Firstly, here is a short profile of William Richard Anderson of Perth, Western Australia:
- Born in Perth, WA on 14 Dec 23.
- Service number: 427492.
- Cunderdin, WA in July, 1942 at 9 EFTS flying DH-82s.
- Geraldton, WA in December, 1942 at 4 SFTS flying Ansons.
- Croughton, UK in August, 1943 at 20 AFU flying Oxfords.
- Little Horwood, UK in December, 1943 flying Wellingtons.
- Posted to India in June, 1944 with 1673 HCU flying B-24s Mark III, VI and X.
- Joined RAF 159 Squadron in July 1944 based at Salbani, Digri.
- First Operation was on July 28th, 1944.
- Celebrated his 21st birthday whilst on a mission.
- Seconded to 357 Squadron Special Duties for the months of February, March, April 1945 flying a Sentinal L5 for the OSS, completed 112 sorties.
- Commenced civil flying training at the Royal Aero Club, Perth WA in August 1948.
- Employed with MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA) in February, 1949.
- Retired 15Nov81 having logged 22,267 flight hours.
- Some of Bill's war-time experiences are published below. He kept a detailed diary of each mission. Here we are treated to the first-hand experiences of a combat pilot.
Bill is the tallest one in the back row - 7th from the left. This photo was taken near Calcutta, India. The B-24, the 'Black Swan', is providing a back drop. Note the 'dressed' propellers and the 44-gallon fuel/oil drum in the background.
Bill is in the back row, second from the left. It was taken at the Digri RAF Base, India.
Trip No. 1: 28 Jul 44
Target: Indaw Sagaing Railway (Burma)
Objective: To destroy railway lines, bridges etc and if possible to catch railway stock in transit.
Weight: 62,000 lbs - bombs 2 x 1,000 lbs, 6 x 500 lbs G.P instantaneous. 1,900 gal petrol, full crew with nose, top, ball, 2 beam and tail turrets.
Consumption: 7 hours, 161 gph, 0.91 ampg.
Summary: Take off was set for 0600 hours, the weather was fair over base with patches of low stratus at about 700 feet.
We flew at 1,500 feet to the eastern side of Sundarbans and then started a steady climb towards the hills. At 11,000 feet we levelled out just below a big layer of cumulus- this was excellent cloud cover and necessary as the trip was essentially a cloud cover do.
Our turning point on the big bend in the Chindwin River came up a couple of miles to port after a slight alteration of course we passed over the bend and set course for the target.
Here the cloud cover above started to become very broken so it was decided to drop down to about 3,000 feet and get the cover of some cumulus. This cloud started to build up to 10/10ths so we again went down and found the base to be about 1,900 feet.
At 0920 hours the railway line was directly below us so we turned and followed it North, (met. gave the cloud as moving from N to S). For our first target we chose a right angle bend in the railway line. The first two runs made at approx. 60deg. to the line, into wind from 2,100 feet, indicated 1,600 feet true. IAS 160mph. The bombs, 1 x 1,000 lbs and 3 x 500 lbs hung up.
The third run was successful and the 1,000 lb was seen to land on the tracks with a 500 lb each side at a distance of 30 to 40 yards away. The blast from the bomb bursts was very distinct, not to say uncomfortable. We again turned North and about twenty miles further on found a siding with 24 big box cars and twenty odd open waggons in it.
Sqn Leader Blackburn had arrived there a few minutes earlier in ‘V’ and made two unsuccessful attempts from about 1,800 feet. Their bombs landed in the rice fields overshooting the target by about 100 yards. We made our run in again using a 1,000 lb and 3 x 500 lbs but they fell something like 200 yards short of the target and completely wiped out a native village, which is thought by intelligence to have housed some Japanese residents- RTO and railway staff.
It seemed a sin to leave the coaches that sat there so we went down to 250 feet and straffed them with our front guns, the ball turret and port beam gun.
We left the target at 0955 hours and set course for the Base, arriving at 1315 hours. 7.05 hours after take off.
On discovering the wall of the port bomb bay and bomb door to be holed with a small calibre bullet we assumed the railway staff or some troops must have been sniping us from the area adjacent to the village. When it is taken into consideration that the bomb site we were using became more or less useless under 3,000 feet it was quite a good show.
