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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 19856
Last updated: 16 January 2020
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Date:08-DEC-1941
Time:07:10
Type:Bristol Blenheim Mk IF
Owner/operator:27 Squadron Royal Air Force (27 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L6669
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Sungei Patani airfield -   Malaysia
Phase: Take off
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Sungei Patani
Destination airport:
Narrative:
With the arrival of daylight on 8 December 1941, all available bombers and fighters in northern Malaya were preparing to take up the attack on the invasion force that had landed Japanese troops near Kota Bharu during the night. Four Blenheim squadrons (27, 34, 60 and 62 Sqn RAF) and one of Hudsons (8 Sqn RAAF) had received orders to take off at first light and attack shipping off Kota Bharu.

The 12 Blenheim IFs of 27 Sqn were then based at Sungei Patani, together with 12 Buffaloes of 21 Sqn RAAF. At 0645 hrs, eight bomb-laden Blenheim fighters of 27 Sqn took off from the flare-path illuminated airfield but they met blinding rainstorms that prevented any sighting of the invasion forces, and finally headed back to base.

Fifteen minutes after the departure of the Blenheims, Operations of Sungei Patani airfield warned of the approach of two unidentified aircraft from the west. Two sections of 21 Sqn RAAF Buffaloes, each of two aircraft, were thereby placed on immediate readiness but still waited for the order to scramble when, ten minutes later, five Ki 21s of 98 Sentai were seen heading for the airfield at about 11,000 ft.

Due to frequent downpours, the grass airfield was in a very bad state and effective dispersal of aircraft was impossible owing to the boggy nature of the land. There were no hangars, no air raid warning system or effective spotter organization, and AA defences consisted of only four Bofors guns. The only effective defense was the Buffaloes of 21 Sqn RAAF. Two pilots were waiting in their fighters, and two others were on readiness, but still no order came. One pilot telephoned the Operations Room for instructions only to be told by the Station Commander, Sqn Ldr Fowle (27 Sqns commanding officer) to do nothing and await further orders. Dismayed at this apparent lack of decision, some of the pilots acted on their own initiative, running to their fighters and preparing to take off.

But it was too late as the bombs then began to fall. An officer of 21 Sqn RAAF shouted for everybody to leave the aircraft and take cover but two pilots, Flt Lt Bob Kirkman (in Buffalo AN201) and Flt Off John Hopper (in AN194) managed to take off through the bursting bombs and pursued the fleeing bombers for some distance, only to suffer total gun failure as they closed to attack.

The first bombs fell among the four Blenheims of 27 Sqn that had not taken off for the dawn raid. Sgt Michael Ransford Willows was attempting to take off with one of them, the Blenheim IF L6669, but it was destroyed by a bomb exploding beside it. Willows and his gunner, Sgt Ronald McKenzie Rhodes, were mortally wounded. Two other Blenheims were damaged and five ground personnel were killed, including four from 27 Sqn (LAC Hugh Finn, AC1 Joseph Milton Wood, AC2 William Squires and AC2 William Kenneth Stephens).

Other bombs fell on the dispersal area of 21 Sqn RAAF, destroying two Buffaloes (due to the confusion and heavy losses of the period, their serial numbers are not known), while three others were damaged by splinters and two more by fire. The Station HQ was hit and two airmen were killed there, as were 16 nearby Chinese women labourers. The main runway was rendered unserviceable and an emergency strip was hurriedly marked out in time for the return of the Blenheims.

Sources:

"Bloody Shambles, volume one: the drift to war to the fall of Singapore", by Christopher Shores, Brian Cull & Yasuho Izawa. ISBN 0-948817-50-X
"The Bristol Blenheim: A Complete History", by Graham Warner. ISBN 0-85979-101-7
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._21_Squadron_RAAF
http://ourairports.com/airports/WMBB/#lat=5.61761999130249,lon=100.54299926757812,zoom=14,type=Satellite,airport=WMBB
http://www.maplandia.com/malaysia/kedah/sungai-petani/


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
23-May-2008 18:53 JINX Added
26-Oct-2011 10:58 rvargast17 Updated [Aircraft type, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Source, Narrative]
20-Jun-2013 09:16 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
23-Aug-2013 18:09 JINX Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source]
15-Dec-2014 18:46 Lorenzo Lamas Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport]
09-Oct-2018 19:21 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
22-Nov-2018 08:38 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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