Tuesday, August 04, 2020
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Serial Number: BZ832
Aircraft Mk & Type Mk V Liberator
Squadrons: 200
Details: Shot down by flak from U-boat, 11.8.43
References: AB

Liberator GR.V BZ832/D - took off from Rufisque at 0729 and set out on patrol, but at 1105 was diverted to hunt for a U-boat which had just been attacked by a Catalina of 490 Sqn, RNZAF. En route, at position 1220N:2007W, some 90 miles north of the Catalinas quarry and about 240 miles SW of Dakar, sighted another surfaced submarine.

This was U-468 on its way back to base in France under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Clemens Schamong. Diving down to its 50-foot attack height, the Liberator was repeatedly hit by 20mm cannon fire as it ran in to bomb, fire breaking out in the fuselage as a salvo of depth charges released to straddle the U-boat. Both hunter and hunted were mortally injured, BZ832 surviving but seconds as it plunged into the sea 300 yards beyond its victim, exploding on impact. The eight crew are commemorated on the Malta Memorial. U-468 sank less than 10 minutes later, leaving some 20 of its crew swimming about in the shark infested waters. Ironically, Schamong and six others, who became the actions only survivors, owed their lives to one of the Liberators rubber dinghies which had released in the crash. Next day they were sighted at position 1228N:1918W by Sunderland H of 204 Sqn, which dropped supplies and signalled the corvette HMS Clarkia to come and pick them up. In an unusual turn of events, the prisoners subsequent account of their attackers coolness and courage so impressed British authorities that the Liberators captain was posthumously awarded the VC.

Captain: NZ413515 Fg Off Lloyd Allan TRIGG, VC DFC, RNZAF - Age 29. 656hrs. 47th or 51st op(?)

Navigator: NZ413103 Fg Off Ivan MARINOVICH, RNZAF - Age 26. 605hrs. 50th op.

WOpAG: NZ412861 Flt Sgt Arthur Godfrey BENNETT, RNZAF - Age 29. 488hrs. 52nd op.

WOpAG: NZ414872 Flt Sgt Laurence James FROST, RNZAF - Age 22. 449hrs. 65th op.

WOpAG: NZ412908 Flt Sgt Terence John SOPER, RNZAF - Age 21. 420hrs. 39th op.

It will be observed that the collective experience of the five RNZAF airmen exceeded 250 sorties. This was the third and last air VC to be earned by a New Zealander, although Sqn Ldr L H Trents (for his actions the previous May) was not promulgated until after the war. Triggs DFC was awarded in June for determined attacks against a U-boat on 28 March and another two days later. This sortie and another on the same day were 200 Squadrons first operations undertaken with the Liberator.