section of the aircraft), than pictures of B-24's with similar damage.

(left) "...Liberator Mk III S/59 (S for Sugar) took off from St Eval in Cornwall. It was 05.28 and on board were seven men _ F/O HAL Moran, P/O PD Weight-Vowden, P/O RD Stevenson and Sergeants L Hadfield, L Stalker, I B Jenkins and K R Regan..." Mk.III FL 933 - S/59, was later replaced by FL984 Mk.V as S/59.

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LV337 E/120 - A Mk.IIIA Liberator aircraft awaits as the sun breaks through.

59 Sqn B-24 Liberator RAF GR.Mk IIIA-VIII: In August of 1942, 59 Sqn switched from the Hudson to the Liberator RAF GR.Mk III (with at least one IIIA, LV342 - V/59 which was in fact the squadrons first Lib) and they began training to join the U-boat war. Apart from a few months in early 1943 in which they were operational with the B-17 Flying Fortress (RAF I-II-IIA), they would fly the Liberator for the rest of the war. The first of the two images below (of a crew training on the Liberator), show the squadron code still with the prefix 'TR'. It would seem that once they became operational, the Squadron code became "1" (later becoming 'WE' and 'BY') accompanied by a single aircraft identification code letter. W/C Bartlett flew the first flight on the 21st of Aug. when he and his crew flew LV342 V/59 (ex A/120) from Ballykelly to North Coates. According to an account of the flight by W/C Bartlett in Endurance (Alwyn Jay), this was the first time that a four engine aircraft had been deliberately landed there. LV342 was flown to Thorney Island by S/L Dunkerley and crew on the 29th of August, from Waltham. By the 2nd of Sept the whole Squadron had relocated to RAF Thorney Island were they began training. According to AIR27-561 - It appears that at this time - 59 Sqn had on its strength two Liberator aircraft, however the second is unknown at this stage. On moving to Thorney Island, they still had 3 or 4 of the Hudson aircraft.

On the above mentioned flight of LV342 from Waltham to Thorney Island, the squadron code is noted as "A" in the navigators log book (F/L Longmuir), perhaps this was a hang up from it's service with 120 Sqn as "A/120" and the code letter was yet to be changed on the fuselage. Liberator LV342 was part of a batch of 10 B-24D RAF MkIII's delivered to the UK that had been equipped with Mk.V ASV (Air to Surface Vessel) radar and then re-coded B-24D Mk.IIIA in June 1942. Prior to this, No. 120 Sqn had successfully tested the Mk.V radar for use in Coastal Command operations. The typical early model Mk.III aircraft was equipped with only Mk.II ASV (E Allen notes in his memoirs that initially the 59 Sqn Mk.III's had no radar) and the ORB for this period notes with all sorties flown "No. S.E Fitted"... but with the implementation of Metox (an ASV radar detection device) by the U-boat fleet in Sept of 1942, even those with Mk.II A.S.V soon saw it become virtually obsolete and in need of replacement... The answer existed in the Mk.III radar but Bomber Command had of course assumed priority over the already existing radar sets, initially releasing only 30 for use in the U-boat war. Often you will find that some sources will note the radar type used as Mk.III ASV and others as Mk.V ASV. They were in fact basically one in the same, only Mk.V was an American built version of the British Mk.III and was developed to speed up the delivery of suitable radar technology to Coastal Command aircraft.

In order to speed up the delivery of the aircraft to Coastal Command squadrons the Mk.IIIA's kept their USAAF armaments but by late 1942, they had been modified to fit standard GR.Mk.III armament (for operations in the Atlantic or Bay of Biscay etc). The typical early model Mk.III aircraft was equipped with only Mk.II ASV but with the implementation of Metox (an ASV radar detection device) by the U-boat fleet in Sept of 1942, Mk.II ASV soon became virtually obsolete and in need of replacement... The answer existed hence the urgent need by Coastal for the new centemetric Mk.III or Mk.V radar...

Training: The Month of Sept. '42 was spent training with no operations carried out. Throughout the month, the pilots attended courses at No. 1509 BAT Flight (Beam Approach Training - also known as Blind Approach).

"Beam approach (sometimes written as blind approach) was essential training for bomber pilots who would have to return to their Bases in the dark in often less than ideal conditions, where visibility could be marginal. Put simply, the beam approach system relied on two audible signals, Morse A (dit dah) and N (dah dit) which originated from differing parts of the airfield, which was "divided" into four quadrants. Listening to the signals, the pilot knew which side of the airfield he was flying in from. When he started hearing both signals of different strengths, he was aware of how close to the centre line he was. When both signals merged and became a continuous sound, he knew he was "on the beam". Ancillary signals enabled the pilot to land in very poor conditions." www.galgos.co.uk

Liberator Operations Begin: , On the 24th of Oct 1942 (after nearly two months training) four crews were detached to RAF St. Eval to begin operations (whilst the rest of the Squadron continued to train). This sortie was undertaken by P/O H.A.L Moran & crew in Lib. MK.III - FL933 - S/59. From St. Eval the detachment flew anti-submarine sweeps and convoy escorts over the Bay of Biscay and as more crews reached operational standard, they too began to operate out of St. Eval. This continued until the 11th of Dec 1942 when the last Liberator mission of the year was flown by F/O A.R. Neilson & crew. On the 13th, the squadron began conversion to the B17 Flying Fortress... In March 1943, they would revert back to the Liberator but with an upgraded variant, the Mk.V VLR (Very Long Range).

Top Secret Testing: For the first 3 weeks of Dec. 1942 and into the conversion period to the Fortress, 59 Squadron crews were assigned by HQ. Coastal Command, the task of testing a new bombsight. F/L Allen recalls that these tests were "very hush-hush"... Wikipedia states the following...

