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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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18.11.1943 27 Squadron Beaufighter XIC JL590, Flt Lt. Reginald R. Williams DFC

Operation: Tangon, Burma (Myanmar).

Date: 11th November 1943 (Thursday)

Unit No: 27 Squadron, 169 Wing, 224 Group, SE Asia Command

Type: Beaufighter XIC

Serial No: JL590

Code: PT:?

Location: Near Gyodaung, Burma (Myanmar)

Base: Agartala, West Tripura, India

Pilot: Flt Lt. Reginald Robert Williams DFC 64322 RAFVR Age 30 PoW */Died (1)

Nav: Fg Off. Kenneth Edward Herbert 121565 RAFVR Age 35. PoW */Died/MiA (2)

* Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail)


On the 11th November 1943 at 07:55 hrs four Beaufighters took off from Agartala, Burma (Myanmar) and split into two sections at Tangon.

JL590 flown by Flt Lt. Williams and Fg Off. Herbert and JL589 flown by Flt Sgt. Fosh and Sgt. Waite turned north to follow the railroad.

Along the road Sgt. Waite heard a load explosion but could see no signs of AA fire, but he noticed that one engine of JL590 begin to smoke. However, the aircraft carried on and the smoking ceased, but after JL590 had made an attack on a locomotive it disappeared over a ridge.

When Flt Sgt. Fosh also cleared the ridge he saw that JL590 had crash landed at 10:00 hrs near the railroad at Gyodaung. Some movement was seen in the cockpit and 5 minutes later it burst into flames. It was believed that the crew were safe.

It is known that both Flt Lt. Williams and Fg Off. Herbert were captured by the Japanese although the circumstance are unknown.

(1) The only information regarding the circumstances leading to the death of Flt Lt. Williams was that it was recorded as being on the 18th April 1944.

(2) The circumstances leading to the death of Fg Off. Herbert were determined by a British Military Court convened in Rangoon, Burma between the 3rd and 21st May 1946.

The following four members of the Imperial Japanese Army were before the court:

Capt. (Rikugun-tai-i) NAGAHARA Kenso who was the former Commanding Officer (CO) of Futo Buntai, Rangoon, Burma and also the CO of the Futo Buntai prison;

Capt. (Rikugun-tai-i) YAMAZAKI Kaname was the Medical Officer (MO) of the prison;

2nd Lt. (Rikugun-Shōi) YOKOTA Masao;

Cpl. (Rikugun-Jōtō-Hei) NODA Masami.

Note: the Japanese word Rikugun preceding a rank indicates that it relates to the army.

All were also members of or attached to the Kempeitai who were the military police of the Imperial Japanese Army and functioned much like the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.

On the first count all four accused were charged with committing a war crime in that between the 1st August 1943 and 1st April 1945, when members of staff of the New Law Courts Jail, Rangoon, Burma, were responsible for the well-being of the persons interned there, and in violation of the laws and usages of war, were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment causing a physical suffering to PoWs interned there.

On the second count Capt. NAGAHARA, Capt. YAMAZAK and 2nd Lt. YOKOTA were also charged that between the 1st April 1943 and the 1st April 1944, they were concerned with the ill-treatment leading to the deaths of 1st Lt. Robert F. Angell, 2nd Lt. Royal D. Butterfield, 1st Lt. Joseph F. Zizlavsky, Fg Off. Herbert and Fg Off. Kenneth M. White.

Capt. NAGAHARA was in post at the Futo Buntai prison, also known as the New Law Courts Jail Annex, from 1st January 1945 and the 1st April 1945.

During the period they were in charge a number of American and British airmen were incarcerated in the Annex where they were kept in confinement under harsh and oppressive regulations without proper or adequate food, covering, sanitation facilities and medical attention.

On the first count Capt. NAGAHARA and 2nd Lt. YOKOTA were found guilty and sentenced to four and two years imprisonment respectively. Capt. YAMAZAKI was found not guilty.

On the second count all three of the accused were found not guilty.

Burial Details

It assumed that both Flt Lt. Williams and Fg Off. Herbert were both initially buried in the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery. It appears that only the remains of Flt Lt. Williams could be identified.

Flt Lt. Reginald Robert Williams DFC. Rangoon War Cemetery, Special Memorial 9.D.10. Inscription: ‘HIS LIFE A TREASURED MEMORY’. Son of Henry Crabtree Williams and Mabel Williams, of Bristol, England.

Posthumously awarded the DFC whilst with serving with 27 Sqn. London Gazette 29th January 1946;

Modified Panel with name highlighted (Courtesy of Gregory Greer - FindAGrave)

Fg Off. Kenneth Edward Herbert. Singapore Memorial Column 432. Born on the 4th October 1909 in Deptford, Kent. Son of Edward John and Katie (née Waters) Herbert of Deptford, Kent. Husband to Isabel Zoe (née Tyler) Herbert of Clapham, Surrey, England.

Date of death given as 22nd January 1944.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 03.10.2023 - Initial Upload

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