Owing to our camera becoming stuck after testing we could not confirm our strike on the railway line.
Trip No. 2: 03 Aug 44
Target: Moulmein, Burma
Objective: To act as top cover and to divert the flak from aircraft mining the harbour. Primary target was the power station on Battery Point.
Weight: 63,500 lbs, 1x 1,000 lb, 7 x 500 lb bombs, 2,300 gal petrol, 7 man crew.
Consumption: 151 gph, 1.07 ampg, 12:00 hours.
Summary: Take off was set for 1630 hours and we duly got airborne at that time. The weather was rather poor on the way out, there being 6-8/10 cumulus with the odd Cb. We reached height on the coast (8,000 feet) and managed to get quite a good pinpoint.
Crossing Burma was uneventful with the exception of going south of track and getting in close to Rangoon. The whole country seemed to be well under water after some heavy rains and this made navigation a bit difficult.
We reached the target at approx. 2305 hours and made a dummy run at 7,500 feet to get the lay of the land. The heavy flak batteries seemed to plot us straight away and wasted no time in sending up some heavy red tracer which burst fairly accurately for height but not for direction.
The navigator (Les Gollop) managed to get a good pinpoint and we made our first run approx. E to W over the power station at Battery Point. Bomb bursts seemed to be well in the target area but for some unknown reason the ‘flash’ did not work and no photos were obtained. The second run was made S to N, IAS 165 mph and much the same thing, the AA were starting to get their eye in so without further ado we turned off and set course for Base.
The weather was starting to get really bad with a lot of big Cu and rain. We turned at Pagoda Point and half an hour out we hit a big Cb, flying at 5,000 feet and suddenly started to ‘go up’. I took ‘George’ out and in spite of the fact that the nose was down we climbed to 9,000 feet, at times getting almost vertical banks on for no reason at all. This went on for 10 minutes - though it seemed like an age until we finally got clear. I think without a doubt that is the ‘shakiest do’ I’ve ever had and am convinced that the only thing that saved us was a lot of praying.
We crossed the coast south of the Hoogly River and came in on the Bangalore beacon, finally landing at 0430 hours- just 12 hours after take off. Distance covered was approx. 2159 nm.
Trip No. 3: 13 Aug 44
Target: Mergui, Burma
Objective: To mine the approaches to the harbour making runs between King Island and the coast.
A very successful trip.
Weight: 63,000 lbs, 3 x 1,200 lb mines, 2,600 gallons petrol and 7 man crew.
Consumption: 148 gph 1.11 ampg
Distance: 2,260 nm
Flight time: 13:20 hours
Summary: Take off was set for 0600 and we were airborne at 0610. We reached our cruising height of 5,000 feet by the coast and continued on in reasonable weather to the Burma coast. The Met forecast showed a ‘front’ here and sure enough! We had a pretty rough do for an hour and a half sometimes going down to about 400 feet and other times having to go through it. These clouds look very spectacular in daylight - a dirty grey in most parts with white edgings, some stretched from almost the water to 15.000 feet. After our last do with these we kept as far clear of them as possible.
Target was reached at 1315 hours and here we met our second ‘front’ which was moving up from the South. Visibility in the ‘front’ was down to about half a mile.
By this time we had dropped down to about 200 feet and flew up and down the harbour trying to find our pinpoint. I must admit the harbour intrigued me. The place was dotted with small islands each surrounded by a sandy beach and covered with a vivid green mass of trees and tropical undergrowth. Everything looked so peaceful that it could almost have been a south sea island ‘paradise’ that one reads about in books.
After about 15 minutes we identified our pin point - a small island - and made our run. Just as we finished the tail gunner reported half a dozen bursts of ack-ack just astern. That was the only opposition we saw throughout the trip.
We left the target and set course climbing, finally reaching base at 1930 hours after completing what was said to be the longest daylight raid of the RAF.
Trip No. 4: 04 Sep 44
Target: Chao Phraya River, Bangkok
Objective: To mine the river just South of the town. Successful.
Weight: 65,000 lbs, 4 x 1,200 lb mines, 2,650 gal petrol, crew of 6.