"Following the production of the 600 lb depth bomb, a Mark III angular-velocity, low-level bombsight was developed. At the eighth meeting of the Anti-Submarine Committee, chaired by de la Ferté, on 16 December 1942 at H.Q. Coastal Command, they examined ORU reports of the results with the device. No. 59 Squadron RAF had been given the task of testing the sight and were operating the Liberator MkIII during the period that the results were gathered. AOC Wing Commander G.C.C Bartlett AFC & P/O H.R. Longmuir (Bomber Leader) presented the following report to the committee:

Thirty-four bombs were dropped by three aimers (P/O H.R. Longmuir, F/O G.W. LaForme & F/O F.W.W. Cole) at a stationary target, and later on a target towed at 8 knots [9.2mph]. For [a total of] forty-two bombs the average range error was 18yd [yards].[22]

However it was considered the low-level sight's chief advantages would be demonstrated under operational conditions. The sight was considered a great advancement on any previous method of low-level bombing, either by eye or with a bombsight. The best figures from No. 59 Squadron's trials were 6 yd range error with release from 800 ft, and 5 yd error when approaching at 100 ft, but releasing from 400 ft with the aircraft's nose slightly up.[22] Some academics in the ORS stated a 20 yd error range existed but maintained the Mark III was promising. Some crews did not trust the device, which was the case when asked to use equipment of which they had little experience. Instead, many continued relying on their own trusted eyesight. A continued lack of resources meant there was no widespread use of the sights. In later months, the aircrew changed tactics and with new weapons, they decided that it would take too long to zero-in on a target using the device. Pilots and crew often opted to use their own judgement by direct sighting with considerable success.[source]

Liberator Operations Interupted: In the book "Boeing B-17 Fortress - in RAF Coastal Command", Robert Stitt states the following...

"The Air Ministry recognised that promised deliveries of Liberators and Fortresses would not be met and in August 1942 revised its New Expansion Plan... It was now hoped that three Liberator squadrons would be formed (on Coastal Command) but this failed to happen due to allocation of aircraft elswhere by American authoirities... To address this critical shortage, the Air Ministry contracted Scottish Aviation in November 1942 to modify all 33 Liberator IIIA's to Long Range configuration... a program that would take three months to complete..."

This predicament stretched the resources of 120 Sqn very thin, so 59's Lib's were reallocated to 120, to bolster their ranks... So from Dec. 13th 1942 till end of March 1943, 59 Sqn operated the B-17 Fortress (Fortress operations). According to Robert, the original plan had been to re-equip 59 with new Halifaxes but enough Fortresses had become available to equip three squadrons. 59 were the third to operate the Fortress... 59 Sqn's C/O, W/C Bartlett A.F.C was not happy at all with the situation, having trained up on the Liberator Mk.III's only to have them realloacted very soon after and being forced back into training again on a new aircraft, this would have been very frustrating. He was visited by Air Chief Marshal Ludlow-Hewitt, who later wrote to Air Marshal Slessor stating...

"Ulimately of course, we shall have to re-equip one of the Fortress squadrons to Liberators again, it is all a little bit of a mess..."

59 were that squadron and once the task of re-configuring the Liberator Mk.III's to full VLR status was completed, they were back to operations on the Mk.V...

..:: Practice Bombing at Thorney - Training up on the Lib ::..
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Mk.III Liberator FK232 - F/59
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These images were taken from the photo album of F/L Longmuir. As you can see, F/59 still shows the squadron code as "TR" - This is the only picture of a 59 Lib.Mk.III that I have come accross that shows the "TR". It's possible that they retained the code whilst training and that it was dropped once they went operational in late Oct. 42.

Return to the Liberator: In late Feb. 1943, whilst 59 were still flying the Fortress IIA's, their Lib Mk.III's were converted to Mk.V's and full VLR status, with the addition of Mk.III ASV radar (59 being the last of the frontline U-Boat hunting squadrons to be fully equipped as such) and the removal/addition of armament as per required. On the 27th of March 1943, the Squadron relocated form RAF Chivenor to RAF Thorney Island and by early April 1943, 59 Squadron had reverted back to their newer look Liberators, now GR.Mk V's. The month of April was spent training on the new Mark.V and on May 7th, they went operational from St. Eval, on detachment.

A Disastrous Start on the Mk.V: On May the 7th, the first operational sortie was undertaken in the new Mk.V Liberators. Four crews were sent out on a convoy escort. According to F/L Allen, they were told that they were to escort the Queen Mary and he vaguely remembers them being told that Churchill was onboard. The weather on this day was terrible with strong gale force conditions. Of the four aircraft sent out, all were recalled before the convoy could be met. S/L Cave & crew failed to return - F/O Wright & crew "walked out" over Blackburn, F/O Charlton & crew were diverted to Aldergrove eventually landing at Ballyhalbert and F/L Allen & crew luckily made it to Thorney Island. In their mission report (F/L Allen & crew) it is noted "Crew reported worst weather of their experience". According to F/L Allen in his memoirs, a member of Teddy Wright's crew, Rocky Livingstone had parachuted into water after they had "walked out". He inflated his persoanl dinghy and started to paddle only to bump against a wall a few minutes later. He thought he had landed in the Irish Sea, only to discover he was in a static water tank in Blackburn! Allen recalls this mission as "pointless", given that they lost two aircraft, 8 experienced airmen and that the Queen Mary was capable of out-running any U-boat doing her 24 knots...

(above) Mk.III FL923 flys low over terrain. This aircraft was delivered to 120 Sqn then flew with 59. After leaving 59 it alternated between 224 and 120, ending service with the latter when shot down by flak guns aboard U-537 on 10/04/1943.

