Northwest Thailand during World War II

Details of Aircraft Losses by Date


Text Notes

06 Oct 1944:[1] A Liberator B.VI[1a] with the designation EV940 was homebased with Squadron 355 at Salbani Airfield, India[1b] (N22°36.75 E87°17.9):[2]

B-24J B.VI

And on or about this date, it participated in a 16 bomber raid on the Thai railway north of Bangkok.[3]

B-24 Flight path Uttaradit

At the Uttaradit Railyard, Sila At (N17°38.3 E100°06.0), the heavy bomber made a low level strafing run on locomotives. The plane was seen by another in the flight to have been hit by anti-aircraft fire and it eventually crashed at N17°25 E100°05,[3И] about 25km south of the railyard. Nine crewmembers were killed and two were taken prisoner.

Aerial photos from that date illustrate the possible source of the ground fire which brought down EV940.[3Б] Machine gun fire from the railway yard:


And, two flak wagons, located in a string of rail cars (carriages):


Credit for the shootdown of EV940 was given to a gunner firing from one of the flak wagons: Capt Bantao Punsri. He had, in fact, redesigned the gun sight and modified the gun mountings for the weapons mounted on the flak wagons.[3Ж].

To put the photos in proper context, the fields of view of the photos above are superimposed on an extract from a later photo of Uttaradit town showing the railway yard:[3Г]


And the fields of view supereimposed on a macro view of the town:[3Д]


Comments on the photos:

Though the macro view of Uttaradit directly above was taken on 03 Sep 1945, almost a year after the photos of the ground fire that brought down EV940, the string of rail cars (carriages) that include the flak wagons didn't seem to move during that stretch of time.

Uttaradit Municipal buildings now occupy the land once identified as a POW Camp.

The wreckage can be assumed to have eventually found its way into a Japanese scrap metal drive.[3α]



Royal Air Force Commands: Liberator EV940 (undated)[3a]

Liberator EV940
Aircraft Accident / Loss Entry
Date of Crash: 06 Oct 44
Aircraft name: Liberator VI
Serial Number: EV940
Unit: 355 Sqdn

Details: Low-level dive bombing attack on locomotives in the Uttaradit rail station, Siam. EV940 pulled up sharply after dropping bombs across the target and was hit by fire from a machine gun nest just beyond the target. Crashed in flames 7 to 8 km north (or northwest) of the target. Of the eleven man crew, nine were killed in the aerial combat or crash, including the skipper, 1575095 F/Sgt Harold Norman "Darky" Harrison. They are buried in Collective Grave 4.G.67-75 at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand. Three crewmen bailed out, but one died when his parachute failed to open. The two others were captured, imprisoned in Bangkok, and liberated in 1945. They are 3025036 Sgt Raymond Arthur Thompson (Mid-upper gunner) and 1603067 Sgt F.H. Knight (Rear gunner).

• Umemoto, 2002:[4]

Entry for 355 Squadron B-24 (Umemoto, v 2, p 519)
English translation
  06 Oct 1944
355 Sqn
  355 Squadron
  B-24 Heavy Bomber
  Master Sergeant HN Harrison
バンコック チェンマイ間
  Between Bangkok and Chiang Mai
204 •—式戦II型
  204th Sentai: Ki-43
  1 prisoner of war. 8 killed in action

  Umemoto comment:[5]

午後、8機で、同じくバンコク、チェンマイ間の鉄道攻撃に赴いた第355飛行隊、ハリスン曹長 のB24も、ゥッタラディト駅付近で、日本戦闘機1機の攻撃を受け、目標上空で被弾、目標から約8キ ロ離れた地点の森に墜落、爆発、射手のトンプスン軍曹だけが墜落から生き残り捕虜になった。このリ ベレーターと交戦したのも、当時、タイのドムアン飛行場にいた204戦隊の一式戦と思われるが、日 本側による詳細な記録は見あたらない。64戦隊の宮邊大尉は、雨季明け後、ドムアンに来襲した連合軍 機の邀撃には第1中隊の中村大尉らが指導したタイ空軍の一式戦も参加「敵機と堂々と渡り合った」と している。もしかすると、ハリスン曹長のB24を撃墜したのはタイ空軍機だったのかもしれない。

In the afternoon [of 06 October 1944], the 355th Squadron, Master Sergeant Harrison's B-24 participated in attacking targets on the railrway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as part of a group of eight aircraft. They were, in turn, attacked by a Japanese fighter near Uttaradit Station and EV940 was hit by gunfire from the target area. The plane crashed and exploded in a forest about eight kilometers away from the target. Only Sergeant Thompson, a gunner, survived the crash, was captured, and became a prisoner of war. It seems that the aircraft intercepting this Liberator was a part of the 204th Sentai based at Don Muang Airfield near Bangkok at that time; however, no detailed record from the Japanese side can be found. Captain Miyabe of the 64th Sentai was known to have been working with Royal Thai Air Force fighters under the command of Captain Nakamura of the 1st Company in repelling an attack by Allied aircraft on Don Muang after the rainy season. Perhaps it was the Royal Thai Air Force that shot down Master Sergeant Harrison's B-24.

The Royal Air Force amply documents two survivors from the EV940, one of whom was the Sgt Thompson noted by Umemoto.

Observation about Umemoto's suggestion that the RTAF might have been involved: the aircraft was downed by ground-based machine gun fire, as witnessed by another aircraft in the flight. The IJAAF could reasonably be expected not to have issued a report that didn't involve action on its part --- hence Umemoto's comment "no detailed record by the Japanese side can be found".