Consumption: 142 gph, 1.06 ampg,
Flight Time: 12:50 hours
Summary: Self flying from the left hand seat, F/Lt Heynert in the right hand seat. Take off was at 1800 hours in daylight. The coast was crossed at 8,000 feet just as the sun was setting - approximately 1845 hours.
The first two hours over the Bay was spent in darkness, the moon eventually rising at about 2050 and resembling a great ball of fire as it came over the Burma Hills giving the effect of a silver carpet on the water below and showing up the 5/10th cumulus as great balls of cotton wool.
Pagoda Point was reached and set course for our point to cross the southern Burmese Coast. The navigation, though all D.R with occasional Astro shots was very good and we reached our last turning point at approx. 2150.
By now the weather was starting to build up and as we crossed the hills it had built up to 10/10th of Cu and Cb, with tops to about 8,500 feet. As we left the hills the cloud dispersed again leaving it clear with just a slight ground haze. Here we started a gradual descent and levelled out at 4,000 feet.
Shortly after passing Ban Pong we experienced our first lot of flak - some heavy bursts to starboard and some machine gun tracer to port. We carried out gentle weaving and the firing ceased. Approaching the coast about 30 miles SW of Bangkok there was the occasional burst of machine gun tracer and probably small arms fire that passed by unnoticed. By now we were down to 2,000 feet and just prior to the coast, we turned to fly parallel, about a mile off shore and level at 400 - 500 feet.
The entrance to the river showed very plainly, also a navigation light at the mouth of it. I made a turn to take us east of the river and came in about a mile from the mouth. We picked up our pin point without any trouble and made our run along the centre of the river and disposed of our four ‘potatoes’ in ‘just the right spot’.
Without any further ado we set course, climbing to level out at 8,500 feet, to cross the hills. The flak on the way home was similar to the way in with the exception of a brilliant display of red M.G. tracer which came up slightly to starboard and ahead - it looked for all the world like a garden hose, but as it appeared to be aimed at someone else so we didn’t worry. The trip home was very enjoyable and there was a beautiful sunrise just before we crossed the coast. Landed at Base at 0650. With a round trip of 2,350 miles that is considered to be the longest night mission of the RAF.
Trip No. 5: 06 Sep 44
Target: Banpong, Thailand
Objective: Bombing the large marshalling yards, rolling stock, station and warehouses. Successful.
Weight: 64,500 lbs, 1 x 1,000 lb and 7 x 500 lb bombs. 2550 gal petrol
Consumption: 145 gph, 1.09 ampg
Distance: 2,280 nm
Flight Time:. 12:30 hours.
Summary:. Self flying, F/Lt Alcorn in the right hand seat. A very similar trip to the last one, take off at 1810 in good weather.
We reached the target at 00:05 hours and found the place fairly well lit up with incendiaries. Made a dummy run into wind to pick up our target and then did a complete turn and came in on the same heading at 9,000 feet and IAS of 155 mph.
Our first stick was seen to burst just short and on the top corner of the yards. The next run was down wind and this time the stick was seen to fall in amongst some ‘bashas’. The whole area was well lit with incendiaries and it seemed like a pretty good show.
We obtained no photos owing to the fact that the engineer did not put capsules in the flares. Flak was light and we had a good trip back to base arriving at 06:40 hours.
Trip No. 6: 16 Sep 44
Target: Tavoy Estuary
Objective: Mine laying in the estuary.
Weight: 64,500 lbs, 6 x 1,200 lb mines, 2,300 gal petrol
Flight Time: 12:40 hours
Summary: Weather for take off at 0600 hours was quite good and remained so until reaching Pagoda Point on the tip of Burma. Here the first indications of the predicted Inter Tropical Front were seen.
We were flying at 8,000 feet and decided to let down and fly to the target under the cloud, which had a base of about 300-400 feet and visibility was around 2 miles, dropping down to a matter of a hundred yards in some of the many patches of rain.
The target was reached about 12.30 and was the centre of a heavy rain squall - we waited, flying in squares from the tip of the estuary. At 12.45 it seemed rather obvious that it would not clear so in we went - I must admit it was just a little hair raising, as we were down to about 150 feet and we had to make a run off an island situated in the estuary. Fortunately the rain cleared a bit and we saw our pin point clearly and made our run.