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Off to Ballykelly - Northern Ireland 1943

 

Off to Northern Ireland: In May 1943, they were posted to RAF Aldergrove were they joined 86 Sqn and these two formed the only line of defence against the U-boats in the mid Atlantic at the time, comprising of 15-20 planes (Alwyn Jay, Endurance). They would remain at Aldergrove till Sept, when they were posted to RAF Ballykelly, where they would remain for the rest of the war, although detachments were posted to places such as Iceland, Reykjavik (30/09/43 - 06/11/43), Keflavik (04/08/44- 06/09/44) and Gibraltar (01/05/1943 - 09/1943). In his memoirs, F/L Allen also makes mention of the Mk24 torpedo's, code named "Oscar" being carried by 59 Squadron Liberators in June (1943) when he attacked U-600. Alwyn Jay (Endurance) notes that the first Coastal op to use the Oscar was by B/86 on May 12th 1943 (severely damaging U-457) and on May 14th U-266 was sunk by a Liberator of 86 Sqn, believed at the time to be the first outright U-boat kill for a RAF aircraft. Oscars were regarded as top secret, and crews were advised to not keep the weaponry in open view to be photographed by enemy recon aircraft and if diverted to an alternate airfield, the crew were to mount an all night vigil to guard the plane (which usually consisted of one crew member left out in the cold all night). The Oscar had to enter the water at a specific angle and this was vital to its ultimate success, so they were released with a parachute attached to control the angle of decent. Thus it was only allowed that an Oscar be used against an already submerging U-boat so the parachute would not be detected. Crews who carried them were also required to take on oath prior to a mission, swearing that they would not discuss the weapon outside of the operation rooms and according to HF Tuckwood, they were also issued with pistols (for night lookout). Whilst the Oscar was a successful weapon against the U-boat, it was an acoustic torpedo that homed in on the sound of a U-boats propellers (or the loudest sound in the vicinity), thus they could only be used when there were no Allied ships within range of detection, so their use was somewhat limited on convoy patrol. EE Allen notes in his memoirs, that captains and crews carrying the Oscar were warned that any failure to adhere to the guidelines of usage would result in a Court Martial...

F/L Allen also notes that the 59 Sqn Mk V (full VLR) Liberators had the front and top turrets removed to save weight and also the oxygen systems had been totally removed. This meant that if a crew were forced to fly above 10,000 ft for an extended period of time (due to bad weather, evasive action etc) they risked blackouts and irrational behaviour through lack of oxygen. The lack of front armament was however a major issue for crews, and since the arrival of the Liberator Mk.V's without them (April 1943), there had been continuous complaints by 59 crews and it was decided by those in command that all aircraft would have the front turrets put back on once they had reached there time for routine service overhaul... In June, after an air gunner was seriously wounded during a U-boat attack.. the C/O (W/C Gilchrist) grounded all aircraft until they had their nose turrets re-installed... There were no complaints...

Notes of Interest: On 30/12/1943 - in Liberator BZ712 - D/59 - An ANTI-SHIPPING PATROL was undertaken with the Navigator as the Captain. A side note in the ORB states that this was the first time this had happened on the Squadron. The Navigator/Captain was F/O Short. December 1944 also saw the standard crew size (8) increase (over the coming months) with the introduction of a 2nd Navigator. Two Australians were the first of the new recruits to begin op's, with F/O A. Edgar out on the 18th, with F/L E.E. Brown DFC & crew in Liberator V. FL990 "A". The following day F/S D.G. Howard joined F/L I.C. Henry & crew in Liberator V. FL989 "L" and so the trend continued. It had become apparent that the workload of the single navigator was far too demanding and operational fatigue was rampant. With the addition of a second, the workload could be shared and undertaken in 4 hour shifts. By May, all crews have converted.

(above) Mk.III FL933 on the runway as a train passes before take off... According to HF Tuckwood "...In Aldergrove, North Ireland, the runway had to be extended because of the Liberators and this cut across the railroad line the one time an airplane took precedence over a train. It had to give way when one of our planes was taking off or landing..." FL933 first saw Coastal service with 59 then went on to serve with 120, 224, 220 and 86 Sqns and was sold as scrap in 1947. This picture was most likely taken post service with 59, as they were not posted to Aldergrove until they had their Mk.V Libs.

Conversion from Mk.V to Mk.VIII: ORB summary for March 1945 states the following - "The chief event of the month... was the conversion from Mark.V VLR Liberators to the Mark.VIII Liberators, without the petrol in the very long range fuel tanks. The chief item was a completely new radar set, Mark XA (also called Mark XVA) giving for more detailed & flexible radar contacts and demanding even greater skill in the operator then the old Mark.V. Crews generally prefer the different layout of the aircraft & its lightness of control compared with the Mark.V. The front gun turret is a popular feature. The conversion was carried through in relatively quick time, less than a fortnight between March 12 & 23rd at as busy a time as Coastal Command has had in the Anti U-boat War".

59 Squadron continued to fly the Liberator till the end of the war sinking five U-Boats. (three of which were in the same convoy battle over a two day period). They would go onto to fly the Mk VIII's (late model B24J's and B-24L) in the later stages of the war and then post war with Transport Command, they would fly the Mk VI (B-24H and early B-24J's) refitted for duties on ferry duties. During the war the majority of these later models went directly to the Far East were the RAF's final campaign in Burma during 44-45. The B-24M did not see service with Coastal Command, although it was used widely in the PTO (Pacific Theatre of Operations) and in Werribee (Melbourne) there is the restoration of RAAF B24M Consolidated Liberator A72-176. I recommend a visit to see this bomber if you live close by or you are in Melbourne for a visit. It really puts the size of these machines and their capabilities into perspective.

Side Note: The "GR" in front of the Mk III-V denoted that it was an aircraft re-equipped for Coastal Command service. Upon delivery to the UK, they were known as Liberator B.Mk III or V etc (and kept this prefix if they were assigned to Bomber Command) but depending on where they were sent this was reflected in the prefix change, ie "GR" for Coastal and "C" for Transport Command. I believe that the G.R stood for "General Reconnaissance"...

(above) Mk.VI KG865 in service with No.220 Sqn, it would later go on too serve with 53. 59 Sqn flew Mk.VI KG864, which it also received from 220.

