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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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Royal Air Force Crest
23.02.1945 111 (Coastal) OTU Liberator GR.V BZ746, Fg Off. Allan E. Hayes

Operation: Training

Date: 23rd February 1945 (Friday)

Unit No: 111 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit (OTU)

Type: Liberator GR.V

Serial No: BZ746

Code: LM

Location: Windsor Field, Nassau

Base: Oakes Field, Nassau

Pilot (Instructor): Fg Off. Allan Edward ‘Al’ Hayes J19172 RCAF Age 22. Killed

1st Pilot: Fg Off. Bertie Warren Hutchings 151528 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

2nd Pilot: Plt Off. George Deryk Cribbes 166098 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Nav: Fg Off. Laurence Arthur Birkett 174687 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Nav: Fg Off. Arthur Ian Tomlinson 1165616 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Flt Eng: Flt Sgt. Alan Holland 1627769 RAFVR Age? Killed

WOp (Air): Sgt. John Raymond Birch 1892417 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Christopher Jackson 1903874 RAFVR Age? Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Geoffrey Edward Charles Richards 2225323 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Note: Liberator GR.V BZ746 was built as a B-24D Serial no. 42-40465.


Above: RAF Coastal Command, 1939-1945. Consolidated Liberators of 111 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit, parked on the apron at Oakes Field, Nassau, Bahamas. (Miller (Fg Off), Royal Air Force official photographer)

Above: A sister ship to BZ746 (Courtesy of the Australian War memorial).

Nassau, Bahamas, c. 1943-08. A port side view of Liberator GR.V BZ759 LP, of 111 (C) Operational Training Unit (OTU). This aircraft was used to train RAAF Navigators serving with RAF Coastal Command.

On the morning of the 23rd February 1945 BZ746 took off from Windsor Field, Nassau on a training flight.

111 (Coastal) OTU was established at Nassau Airport on the August 1942 to train General Reconnaissance crews on US aircraft, mainly Liberators and Mitchells. The airport was renamed Windsor Field, after the Duke of Windsor on the 30th December 1942 and became an RAF Station. The airfield is now known as the Lynden Pindling (named after the first Prime Minister of Bahamas) International Airport.

BZ746 had only been in the air for a few minutes and had entered the circuit to the south of Windsor Field on a heading of 270 degrees. A second aircraft, Liberator III FL994 LA, took off from the runway 09 (90 degree heading) and made a continuous turn to starboard onto a heading that intercepted that of BZ746.

Liberator III FL994 was built as B-24D Serial no 41-11702.

Above: Reproduced sketch showing relative positions of BZ746 and FL994 in relation to Windsor Field and location of the crash site of BZ746. (From Service file for Fg Off. Hayes)

From the available information, a reconstruction of the positions of both Liberators and photographs of the extensive damage to the lower nose of FL994 it appears that FL994 (LA) collided, from astern and above, with the outer starboard wing section and engine #4 of BZ746 (LM).

There does not appear to be any damage to the port wing or engines #1 and #2 so it is probable that FL994 (LA) was turning away from BZ746 (LM) when the collision occurred.

What followed ended with BZ746 crashing and bursting into flames at 08:38 hrs some 3 miles south of Windsor Field killing all aboard. FL994 managed to belly land at Windsor Field with only a single injury being reported. The aircraft was severely damaged and was later written off.

The names of the crew aboard Liberator III FL994 have yet to be identified.

Above: Photographs showing damage to FL994 after crash landing at Windsor Field. (From the Service file for Fg Off. Hayes)

There would have been an accident investigation but the results are not known. All that is available from the investigation are five images, one being the sketch of the positions of the aircraft (reproduced above), two reconstructions of the point of collision using models and two images of FL994 showing the damage to its nose and fuselage (shown above).

Burial Details.

Above: Nassau War Cemetery (Courtesy of the CWGC)

Above: Fg Off. Hayes. From the Kitchener Public Library collection of World War Two Soldier Information Cards. Submitted for the project Operation Picture Me

Fg Off. Allan Edward ‘Al’ Hayes. Nassau War Cemetery, West D.7, Bahamas. Grave inscription: "THEY SHALL MOUNT UP WITH WINGS AS EAGLES; THEY SHALL RUN, AND NOT BE WEARY". Born on the 23rd November 1922 in Hamilton, Ontario. Son of Cyril Ewart William and Dolly Frances (née Hilsher) Hayes of Kitchener, Ontario. Husband to Jean Isobel (née Germann) Hayes (married on the 15th August 1944) of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Fg Off. Bertie Warren Hutchings. Nassau War Cemetery, West D.6, Bahamas. No Further information found.

Above: Fg Off. G.Deryk Cribbes (Courtesy of Vivian Cribbes)

Plt Off. George Deryk Cribbes. Nassau War Cemetery, West D.5, Bahamas. Grave inscription: "AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER THEM". Born on the 15th June 1920 in Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires. Son of George Burnett and Sylvia Aida (née Jefferies) Cribbes, of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Husband of Sylvia Mary (née Moverley) Cribbes of Sydenham, London.

The life story of Plt Off. Cribbes has been thoroughly researched and has been posted as G. Deryk Cribbes His Life…

Fg Off. Laurence Arthur Birkett. Nassau War Cemetery, West D.1, Bahamas. Born on the 17th March 1920 in Birmingham, Warwickshire. Son of Leonard Arthur and Florence Kathleen (née Banks) Birkett. Husband to Renée Joan (née Harding) Birkett of of Birmingham, Warwickshire, England.

Fg Off. Arthur Ian Tomlinson. Nassau War Cemetery, West D.2, Bahamas. Grave Inscription: "AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER THEM". Son of Mrs. Margaret Tomlinson of Galashiels, Selkirk, Borders.

Flt Sgt. Alan Holland. Nassau War Cemetery, West D.4, Bahamas. No Further information found.

Sgt. John Raymond Birch. Nassau War Cemetery, West C.1, Bahamas. Grave Inscription: "HE SLEEPS IN PEACE. MAY GOD REMEMBER HIM FOR EVER". Born on the 9th May 1924 Gloucester. Son of Edwin James and Mildred Alice (née Dollman) Birch of Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England.

Sgt. Christopher Jackson. Nassau War Cemetery, East D.7, Bahamas. Records show that he enlisted in Northern Ireland. No Further information found.

Sgt. Geoffrey Edward Charles Richards. Nassau War Cemetery, West D.3, Bahamas. Grave inscription: "DEARLY LOVED SON OF GEORGE AND LILIAN, LOVING BROTHER OF GEORGE "MEMORIES"’. Son of George Weaver and Lilian Hazel Richards of Crosby, Liverpool, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape (Aircrew Remembered) for Vivian Cribbes and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to Vivian for access to the life story of her uncle, G. Deryk Cribbes. (Jun 2022). Thanks to Bob Livingston for the correction to aircraft code for FL994 (Jun 2022)

Other sources quoted below:

RS 26.06.2022 - Correction to aircraft code for FL994

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