Unknown to us the bomb doors had closed slightly which would not allow the release gear to operate - this plus the incident when the navigator did not select his Volometer switch accounted for us making four runs.
When the ‘cargo’ finally went it was right where it was intended to go, then it was just a matter of flying a further 250 miles under the bad weather and then home to base. The trip back was ok with the exception that we reached base to find more bad weather - everyone else was diverted but we managed to get in ok, none the worse for wear.
Trip No. 7: 05 Oct 44
Target: Rail yards north of Bangkok
Objective: Train busting
Weight: 63,500 lbs, 15 x 100lb spike bombs, 9 man crew, 2,650 gal petrol
Flight time: 14.00 hours
Summary: This operation is unique in that a heavy four-engine bomber was used for work generally given to fighter bombers. I took off at 23:30 hours as Captain of ‘S’ for Sugar and set course, climbing to 8,000 feet.
The weather was excellent and the crossing of Burma north of Rangoon was really marvellous as the whole place was lit with a full moon and dotted with about 3/10 Cu - which would afford excellent cover in the face of interception.
First light came in a magnificent red sunrise about half an hour from the target. Here I started letting down slowly and by the time our objective was reached I was at 1,000 feet. Our particular objective we to make a N - S run over about 50 miles of railway and then turn and do the same run S - N.
We turned onto our target and had covered the first 5 miles or so and came across the morning train - ‘Tally Ho’. I turned in making my first run at the engine from about 30 degrees on the right hand side. The front gunner and ball gunner got in some excellent bursts which stopped the engine and covered it in white steam. I turned and made two more diving runs on it breaking away at 100 feet and scoring more hits. By this time the .5s had done their work and I’ll guarantee that train will never work again.
We continued our run south and saw two more trains this time in a town, not very well situated for a straffing attacks. Out turning point was reached and we started northwards again. We dropped a stick of three bombs on the lines and ripped up quite a fair section. We reached the town with the two trains in it and made a run taking photos and as there seemed a pretty good chance of making a successful attack we went in to a gentle dive at 180mph.
We made six runs all told and dropped ten bombs plus a lot of straffing. I was preparing to make a seventh run when the rear gunner reported a single engine fighter coming up from the port quarter.
I opened up the engines to 41” and 2,400 rpm and set course westwards towards some cloud. We were doing about 185 IAS, flying level at 800 feet, he was limbing at about 200 IAS on a parallel course about 800 yards away.
The top gunner and the nose fired several bursts at him and after the third there was a puff of smoke from him, he dropped about 600 feet, recovered and climbed again. Our cloud cover was still about 20 miles away and it seemed rather obvious that an attack was imminent - then it came.
He did a wing over attack from about 11 o’clock, 1,000 feet up - that seemed the only attack he could make, so we were ready and as his wing went up I turned 30 degrees towards him and started climbing sharply. I believe that broke his attack and made him do a near vertical dive - from which he recovered at less than 100 feet. Before he could make another attack we had reached cloud and altered course again. That was the last we saw of him.
Coming past south of Rangoon I stayed at about 100 feet and eliminated any chance of RDF. Turning on Capallis Island (note this may have been Goyangyi Island) we climbed to 5,000 feet and made a very enjoyable trip home.
For us the day was a complete success - one S/E fighter probably damaged, one engine destroyed, two others damaged and a considerable amount of rail line destroyed.
Unfortunately W/O Leo Barr (N.Z.) is missing and also W/O McKinnon who was last heard from by R/T with two engines out, one dead and three injured on board. It is believed that he ditched somewhere off Cheduba Island.
Note: Subsequent information revealed that the McKinnon aircraft ditched South of Rangoon. Two of the crew survived and were interned as POWs, released 7th May 1945.
Trip No. 8: 07 Oct 44
Objective: Air Sea Rescue search.
Flight time: 13:45 hours
Summary: Got airborne with an eleven man crew at 0230 and started searching for the dinghy at 0630. Left the area at 1330 and returned to base without seeing any trace. I believe there is still a good chance of locating them.
