Saturday, May 15, 2021
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The following is a section of the flight report on the 4/9/1945 from F/O Belcher who was flying back to base (from Bangkok to Hmawbi - Rangoon). They were flying a Dakota and were carrying repatriated Prisoners of War. It sounds like a horrific flight.

 .... Aircraft "A" (F/O C.C. Belcher.) also night stopped at Mingaladon landing there at 19:00 hours after having had an exceptionally rough trip. Pilot set a rather southerly course of 280 degrees to avoid cloud buildup, intending to let down and come up the coast, but encountered very heavy build up and climbed to 20,000' being still unable to get over the top, cloud was building up faster than aircraft could climb.

Conditions were very bad with severe icing and there was no oxygen in the aircraft. Pilot turned to starboard to avoid cloud mass and headed for an opening,which closed in front of him, meanwhile cloud had built up and closed in behind.

Faced with a choice of returning through cloud to Bangkok, and having to have fuel flown in, or of flying through cloud to reach base pilot decided to press on.

In all the pilot was about two hours in cloud during which he was forced to fly through what must have been the edge of a cunims?? this was so violent that it threw the aircraft on its back and with a speed of 340 mph, the aircraft lost 6000' in about 2 minutes. At one time aircraft was at 21,500 ft and all instuments were put out of action.

The second pilot was almost 'out' due to lack of oxygen, and navigator and wireless operator were attending a sick POW. Due to changes of course in cloud it was impossible to estimate position and when pilot finally got down through cloud he was 60-100 miles out to sea, with gauges showing practically no petrol.

Accordingly course was set for coast in case a crash landing was necessary. A pin point was obtained at Moulmein and the aircraft was landed at Mingaladon after 4hrs 45 mins flying, during the whole of which time, F/O Belcher was at the controls, although several times in cloud the aircraft was thrown into violent diving turns, in which the assistance of the co-pilot was necessary to pull the aircraft out.

The captain commends his crew for their behaviour through the whole trip, each member giving him help of the utmost value and without which he might have failed to get back.