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Old 28th September 2008, 01:51
Duncan Richardson Duncan Richardson is offline
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Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

Hello all

I am new here and seeking some help in identifying a downed bomber and any additional information. I am researching various aspects of the war and it's impact on the island of St Vincent, West Indies. I am a pilot and near my airfield I have seen an engine block and firewall of a light twin bomber that crashed along the beachfront while attempting a forced landing with a dead engine. There are two war graves in the local Georgetown cemetery, one Australian and one British with another in the cemetery in the capital Kingstown. I am told there might have been an American casualty as well. The date was April 12th 1943 and it is reputed the bomber was being ferried to Russia from the USA via Trinidad, Belem, Dacca and onwards.

Because of war secrecy nothing seems to have been published in the local newspapers and the memory of the crash dims in people's minds. My wife who was born in 1948 remembers playing on the wreckage which eventualy disintegrated in the salt air.

I have an old photograph taken shortly after of the burnt wreck and I have the crew names of those left here. It is said the American was disinterred and taken home.

1. Douglas William Perry. Sergeant (Nav) 1332428. Royal Air Force
Volunteer Reserve

2. Geoffrey John Hamilton Carter. Sergeant 412229. Royal Australian
Air Force

3. Lennox Dane Faulkner. Captain Royal Air Force Transport Command

In closing, 1942 and 43 saw a vast number of aircraft stationed in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to counteract the U boat onslaught here that accounted for nearly one third of allied shipping losses in 1942.

Hope someone can help
Duncan
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Old 28th September 2008, 02:23
Amrit1 Amrit1 is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

The aircraft was Baltimore FA314 which was destroyed in the fire after the crash. It was on a ferry flight. I can confirm Carter and Faulkner, though not Perry. Nor do I have any details of an American
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Old 28th September 2008, 02:32
Duncan Richardson Duncan Richardson is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

Thank you for that info Amrit. Would you know any details of the crash. The legend here was that it had refueled in Puerto Rico then lost an engine because the fuel had been tampered with by "fifth colimnists)??. One crewman, Perry survived long enough say they had thought they were set up to land on an open grass field but finding it cultivated elected to try a go around but they went into coconut trees along the beachfront.

Last edited by Duncan Richardson; 28th September 2008 at 02:58. Reason: mis read first reply
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Old 28th September 2008, 02:58
Amrit1 Amrit1 is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

The RAF serial number was FA314, the US was 41-2789. I'm afraid I don't have any more details but some of the other members may be able to help.

Unfortunately, Carter's file hasn't been digitised but you can apply for it. His casualty repatriation file may have more info. Go to:

http://naa12.naa.gov.au/Login.htm

Click on Guest and then search for 412229. It should come up with three files. last one may help
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Old 28th September 2008, 03:48
Duncan Richardson Duncan Richardson is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

Amrit. I think I will have some luck on the archives, thank you once again
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Old 28th September 2008, 16:34
Martin Gleeson Martin Gleeson is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

Hallo Duncan,

Just to add a little to what Amrit has stated. According to OCEAN BRIDGE, The History of RAF Ferry Command by Carl A. Christie there were only 3 on board, as you listed. However Faulkner is recorded as a Canadian civilian, not RAF or American. He was the pilot, Perry the navigator and Carter the radio operator.

Baltimores were not used by the Soviet Union. This aircraft was on its way to join the RAF in the Middle East. For the ferry operation it was allocated to 45 Group, RAF.

I agree with Amrit about Carter's file on the Australian Archives website. These are usually very helpful.

Thanks for an unusual and interesting posting.

Regards,

Martin Gleeson.
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Old 29th September 2008, 01:23
Duncan Richardson Duncan Richardson is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

Thank you for that additional info Martin. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Faulkner as a UK citizen but the two countries were very closely tied then with families recently emmigrating so confusion could well exist.
http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_...2024327&mode=1

This is the site for Georgetown Cemetery. A more peaceful remote place it would be hard to find and so very far from the war.

Canadians and Americans might be easily confused here hence the talk of an American. I am glad you could clear that point for me and pin down the squadron it was destined for.

Why the pilot was not able to execute a good forced landing has been a mystery to me because the length available would seems to be adequate, the terrain was absolutely flat and the crop was arrowroot a short plant that would have been harvested by April. I have learnt that the Baltimore was a very difficult aeroplane to handle and would have required a high approach speed. Maybe there was not enough length or perhaps he overshot the intended touchdown spot but attempting a go around with one engine out and high coconut trees on his port side was fraught with danger. I'm sure he did his best.
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Old 29th September 2008, 09:37
dp_burke dp_burke is online now
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

The nationality displayed on the CWGC site is the nationality of the force served with, not of the person. Just to be careful with that little bit.

Check out the initial search screen, hold the mouse over the yellow button with question mark beside tht field.

Cheers Dennis
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Old 29th September 2008, 10:21
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

I haven't heard that the Baltimore was particularly difficult to fly, but as a high-powered twin it will have had a high Vmc, the minimum control speed on one engine. This is the lowest speed at which the aerodynamic forces on the fin/rudder are strong enough to counter the asymmetric pull of only having one engine at full power. The pilot will have needed full power to keep it airborne, and this will have given a strong swing into the dead engine. He will have countered this with the rudder, but had speed fallen below Vmc the aircraft would have been uncontrollable.
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Old 2nd October 2008, 12:37
Duncan Richardson Duncan Richardson is offline
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Re: Info April 12th 1943. Twin bomber crash on the island of St Vincent, British West Indies

Than you dp and Graham for your help. Re the planes handling I was thinking more in terms of slow speed with it's high wing loading. Actually at the moment I've dug up some new info and I'm not absolutely certain there was a dead engine.

Realising that much of what I had heard was second hand I have been searching for eye witnesses. One man with a mechanical eye lived close by and says he remembers the crash though he was only 4 yrears old. He says that the plane was trailing smoke and made a circle over the site before attempting to land. This allerted villagers to the problem who came out their houses and watched it set down. He says the coconut trees that line the sea shore were very young with trunks barely formed and had a windbreak of pandanus along the shore. The plane landed Southbound into the coconuts but came to rest in tall trees alonside a river at the end of the line which caused the complete disintegration of the fuselage. The wreck was engulfed in fire but one man got out badly burned. His name was Perry and may have been the radio operator stationed in the rear of the fuselage. He lived until the next day and was able to speak. He is reputed to have said they thought the coconuts were some sort of pine plant and the place would be ideal to land. My source does confirm just three crew. He also said that villagers put out the fire with a bucket brigade from the river.

The talk of fire on board seems plausible. To the Northwest lay Beane Field on St Lucia just 33nm distant and 8 minutes earlier they were abeam Beane and 32 nm to it's West. (assuming they were flying along the island chain which is the common practice and not direct P Rico to Trinidad) I'm wondering if they were near to or had already passed over Georgetown heading South when fire broke out creating a "have to land now "situation. If they had a dead engine they should have been able to maintain a lower altitude and get to Beane. If they were loosing altitude all the time and not able to reach Beane I do not envisage them making a circle over the landing point.

There was no airfield on St Vincent in 1943 and I am trying to determine if Pearls airfield 76nm to South on Grenada had been built by then. Certainly between Georgetown and Grenada there was no better place to land.

Questions to ponder on. It would help to know if the Puerto Rico to Trinidad route was flown direct across the Caribbean Sea or in an arc along the island chain.
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