Personal log book has the following notes: ‘ Operations as ordered in Liberator ‘Q’, Air Sea Rescue search for W/O McKinnon and crew, area off Cheduba Island. No luck unfortunately.’
Trip No 9: 27 Oct 44
Target: Mine laying in Penang Harbour.
Weight: 67,000 lbs. 4 x 1,100 lb mines, 3,000 gal petrol, 6 man crew.
Flight Time: 18:45 hours
Summary: This operation is unique in that it is the longest ‘load carrying’ raid ever made by the RAF. It was obvious from the negligible opposition encountered that the Japanese did not dream that such a raid could be made.
Before take off there was considerable preparation to be made plus an added feature of co-operation from the navy. Petrol was the big problem and to ensure a safe return an average of one air mile per gallon had to be made - 3,000 gallons for a minimum of 2,980 miles. Our mileage turned out to be 3,070. The take off with 67,000 lbs was made from an advanced landing ground with a beautiful 2,500 yard concrete strip.
Weather was a big feature, at 18deg N there was a cold front and at 10deg N the Inter Tropical Front. Take off was at 10:00 hours and for consumption reasons it was deemed advisable to stay at about 2,000 feet until passing the first front then climbing to 6,000 feet and gradually descending to get under the second and also evade the RDF from Penang.
Everything went according to plan and the weather was rather better than expected and our pin point on the extinct volcano of Narcondam Island (N.E of the Andemans) came up in bright sunlight.
Course was then set for our next pin point on Brothers Island ( near Victoria Point). These came up with the sunset and I must admit they were a beautiful sight - green trees, sharp hills, white beaches and the occasional stream going down into the sea.
The target came up at 20:00 hours and after identifying our pin point made our run and got mobile again in case of fighters from Alor Star aerodromes. The trip back was uneventful and base was reached at 05:00 hours after 18 hours and 45 minutes flying.
Trip No. 10: 02 Nov 44
Target: Magnasak railway sheds, Bangkok.
Weight: 64,00lbs, 9 x 500lb phosphorous bombs, 2,500gal petrol, 7 man crew, 1.27 ampg
Flight Time: 14:00 hours
Summary: Today I took the new ‘Z’ to Bangkok for a new style of attack - dive bombing. Once again considerable practice and preparation was made. Take off was at 15:00 hours and the trip out, apart from some bad weather, was fairly good.
We used a pre-arranged rendezvous close to the target, the idea being that as many would go in as quickly as possible and more or less the devil take the hindermost if you were late. The target consisted of quite a fair size railway repair shop and being of a compact nature it was very essential to obtain a good turn in and dive on it.
I crossed the coast on the east side of the river doing plenty of weaving at 500 feet and 180-190 IAS. After passing the east end of the target I turned and climbed to 1,500 feet, got the bomb doors open and on reaching the pre-selected turning in point gave it the works. Actually my turn in was speeded up somewhat by one of the keen type searchlight operators who managed to get his light on us and make the place look like daylight.
The attack was just a wingover with the nose well down, 35 inches of manifold and 2,250 rpm. The target was an inferno and we had no trouble about placing a stick well down the centre from 400 feet and an airspeed of 240 mph. As soon as we had cleared the target I started a gentle weave again and crossed the coast at 200 feet and set course over the Gulf.
The trip back was just so so, the weather had built up considerably and was rather sticky with Cb in places. We landed at about 05:00 hours and so to bed.
Trip No. 11: 04 Nov 44
Target: Mining the Bangkok River as a diversion for the bombing force.
Weight: 64,000lbs, 2,500 gal petrol, 7 man crew, consumption 1.19ampg
Flight Time: 13:15
Summary: Basically the trip out and back was much the same as two nights ago, the moon was about an hour later in rising and the weather seemed a little worse.
The general idea was for a force of aircraft to go in and bomb the remaining railway shop in the north of the town while another force diverted their attentions by going five minutes earlier and mining the river.
To try and fox them a bit we rendezvoused east of the target and at zero time (0005 hours) we set course for the river, a ten minute run.