In this particular instance, it would appear that Umemoto accidentally intermingled details of events surrounding the loss of three B-24s on this date. The subject aircraft on this page, EV940, plus BZ992 are believed to have crashed in Thailand.. The third aircraft, BZ978, while attacked and severely damaged near Uttaradit, managed to retreat as far as the Bay of Bengal before having to ditch. A brief summary of the events surrounding the downing of each aircraft is provided in Steve Darke's Thai Air Accidents, page 2 & 3.

• Shores, 2005

Saturday, 07 October 1944

During the last minute of the previous day, 16 Liberators of 159 Squadron took off for a raid on the railway north of Bangkok at low level; they were joined by eight more bombers from 355 and 356 Squadrons. . . .

204th Sentai pilots claimed another Liberator near Bangkok, and yet another was claimed by AA crews. . . . One of these aircraft was a 355 Squadron machine, which was reported shot down over the target and which crashed in a wood eight kilometres from the railway target when attacked by a lone Ki-43.[6]


Summary of reported locations of EV940's crash site:

Thai Air Accidents: 17.419972° 100.079997°, or approximately N17°25 E100°05, about 25km south of the railyard.

Royal Air Force Commands: Liberator EV940: . . . 7 to 8 km north (or northwest) of the target [ie, in a direction roughly opposite to that provided in Thai Air Accidents].

Umemoto, p 519: . . . in a forest about eight kilometers away [from the target, Uttaradit Railway Station, but with no direction noted]

Shores: . . . a wood eight kilometres from the railway target [Uttaradit Railway Station, but with no direction noted].

Revision List
2021 Sep 15
First published on Internet
2021 Oct 04
Major corrections made throughout
2021 Dec 02
Aerial photos added with commentary




References are provided in this column for the convenience of the reader. Please advise author of any errors.

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1.^ Dates recorded for the event are not consistent:

Royal Air Force Commands: Liberator EV940 (undated) records 06 Oct 1944.

Umemoto [梅本弘, ビルマ航空戦・上 [Air War in Burma, Vol 2] (Tokyo: Dai Nippon, 2002)], p 519, line 6, records the same.

USAF Serial Number Search Results records EV 940 (Consolidated No 64321) as lost 08 Oct 1944.

Shores appears to use 07 Oct 1944 [Shores, Christopher, Bloody Shambles, Vol Three (London: Grub Street, 2005), p 270 (see References below).

1a.^ Liberator B.VI was the RAF designation for Consolidated B-24Js delivered to the RAF under Lend-Lease (Liberator VI/VIII for RAF, website maintained by Joseph F. Baugher).

1b.^ Salbani, per, is now Salboni, per Google Earth.

Umemoto (ibid) incorrectly cites Digri Airfield as origin for the 355 Squadron: that field was its second location, but only starting in Jan 1946.

Orders of battle for both 01 Jul 1944 and 12 Dec 1944, covering the date of this event, locate the 355 Squadron (184 Wing), at Salbani, as a part of HQ, Air Command SEA, New Delhi, Eastern Air Command, New Delhi, Strategic Air Force, Calcutta, 231 Group [Shores, ibid, p 392].

2.^ Coordinates per Google Earth. Photo from Liberator B VI.

3.^ Extract from Google Maps; annotated with Microsoft Publisher.

The waypoint shown, Cheduba Island (N18°52 E93°29), is an assumption since a USAAF B-24 flying to bomb Kuang Luang Bridge on 21 Nov 1944 used Sagu Island (now Saku) on the east side of a channel from Cheduba, while an RAF Liberator B.VI which crashed near Nakhon Sawan on 29 May 1945 is recorded as having used Cheduba.

3И.^ Position per Steve Darke's Thai Air Accidents,
p 2. See discussion in text about location of crash.

3Б.^ Photos from, respectively EAC-WIS #7 (Eastern Air Command Weekly Intelligence Summary), 13 Oct 1944; and ACSEA-WIS (Air Command Southeast Asia Weekly Intelligence Summary), approx same date. Provided by Sakpinit Promthep. Per the dates, the photos are assumed to have been taken during the raid that brought down EV940.

&3Ж.^ Sakpinit Promthep email of 01:49 15 Nov 2021.

3Г.^ Extract from aerial photo dated 03 Sep 1945, taken during a leaflet dropping mission after hostilities had ended, in the 493rd BS History, Sep 1945. Provided by Sakpinit Promthep email of 12:24 10 Oct 2021. Annotated by author using Microsoft Publisher.
















3Д.^ Aerial photo dated 03 Sep 1945, taken during a leaflet dropping mission after hostilities had ended, in the 493rd BS History, Sep 1945. Provided by Sakpinit Promthep email of 12:24 10 Oct 2021. Annotated by author using Microsoft Publisher.























3α.^ As described in ชีวิตของมาซาโอะ เชโตะ ผู้ถูกพ่อและญี่ปุ่นทอตทิ้ง เล่ม 1, แปลจาก : Seto Masao no Jinsel (ชีวิตของมาซาโอะ เชโตะ), แปลโดย : บ้ณทิต ประดิษฐานุวงษ์ [Seto, Masao, Life of Masao Seto, Book 1, p 160 [my ref: 03400 Boggett/Seto xlatn]

3a.^ More information is available at "Related Posts" in Liberator EV940, webpage maintained by Matt Poole.







4.^ Umemoto, ibid, p 519, line 6. Note discrepancies in "Details".






5.^ Umemoto, ibid, p 293.





























6.^ Shores, ibid, p 270.