 

 

The roles of the Coastal Command squadrons were threefold, the first being Operation Cork. This comprised continuous day and night air patrols between Southern Ireland, the Cornish Peninsula and Brest Peninsula with the aim of preventing U-Boats from breaking into the Channel and coastal waters around the South of England. Secondly, Coastal Command were to assist the Allied navies in protecting convoys against E-Boats and enemy light surface craft. Thirdly, the strike/attack squadrons were to cut enemy coastal supply lines. During these operations, aircraft of Coastal Command flew 2,197 ASW (Anti-submarine Warfare) sorties in the Channel and Western Approaches. 72 submarines were sighted, 40 were attacked. Coastal Command anti-shipping and strike squadrons flew 1,672 reconnaissance and 315 strike sorties. (www.raf.mod.uk)

The next day (7th of June) the aircrews were assembled to be told the invasion had begun. The Group had already started its operational plan to protect the landing fleets - operation CORK. As the enemy had concentrated the bulk of his operational U-boats in the French ports, it was expected the U-boats would put to sea to attack the ships supporting the invasion. To prevent such attacks air patrols were organised to cover the approaches to, and in, the western English Channel. The plan was that a plane would observe with its radar every part of the CORK area, from southern Ireland to the mouth of the Loire, 20,000 square miles, every 30 minutes, day and night for an indefinite period. Thirty minutes was chosen as a U-boat was believed to use, in a crash dive, about as much battery energy as could be charged into the batteries in 30 minutes on the surface. If a U-boat had to crash dive every 30 minutes it would show no net gain from charging its batteries while on the surface between dives. It would arrive in the fighting-zone with its crew exhausted, little compressed air to surface and its batteries flat. (www.combinedops.com)

59 Sqn CORK operations: Endurance (Alwyn Jay) states that although 59 Sqn was the only frontline U-boat hunting unit not trained in the use of the Leigh Light in early June 1944, they still took part in operation CORK. Joe Collins, who was Radar Leader for 59 at the time, notes that between the 6th and 24th of June, 59 Sqn flew 92 sorties. Some in support of cross Channel convoys and others in Cork or other similar patrols. This was an average of one sortie every 3 days for each crew. Collins also took part in 6 Cork missions, in which two U-boats were sighted and one attacked unsuccessfully..

(above) Taken from the photo album of F/O Longmuir - noted "On way to Prestwick - Ron Stevenson" The a/c is FL982 - P/59, a Mk.V Liberator.. His logbook notes that on July 22, 1943, he travelled to Prestwick from A'grove in Liberator FL977 - H/59 (picture at top of page). This is the only mention of Prestwick in his logbook. Perhaps he took the picture of P/59, in which his friend and fellow Australian navigator Ron Stevenson, was aboard... The ORB does note that in April of 1943, F/O Longmuir was sent to Prestwick on official duties... but it is not noted in his logbook... perhaps as a passenger, this would not be required? Of interesting note, there is no dorsel turret on this a/c... F/L Allen recalls that that the Mk.V's they re-equipped with in April 1943, had had them removed to save weight... He goes on to note that they were reinstalled in June 1943. So perhaps this picture was taken in April of 1943, not July... Regardless, it is a wonderful shot of P/59 with the English country side as a backdrop...

 

------- All The Extra Bits & Pieces ------

The Leigh Light: According to Alwyn Jay in Endurance, the 59 Liberator fleet would eventually be fitted out with the Leigh Light (pictured below) during the later months of 1944 (once again being the last U-boat hunting squadron to be so equipped) but in his memoirs, Ken Regan notes that in April of 1943, they were doing training exercise's with the Leigh Light at Thorney Island. He also notes that on an A/S patrol (Fortress IIA) on the 24th of Jan 1943, that the "Leigh Light" worked well... It seems a little odd (if this is correct..). that 59 were operating on B-17's with the Light (in Jan-March '43), were training with them on Liberators in April.. but did not receive them for over a year... especially if they had used them on the Fortress? I guess however, that training is one thing and availability and designation of equipment is a whole other story... Further more, the ORB summary for March 1945 notes that, during this month, "two crews were trained for Leigh Light work at night (whether this policy will be followed up) remains to be seen..." So it appears that Leigh Light operations were not a frequent occurrence for 59 Sqn crews right up until the end of the war in Europe. At any rate, according to the Encyclopedia of Aircraft of WWII, No. 53 Sqn is noted as having been the first equipped in Oct 1943. The Leigh Light was used for mainly two purposes on night missions. Firstly it was used (by the bombardier) to correctly sight and position a U-boat just prior to the release of the depth-chargers (D/C's) and secondly to momentarily "blind" the U-boat gunners (during the attack run) and disrupt the delivery of AA fire.

The 59 Mk.III's had only a single 5in Browning machine gun fitted in the nose, whilst the Mk.V's had none, so on approach I guess one had to pray that the boat gunners were off target or having mechanical problems... This was the case when in Jan 1944 Wes Loney and crew made four attack runs on U-621 causing severe damages to the boat. According to German war records and personnel accounts, the AA guns had jammed and fired only one or two rounds intermittently. The cause was noted as either sea damage to the ammunition, as reserve ammunition had special outer storage areas that often got wet or damage from MG fire. Although the Light was not used in this attack as it was made at approx 1520hrs, the captains log did make note of "something under the wings, maybe detection apparatus..."

Initially the Leigh Light was a successful addition the the Lib's bag of tricks but eventually the German gunners adopted the use of welding goggles to combat the intense light burst. Thus by the time 59 Sqn was fitted out with them (if it was indeed during the latter stages of 1944), the surprise element of the Light had certainly been lost but it still remained an essential tool. Such was the intensity of the Light it was only capable of delivering two 30 second "bursts" before needing to be recharged. According to an account (Endurance, Alwyn Jay) dated 18/09/1944 on U-1228 by a 224 Sqn Lib, the Light was switched on at a range of one mile and it illuminated the surfaced U-boat. In later model ASV Mk VII radar, it became possible to calculate the position and angle that a Light should be used at before being switched on during the attack run.

These two images clearly show the Leigh Light and its placement on a Liberator at RAF St. Eval

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Armament: This varied depending on whether aircraft were used in the Atlantic or the Bay of Biscay. The aircraft operating in the Biscay had the upper turret (just aft the cockpit) left on as enemy fighter contact was deemed more likely in that region than for patrols made in the Atlantic. Also waist gun armament varied depending on Command of service. The RAF Coastal Command Lib's were fitted with the following:

Consolidated B-24D - RAF Liberator GR.Mk.III-V
They were equipped with standard RAF 0.303-inch machine guns in the nose, twin 0.303-inch machine guns in each of the waist positions, and twin-0.50-inch gun Martin power turrets in the upper dorsal position. Although delivered with Consolidated A-6 tail turrets, most RAF Liberator III's had the Consolidated turret replaced by a four-gun Boulton Paul tail turret (see below)
Consolidated B-24J-L - RAF Liberator GR.Mk.VI-VIII

The Consolidated A-6A turret had sloped, flat transparent front panels as opposed to the smooth cylindrically-shaped transparent surfaces of the Emerson turret. The sloping front of the nose turret made the A-6A-equipped B-24J the longest of all the Liberator variants at 67 feet 7 5/8 inches. Later in the Convair production run, a switch was made from the A-6A to the A-6B turret.

