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BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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  • ianwoodward9
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Aug 2010
    • 778

    I am in the process of trying to integrate the various bits of information about the service record of AM259 / G-AGCD, using the information posted by Matt and robstitt and the books and articles to which i have access.

    One anomaly I've noted so far relates to 14 July 1942. The NA records, posted by robstitt, say that it flew from Gander to Prestwick that day. Matt's posting, which i think comes from the Oughton book, says it made its first flight to Cairo on 14 July 1942 - adding that it then returned to the RFS.

    The latter addition leads a to a further anomaly. Peter Moss, in a 1975 article, agrees that its first flight to Cairo took place on 14 July 1942 but says it made its second flight to Cairo on 24 July 1942. This raises the question of when it returned to the RFS. Since the NA records give no further RFS flights by AM259 / G-AGCD until the following month [on 21 August 1942] , this might suggest that it stayed in Lyneham for a few weeks after its first Cairo flight, rather than returning straightaway to Prestwick to continue its RFS duties.

    As ever, brickbats welcome.

    Comment

    • ianwoodward9
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Aug 2010
      • 778

      A couple more notes regarding the service record of AM259 / G-AGCD, this time about its flights to Moscow.

      The HMSO publication "Merchant Airmen" [1946] devotes a [brief] chapter to flights to and from Moscow. It describes the 'survey flight': 'The Liberator took off from Prestwick on the evening of October 21st 1942 with a crew of four, eight passengers ... freight and mail". The flight took just over 13 hours and arrived in Moscow on 22 October., returning on 29 October. Curiously,, the Air Ministry 'ledgers' examined by Tony Doyle give 20/21 October for the outbound flight and 28 October for the return but I'll stick with the dates given elsewhere.

      In terms of the work history of AM259 /G-AGCD, 'Merchant Airmen' says that, "Throughout that winter the direct northabout route was flown nine times by the same aircraft". If the 'survey' flight was the first of these, then another eight flights, 'service' flights, need to be accounted for. Peter Moss [in a 1975 article] wrote that there were six flights to Moscow from the 4th January 1943 to 4 March 1943. which would indicate that there were two service flights to and from Moscow in the latter part of 1942.

      From the sources available to me, I think I can identify one of the two 'service' flights in late-1942 and five of the six 'service' flights in early 1943. In some cases, this required a few assumptions.

      There are, however, different accounts of the 1942-1943 'northern route' flights from Prestwick to Moscow. Another source says that, after the first flight, there was only one other in 1942 and that, 'altogether eight round trips [were] completed successfully".and yet another source reports that, "in all, nine flights, all with the same sircraft, were made north to .... Moscow".



      Last edited by ianwoodward9; 5th January 2019, 09:30.

      Comment

      • robstitt
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Jan 2000
        • 37

        Ian:

        I rechecked the TNA record extracts (compiled by the late Peter Berry, I should add) and they say AM259 flew from Gander to Prestwick for the RFS on July 14, 1942.

        Robert

        Comment

        • ianwoodward9
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Aug 2010
          • 778

          Thanks for double-checking, Robert.

          It is a puzzle.

          Comment

          • ianwoodward9
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Aug 2010
            • 778

            The following is an update on a previous posting. None is based on my own research; I have just taken what has been posted by others, incorporated some previously-published information, made a few deductions and raised some questions. The more speculative and questioning parts are in italics.

            This is not a definitive listing and should not be taken as such.

            Comments, corrections and similar will be most welcome. I shall not be offended if you find typos and/or schoolboy 'howlers'. This is not my specialist subject.

            ADDITION - I've had a bit of difficulty with layout but I think this will be right.


            AM259 / G-AGCD
            c/n 2 = ex 40-697

            1941
            1941-02-00 = used for handling and performance parameter trials at San Diego
            1941-02-15 = San Diego > La Guardia
            1941-02-23 = La Guardia > St Hubert, where TOC the same day
            1941-03-05 = St Hubert > Gander
            1941-03-05/13 = held at Gander by bad weather
            1941-03-13 = dep Gander
            1941-03-14 = arr Squires Gate [first Liberator to reach UK, crewed by Wg Cdr Waghorn and Flt Lt Summers]
            1941-03-?? = allocated to MoEW
            1941-03-26 = DGRD Hatfield
            1941-04-01 = DGRD Heston
            1941-04-08 = DGRD Handley Page
            1941-04-19 = reg'd G-AGCD to BOAC (CoR 9312)
            1941-04-?? = to Northolt for civil conversion
            1941-04-28 = conversion completed
            1941-05-04/05 = A&AEE handling trials at Boscombe Down by Capt J H Orrell
            1941-05-06/13 = dispersed to Colerne/Charmy Down
            1941-05-15 = CoA (6884) issued
            1941-05/06-00 = MoEW use abandoned due to airfield limitations in Sweden
            1941-07-10/11 = A Liberator left for New York via Montreal [individual aircraft not specified]
            1941-10-07/08 = Prestwick > Gander
            1941-10-?? = did it fly on to Montreal? And when did it return to Prestwick?