I wasted no time in taking ‘S’ down to 200 feet and ran along about half a mile from the coast. By coincidence we had the same run as last time and duly saw our island pin point. The only difference between this and last time was that this time there was a ship, I think it was a destroyer, sitting right next to it.
He did not appear to see us until I gave Ray Netherway in the front turret the word to open fire on it - then the game really started. I already had the bomb doors open and had started on our run when quite a lot of tracer started to rush over the top of the cockpit - from the ship I imagine.
That was easily overcome by putting the nose down, then just as our first ‘vegetable’ was about to go up came showers of pom pom and machine gun tracer from the right bank - by this time 200 feet under our starboard wing. It really shook me for a while especially when we could hear the noise of the guns as they fired. It was all over in a few seconds and we made a bee line for the coast and set course. I’m very pleased to say we did not get hit and our ‘vegetables’ went just in the right spot.
Trip No. 12: 07 Nov 44
Target: Japanese convoy off the Tavoy Estuary.
Weight: 64,000lb, 9 x 500 lbs S.A.P, 2,500 gal petrol, 7 man crew.
Flight Time: 13:35
Summary: As was more or less expected the convoy had moved and by the time we reached there at first light (0600 hours) there was no sign of it.
I took off ‘X’ just after midnight and met a severe cold front about 0200 hours. The only way to get through was to go underneath and so for about 2 1/2 hours I flew at heights from 150 to 300 feet without a radio altimeter, through a lot of rain, mist and other stuff associated with cold fronts.
Finally about 0430 hours we got into some reasonably clear stuff and went up to 800 feet. We hit the coast at 0545 and got to Tavoy at 0610 but alas! the eagles had flown.
I set course north up the coast hoping to perhaps find them by the time they had reached the Ye River. One thing of note here is the beautiful scenery. The sun was just coming up over the hills, there was the usual white dobs of cloud in the valleys and along the yellow sandy beaches you could see the native fishermen hoisting their sails or paddling their canoes out onto a vivid blue sea.
The whole thing was like something you read about in a book but never believe it until you see it. I admit that it seemed a pretty dim idea going around looking for something to kill, but then I guess that is the way wars go.
Finally we reached the Ye River at 0730 hours and still no ships so we decided to make good use of our bombs on the railway station in the town, plus anything else that looked ‘Jappy’. We made four runs at less than 300 feet each and dropped two sticks of bombs on some coaches and machine gunned a locomotive - hits were observed.
Course was set at 0805 hours for base and once again back through the bad weather and ‘home James’ at 1330 hours.
Trip No. 13: 16 Nov 44
Target: Harbour Installations at Mergui.
Weight: 64,000lb, 4 x 500lb m.c. 5 x 500lb incend. 2,500gal petrol, 7 man crew, 1.23ampg
Flight Time: 13:35 hours
Summary: Today for a change, we tried out a new form of attack - high level bombing (5,000 feet) and attacking at twilight.
The trip out was nothing out of the usual and our first turning point at Preparis Island was reached at 1515 hours. By this time we had dropped down to 500 feet to avoid the Jap radar at Rangoon. Course was then set for a small island north of Mergui where we were to rendezvous until 1735 hours and then set course for the target - about 20 minutes away.
It was certainly spectacular to reach the rendezvous and see quite a number of other Libs stooging around at heights from 100 to 500 feet, waiting for the zero time to come up.
1735 hours came and we set course, climbing over the pinpoint to our last turning point. By this time the sun was on the horizon (official twilight does not occur until the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon) and made the archipelago look like so many green-blue spots on a reddish blue horizon based with a deep blue sea.
Darkness was coming on fast now and at 1803 we turned on to make our 5 minute run up to the target. About this time the first sticks of bombs and incendiaries went down and up came the flak along with a couple of searchlights. Our final pinpoint came up and away started our bombs followed closely by the incendiaries.
By this time we were in the hot area and I don’t mind admitting I was getting rather anxious to turn off. The aircraft just ahead of us was getting quite a lot of tracer (25mm to 40mm I think) thrown up at him.
At last the ok came through to turn off and away we went. Course was set for Pagoda Point and then Sagar Light and so home in a time of 13:35.
Trip No. 14: 26 Nov 44
Target: Mining Penang Harbour.