By the spring of 1944, the Emerson turret shortage had been sufficiently alleviated that enough of these nose turrets were now available that both Convair/San Diego and Convair/Fort Worth could install them on their B-24Js in place of the Consolidated A-6B. This change was made at J-185-CO and J-45-CF.

By the time that production of the B-24J got underway at the other three members of the pool, enough Emerson turrets were available to equip these planes as well. After May of 1944, the B-24J had standardized on the Emerson turret.

Externally, the initial B-24J differed very little from the nose-turreted B-24G and B-24H, but could generally be distinguished from them by carefully studying differences in the nose turret and nose-wheel landing gear door arrangements. Generally, B-24Js built by the different members of the Liberator Production Pool were quite similar and could only be distinguished from each other by an examination of their serial numbers. However, careful observers could often tell the difference between the B-24Js from the different manufacturers by looking at the arrangement of the nose landing gear doors--some of them opened outwards, and some opened inwards. The initial Convair-built B-24J differed from the G and the H in having inward- rather than outward-opening nose-wheel doors. All of the B-24Js from Convair that had the A-6A or A-6B turrets all had inward-opening doors. The B-24J-45-CF with the "swept" nose and the A-15 turret had inward-opening doors until Block 70, then switched to outward opening doors. The B-24J-185-CO with the NAA-style nose and the A-15 turret had outward-opening doors. All of the North American built B-24Js had outward-opening doors, as did all of the Ford-built B-24Js. Convair adopted the North American-style nose fairings, but Ford continued with the S-curve fairing that had been used in the H-series.

(above-left) 4 gun Boulton Paul rear turret (Mk.III-V) (above-right) Rocket projectile rack
(above) A Liberator GR.Mk.V clearly showing the rocket projectile racks. You can also just see the silhouette of the Leigh Light to the left of the outer engine (LHS).

 

(above) F/Sgt Ron Johnson sits at his twin 50's ready to fire in the waist of a Coastal Command Liberator. (below) A shot looking towards the rear turret of a Coastal Command Liberator, note the ammunition tracks leading towards the rear. (ww2images.com)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Liberator ASV radar
(above) Liberator MkIII - FK228 M/120 fitted out with Mk.II ASV Yagi radar antennae.
(above) A B-24J Liberator RAF Mk VI is primed and prepared for service. A forward turret was introduced with the bomb-aimers window underneath. The ventral turret (bottom ball turret) was however replaced by an retractable Mk.V ASV radome (radar-dome). You can see its silhouette on the underside, just above the aircrafts shadow, to the left of the roundel. The small clear dome on top of the fuselage between the front turret and the pilots window was for the navigator when using astro-navigation/positioning instruments.

(above) This image of Liberator Mk.VI KG907 (served with 102 and 53 Sqn's) on escort duty clearly shows the retractable ASV radome in use, searching for any detection of U-boat activity. The radome and also the GR.Mk.V chin fairing (shown in bottom picture) had considerably less drag effect than earlier forms of radar.

(above) GR.Mk.V FL941 "F" getting readied for a mission. This picture clearly shows the chin fairing that housed Mk.III-V ASV radar units and also shows depth-charges waiting on the trolley ready to be loaded. This aircraft served with No.s 224, 547 and 53 Sqn.

 

------- Coastal Command & The Liberator ------

The Coastal Workhorse: The B-24 made a massive contribution to Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic against German U-Boats. The decision to allocate some Liberator I's to Coastal Command in 1941 produced immediate results, with 120 squadron operational on Lib's from Sept. The Very Long Range (VLR) Liberators "almost doubled the reach of Britain's maritime reconnaissance force". This added range enabled Coastal Command patrols to cover the Mid-Atlantic gap, where U-boats had operated with near impunity during what is commonly known as the U-boat "happy time". For twelve months, No. 120 Squadron RAF with its handful of much patched and modified early model Liberators (15-20 aircraft), supplied the only air cover for convoys in the Atlantic Gap. In late 1942 the Mk II and III's began to filter through to Coastal Command. The Mk II's by and large made there way to Bomber Command. Originally it had been planned that the Mk I's would join B.C but the needs of Coastal were deemed more urgent... amazingly... So although some Mk II's saw service with Coastal, it would be the B-24D (or B.Mk III) that would be widely introduced and used.

The VLR Liberators sacrificed some armor and often some gun turrets to save weight while adding extra fuel in bomb bay tanks. Liberator I's were equipped with ASV Mark II radar and the Leigh light on later Mk's gave them the ability to hunt U-boats by day and night. They were operated from both sides of the Atlantic with the RCAF to the west and the RAF from the UK and Iceland. This role was dangerous, especially after many U-boats were armed with extra Flak guns and adopted a policy of staying on the surface to fight. U-441 was the first VIIC to be fitted out with flak guns, C/59 attacked U-441 in early march 1943 causing minor damages. According to Franks/Zimmerman, all flak U-boats were reverted back to original status after U-441 was later strafed by three RAF Beaufighters of 248 Sqn, sustaining 10 dead and 12 wounded, including all the naval officers onboard in July of 1943.