            1942
            1942-04-18 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-04-?? = Gander > Montreal
            1942-04-24 = Montreal > Prestwick
            1942-04-25 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-04-?? = did it fly to Montreal and back to Gander?
            1942-05-01 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-05-02/03 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-05-?? = did it fly on to Montreal and when did it return to Prestwick?
            1942-05-10/11 = Prestwick > Montreal
            1942-05-?? = Montreal > Gander
            1942-05-16 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-05-18/19 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-05-?? = did it fly on to Montreal and when did it return to the UK?
            1942-05-23/24 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-05-25 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-05/06-?? = did it fly on to Montreal and back
            1942-06-04/05 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-06-08/09 = Prestwick > Montreal
            1942-06-?? = Montreal > Gander
            1942-06-13/14 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-06-?? = Prestwick > Gander and/or Montreal
            1942-06-22/23 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-06-?? = Prestwick > Gander and/or Montreal
            1942-06-29/30 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-07-01/02 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-07-03 = did it fly on to Montreal and back to Gander?
            1942-07-04/05 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-07-06/07 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-07-?? = did it fly on to Montreal and back to Gander?
            ? 1942-07-14 = made special UK > Cairo flight, then ret'd to RFS
            ? 1942-07-14 = Gander > Prestwick
            ? 1942-07-24 = second flight to Cairo
            1942-08-21 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-08-?? = did it fly on to Montreal and back to Gander?
            1942-08-24 = reg'n cancelled
            1942-08-25/26 = Gander > Prestwick
            1942-??-?? = when did it fly to Montreal [possibly via Gander]?
            1942-09-19/20 = Montreal > Prestwick
            1942-10-21/22 = Prestwick > Moscow [1st flight there; 13:09 flying hours]
            1942-10-29 = Moscow > Prestwick
            1942-11-22/23 = Prestwick > Moscow [2nd flight to Moscow]
            1942-11-27/28 = Moscow > Prestwick
            1942-12-05 = Prestwick > Gander
            1942-12-?? = did it fly on to Montreal and back to Gander?
            1942-12-18 = Gander > Prestwick

            1943
            1943-01-04/05 = Prestwick > Moscow [presumed from the Peter Moss article]
            1943-01-10/11 = Moscow > Prestwick
            1943-01-12/13 = Prestwick > Moscow [date presumed from the following report]
            1943-01-14 = slightly damaged taking off at Moscow [did it return to Prestwick anyway? Or at a later date?]
            1943-01-24/25 = Prestwick > Moscow [4th Moscow service]
            1943-01-27/28 = Moscow > Prestwick
            1943-02-17/18 = Prestwick > Moscow [5th Moscow service]
            1943-02-21/22 = Moscow > Prestwick
            1943-03-?? = Prestwick >.Moscow? [presumed from the Peter Moss article]
            1943-03-04 = Moscow > Prestwick? [presumed from the Peter Moss article]
            1943-04-07 = reverted to AM259
            1943-05-15 = damaged at Prestwick
            1943-06-10 = regular service to Moscow started with G-AGHG [Peter Moss article] but see Jan '44 below
            1943-06-23 = ret'd to BOAC 23.6.43 [reg'n restored on unknown date]
            --------------- = again used on Russian and special services as G-AGCD

            1944
            1944-01-03/11 = made special UK > Cairo return flight
            1944-01-29/30 = Prestwick > Moscow [northern route]
            1944-02-09 = Moscow > Cairo [southern route because of weather]
            1944-02-10 = Cairo > Gibraltar [as above]
            1944-02-10/11 = Gibraltar > Lyneham ?[as above]
            1944-07-06 = ret'd to RAF as AM259 for 45 Gp Comm Sqn
            1944-09-08 = 231 Sqn
            1944-12-18 = Prestwick > Lagens

            1945
            1945-11-07 = SOC at Dorval
            Last edited by ianwoodward9; 8th January 2019, 12:49.