Weight: 67,200lb, 3,000gal petrol, 4 x 1100lb mines.
Flight Time: 18:35 hours
Summary: Take off was from a 2,500 yard A.L.G and presented no difficulties. The weather from base to Narcondam Island was quite good and we made a gradual descent to there and continued to our next pinpoint at Brothers Island at 500 feet. Brothers Island came up just after 1800 hours and course was altered for the target.
Here the weather started to get very poor with a cloud base of 400 feet and a lot of rain and occasional lightning. By 1930 the weather was almost impossible with 10/10 cloud and nothing but pitch black rain storms lit up at frequent intervals by great flashes of lightning.
By the time the water had poured through the cockpit and everyone was feeling pretty damp in more ways than one. To eliminate the possibilities of getting caught in some high ground at the target I altered course to 180 degrees and hoped to get some assistance from their radio compass beacon - then they switched that off.
At last we came upon our pinpoint, an island south of Penang Island and endeavoured to get through the last few miles to our dropping point but the weather seemed to have deteriorated and I noted at one point the radio altimeter read 75 feet.
For the first time I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and so we set course to our dumping ground and jettisoned ‘safe’ - as did 90% of the other aircraft. The weather back to Narcondam was just about as bloody and I wasn't at all sorry to see the last of it and be able to climb away from 500 feet.
Trip No.15: 29 Nov 44
Target: Stores and jetties on western side of the Bangkok River.
Weight: 64,000lb, 34 x 100lb bombs, 7 man crew.
Flight Time: 14:45
Summary: This was an excellent trip throughout. Take off was at 1700 hours and the idea was to do a dive bombing attack on these Stores from the usual height of 300-500 feet.
The trip out was just ordinary with some quite good dance music from Chungking radio. We rendezvoused in the north east corner of the Gulf and set course for the target at midnight. There was the usual mad scramble to get there first but due to some rather poor map reading by the navigator and myself we went too far north and finished up doing a circuit at Don Muang ‘drome at 1,000 feet!
Likewise some of the others had gone too far south and had gone over the city and were coned with searchlights, getting a fair amount of tracer at them. Our first run was upset by someone’s slipstream with the result we went round again. On the second run a searchlight picked us up (we were at 1,500 feet) and tracer started heading in our direction.
We kept going as long as was safe and got a very nice run down the length of three big warehouses. The bombs went bang on and were seen to go through the roofs followed by some whizz fires in all the buildings and a minute later, quite a decent explosion.
Things by this time were getting a bit willing, with stuff coming up and a lot going down from aircraft shooting at lights. We stayed on the deck and crossed the coast to the south and then set course for base.
Trip No.16: 02 Dec 44
Target: Rama V1 Bridge, Bangkok.
Weight: 65,00lb, 4 x 1,000lb bombs, 1 x 2,000lb bomb.
Flight Time: 14:10 hours
Summary: The target was the King Rama V1 Bridge two miles north of Bangkok. The bridge is the biggest of its kind in S.E Asia and after three attempts by the American Super Forts to knock it down from 25,000 feet, 159 Squadron was given the job to do it from less than 500 feet.
Take off was at 1605 hours and the weather to the rendezvous at the N.E. side of the Gulf of Siam was fair to good. We left the rendezvous at 2300 hours and started losing our last 2,000 feet to take us down to our bombing run height.
Conditions at Bangkok were rather misty and due to a wrong pinpoint (both the Nav and I made a similar mistake) we did a 1,000 foot circuit of Don Muang airport - ten miles to the north of the city. Naturally they turned on quite an impressive display of their hardware but a bit of evasive action took us out ok.
We identified the target at 2320 hours and again owing to the mist, we mistook the turning on point and made an over long run to the target. The first stick went from a shade over two hundred feet at an I.A.S of 240mph. Sparks were seen to come from the bridge and it was considered that the bombs found their target - the eastern tracks and their supports.
The next run was abortive owing to another aircraft turning in ahead of us and spoiling our run. He stopped no end of light stuff so maybe it was just as well - we pulled up and turned off.