The sudden and decisive turning of the Battle of the Atlantic in the Allies' favour in May 1943 was the result of many factors. However, it was no accident that it coincided with the long delayed arrival of many more VLR Liberators for maritime patrol. Liberators were credited in full or part with 72 U-boat kills. In addition to very long range patrols, the B-24 was vital for patrols of a radius less than 1,000 miles (1,600 km), in both the Atlantic and in the Pacific where B-24s and PB4Y-1s took a heavy toll of Japanese shipping. A total of 977 USN PB4Y-1s were used in the Pacific Theater in VB and VPB squadrons. (wikipedia)

(above) unknown 59 Sqn Lib crew - circa 1944-45? This crew would have most likely been flying a fully armed model Lib (probably a Mk.VI or VIII although possibly minus the Sperry ball turret) for which the crew consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, 2 x navigator (one or both Nav-B), flight engineer, wireless-operator mechanic and 3-4 wireless air gunners (which rotated positions eg. beam, tail, top etc). The ventral Sperry ball turret (underside of fuselage) may have been replaced with a radome (radar-dome) as shown in one of the a/c pictures just above. Update May 2013 - Have recently been contacted by Adam (grandson) of one Herbet Lipsit (pilot) - seated middle/front. MOre information to follow...

Also according to Alywn Jay, unofficially as of November 1944, crews often flew with extra passengers in the hope that more "eyes" would increase the possibility of detecting U-boats. This was at a time when use of the Schnorkel was keeping U-boats by an large hidden from detection. In early 1945, a rise in Allied shipping losses due to the Schnorkel equipped boats, would see an increase in Coastal Command training and aircraft numbers. It would also see an increase in the numbers of RN vessels dedicated to the U-boat war. The Schnorkel allowed the U-boat to return to areas it had not been seen in since the beginning of the war...

...::: Liberator FL985 Mk.V - VLR - M/59 :::...
These images are most likely taken before June-July of 1943 when the 59 VLR fleet still had no nose turrets. These pictures were brought home from the war by Sgt "Ace" Bailey. Sent in by his son, Steve Bailey.

 

------- 59 Sqn Liberators ------

 

