Date: 16/10/1943
Squadron Code: 'C'
Serial Number: Liberator Mk.V ?
U-Boat details : U-470 type VIIC- attacked/sunk
:::: Flight - Mission Details ::::....

Base: Reykjavik
Take off time: 0908
Op: Convoy Escort

Sunk 16 Oct, 1943 south-west of Iceland, in position 58.20N, 29.20W, by depth charges from two British Liberator aircraft (Sqdn. 59/C & 120/Z). 46 dead and 2 survivors. Earlier in the day U-470 had been attacked by a Liberator from 86 Sqdn.

U-470 was sunk after a protracted battle with three of the aircraft protecting convoys ON-206 and ONS-20, which were transiting south of Iceland. RAAF Pilot Officer W.G. Loney was flying one of the RAF aircraft which shared credit for the sinking, Liberator 59/C. Two survivors from the U-470 crew were later picked up.

Loney & Crew only just made it back to base! "On the U-470 attack we made four passes in all, getting shot up for our pains. The Germans were not friendly! It was due to Wes’ supreme low flying, in which we climbed over the conning tower, that I had a straight view down inside the U-Boat from a very close standpoint. We were so low that I believe our top camouflage could have been seen from the conning tower. We did not experience much flak on the final run and Wes made a classic drop of DCs from the starboard quarter. Fifteen bods were seen in the water and we whistled them up a destroyer to collect them. Unfortunately, owing to the imminent danger of further attacks, it could not stop and steamed slowly through them with nets out to catch them - this added up to just two.
We attacked on P.L.E., and lost between 100 and 300 gallons of fuel from being shot up. I reckoned 100 and Wes 300, so we settled on 200! We also had our port undercarriage suffering from a 20mm. shell or two. We climbed to Rated Altitude without superchargers and headed back home to Ballykelly. I eased off the mixture until the cylinder temperatures rose, getting it as lean as possible. This caused a drop in airspeed which upset George as he was worried we would not make it, especially as the action had taken place at the bottom end of the Denmark Strait and we had quite a long way to go at night. George couldn’t be blamed as he was as keen as the rest of us to get back safely. We made it but the landing was, to say the least, interesting. We lost the complete port wheel and finished up on the remains of the oleo leg. Still, we were on the runway - just. on dipping the tanks we found that we had about a teaspoon full of fuel in each tank - I estimated we had about 15 minutes left! Wes got a well-deserved immediate award of the D.F.C. for that." Eye-witness statement made by one of Coston’s fellow crew members, Flight Sergeant “Bill” Sills (


ORB of 59 Squadron: ‘The notable achievement of the month was an attack by F./O. Loney and crew on a fully surfaced U-Boat on the 13th. The U-Boat was visually sighted from eight miles 060 Red from 2,000 feet, and an attack was made, the approach being made out of the sun, during which the U-Boat altered course to starboard and opened up heavy flak at four miles. The aircraft tracked over the conning tower at 50 feet, from 120 Green, and six depth charges were dropped - the first exploded alongside the hull but the remainder, spaced at 50 feet, overshot. A second attack was made and two depth charges, spaced at 60 feet, were dropped from a similar approach, tracking over the U-Boat half way between conning tower and stern - this stick fell across the stern and explosions were seen to straddle the stern. Three machine-gun attacks were then made and hits were obtained on and around the conning tower. Two minutes after the last of these attacks the U-Boat dived, finally disappearing at a steep angle with no way on, stern up, leaving no debris, but pale discolouration of the water. The U-Boat was observed to be of the 517-ton type, with two-step conning tower. No damage was sustained by the aircraft.’


Extract from 120 Squadron ORB:

16 October 1943

Liberator III Z/120 - F/L. B E. Peck and crew.

Op: Escort to convoy ON206.

The Liberator was airborne Reykjavik at 0908 hrs of the 16th and set course for the convoy which was met at 1153 hrs. The escort was commenced and at 1215 hrs the aircraft was over a small oil patch. At 1900 hrs the SNO requested the Liberator to carry out a Reptile Patrol and at 1918 hrs a U-boat was sighted in position 5820N-2920W. Depth-charges were seen exploding near the U-boat from an attack made by another aircraft. At 1922 hrs Z/120 attacked the U-boat with 6x250lb depth-charges and machine-gun fire. During this attack Z/120 received return fire from the U-boat. The depth-charges were seen to straddle the U-boat which was seen to be down by the stern. At 1926 hrs Z/120 attacked again, this time with 2x250lb depth-charges which straddled the U-boat which was seen to sink stern first. 15 survivors were seen in the water. Z/120 then set course for the convoy and at 2150 hrs left ON206 and set course for base, landing back at Reykjavik at 0058 hrs of the 17th.

Extract from the 120 Squadron Operations Record Book.


During this action U 470 a type VIIC submarine commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Gunter Grave was sunk.

The destruction of U 470 was officially shared by No.120 Squadron and No.59 Squadron.

:::: More U-boat Details ::::....



Ordered 20 Jan, 1941
Laid down 11 Oct, 1941 Deutsche Werke, Kiel (werk 301)
Launched 8 Aug, 1942
Commissioned 7 Jan, 1943 Oblt. Günther-Paul Grave
7 Jan, 1943 - 16 Oct, 1943 Oblt. Günther-Paul Grave
Career 1 patrol 7 Jan, 1943 - 30 Jun, 1943 5. Flottille (training)
1 Jul, 1943 - 16 Oct, 1943 11. Flottille (front boat)
Successes No ships sunk or damaged


This U-boat belonged to the 11th Flotilla (a spanish word meaning a small group or formation of warships or submarines) The 11th emblem is shown below...

The Polar Bear - 11th Flotilla

This emblem was a fitting one for the 11th Flotilla located in Bergen, Norway. This flotilla fought in the Arctic Sea against the convoys to Russia amongst other things.

image © Guðmundur Helgason 1998-200

:::: Source - & 120 Sqn ORB - Endurance - Alwyn Jay ::::....

During WWII, the RAF used three-letter codes to identify their aircraft from a distance. Two large letters were painted before the roundel, which signified the squadron to which the aircraft belonged, and another letter was painted after the roundel which indicated the individual aircraft. Aditionally, there was the individual serial number for each aircraft, which was painted in a much smaller size, usually somewhere at the rear of the aircraft: (more)

Codes used by RAF 59 Squadron:

PJ Sep 1938 - Sep 1939
TR Sep 1939 - Oct 1942
1 Aug 1943 - Jul 1944
WE Jul 1944 - Oct 1945
BY Oct 1945 - Jun 1946, Dec 1947 - Oct 1950