The third run was a beaut and the 2,000lb and 2x 1,000lb were seen to splash into the mud at the base of the supports. We turned away and climbed to 6,000 feet on track for Preparis Island. I handed over to George Livingstone half an hour out of Bangkok and slept most of the way home to base. Daylight was just breaking as I landed at 0615.
Trip No. 17: 05 Dec 44
Target: Shipping strike.
Weight: 64,500lb, 8 x 500lb A.P, 4 x 500lb bombs.
Flight Time: 12:30 hours
Summary: This is a trip I will keep in my memories for a long time. Most of the types were drinking in the bar and as it was near closing time, everyone had quite a few in.
Wing Commander Blackburn came into the bar and without so much as turning a hair said ‘three aircraft are to take off at 0330 hours for a special operation, the Captains of ’S’, ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are to report for briefing at 0215 hours. It just did not seem right but it unfortunately was.
After a long cold (and it was cold) shower we made briefing at 0200 and found Blackburn with a particularly grim look on his face.
The reason for it was that coastal command had sent in a sighting of a Jap convoy coming up from Singapore - escorted by a light carrier and two destroyers. Naturally these bloody coastal types and to call on Bomber Command and Bomber Command had to call on 159 and 159 had to call on the crew of ‘S - Sugar’!!!
The briefing was a rather mournful affair and everyone figured that they would be much better off in bed and to hell with the convoy. As we got into the airplane the rain was starting to fall - that brightened things up no end and added to the pitch black night, the 8/10 cloud cover at 800 feet, nobody was at all happy - I can personally vouch for myself.
As we were to lead the strike, I took off first with no end of rain pouring down and a fair amount of lightning. Somehow or other we got airborne, didn’t hit anything and climbed to 5,000 feet, setting course from the mouth of the River Hooghli to Cheduba Island. I let ‘George’ fly for the first few hours and caught up on some sleep. I took over again about 0600 hours as daylight was breaking and ten minutes later we arrived at Cheduba Is.
Here we descended to 2,000 feet and started searching the inlets for small coasters. The main convoy was said to be off Tavoy between Tenasserim and the Andaman Islands. At 0650 we came on two 100-150 ton coasters in very shallow water behind an island. We turned out to the west and climbed up to send a sighting report but could not get through, so went back to attack the ships.
I decided on the dive bombing attack using sticks of 2 x 500lb each run and running from east to west - out of the sun. The first run we made at 275mph and got one direct hit and a near miss. The second run was the same - this time the funnel came off the bigger ship and the third run blew the stern off the other ship.
I have reason to believe that they were using light machine gun fire on us, but that was probably discouraged after the second attack. With still 3,000lb of bombs left, we set course again to continue our search.
We swept the coast as far down as Port Blair in the Andamans and found no trace of shipping (not that it disappointed us). Rather than waste our last 3,000lb, I set course for Great Coco Island and put down a stick on the jetty and then home to base at 1600 hours.
The diary entries stop after the record of trip No. 17
However F/O Anderson’ s log book records a total of seven more operations with 159 Squadron as follows:
14th December 1944. ‘S’ bombing stores and rail installations at Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Flight time 13:20 hours.
Note that his 21st birthday fell on the day of this mission.
17th December 1944. ‘S’ bombing Great Coco Island. Andaman sea. Flight time 09:45.
21st December 1944. ‘S’ bombing stores and jetties at Martaban, Burma. Flight time 12:15.
23rd December 1944. ‘S’ bombing stores rail installations at South Moulmein, Burma. Flight time 12:05.
29th December 1944. ‘S’ mine laying Goy Shi Chang. Flight time 13:45.
6th January 1945. ‘S’ bombing at Moulmein Burma. Flight time 12:15.
10th January 1945. ‘S’ mine laying in channel at Martaban / Battery Point Burma. Flight time 13:20.
A letter signed by W/C Blackburn notes that as of 31st December 1944, F/O Anderson had flown a total of 298 hours against the enemy.
In the months of February, March and April 1945 he was seconded to fly on temporary duties for 357 Squadron, flying a single engine Sentinel L 5.
The log book shows a Grand Total flight time at 15th April 1945 of 860 hours 50 minutes.
Bill Anderson resumed civil flying training on the 1st of August 1948 at the Royal Aero Club of W.A.