59 Squadron Liberator Aircraft
B-24 Liberator GR.Mk.III & IIIA
Serial Number
Squadron Code
Service Notes
LV342
"V" Mk.IIIA - 59 's first Lib - 29/08/42 - sold as scrap June 1947
FK215
"?" Mk.III To 5256M1945 (120/59/86/120/1 OTU/1674 CU/1332 CU)
FK232
"F" Mk.III overshot landing at Reykjavik 1943 (59/120 Sqn's)
FK233
"?" Mk.III DBR 25/11/1944 (120/86/120/86/59 Sqn's)
    Skidded on landing and nose wheel collapsed, Ballykelly
FK236
"B" Mk.III SOC 19478 (59/120/224 Sqn's)
FK237
"R"
Mk.III car shed DBR 1943 (59/224/59/86 Sqn's)
    crashed at Compton, England Feb. 28, 1943.
FK238
"C"
Mk.III crashed 1945 (59/120/53/120/1332 CU )
    Nose wheel retracted on landing, Nutts corner, 22.2.45
FL913
"A"
Mk.III To 5249M1945 (59/120/224 Sqn's)
FL916
"?"
Mk.III To 5069M1945 (59/224/86/AAEE/220/1674 CU)
FL922
"M"
Mk.III To crashed 1944 (59/120/86 Sqn's)
    Swung on take-off and hit truck, Reykjavik, 28.4.44
FL923
"?"
Mk.III shot down by flak 1943 (120/59/224/120/224/120 Sqn's)
    Shot down by flak from U-539, 4.10.43
FL924
"?"
Mk.III sold as scrap 1947 (120/59/86 Sqn's)
FL925
"J"
Mk.III to USAAF 1943 (59/224/86 Sqn's)
FL928
"D"
Mk.III DBR 02/03/1945 (59/120/1332 CU)
    Swung on landing and hit ditch; nose wheel collapsed, Nutts Corner
FL930
"E"
Mk.III SOC 1945 (59/86/1332 CU)
FL931
"T" (11/42)
Mk.III Missing from patrol 27.6.44 (59/86 Sqn's)
FL933
"S"
Mk.III sold as scrap 1947 (59/120/224/86 Sqn's)
FL937
"?"
Mk.III crashed 1944 (59/224/547/311 Sqn's)
    Caught fire on patrol and crashed in sea, 5925N:0415E, 4.10.44
B-24 Liberator GR.Mk.V
(above) Mk.V BZ769 has it's engines covered. This aircraft served with No. 311, 53 and 86 Sqn's. 59 sqn flew Mk.V BZ768.
Serial Number
Squadron Code
Service Notes
FL944
"?"
Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 (86/311/59 Sqn's)
FL946
"?"
Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 (224/59 Sqn's)
FL951
"?"
Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 (86//59 Sqn's)
FL956
"?"
Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 (224/59/311 Sqn's)
FL961
"?"
Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 (59/224/53/547/311 Sqn's)
FL 971
"V" Mk.V missing 07/05/1943 (only served with 59)
FL 972
"E" Mk.V DBR 02/12/1944 (only served with 59)
    Nose wheel collapsed on takeoff, Ballykelly, 2.12.44; DBR
FL 973
"C"
Mk.V crash landed, DBR 11/04/1944 (only served with 59)
    Engine caught fire on approach, Ballykelly; blew up
FL 974
"E" Mk.V abandoned 07/05/1943 (only served with 59)
    Abandoned in bad weather near Crewe, cheshire, 7.5.43
FL 975
"B" & "G" Mk.V SOC 1945 (59,1674 CU, 311)
FL 976
"N" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (only served with 59)
FL 977
"H" Mk.V crashed 24/06/1944 - (only served with 59)
FL 978
"X" Mk.V SOC 1945 - (224/86/53/311/59/1674 CU)
FL 980
"T" Mk.V failed to return 24/02/1944 - all lost (only served with 59)
FL 981
"?" Mk.V crashed 04/12/1944 - all lost (59/1 OTU/1674 CU/59/311)
FL 982
"?" Mk.V SOC 1947 (served with 59,311)
FL 983
"?" Mk.V SOC 1946 (served with 59,301 FTU,354)
FL 984
"S" - (Oct '43) Mk.V sold as scrap March 1947 (only served with 59)
FL 985
"M" Mk.V - SOC 1947 - (59 and 311 Sqn's)
FL 988
"R" Mk.V SOC 1945 (only served with 59)
FL 989
"L" Mk.V - crashed 19/06/1944 - all lost (only served with 59)
FL 990
"K" and "A" Mk.V - crashed 19/06/1944 - all lost (only served with 59)
BZ712
"D" Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 - (only served with 59)
BZ714
"?" Mk.V SOC 1946 - (AAEE/120/59 Sqn's)
BZ716
"?" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (53/311/59/311 Sqn's)
BZ717
"X" Mk.V crashed 13/07/1944
    Flew into high ground, bad visibility, Marlborough
BZ719
"W" Mk.V SOC 1945 - (224/120/59 Sqn's)
BZ720
"?" Mk.V crashed 29/10/1944 - (53/59/311 Sqn's)
BZ721
"?" Mk.V sold as scrap1947 - (224/59/311 Sqn's)
BZ724
"P" Mk.V crashed 18/08/1944 - (86 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ742
"?" Mk.V Soc 1946 - (86/311/59/111 OTU)
BZ743
"T" Mk.V sold as scrap 1948 - (311/220/59/220 )
BZ763
"V" Mk.V SOC 1946 - (TRE/311/547/59)
BZ764
"?" Mk.V DBR flak U737 - 03/07/1944 - (59/224/120 Sqn's)
BZ765
"F" & "E" Mk.V failed to return - 20/08/1943 - (only served with 59)
BZ768
"V" & "P" Mk.V to 5232M 04/1945 - (86/224/120/59 Sqn's)
BZ771
"F" Mk.V SOC 1946 - (224/53/120/59/1674 CU)
BZ781
"?" Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 - (224/53/59 Sqn's)
BZ782
"S" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (311/120/59 Sqn's)
BZ794
"G" Mk.V SOC 1945 - (53/224/547/59 Sqn's)
BZ797
"?" Mk.V SOC 1946 - (224/311/547/59/1674 CU)
BZ798
"K" & "N" Mk.V SOC 1946 - (311/547/59 Sqn's)
BZ801
"T" & "C" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (120 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ804
"C" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (53,120 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ821
"Q" Mk.V sold as scrap1947 - (224/547 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ870
"?" Mk.V SOC 1946 - 59/224/53/86 Sqn's)
BZ871
"E" Mk.V sold as scrap 1947 - (53/547/59 Sqn's)
BZ874
"?" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (120/59/120/547/59 Sqn's)
BZ876
"U" Mk.V SOC 1945 - Crashed Mar 1945 - BK (59/120/59 Sqn's)
BZ879
"F" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (86/59/120/59/547 Sqn's)
BZ911
"Y" Mk.V SOC 1945 - (120 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ912
"Z" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (120 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ916
"?" Mk.V SOC 1945 - (120 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ917
"X" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (120 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ918
"L" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (224 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ920
"O" Mk.V SOC 1946 - ( 120/59/1674 CU)
BZ921
"D" Mk.V SOC 1947 - (120 and 59 Sqn's)
BZ941
"?" Mk.V Damaged - 10/01/1946 (59/Cv C.VI)
B-24 Liberator GR.Mk.VI
(above) Mk.VI KG864 before delivery to 220 Sqn and later onto 59.
Serial Number
Squadron Code
Service Notes
BZ 963
"?" Mk.VI sold as scrap 1947 - ( TFU/59/1332 CU)
KG864
"?" Mk.VI -SOC 1946 (220 and 59 Sqn's)
KH125
"?" Mk.VI - hit by lightning and crashed - Sept 1945
KH305
"?" Mk.VI - to 6025M 1946 - (FE and 59 Sqn)
KH377
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947 - (59 and 206 Sqn's)
KK224
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1947 - (only served with 59)
KK248
"?" Mk.VI - crashed 01/031946- (59 and 224 Sqn's)
    KK248 - undercarriage retracted on take off - Waterbeach
KK371
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947- (only served with 59)
KK374
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947- (426 and 59 Sqn's)
KL486
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1948 - (1409Flt and 59 Sqn)
KL576
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1947 - ME and 59 Sqn)
KL613
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1948 - (only served with 59)
KL628
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1947 - (ME and 59 Sqn)
KL650
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1947 - (426,53 and 59 Sqn's)
KL657
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1947 - (only served with 59)
KL673
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947 - (59,53,59 Sqn's)
KL676
"?" Mk.VI - missing 18/10/1945 - (only served with 59)
    Missing on ferry flight, Castel Benito-Waterbeach
KL687
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1948 - (only served with 59)
KL689
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1948 - (only served with 59)
KN702
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947 - (only served with 59)
KN707
"?" Mk.VI - sold as scrap 1948 - (only served with 59)
EV992
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947 - (only served with 59)
EV997
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947 - (only served with 59)
EW147
"?" Mk.VI - SOC 1947 - (only served with 59)
B-24 Liberator GR.Mk.VIII
Serial Number
Squadron Code
Service Notes
KH291
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (86 and 59 Sqn's)
KH292
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (120 and 59 Sqn's)
KH294
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (120,59 and 86 Sqn's)
KH306
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (224/59/220/466 Sqn's)
KH337
"?" Mk.VIII - sold as scrap 1948 - (53 and 59 Sqn's)
KH414
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59 and 224 Sqn's)
KH416
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59 and 224 Sqn's)
KK268
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947- (59 and 224 Sqn's)
KK289
"?" Mk.VIII - crashed 1945- (59 and 111 OTU)
    Vibrated on take-off; undercarriage raised to stop, Lossiemouth
KK294
"?" Mk.VIII - crashed 1945- (59 and 224 Sqn's)
    Brakes seized on landing, hit Fido installation, U/C torn off, St.Eval
KK296
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59/1674 CU/111 OTU)
KK297
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59/1674 CU/111 OTU)
KK321
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59/1674 CU/111 OTU)
KK322
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59/53/220 Sqn's)
KK329
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59/1674 CU/111 OTU)
KK331
"?" Mk.VIII - crashed 04/01/1946 - (59/1674 CU/111 OTU)
    Flew into high ground at night, Lunde, Norway
KK332
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59 and 224 Sqn's)
KK333
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (59/1674 CU/111 OTU)
KK339
"?" Mk.VIII -crashed 1945- (only served with 59)
    Undershot in bad visibility, hit bank; U/C torn off, Ballykelly
KK363
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947- (59 and 224 Sqn's)
KK364
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947- (59 and 111 OTU)
KN835
"?" Mk.VIII - SOC 1947 - (only served with 59)