            Comment

            • ianwoodward9
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Aug 2010
              • 778

              Just to follow up a question that arose in earlier postings, Nils Mathisrud's book "The Stockholm Run" shows no BOAC Liberator I as having been involved on that service.

              He does list three Liberator IIIs, however, namely G-AGFO [7 trips in February and March 1944], G-AGFR [2 trips in October 1943] and G-AGFS [1 trip in October 1943], the last-named being the first BOAC Liberator to land at Bromma. He notes that their lower surfaces were painted black, at BOAC's request, to 'match' the undersurfaces of the Dakotas and Mosquitos used on the Stockholm Run in that period. He adds that this colour scheme was used by the Liberators on the Cairo service, too.

              Just over 6 months before BOAC's Liberator, the first American Air Transport Service Liberator landed at Bromma. It was devoid of any identification markings but used the [fictitious] call sign G-AFYO, which markings were hastily applied at Bromma, in large black letters along the fuselage, but without any outlining. It retained these throughout that first visit to Sweden but, when it flew back to Leuchars, they were overpainted and the American registration {NC 38942] applied to the tail fins. it made a further 26 trips to Stockholm.

              Comment

              • robstitt
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Jan 2000
                • 37

                Ian:

                Rest of the Peter Berry records for AM259, inter-leafed with your entries in bold with different date format. Again, some return legs are apparently missing:

                1943
                1943-01-04/05 = Prestwick > Moscow [presumed from the Peter Moss article]
                1943-01-10/11 = Moscow > Prestwick
                1943-01-12/13 = Prestwick > Moscow [date presumed from the following report]
                1943-01-14 = slightly damaged taking off at Moscow [did it return to Prestwick anyway? Or at a later date?]
                1943-01-24/25 = Prestwick > Moscow [4th Moscow service]
                1943-01-27/28 = Moscow > Prestwick
                1943-02-17/18 = Prestwick > Moscow [5th Moscow service]
                1943-02-21/22 = Moscow > Prestwick
                1943-03-?? = Prestwick >.Moscow? [presumed from the Peter Moss article]
                1943-03-04 = Moscow > Prestwick? [presumed from the Peter Moss article]
                1943-04-07 = reverted to AM259
                April 25 = Dorval-Prestwick
                1943-05-15 = damaged at Prestwick
                1943-06-10 = regular service to Moscow started with G-AGHG [Peter Moss article] but see Jan '44 below
                1943-06-23 = ret'd to BOAC 23.6.43 [reg'n restored on unknown date]
                --------------- = again used on Russian and special services as G-AGCD

                1944
                1944-01-03/11 = made special UK > Cairo return flight
                1944-01-29/30 = Prestwick > Moscow [northern route]
                1944-02-09 = Moscow > Cairo [southern route because of weather]
                1944-02-10 = Cairo > Gibraltar [as above]
                1944-02-10/11 = Gibraltar > Lyneham ?[as above]
                April 12 = Prestwick-Reykjavik
                May 3 = Gander-UK
                May 8 = UK-Reykjavik
                May 16 = UK-Reykjavik
                May 27 = Gander-UK
                May 29 = UK-Gander
                June 10 = Gander-UK
                June 13 = UK-Dorval
                June 18 = Goose-UK
                June 19 = UK-Goose
                1944-07-06 = ret'd to RAF as AM259 for 45 Gp Comm Sqn
                1944-09-08 = 231 Sqn
                1944-12-18 = Prestwick > Lagens DELETE, TRANSCRIPTION ERROR
                December 20 = Prestwick-Lagens
                December 25 = Dorval-Prestwick
                December 27 = Prestwick-Lagens - very close to next
                December 28 = Prestwick-Lagens - very close to previous

                Robert

                Comment

                • longshot
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Aug 2008
                  • 1640

                  I was aware of Peter Berry's records of the transatlantic flying-boat ops in WWII (available from the Fynes flying-boat museum) but where are the landplane records archived...are they online anywhere?

                  Comment

                  • robstitt
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Jan 2000
                    • 37

                    I believe Air-Britain became the custodian of Peter's research.

