|Aircraft Mk & Type||Mk III Liberator|
|Notes:||Liberator GRIII FL943 / N/120 and the attack on U 635.
No.120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command. Reykjavik
Liberator GRIII FL943 'N'
Duty, Escort to convoy HX 231
F/O. G L. Hatherly
Sgt. B. Threlfall
Sgt. E A. Day
Sgt. E A. Britton
F/O.A G. McGregor
Sgt. E B. Bailey
Sgt. A E. Bartley
On 5 April 1943, Liberator GRIII FL943 became airborne at Reykjavik at 1210 hours on an Anti-Submarine escort to Convoy HX231. Procedure B was started and being successful the convoy was sighted. At 1552 hours while approaching the convoy, flying on track 182°, at 1,800 ft., in weather 10/10 cloud, base 3,000 ft., sea calm, visibility 10 miles, with sea haze, a U-Boat was sighted on the surface, bearing Green 60°, distant three miles, in position 58° 20' N., 31° 52' W., course 090°, six knots. This position was 015°, 10 miles from HX 231. S/E was switched on at the time of the sighting, but no blip was obtained. The U-Boat was of the 517-ton type, light blue in colour, resembling duck egg blue camouflage. Jumping wires were not seen, but they were visible on photograph No. 5731. Four men were seen in the conning-tower.
The aircraft turned to starboard and, diving out of the sun, it attacked from the U-Boat's port bow at an angle of 10° to track, releasing from 50 ft., six Mark XI. Torpex depth-charges set to shallow depth, spaced 100 ft., while the U-Boat was still on the surface. The engineer, looking through the bomb doors, saw a big splash as the depth-charges entered the water alongside the conning-tower which was obscured by the spray. The aircraft continued on straight course for approximately 30 seconds to allow the mirror camera to operate successfully. The rear gunner stated that the U-Boat was surrounded by a flurry of water from the depth-charges entering the water and that it was subsequently obscured by the explosions. The aircraft then turned to port and circled the scene of the attack which was marked by depth-charge scum and the explosion mark.
Evidence states that the depth-charges appeared to explode on the track ahead of the U-Boat and two appeared to explode close to the U-Boat's starboard beam. No after effects were observed. Three marine markers were dropped on the scene of the attack and one on the U-Boat's track. The aircraft reported details of the attack to the S.N.O. by R/T ten minutes after, and was informed that a destroyer had been sent to the scene. The aircraft then proceeded to the assistance of the convoy and carried out instructions of the S.N.O. and was therefore unable to return to the scene.
At 1910 hours the Liberator left the convoy and set course for base, before leaving a torpedoed merchant vessel was sighted being escorted by an escort vessel 15 miles astern of the convoy.
Liberator FL943 landed at Reykjavik at 2230 hours.
Excellent attack in every way. One if not two depth-charges were within lethal range resulting in serious damage if not destruction.
Remarks on the attack made by F/O. G L. Hatherly
"We took off from Reykjavik and set course to intercept convoy HX 231. At 1552 hrs we homed on to the convoy using Procedure B, as I recall, at 3,000 feet, just in and out of the base of the cloud. Ten miles north of the convoy we sighted a U-boat which appeared to be just surfacing. I gave the order to prepare for attack, open bomb doors, man guns, etc. In the meantime, I put the aircraft into a dive, losing height sufficiently rapidly to permit a low-level attack from 50 feet. The attack was carried out along the track of the U-boat as it sailed towards us. I carried out a visual attack, i.e. we did not use the low-level bombsight, releasing six D/Cs as the U-boat disappeared beneath the nose of the aircraft. The D/Cs fell along the track of the boat, straddling it, with two or three in close proximity to it, and exploded. The U-boat disappeared from view and we did not see it again during the time we remained in the area. We reported the attack to the SNO, who dispatched an escort vessel to investigate. We then carried out patrols as requested by the SNO until 1910 when we were recalled to base because of deteriorating weather.
My crew and I subsequently visited Coastal Command HQ for an assessment of the attack by the joint RN/RAF assessment committee. The assessment was a 'Probable Kill', as I recall, the highest category when no survivors or wreckage were recovered from the immediate vicinity of the attack." (47 crew lost)
Movement History of Liberator GRIII FL943
Delivered Dorval 21 September 1942
Departed Dorval 3 October 1942
Arrived Prestwick 5 October 1942
To Scottish Aviation Ltd 6 October 1942
To 160 Squadron 8 November 1942
To 120 Squadron 8 January 1943
To 86 Squadron 2 April 1944
To 51 MU and sold as scrap to International Alloys Ltd 12 March 1947