_____________________________________________________

In the Op's room - St.Eval - November 1942

F/O Barson looks over the maps. His navigator is F/O Longmuir (bottom right)
A crew get briefed by Intelligence Officer Shackleton before take off (F/O Longmuir - far left)
------- Liberators Lost ------

1944 - A dark year for the 59 Sqn Liberators: By 1944, the "happy times" for the Ubootwaffe was certainly over and the Allies had once again gained the upper-hand in the Atlantic, although with the aid of the Schnorkel the U-boat threat was far from over... Even so, the Liberators had helped close the gap with their long range air cover, depth charge attacks and their ability to spot U-boats unawares track them with sonobuoys and flame floats and call in the naval support, who would then hunt them down relentlessly. With the crews becoming more experienced and the equipment more proficient it is not surprising that the loss of aircraft had lessened towards the end of the war for 59 Sqn and indeed many coastal command Squadrons but this is not to say that the element of danger was any less, there was still a war being fought nonetheless. With this in mind, it appears that poor weather conditions were equally as great of a threat to aircraft as enemy contact... Out of the 14 Liberator losses (not all with casualties) I have so far found for 59 Sqn, 10 of them were due to, or partly due to poor weather conditions. Four aircraft failed to return (missing), four crashed on landing for various reasons including weather and five crashed due directly to poor weather and the crew of one "walked out" in zero visibility and the aircraft crashed into the sea. It is highly possible that any of the missing aircraft and crews also fell victim to the weather... but we may never know.

Six aircraft were lost in 1944, four with all crew lost, one with a sole survivor and one with all crew safe. Three were lost with all crew in June of 1944 after the Allied invasion of Europe. This accounted for about a third of all Coastal Command losses for the month of June (10 aircraft and 80 airmen). One was lost in August, one aircraft was DBR when it crashed landed due to engine failure and blew up (crew survived). One went missing with all crew lost when they failed to return from an escort patrol in Feb. Wes Loney stated (in regards to the weather in the North Atlantic, in Endurance, Alwyn Jay), "There is no doubt in my mind that Mother Nature claimed as many Coastal Command aircrew as did enemy action, if not more...". The fact that over 75% of 59's Liberator losses were due to inclement weather, would seem to support this view.

Weather reports: Lightning!

  • 19/01/44: Wing Commander Gilchrist D.F.C and crew were returning from a routine escort patrol when after 14 hours in the air and over Donegal Bay, they reported being hit by a severe static discharge which affected the aircraft but no damage was apparent. LIB. V FL980 T/59.
  • 3/11/44: In position 5940N. 1045W. aircraft was struck by lightning. Engines 2 and 4 caught alight and trailings were lost. landed safely at 2143. F/L J.R. Morrill & crew in Lib.V FL972 - E/59.
  • 5/11/44: In position 5620N. 1108W. lightning burnt the trailing aerial away, so Loran unserviceable. W/C deGruyther & crew in Lib.V FL976 - N/59.
  • 10/2/45: Trailing aerial struck by lightning, the hydraulics system was damaged and patrol left..." The crew and a/c made it back to base safely. F/L D.A. Willows & crew - LIB.V BZ917 - X/59.

 

crew_jenkins

RAF Ballykelly in November 1943 with the squadron's broken wheel symbol.
Back (L-R): W/O R.G.Frankis, Sgt G H Lewis, F/Sgt K.R.Regan, Sgt G.E.Knight.
Front (L-R): F/Sgt J Leonard, W/O F.G.Logan, P/O I.B.Jenkins (capt), Sgt W.H.Wilson, W/O R.R.J.Revell.

The highlighted names above are members of the crew that died in the crash on 26th June 1944.

59 Squadron Liberator losses due to bad weather conditions - 1944
Date
Liberator MkV.GR
Details
June 19th 1944

FL898 - L/59

&

FL990 - A/59

Both aircraft crashed within minutes of taking off from RAF Ballykelly in Northern Ireland killing all onboard. The RAF base was surrounded by mountain ranges which were well known for their potential to cause severe downdrafts. During flight, an un-laden Liberator could fall 500ft as a result of extreme weather before control could be regained. These aircraft were fully loaded and at low altitude.
Crew
FL898 - L/59: W/O NR Langton and crew.
FL990 - A/59: F/L RP Wade and crew.
June 26th 1944

FL977 - H/59

This aircraft (pictured top of page in the painting by Timothy O'Brien) crashed whilst attempting to make a night landing in dense fog and cloud cover killing all onboard. According to Ken "Titch" Regan (a former member of this crew) he was looking towards the clouded night sky and listening to the aircraft as it circled the base when on it's third time around, a large explosion was heard as it struck the Binevagh mountains.
Crew
FL977 - H/59: P/O IB Jenkins and crew.
Aug. 18th 1944

BZ724 - P/59

This aircraft had been operating in the North Atlantic on an anti-submarine mission on the night of 17th/18th August 1944, when due to bad weather, and nearing the end of its lengthy patrol, it was diverted to RAF Tain in NE Scotland. It would appear that after making a descent through cloud and very short on fuel, the Liberator struck the moor above Helmsdale and disintegrated. All were killed except the pilot. Poor radar contact in bad weather has been sighted as one of the possible reasons for this accident.

P/O Lloyd was posted into the squadron from 1674 H.C.U on 2.7.44. He and his crew flew their first operational sortie on the 9th of August

Crew
BZ724 - P/59: P/O John Lloyd and crew. (pictured below)

(back L-R) F/O D.A. Willows (Capt), anon, Sgt Callegari, Sgt Instone, Sgt Pratt

(front L-R) anon, F/L F.L Sweirzaski (1st Nav), P/O Lloyd, anon

photo sent in by Dave Carter - George Callegari's son in law. Thank you Dave. It is not known at this stage why P/O Lloyd is seen here with F/O D.A. Willows & crew, as there is no record in the ORB of him having flown with them...

 

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This site was created by and information compiled by L.Del Mann - © 2008