                    Comment

                    • ianwoodward9
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Aug 2010
                      • 778

                      Thank you, Robert, for the additional information, which is very welcome. I have a number of other [non-aviation] matters to which I have to attend over the coming weeks and days, so my updating will not be done straightaway, I'm afraid. I have had a few other thoughts about getting additional information but that, too, will have to wait a while. Nevertheless, i will try to keep an eye on this thread as much as I can.

                      As I said before, this is not at all my specialist subject but it seems to me that, if it is possible to build up a picture of the working life of one of the Liberators involved in the RFS, then it ought to be possible to construct a picture of the working lives of the others. There seems to be a fair amount of information out there but spread across different locations. It is just a question of bringing these various strands together.

                      For example, I have referred to the Nils Mathisrud book on 'The Stockholm Run'. One of his sources of information was the Bromma logs, giving details of aircraft movements at that airport in WWII. As I recall, these were held in Sweden's national archive. Does anyone know if similar information about movements at Dorval, Gander and elsewhere in Canada is held in the their national archive - if so, in Ottawa, I guess.

                      I am not a member of Air Britain (I was a member several decades back). Assuming Air Britain does have Peter Berry's research, does anyone know where it is kept, who would have access to it and what the arrangements to view it might be?




                      Comment

                      • robstitt
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Jan 2000
                        • 37

                        Ian:

                        There is a document called the Gander Watch Log which lists occupants on every flight passing through Gander but unfortunately the period December 1941 to May 1943 is missing.

                        And there is the Record of External Flights covering May 1943 to Dec 1945.

                        I've not seen any of the latter - the originals of which are held at the provincial archives of Newfoundland and Labrador - but have seen extracts from the Watch Log which I may have access to if we have specific requests.

                        Robert

                        Comment

                        • ianwoodward9
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Aug 2010
                          • 778

                          Robert,

                          Thanks once again. I'll have to be quick.

                          It's good to know that other contemporary documents exist.

                          Does the Gander Watch List just give details of 'occupants' (names of crew and passengers presumably) or does it also include details of the aircraft that made the flights on which the 'occupants' travelled?


                          Ian

                          Comment

                          • robstitt
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 37

                            Ian:

                            The pages I have seen for April and May 1941 include:

                            date, call sign, type and serial, flight crew names and ranks, passenger names, aircraft's unit or station, time off departure point, arrival time at Gander, destination, time of departure for destination, time of arrival at destination, flight time, signals action taken on arrival or non-arrival and remarks, all hand-written.

                            Doesn't get much better than that!

                            Robert

                            Comment

                            • ianwoodward9
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Aug 2010
                              • 778

                              Robert,

                              That sounds like a wonderful resource. Couldn't really be bettered in this context, as you say. Such a pity that so many months are missing.



                              Ian

                              Comment

                              • ianwoodward9
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Aug 2010
                                • 778

                                As far as I can establish, AM259 made 8 return flights to Moscow in late 1942 and the first part of 1943. These all appear to have been direct flights using the northern route, though there may have been occasional stopovers en route. These flights were as follows:-

                                1942-10-21/22 = Prestwick > Moscow [1st flight to Moscow]
                                1942-10-28/29 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                1942-11-22/23 = Prestwick > Moscow [2nd Moscow service]
                                1942-11-27/28 = Moscow > Prestwick

                                1943-01-04/05 = Prestwick > Moscow [3rd Moscow service]
                                1943-01-10/11 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                1943-01-24/25 = Prestwick > Moscow [4th Moscow service]
                                1943-01-27/28 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                1943-02-17/18 = Prestwick > Moscow [5th Moscow service]
                                1943-02-21/22 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                1943-03-03/04 = Prestwick >.Moscow [6th Moscow service]
                                1943-03-07/08 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                1943-03-18/19 = Prestwick > Moscow [7th Moscow service]
                                1943-03-22/23 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                1943-04-04/05 = Prestwick > Moscow [8th Moscow service]
                                1943-04-07/08 = Moscow > Prestwick

                                I've tried to present the above with the same layout as the previous listings,

                                Any comments, criticisms and/or corrections are always welcome. As I said before, I am involved in some other matters at present but i will try to catch any further postings.

                                Last edited by ianwoodward9; 22nd January 2019, 17:01.

                                Comment

                                • Lazy8
                                  Adrian Constable
                                  • Apr 2012
                                  • 559

                                  That agrees with what I've discovered, Ian. The only detail difference I've unearthed is that the return legs on 7th and 22nd March actually landed first at Stornoway. I presume they both went on to Prestwick later, but I can't presently confirm that. Both these return flights are described by the codeword 'Festoon', which I have not (yet) found attached to any other BOAC operation.

