Liberator KH152 F ( 34 Squadron SAAF)

Discussion in 'Stories' started by v2, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2005
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    1) On October 16th, 1944 at 4:30 AM the B-24 “Liberator” bomber from the 34. Bomber Squadron SAAF (205. Bomber Group RAF) no KH-152 “F” took off from the Celone airport near Brindisi in the southern Italy.

    2) The main aim of the operation was to help the Polish guerillas (AK – Armia Krajowa, Polish Home Army) with food, arms, medicines and money. The release point was over the ,,Buk 201” area in the south from Warsaw – the capital of Poland.

    3) The crew: 5 South Africans and 3 British:
    - Lt. (por.), J. A. Lithgow, the first pilot, SAAF
    - Lt. K. B. Mac William, co-pilot, SAAF
    - Lt. E. Colbert, Obs., SAAF
    - Lt. G. C. Dicks, Air Gnr., SAAF
    - Lt. S. I. Fourie, Air Gnr., SAAF
    - Sgt (sierż.) T. Myers, Bomb Aim, RAF
    - Sgt G. F. Ellis, Air Gnr., RAF
    - Sgt. W. F. Cowan, Air Gnr., RAF

    4) At 8:30 AM when the bomber approached the Wisła river in the sector between Kraków and Tarnów, at the altitude of 3100 meters it was shot down by the German night fighter (probably Junkers JU-88 ) piloted by Ofw. Karl Maisch from the 2. NJG 100, which took off from the Udefeld airport (Mierzecice – Zendek today). The aircraft crashed 110 kilometers in the east from the Krakow in the “Czarnowka-Leg” village near Szczucin in the land of Franciszek Szczupak ( see photo )

    5) The crew of the aircraft:

    - Lt. James Arthur LITHGOW, record number: 79528V, 23 years old, son of James and Violet nee Fraser, born in Johannesburg (RPA-RSA), decorated with the ,,D.F.C. Cross’’ for sinking on the 26th October 1942 the Italian tanker ,,Prosperina’’ delivering food to German general-marshal Rommel to Africa. It was his second and last flight ever. He was buried in the land of Władysław ‘’Selwin’’ Szarek in the Brzezowka village. After the exhumation in 1947 he was re-buried in the Rakowicki cemetery in Krakow (grave no 12, lot 1, line B).
    (D.F.C. – Distinguished Flying Cross), (RPA – Republika Południowej Afryki), (RSA – The Republic of South Africa, Republiek van Suid-Afrika)
    - Lt. Keit Bernnand MAC WILLIAM, record number: 117609V, came from RSA, his wife was named Elisabeth (Rissik), his parachute didn’t open properly and as a result he crashed in the field of Szymon Dziekan in Brzezowka. After exhumation he was re-buried in Krakow.
    - Lt. Evan COLBERT, South African from Johannesburg, he joined the air force (102502V) being 30 years old, he was on of three aviators who survived the Czarkowka thanks to help of Polish guerrillas: ‘’Stanislawa’’ in Szcucin, ‘’Malwina’’ in Medrzechow, Boleslaw – Mr Kochanek and ‘’Drewniaki’’, he was on the board of the Liberator in January 1945, in March he left to camp in Odessa from which he went to United Kingdom.
    - Lt. Graham C. DICKS, record number: 313340V, managed to land safely. He was concealed by the AK in Kanna and Boleslaw villages (in the Sroczynski’s manor). Lt. Dicks went to Moscow in February 1945, from where he left for South Africa
    - Lt. Samuel I. FOURIE, after the crash he was imprisoned by Germans. No more is known about him and his history.
    - Sgt Tom MYERS, record number 629511, buried in the land of Szczupak next to the wreckage of the aircraft
    - Sgt William Francis COWAN ‘’Billy’’, 31 years old Irish from Belfast, son of Rachel and Samuel, record number 1902826. He achieved professional qualifications in Bridlington and Bridgenorth where he was a student from January 17th. He was found by the Polish guerrillas in the land of Kazimierz Lachut in Brzezowka where he was buried afterwards. He widowed his wife Jane and orphaned his son Jack (presently living in Canada) and daughter Frances.

    6) Thanks to Leszek and Zbigniew Szarek, sons of Wladyslaw ‘’Selwin’’ Szarek who did not forget about the crash of the KH-152 ‘’Liberator’’ throughout the years there is a plaque for Lt. James A. Lithgow from SAAF, at initial burial place.

    7) The following details of the crash result from the report prepared by Ryszard Pietrucha from Szczucin who collected information from the residents of the village:
    - Lt. Fourie, landed in Bukowiec near Szczucin safely however he was not recognized by one of the residents as the aviator of the Allied forces and as a result he was taken to the German soldiers who stationed in the farm nearby.
    - The Colbert and Dicks lieutenants were found by the AK unit in Szczucin by Capitan F. Wiatr ‘’Duch’’ and his connector W. Duda ‘’Sarna’’ and concealed in the camp of the guerrillas.

    8 ) Until October 1947 all the five graves were taken care by Polish Red Cross organization working in the Elementary School in Zabrnie. After the exhumation in 1947 the bodies of the soldiers were re-buried in the Rakowicki cemetery in Krakow.

    9) In 1959 the ‘’How did the Lithgow pilot die?” article was published on the pages of the ‘’Przekrój’’ magazine November issue. It was the letter of Donald M. Lithgow who was looking for the traces of his brother died during his mission to Poland.

    10) During that night the 34. Bomber Squadron SAAF lost the other ‘’Liberator’’ no EW-250 ‘’L’’ commanded by the Lt. D.O. Cullingworth too. It was the supplying mission to the ‘’Cukinia 202’’ AK area near town Konskie. The plane crashed in Krzczonow. Sgt R. T. Pither catapulted over the Wisla river near the Kocina – Czarkowy village and managed to survive. All the other crew members (Lt. Cullingworth – SAAF, Lt. Franklin – SAAF, Lt. Mac Leod – SAAF, Sgt Spad – RAF, Sgt Richmond – RAF and Sgt Bowden – RAF) unfortunately died. The are buried in the Rakowicki cemetery in Krakow. This bomber was shot by Ofw. Karl Maish too).

    I'm looking for more infos about Liberator's crew and a winner Ofw. Karl Maisch....

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