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Serial Number: FL923
Aircraft Mk & Type Mk III Liberator
Squadrons: 120/59/224/120/224/120
Details: Shot down by flak from U-539, 4.10.43
 
References: AB, PC
Photos:  
Notes: Liberator GR.III V/120 and the attack on U 189.

No. 120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command. Reykjavik
Liberator GR.III FL923 'V'
Duty. Escort to convoy HX234

Crew.

F/O. J K. Moffatt. Pilot
F/S. L W. Lenz RCAF. 2nd Pilot
Sgt. V C S. Wilson. Navigator
Sgt. R W. Barrett. Flight Engineer
F/S. F H. Fitzjohn. WOP/AG
Sgt. J P. Hanton. WOP/AG
Sgt. J A. Earp. WOP/AG

On 23 April 1943, Liberator III FL923 V/120 became airborne at 1354 hours from Reykjavik on an anti-submarine escort to convoy HX234. Procedure 'B' was successful and the convoy was met at 1808 hours. At 2105 hours and while carrying out the patrol as ordered by the S.N.O., by R/T, flying in weather 6/10 cloud, base 3,500 ft., sea moderate, visibility 25 miles, wind 240°, 23 knots, a U-Boat was sighted on the surface, bearing 120° T., distant 16 miles, in position 59° 48' N., 34° 48' W., course and speed not given. The aircraft was over the U-Boat swirl six minutes after it was first sighted. The U-Boat was then, of course, completely sub­merged. At 2103 hours, when flying on track 320° at 3,000 ft., in similar weather conditions, two U-Boats were sighted on the surface, bearing 240°, distant 4 miles, and 210°, distant 8 miles, respectively, in position 59° 50' N., 34° 43' W., course 080°, 14 knots. This position was 320°, 32 miles from the convoy. The aircraft decided to attack the nearer U-Boat which was of the large 700-ton type, white in colour, with a light blue conning-tower. There were two guns, one forward and one aft of the conning-tower. The aircraft attacked from the U-Boat's port quarter, at 60° to track, releasing from 50 ft., four Mark X Torpex depth-charges, set to shallow depth, spaced 100 ft., while the U-Boat was still fully surfaced.
Evidence states that the depth-charges strad­dled the U-Boat, one being to starboard and three to port. The nearest depth-charge on the star­board side was 75 feet from the U-Boat and the nearest on the port side was 25 ft. from the U-Boat. During the approach, the U-Boat opened fire from the gun aft of the conning-tower, but the fire ceased after the explosion of the first depth-charge. After the first attack, the U-Boat was stopped and had slewed 90° to port.
One minute later, the aircraft made a second attack from the U-Boat's starboard bow, at 70° to track, releasing from 50 ft., two Mark XI Torpex depth-charges, set to shallow depth, spaced 100 ft., while the U-boat was on the surface but down by the stern.
Evidence states that the depth-charges ex­ploded very close to the U-Boat, lifting the stern out of the water. The U-Boat was abandoned and approximately 50 bodies were seen in . the water, some wearing life-jackets and others clinging to along cylindrical object, whitish in colour and 20 ft. by 31/2 ft. The aircraft remained in the area for 32 minutes, having contacted the S.N.O. and reporting the attack by R/T. The S.N.O. replied that he could not spare an escort vessel to come to the scene of the attack. At 2137 hours the aircraft set course for base, landing at Reykjavik at 0047 hours of the 24th April.

Result

Excellent attack in face of flak, and perfect placing of depth-charges on the two runs. The U- Boat was destroyed. The U -Boat was a750-tonner, fitted with the extra gun platform abaft the ordinary bandstand. This is the first photograph we have had of this at sea. In March, P.R.U. secured a photo­graph at Stettin showing one of these 750-tanners fitting out with the extra gun platform. Excellent photographs which confirm the circumstantial evi­dence. The cylindrical object to which many of the crew were clinging was probably one of the upper deck containers in which spare air torpedoes may be carried but which, in the North Atlantic, are often empty. Two other recent attacks have produced one or more of these.

During this action, U 189 a type IXC/40 was destroyed with the loss of 57 hands.

Movement History of Liberator GR.III FL923

ex. 41-11705
Delivered Dorval 17 July 1942
Departed Dorval 25 July 1942
Arrived Prestwick 28 July 1942
To Scottish Aviation Ltd 29 July 1942
To 120 Squadron 18 August 1942
To 224 Squadron 23 December 1942
Returned to 120 Squadron 31 December 1942
Returned to Scottish Aviation Ltd 9 March 1943
To 120 Squadron 6 April 1943
Sank U 189 23 April 1943
To Scottish Aviation Ltd for fly-in repair 29 July 1943
Returned to 120 Squadron 8 August 1943
On 4 October 1943 while escorting convoy ON204 hit by flak from U 539 and crashed into the sea and blew up: No survivors
Struck Off Charge 31 October 1943.
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