                                  Comment

                                  • ianwoodward9
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Aug 2010
                                    • 778

                                    Thanks, Adrian. I'll add those details later.

                                    When you say 'both .. return flights', I assume you mean thetwo that stopped off in Stornoway. And, if these were the only ones given the 'Festoon' code, this suggests that the stopovers were pre-planned and not due to weather, fuel shortage or some technical issue. That sounds intriguing.

                                    Comment

                                    • ianwoodward9
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Aug 2010
                                      • 778

                                      This image shows the route taken by the BOAC Liberator AM259 from Prestwick to Moscow in 1942-43. The route taken [due north to the Arctic Circle, due east along the Arctic Circle, due south from - roughly - the Sweden-Finland border to Riga, due east to the USSR and then south into Moscow] was roughly the same distance as a transatlantic crossing.

                                      As it says on this map, the aim was to fly across enemy territory in darkness but what is not stated is that it was also the aim to land in Moscow in early light, for recognition purposes.

                                      The first trip was a survey flight and it landed only two minutes later than its ETA

                                      Incidentally, the map is adapted from one in the 1946 HMSO booklet "Merchant Airmen" and I have marked what I think is the rough position of RAF Stornoway with a red dot.
                                      Last edited by ianwoodward9; 23rd January 2019, 13:03.

                                      Comment

                                      • ianwoodward9
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Aug 2010
                                        • 778

                                        Below I have merely added the two Stornoway stopovers identified by Adrian in Post # 256 [above].

                                        1942-10-21/22 = Prestwick > Moscow [1st flight to Moscow]
                                        1942-10-28/29 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                        1942-11-22/23 = Prestwick > Moscow [2nd Moscow service]
                                        1942-11-27/28 = Moscow > Prestwick

                                        1943-01-04/05 = Prestwick > Moscow [3rd Moscow service]
                                        1943-01-10/11 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                        1943-01-24/25 = Prestwick > Moscow [4th Moscow service]
                                        1943-01-27/28 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                        1943-02-17/18 = Prestwick > Moscow [5th Moscow service]
                                        1943-02-21/22 = Moscow > Prestwick
                                        1943-03-03/04 = Prestwick >.Moscow [6th Moscow service]
                                        1943-03-07/08 = Moscow > Stornoway > Prestwick
                                        1943-03-18/19 = Prestwick > Moscow [7th Moscow service]
                                        1943-03-22/23 = Moscow > Stornoway > Prestwick
                                        1943-04-04/05 = Prestwick > Moscow [8th Moscow service]
                                        1943-04-07/08 = Moscow > Prestwick


                                        For a while, the map I put up in the immediately preceding Post #258 could not be expanded, which meant that it was pretty pointless. That problem seems to have been corrected, so clicking on the image should reveal its detail now. I dare say that , somewhere in the archive, there will be documentation explaining why that particular route was taken.

                                        In the summer, when the extended hours of daylight precluded using the northern route, they used the southern route. The aircraft flew via Cairo, with other stops en route in the Middle East, flying northwards over the U.S.S.R. to a place called Kuibyshev, where it turned to fly due [more or less] west to Moscow.


                                        Comment

                                        • ianwoodward9
                                          Rank 5 Registered User
                                          • Aug 2010
                                          • 778

                                          This is further to Post # 259 [coincidentally].

                                          It looks like AM259 / G-AGCD ceased to operate the Moscow service after that 8th trip and in May, transferred to the Cairo service. However, Robert reported that it suffered an accident at Prestwick on 15 May 1943 (see Post # 247). This suggests that any trip to Cairo would have been in the first half of the month.

                                          Thereafter, there seems to be a blank period. perhaps the damage incurred in the accident was quite severe.

                                          In October 1943, there was a big tripartite conference in Moscow. It was attended by the Foreign Ministers of the Russia, America and Britain. Below is a rather poor quality image of Eden's arrival in Moscow. That's him on the left. The central figure is Molotov, the Russian Foreign Secretary (or equivalent) and the one on the right is the Russian Ambassador. I'm not sure but I believe that AM259 / G-AGCD was one of the aircraft involved in flying the officials there. NOTE, 20 October 1943 is the newspaper's dateline but not necessarily the date of arrival
                                          Attached Files
                                          Last edited by ianwoodward9; 5th February 2019, 16:01.

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