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KH250 H, lost on Port Blair op, 355 Sqn, 17 May 1945

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10 years 2 months ago #944 by Matt_Poole
Matt_Poole replied the topic: KH250 H, lost on Port Blair op, 355 Sqn, 17 May 1945
A wee bit more from the pen of Bill Kennard, back in 1996. Lucky, it turns out, to have been pulled from the crew for the op, but troubled for 65 years by the twist of fate which spared him but took the lives of his crewmates.

I was the waist gunner in the crew. This was our first operation. It was an afternoon briefing, take off the next morning. Just before the briefing I was told by I presume was the Gunnery Officer that I was to stand down. No reason was given. I did not go to the briefing.

The only crew member I saw after the briefing was F/Sgt Leslie BENFELL, the ball turret gunner, who was in the same hut as me. Les asked me if he could borrow my parachute harness. The next day I checked the locker. The harness was still there.

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10 years 2 months ago #945 by Matt_Poole
Matt_Poole replied the topic: KH250 H, lost on Port Blair op, 355 Sqn, 17 May 1945
And one more submission for now. In a past message I reported on how the 17th was a coincidental date in this story. There are even more connections to the 17th:
Skipper Rowland Totham was killed on the 17th (May);
Sgt Harold Wynne, Rowland

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10 years 1 month ago #959 by Matt_Poole
Matt_Poole replied the topic: KH250 H, lost on Port Blair op, 355 Sqn, 17 May 1945
As a result of google web surfing, Sylvia Davis, the daughter of KH250 screen pilot Robert James "Jim" Duckworth, has seen this message thread and has replied to me privately. Her mother remarried, and Sylvia and her sister are the offspring. Lilias, Sylvia's mother, is still alive, pushing 93, and now Sylvia must figure out how to share all the news and details with her. It's a happy situation, though -- happy in the sense that the family is finally learning what had been denied to them for decades.

The close kin of these men have been found now: Totham, McPherson, Johnson, and Duckworth. A 2nd cousin twice removed of one crewman, Benfell, has been found. There's still a long way to go in finding more direct Benfell kin and any kin of Campbell, Emerson, Morgan, Rumsey-Williams, Wynne, and McDowall.

Cheers,

Matt

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10 years 1 month ago #960 by Matt_Poole
Matt_Poole replied the topic: KH250 H, lost on Port Blair op, 355 Sqn, 17 May 1945
This story has taken a fascinating twist in the past few days.

The Air Historical Branch has just responded to a request for further details on the known KH250 communal grave, which had been initially dug by the Japanese and then properly marked by the British. The new information provided by the AHB proves that Irene, the widow of skipper Rowland Totham, knew in 1949 of the communal grave's existence! I await further details very soon, but I believe Irene

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10 years 1 month ago #961 by Matt_Poole
Matt_Poole replied the topic: KH250 H, lost on Port Blair op, 355 Sqn, 17 May 1945
The Totham family has forwarded me all of the latest correspondence from the Air Historical Branch, which honored the Freedom of Information Act request but still was able to withhold some details about Wynne

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10 years 1 month ago #962 by Gary
Gary replied the topic: KH250 H, lost on Port Blair op, 355 Sqn, 17 May 1945
Good news indeed, tinged with sadness but well worth the effort. Glad you've decided to take an active role in things around here. I'm working 16 hours a day 7 days a week at the moment grrr. I've clocked up 52 hours overtime in the last 2 weeks, shame I don't get paid overtime (I'm working on that). When things calm down I'm taking some time out and then I'll have some time to add more myself.
It's 02:00 almost and I've been working since 08:00 I'm off to bed now.

'Yea, Though I Fly Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 50,000 Feet and Climbing.'

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